The Seed Deck

There are a ton of references about how to present a seed-stage company out there. Still, many entrepreneurs are struggling with it, wasting too much time to put a story together, and delivering a non-engaging outcome.

Here you will find a template to help you get started. It is built with a singular focus in mind: to trigger further interest in your company and get you the first meeting with an investor who skimmed through the slides.

Section #1 Problem

After the slide title, start with the problem. Take a step back and walk your reader through the reasons why the default way people/companies perform such an essential task today is outdated and bound to change.

Most often than not, it comes down to time and money being wasted, with the results being worse than expected, and the frustration these entail.

Note that you’d better focus on describing the problem rather than its market size. It should feel large enough intuitively, and your reader may do the math.

What you need to answer in this section (one to three slides): Is this an interesting problem? Is it big enough?

#2 Solution

Continue with your product vision. Describe the foundations of what would drive the next generation of solutions to the problem at hand. Following up on the previous section, these should be straightforward.

Focus on first principles rather than detailed specs. A technology product delivering on these should be able to drive significant efficiencies natively.

What you need to answer in this section (one slide): Would this be a groundbreaking proposition? Is it possible at all? (Here a healthy dose of wonder is fine.)

#3 Product

Now, drive the point home by demonstrating you have built a product that delivers on these first principles, and it works already. Here you can be a bit more technical, also shedding light on your secret technical source.

If you have done things right, your readers should click on the link and get to try the product themselves.

If you don’t have a working product or a prototype in place, it might be a good idea to prioritize doing that ahead of trying to raise a round.

What you need to answer in this section (one slide): Is this actually groundbreaking? Does it really work?

#4 Traction

Third-party validation should follow. No matter whether you or the reader is an industry expert, you need to provide various points of evidence that other parties see value in what you build.

Usage metrics, revenue, customer logos, and quotes –in this ascending order– are the strongest signals a seed company may provide. These are your best slides – an investor should be sold to take the meeting right here!

If you don’t have any of the above validation points, you can still talk to potential users and get their feedback.

What you need to answer in this section (one to three slides): Is there legitimate third-party validation that the product delivers against expectations?

#5 Team

You have let your work speak for yourselves already. This is a slide placed favorably to introduce the founding team who has put this together.

What you need to answer in this section (one slide): Is the team relevant (i.e., do they know what they are talking about)? Can they deliver? Are they committed enough?

#6 Plan

It is recommended that you have created a more detailed plan, for example, as per the Seed Spreadsheet. You can then provide access to the source file and summarise its key points here.

Your investment ask is a product of the above plan; you may skip mentioning a specific amount in the slide and discuss further during your meeting.

What you need to answer in this section (one to two slides): Is there a well-thought-out plan for the next year or two? Are the targets ambitious yet realistic? Is this meaningful for a venture investment?

#7 Closing

Iterate on your mission and provide your contact details – these are enough for an interested party to respond…

You may access the Seed Deck template in Google Slides format here. Feel free to File > Make a copy or File > Download in your preferred format and use the slides as you see fit. Freepiker was used for themes and Unsplash for placeholder photos.

You should treat the above with what they are: a mere suggestion. A presentation is a form of expression of its creator; you should unleash your creativity, rather than restrain it. Also, as with everything that relates to your company, you are the ultimate judge on what is relevant versus not.

Still, we hope the seed deck to help you structure your startup’s story to capture attention, and we hope you put it to good use!

The Greek Startup Industry: Investments and Exits, 2010-2018

“First and foremost we are network builders. Others have been doing the same with Stanford graduates, Paypal employees or Israeli founders. We bring together Greeks, working in technology, no matter where they are, and we are thrilled about the ubiquity and underlying value of this network.”

This is how we introduced Marathon Venture Capital a short couple of years ago. Today, we are happy to report that this network of Greek entrepreneurs and technologists is quickly maturing, delivering results and giving shape to an emerging Greek startup industry.

This is the first of a series of publications documenting the industry’s evolution, focusing on investment figures and related statistics. We have built on our previous release, now including full data for the last couple of years, also extending coverage to companies established by Greek founders based in geographies other than Greece.

We have made an effort to track every single technology startup with a Greek founder –our definition of a Greek startup– that raised an investment round since 2010. Our data sources include publicly available ones such as Crunchbase, together with proprietary Marathon data. While there most probably exist more cases we did not manage to capture, we believe this is the most extensive research on the topic that has been published to date.

Overview

“Our research identified 301 Greek startups that raised a total of $2.4 billion in 500 investment rounds by 268 venture capital funds between 2010 and 2018. Moreover, a total of 47 acquisitions and 5 IPOs took place during the period. These figures highlight a vibrant industry that has already reached a considerable size.”

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The total invested amount in Greek startups grew 11x between 2010 and 2018 from $48m to $539m.

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The total number of investment rounds per year grew 7x, from 11 investments in 2010 to 75 in 2018, with a peak of 104 rounds in 2016.

Stages

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The figure above splits total invested amounts into investment stages, i.e. Seed, Series A and Growth (Series B, C, etc.). Growth rounds capture the greatest part, while all stages demonstrate significant growth, with Seed reaching on aggregate $43m, Series A $152m and Growth $345m in 2018.

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73% of the investments made were Seed ones, followed by 17% were Series A and 10% being Growth rounds. This is in line with success rates per stage, also the small number of Growth rounds explains part of the total amount variation in recent years.

To provide some context, four seed funds were introduced in the Greek market by the Jeremie fund of funds in 2013, and their impact on the number of Seed rounds spanned through 2016. In 2017 and the first part of 2018 the local market was quite dry, however, the number of investments remained significant. A new fund of funds, Equifund, four times the size of previous one, stimulated the creation of eight new funds during 2018, which are expected to further fuel the market’s growth in the next years.

Greece

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338 out of the 500 rounds (68% of total) were invested in startups maintaining a presence in Greece. Such percentage was decreased in the last couple of years, yet we consider this change largely temporary.

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With regards to total amounts invested, the mix is reversed, with companies based in other geographies having raised 73% of the total. Still, startups maintaining a base in Greece have raised a total of $561m within the period, getting from $10m raised in 2010 to $155m in 2018, a 16x increase.

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The average Seed round size for companies maintaining a presence in Greece has increased from a minimum of $171k in 2011 to $740k in 2017, a 4x increase. Still, it has been trailing compared to similar rounds in companies based elsewhere, which are typically 3x in size. The price difference (blue area) highlights the investment opportunity in the market. The effect is in force at a smaller scale also in later-stage rounds.

And beyond

Startups are not limited to geographies and, by extension, Greek startups are not limited to Greece. As a matter of fact, 134 out of 301 startups with Greek founders that raised investment in the period under study do not have a presence in Greece. Here are the most popular geographies that are hosting them.

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It is of interest to mention that, every single startup that started or later established a presence in Greece, still maintains an employee base in the country, while the vast majority of the founders who don’t are keen to explore such an opportunity in the future. We consider the above to be a testament to the appeal of the startup industry in Greece and expect such trends to extend further going forward.

Investors

A total number of 268 institutional investors entrusted Greek startups since 2010; 12 of them were based in Greece, and 256 were based elsewhere, predominantly in the US, UK, Europe, and Israel, while the figure does not include angels and corporate investors.

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International investors led 248 (50%) of the total number of rounds, with Greek ones having led 178 (35%) and angel investors 74 (15%).
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The vast majority of the amounts invested originates from international investors, who are typically leading Growth and Series A rounds. Greek startups are attracting significant volumes of capital.

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The above figure highlights international funds that have invested in three or more Greek startups.

The list is impressive – some of the most prominent VCs in the world are invested in our industry.

Acquisitions & IPOs

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Between 2010 and 2018, 47 acquisitions and 5 IPOs of Greek startups have been completed. The number of acquisitions grew from zero in 2010 to ten in 2016 and eight in 2018, while we already count two major ones in 2019.

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The above figure highlights some of the company buyers that are already active in our industry.

Greek startups are getting acquired by some of the largest technology companies in the world.

To conclude, many of the above figures may surprise even those following developments in Greek startups closely. There is plenty of investment activity taking place already, as well as plenty of room to grow. We hope such facts to further stimulate confidence and trust, hence more people, companies and capital joining the Greek startup industry.

In the words of a founding figure of the Israeli ecosystem, who felt a bit nostalgic when we were sharing our story and current status, “You do the first two, three successes, then they become ten or twenty, then the rest is history”…

Build on protocols (not necessarily blockchains)

Investing in fat protocols is all the rage in the startup world today. Still, investing in protocols is nothing new. Web 2.0 startups came to life thanks to the Web open & standard (🙏) protocol  (HTTP, HTML, CSS, AJAX). Before that, many networking companies bet their existence on the TCP/IP stack, when others put their bets on private non-standard networking protocols that ended up in the trash bin of computer history.

Continue reading Build on protocols (not necessarily blockchains)

Why You Don’t Want SoftBank in Your Seed Round

We frequently encounter the following train of thought by founders: “I’m raising a seed round of one million. I haven’t found my lead investor yet, but we are close to having {Sequoia} to join the round with a small amount, say, a hundred thousand or even half of it. I don’t really care about the amount per se; what matters to me is getting them on board early, so they track our progress closely, and I can publicly use their name. I’m pushing a lot towards it and –fingers crossed– should we finally make it and be {a16z}-backed, this is the best thing that can happen to us, and I’m totally excited about it!”

Continue reading Why You Don’t Want SoftBank in Your Seed Round