Airbnb described its service as a way to “save money, make money, and share culture.” BuzzFeed billed itself as a “one stop shop for web buzz.” And YouTube said it moved the video-content equivalent of “one Blockbuster store a day over the Internet.”
These are snippets from the original startup pitch decks of 14 prominent and moderately prominent technology companies, once just budding startups. In total, those decks raised about $400 million from venture capitalists.
The decks were compiled and posted recently on Product Hunt by Ryan Gum, chief executive of digital document-tracking service Attach. Gum says he found inspiration from the decks when he was constructing his own pitch material.
The decks are potentially useful templates for startup owners wondering how to put together their own requests for VC money. Some throughlines: Clearly state the market problem your company is trying to solve, and your solution. You’ll also need to break out your financials, and demonstrate a proven growth rate.
Business owners are also likely to be heartened by the rejections many of these companies faced early on. Suhail Doshi, co-founder of web and mobile analytics company Mixpanel describes how he and co-founder Tim Trefren hopped on their bicycles to meet with 10 different Sand Hill Road VC firms, all which turned them down in 2009. To date, the company has taken in $77 million and is valued at $865 million.
Similarly, Brian Chesky, chief executive of Airbnb, posted five rejection emails, although with venture capital partner names stripped out. In 2008, Airbnb was searching for $150,000, for which an investor could have purchased 10% of the company. “The potential market opportunity did not seem large enough for our required model,” reads one letter. Airbnb has taken in over $3 billion in investment, and is currently valued at around $30 billion.