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3 Case Studies on Pitch Cohesion.
Analyzing pitch decks from Apteo, Healx and Worthix
In the last post I shared my framework for measuring how cohesive a pitch deck is. See the full framework here.
Remember Build-Measure-Learn? With pitch decks it’s mostly: Build-Build-Build. Maybe Build-Learn-Build for high achievers.
I chose three pitch decks and used my framework to measure how cohesive and effective they are.
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Case Study 1: A strong deck undermined by a weak solution.
This was Apteo’s pre-seed deck so it was light on traction and financials. But overall this is a well-constructed pitch deck. To save space I’m showing only some slides, but the full deck is in the link.
I used my framework to look at places where slides intersect and should support each other (highlighted). Based on how well they’re connected I chose Strong, So-So, or Weak. I added annotations under each slide title.
What the framework says
The framework says this is mostly a cohesive pitch deck. Slide intersections are mostly Strong with some So-So areas.
Let’s look at the Solution and where it could be improved:
The Solution slide does a good job of addressing the 3 core problems identified in the Problem. But it falls short because it’s focused on features. Most of the slide real estate is taken up with screenshots. Apteo did not end up talking about alternatives to their approach. They also did not make a strong statement about why they are unique.
I think it could have been something like: The only solution combining pre-structured datasets and easy to use AI.
Weakness in the solution always means problems in the Competition slide. That was the case here.
The table implies more similarity to competitors vs differences. It’s why I avoid this format. They had to add a sentence at the bottom explaining what’s difference (in small type). If you have to do that you haven’t sufficiently differentiated yourself!
What’s strong is the obvious fit between their solution and their team. The founders all have strong backgrounds in finance and data/AI.
Just improving the Solution slide automatically enhances multiple other slides. It’s where I would focus if I were rebuilding this deck.
Case Study 2: Technical storytelling that works.
The Healx pitch deck was a teaser deck and did not include traction, business model, financials or many other slides.
But I chose this example because it’s an example of the problem, solution, product and team all working together. Anyone struggling to communicate a highly technical story should look at this.
Even without the missing slides it’s clear the Healx story is built on a solid foundation of mutually-supporting parts.
They had multiple Solution slides, which makes sense. Let’s focus on these two:
The first slide strongly connects back to the problems of rare diseases: they have a big impact but solving them isn’t profitable enough.
The second slide explains how Healx intends to solve the problem with their unique drug-repurposing approach.
When it comes time to talk about the Product (Knowledge Graph, Healnet), the features they talk about link directly back to their Solution. This seems obvious but most product slides do not do this.
Finally, when it comes to the Team slide, who they’ve chosen to highlight strongly supports their overall story. They’ve highlighted experts in medical science, AI and industry collaboration.
If you’re trying to decide who to highlight in your deck, pick the people and advisors who support your story. No offence to everyone else.
Case Study 3: What lack of cohesion looks like.
There’s a lot to like about the Worthix pitch deck including some great early traction and bold statements about how metrics like NPS can completely fail to identify what people want. It grabs your attention.
Unfortunately, this is an example of what lack of cohesiveness looks like. It leaves some big questions unanswered and feels like it’s jumping all over the place.
Putting Worthix into my framework, you can see many areas where it’s weak, meaning the slides are inconsistent or do not support each other. How they ordered their slides didn’t help.
The AI story
The first slide in the deck is a bold statement about their Solution: The first customer survey built with artificial intelligence to measure decisions. Let’s see if they were able to sustain this big start.
There were multiple slides explaining the problem, but none defined ‘customers’. You could figure out who their target market was from their Customers slide. Then again, it included both L’Oreal and Blizzard so I still don’t know who their customers are!
It makes it difficult to understand what’s so great about their AI-powered solution. The Solution isn’t specific enough to their problem. There were no details about the tech or the unique approach they take (is there some science behind this?).
In a later product slide they again emphasize Artificial Intelligence. But the benefits they mention are: No need to design questionnaires and Less than 2 minutes to respond. I’m sure those are true statements.
But their core problem was understanding customer decisions, which things like NPS do not do well. Their AI solution supposedly solves this but this was unexplained. Their product should have shown how they do this, not how quickly surveys can be created (that’s a different problem).
The only traction mentioned was customer logos and ARR. Both are impressive but what’s missing are product metrics. Imagine if they did this instead:
Our solution is 50% more accurate vs NPS in determining customer decisions (according to X research group)
We’ve not only closed these deals but convinced these clients to abandon their previous measurement systems for ours
We’ve seen MoM increases in survey response rates, # of surveys created and DAU (both sides)
Besides the slide order, the main problem with this pitch deck is an over-emphasis on client traction to tell their story. That ticks a big, important box but leaves too many questions unanswered.
Use this framework!
Leave a comment if you try this framework on your own pitch deck (or someone else’s).