Any startup founder can tell you the importance of a pitch deck. The story will vary, but the objective is the same: secure funding for your business from investors or outside partners. Investors sit through countless pitches in any given month, so how you structure your presentation is crucial if you want to keep the conversation moving forward. It doesn’t matter what your business idea is as long as you can tell a compelling story to sell it.
Sandbox VR founder and CEO, Steve Zhao, is familiar with the dream of bringing a new business venture to life. In 2016, the futuristic virtual reality company was born. It stands out from other VR brands because rather than using a single headset, it focuses on full-body, social experiences in brick and mortar locations. But with that came the need for custom hardware and softwares, something that required funding to get the idea off the ground. Steve and Siqi Chen, Chief Product Officer at that time, had to convince Series A investors that Sandbox VR was a viable business, and different from its competitors. And Beautiful.ai’s presentation software helped him get his story out in front of the right people.
Steve was introduced to Beautiful.ai by Siqi, and continues to use it monthly to create presentations for external partners like potential investors, franchisees, and real estate partners. His most notable work in Beautiful.ai? Series A and B funding pitch decks.
Securing Series A and B funding with a Beautiful.ai pitch
In 2019, Sandbox VR landed $11M in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz. Just two years later, the team secured another $37M in funding from a Series B led by Andreessen Horowitz. Both the Series A and B pitch decks were created and presented in Beautiful.ai.
To deliver a winning pitch, everything from the deck design to your presentation has to bring value to the audience. There has to be consistency across the board. Zhao found that Beautiful.ai’s design constraints forced him to hone in on a more focused message on each slide helping him craft his pitch more effectively. The thoughtful constraint paired with the built-in principles of design was the recipe for a successful pitch deck. In fact, investor Andreessen Horowitz was so impressed that their pitch deck was later featured on a16z’s YouTube channel.
But a strong pitch doesn’t come without its struggles, and using a traditional presentation software like PowerPoint can be a time-intensive task. Newer presentation design tools help entrepreneurs and founders, like Steve Zhao, create brilliant pitches in half the time.
Improving the efficiency of presentation design
Prior to using Beautiful.ai, Zhao’s team struggled with the amount of options and work needed to fine tune designs. Zhao shared that Beautiful.ai changed their workflow by allowing them to be more efficient for both internal and external decks. He says, “The inherent design improves one's ability to develop effective presentations.” Beautiful.ai’s Smart Slides handle the burden of design so you don’t have to worry about tinkering with text boxes and aligning elements on a slide. The ability to create better decks, faster, helps teams keep projects moving while focusing on what’s next for their business.
Zhao leaves us with, “For me, the biggest benefit is that the design constraint actually results in much better decks. In a way, the constraint provides a good template on how we think through the presentation - for me, sometimes I use a Beautiful.ai deck to even help with strategy brainstorming.”