A number of startups over the years have tried to reinvent PowerPoint with services that made it easier or quicker to create a slideshow presentation. Newly launched SketchDeck is taking a different approach: Instead of providing an alternative to PowerPoint or similar software applications, it’s offering a service that enables individuals or businesses to have their slides made beautiful by a team of designers who can turn around assignments within 24 hours.
Explains SketchDeck co-founder and CEO Chris Finneral, this kind of service actually already exists, but only within larger organizations, like banks or consultancies. He would know, as Finneral himself used to work as a business analyst at McKinsey in London where he made thousands of slideshows himself.
McKinsey used a service called Visual Graphics India (VGI) which allowed staff to send out their roughly drawn slides to an overseas team that would, overnight, turn those into high-quality, well-designed presentations, then email them back to you.
“It was so valuable there, but it didn’t really exist in any nice form outside of big organizations,” says Finneral. “Yet, all businesses make presentations – board meetings, sales pitches, marketing presentations – everyone’s making them,” he adds. “And lots of people don’t have much time, so the value proposition still works.”
The service as it stands today is designed to be very simple to use. Customers either upload or email their draft slide deck to firstname.lastname@example.org, and within 24 hours, they receive the professionally designed version in return.
On SketchDeck’s side, the presentations are channeled first to a junior team of overseas designers who make more basic improvements, like adjusting the formatting or alignment, applying templates and more. It’s then sent off to a senior, generally U.S.-based team, that adds the custom flourishes that complete the project. (SketchDeck pays its designers by the hour, generally around $10/hr for the junior team and $50/hr for the seniors.)
The product is available to both individuals and businesses on either a pay-as-you go basis, at $5 or $20 per slide, depending on whether you want a more basic, templated slide, or a custom-designed one. Businesses can also choose to pay for SketchDeck as a service, with plans that range from $100/month to $1,400/month, depending on the size of their company, the number of presentations they’ll need, and the customizations involved.
Since SketchDeck’s soft launch in November, they’ve created around 250 presentations – some as large as 300 slides – for a variety of customers, including several YC startups (VC pitch decks galore!), and other contacts Finneral had from back in his McKinsey days.
Longer-term, he says the idea is to take this concept beyond just slide decks, to offer similar design services for other materials that businesses need, including brochures, handbooks, flyers, and more. In fact, the team has already quietly handled a few these types of things, but for now, its main focus is on getting presentations right.
The Y Combinator-backed company is currently working out of Mountain View, and is a team of two full-time (not counting the designers paid hourly): Finneral and his co-founder David Mack.