In 2017 we raised our €3.2M seed round with Karma after months of talking to VCs, updating our presentation and generating new charts and data when asked by investors. It was a tedious process as a lot of people had trouble believing that food waste would be a big enough market to build a startup in. We raised our Series A of $12M in the summer of 2018 and grew faster than ever in 2019. 2020 is going to be an exciting year!
In your seed round you want to show the potential of your company to become a billion dollar business and that you’re the right person to get it there. Be clear, concise and on point. Ambitious but honest. If you fool an investor into investing, you’ll have a fool with you on your journey.
Most seed investments are done in you rather than your company’s metrics and traction. Someone is betting on that you can build something amazingly valuable over time and wants to give you the opportunity to go and do so. Don’t forget to talk about why you are the right person for the job.
We didn’t know too many people in the VC world when we started raising and our angels made limited intros that ultimately didn’t lead to an investment. We ended up meeting around 40 funds and family offices, most who turned us down due to a “too small market size”, before bumping into e.ventures. They not only saw that the food waste market was big enough but who also understood our long term vision with Karma. We immediately hit it off and the whole process from first meeting to round close took only a few weeks.
Note that Karma is a marketplace business in the food waste industry. Not all metrics in here will make sense for your company and not all slides will be necessary.
- ”Overall very well done, we ended up investing ;)”
- ”Generally perfect length, clear & crisp”
- Addressable market calculation by weight did not really feel very accurate but at that time our belief that it actually is a huge problem was good enough.
- We would have liked to see a larger part on how you win the grocery space since we believed that that is where the scale comes from.
- The ambassador program was also something that sounded too good to be true for the team.
Without further ado:
There’s a few things I wished we would have changed in this deck and knowing what we know now I’d update several of these slides but overall I’m happy with this deck! I’ve included some of our comments below
- Slide 2 — WHY
Actually happy with how this turned out, seems to be a lot of text at first but is meant to be a summary with best takeaway points.
- Slide 3 — WHY
This slide is meant to inspire and show the breadth of the problem. Just like any presentation your pitch needs to instil an emotional reaction in the reader
- Slide 4 — WHY
This could be done differently, every startup brings up the Total Addressable Market (TAM) in their pitch which is fine. Here we estimated the value of different markets using their populations as the weight which isn’t very accurate. Also, it’s better to point to businesses who managed to get traction with your customers instead to show that it’s possible to grow within this area. Example: we should have pointed to JustEat, Deliveroo and others who were selling to our customers (only restaurants back in 2017) and show how they’ve grown in their early days.
- Slide 5 — WHAT
A bit basic presentation of the product here but we coupled it with demoing the product live during the pitches and even had investors rescuing food through Karma and go to pick it up after the meeting
- Slide 6 — WHAT
Happy with this one even a few years later! Clear enough to understand and easy enough so that people who never used Karma can get it.
- Slide 7 — HOW
Showed the most important data we had collected to date and it all points to good healthy growth. We went above and beyond and created a live data room showing our primary and secondary KPIs using Klipfolio and shared that link in the deck. Investors were impressed by it but I wouldn’t say it significantly changed the round
- Slide 8 — HOW
Important to show that we had some of Sweden’s largest brands as customers. Shows that we had got good strong traction.
- Slide 9 — HOW
Again: super important to highlight who’s doing this. Are you qualified in this field? Have you built successful startups before? Don’t worry if you’re missing both those, just make sure show them that you’re the right person for the job.
- Slide 10 — HOW
Again, your team is an extension of you as founder(s) and shows if you’re good at attracting talent to your company. Having key people in key positions is increasingly important in subsequent rounds so if you do have great people in your team, why not start showing it early.
- Slide 11 — HOW
We weren’t that experienced when staring Karma so we had to show investors that some of Sweden’s most successful entrepreneurs were already backing us at Karma. This is again to reinforce that we’re the right people for the job and a reason why you should invest in us.
- Slide 12 — HOW
Most of our marketing to that day had been great PR and word of month so we decided to include a slide to show that we were a popular brand that people wanted to share with their friends and family. In hindsight this wouldn’t have needed its own slide.
- Slide 13 — WHEN
We walked through the competitive landscape and why, in the long term, Karma would be the best investment rather than our competitors. Since then we’ve been pretty accurate in our predictions for what our competitors would do and we’re living up to the narrative how we would position ourselves vs our competitors that we presented back in 2017. Make sure not to talk bad about your competitors, after all they’re the ones who’ll keep you up and keep you going to win the race for first place and just hating them, especially in external meetings like investor meetings, won’t get you very far. Be competitive, not a douce.
- Slide 14 — HOW
As you can see we’ve hidden a lot in this slide. It shows how our model works and should probably have been placed earlier in the deck. The bottom part showed additional revenue streams that could be enabled once Karma was a large business. We had two sources of income that together could be translated to an average revenue per transaction which is what the top part of the slide symbolised.
- Slide 15 — HOW
As an early stage business with limited revenue it’s sometimes good to show how you’ll increase your share of revenue over time. As a marketplace it’s crucial to capture a meaningful part of each transaction and it becomes increasingly important if you do many small transactions. This slide helped explain how our revenue share would increase over time, we ended up implementing some of these things but not all. It’s not necessary for all companies to have this slide in their deck, for many it belongs in the appendix.
- Slide 16 — HOW
This was a bit of a gamble. We decided to showcase our new ambassador program that wasn’t really started yet and talk about how it could change our way of expansion. As you’ll see in the investor comments above, they found it hard to believe it was of much relevance for our stage of the business which turned out to be true. This could easily have been skipped — focus is key — or put in the appendix.
- Slide 17 — WHEN
Here we showed our overview roadmap (when we would launch in which countries and how we planned to raise the next two rounds). It was a good way to show to the investors that we had realistic expectations in terms of runway, rounds to come and expansion strategy. Of course there was a lot of questions from investors on this and we had to explain verbally what our more granular strategy was in each meeting but that was good. Turns out almost every investor we met had their own idea on how this would be best expanded over the next 2–3 years so if we would have added that granularity to the presentation we might have alienated some of the investors. Now we got the chance to hear how they approached the scaling/expansion problem which was helpful.
- Slide 18 — ???
In hindsight we should have skipped this slide and instead reiterated WHY we’re doing this and WHY you should invest.
I hope this post is useful for entrepreneurs looking to raise a round of funding, especially in the seed stage. If you found it to be helpful please share and clap, follow etc. and we’ll share more posts like these.
If you want to join the Karma rocket ship: https://karma.careers
If you’d like to follow our professional journeys: http://linkedin.com/in/hjalmarsn and http://linkedin.com/in/elsabernadotte
If you’d like to follow my overall journey: https://instagram.com/karma_ceo