Pitch Deck Teardown: Rokoko’s $3M strategic extension deck

There are times in the life of a startup when you don’t really want or need to raise money, but an opportunity comes along that’s so good that you create a brand new round just to be able to bring in a strategic investor.

That was the situation Danish animation and motion capture company Rokoko found itself in over the summer. I wrote about its $3 million strategic round that valued the company at $80 million — a round pulled together specifically to let Zepeto buy its way onto Rokoko’s cap table.

When that sort of thing happens, you typically don’t need an in-depth deck; the investor is already pretty sure they want to invest, and you’re pretty sure you want the investor. Besides, if the deal doesn’t happen … whatevz, you didn’t need the money anyway.

When I talked with Rokoko, I found myself wondering: What were they using as a deck in this very specific circumstance? Luckily, the company’s CEO was happy to share the deck with me. So for this week’s pitch deck teardown, I’ve got something slightly unusual: a strategic extension deck!

Let’s take a closer look.

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Slides in this deck

  1. Cover slide
  2. Problem slide
  3. Solution slide
  4. Product road map slide
  5. Market size slide
  6. Market trajectory slide
  7. “Commercial Flywheel” — business model slide
  8. “The Rokoko Platform in 2 years” — product road map slide (redacted)
  9. “Conquering new verticals, starting with health” — market opportunity/expansion slide
  10.   Team slide
  11.   “We move on the world’s most powerful dataset of human motion” — market trajectory slide
  12.   “Company background”  — metrics and progress slide (redacted)
  13.   Financial projections (redacted)
  14.   “Rokoko at a glance” — KPI slide
  15.   “Fundraising history” — fundraising journey slide, with valuations
  16.   Closing slide

Three things to love

If you’re building a company in the creator space, you’d best have a beautiful deck. And oh my actual goodness does Rokoko deliver on that front.

Utter clarity

[Slide 2] Problem slide. Image Credits: Rokoko

The team at Rokoko is all about motion and the capturing thereof. How the ever-loving hell do you capture that in a still-frame slide deck? Well, Slide 2 gives you the answer. This slide is an absolute masterpiece of storytelling. By contextualizing a human in motion next to a digital counterpart, Rokoko displays in a single side-by-side what it does.

The photograph is great, of course, and it evokes motion and movement. Anyone who’s ever tried animating something by hand knows how hard it is to get movement to look natural. The two images go a long way, and the text further rams home the point: We are living in a universe where a wide range of motion needs to be captured in order to make animators’ lives easier. It’s not hard to imagine that that’s true for games, animated movies and much more. I love the simplicity of this slide and how much work it does. It’s a great way to establish the conversation.

A big market with big adjacent markets

You know all that praise I just heaped on Rokoko above? It gets better. I’m already convinced that this is a good opportunity, but then they go and tell us that there’s a huge amount of additional opportunities as well:

[Slide 4] Adjacent markets. Image Credits: Rokoko

If you’re building a company in the creator space, you’d best have a beautiful deck. And oh my actual goodness does Rokoko deliver on that front.

It makes sense that creators — especially low and midbudget games and animation producers — are a big and growing market. Seeing that Rokoko has thought about (and is executing against) a market expansion is exactly what investors want to see.

For a lot of companies, I would push back at this point, saying that this is fragmentation and lack of focus, but I really like how Rokoko tells the story in this instance: They are thinking about health and life sciences, web3, sports and other use cases, but they’re not making a big deal out of it. It shows that they are keeping tabs on things without really diverting too many resources. At least, that’s what I’m hoping. If I were looking to invest, I’d ask them how many resources they are using, but given how this slide is designed and worded, I’m confident that they’re running some pilots/early tests.

The outlier is “Robotics and Automotive,” where the company casually drops the fact that they have Tesla, Volkswagen, BMW, Ford and Mercedes as existing customers. That’s underplaying what’s going on, but it’s a great way to tell this part of the story. Yes, there’s a flurry of questions immediately jumping to mind: How are they using your product? What are the contracts worth? How did you get them? What can you do to grow your presence there? How can you pick up even more robotics and automotive clients? But as far as the storytelling goes, it hints at a solid core market (creators) and a plethora of potentially lucrative market extensions. It’s a great place to be as a startup.

Oh and about those creators …

The first time I clicked through Rokoko’s deck, I was confused about the ordering; I would have switched slides 4 and 5. But thinking about it more closely, I see what they are doing. Instead of doing a “this is our core and here are the other opportunities,” they are doing it the other way around. Slide 4 shows the lay of the land and then Slide 5 drills deeper at the core audiences, showing that there’s a huge growth opportunity.

[Slide 5] About those creators … Image Credits: Rokoko

This slide tells such an important part of Rokoko’s story — Slide 4 covered the overall landscape, and here the company double-clicks on the creator economy; the additional context shows where amateur and low-end pro producers are putting their content. And it’s encouraging to see that the company has space to grow into more high-end content, too, produced by the likes of Disney+, Apple TV+, Hulu, HBO Max, Prime Video and Netflix. It shows the width and breadth of the customers who are using these services.

This round is all about bringing in an investor who already wants to be involved, so I’ll forgive Rokoko for this, but if this were a more general VC round, I’d invite them to talk more about what that “strong growth” looks like in numbers.

In the rest of this teardown, we’ll take a look at three things Rokoko could have improved or done differently, along with its full pitch deck!

Three things that could be improved

So it’s kinda hard to give constructive criticism on this deck, given that (let’s be honest) the company could probably have raised this round without a deck at all. But here are a few things that stood out that other founders can learn from this deck.

Keep information grouped

[Slide 11] Yeah, yeah, we get it. Up and to the right. Image Credits: Rokoko

When I wrote up the list of what each slide was, I was confused; it seemed like the company was going over similar territory several times, seemingly unconnected. Slides 5, 6 and 11 are too similar — they are all talking about market size and trajectory. And they all say the same thing: The market is big and growing.

Cool, but in that case, keep them clustered so you can get the full conversation about the market out of the way in one go. Now, it’s possible that the founders are telling this story in a way that isn’t obvious from the slide deck; there are ways to drop a thread and pick it up again later, of course. However, all I have to go on is the deck, and it seems a little disconnected. I’d have preferred to see all the market info in one cluster.

Similarly, slides 4 and 8 both talk about the markets that the company is going after. I can’t figure out how the story hangs together with three slides in between two parts of that story.

You’re allowed to use more than one slide

[Slide 12] OK, that’s too much info on a slide. Image Credits: Rokoko

The rest of the deck seems to have a pretty decent balance of info per slide, but then comes slide 12. I appreciate that some of the info is redacted, which loses a bit of context, but even then … I know that I said that most companies are spending too much time on their product slides, but Rokoko goes a little bit too far in the other direction, in my opinion.

In fact, it has a highly innovative product (as I wrote about in its fundraising announcement), but it barely gets mentioned at all in this deck. Sure, the investor is probably already intimately aware of the product, so maybe this is a minor niggle, but I’d probably have one slide about it nonetheless. Let the investors get excited about it for a moment before moving on!

This slide has too much info on it overall. It would have made sense to have three slides here: One covering products and the past, one covering the future vision and one for metrics and KPIs. They are conventionally pretty different, and cramming it all onto a single slide feels a little bit like an afterthought.

The other weird thing in this section is the ordering — slides 12 and 14 are conceptually similar; they both talk about the company in numbers. But then there’s slide 13, which details financial projections. I’m glad it’s there (you need one!), but jumping back and forth feels a little cramped.

Is the team slide a vanity slide?

[Slide 10] Who is this slide for? Image Credits: Rokoko

I’m confused by Rokoko’s team slide. The management section is talking about academic achievements, which don’t strike me as particularly relevant in this section. The chairman’s only achievement, as listed here, is being a “private equity expert,” which is pretty far removed from what VCs typically want to see. And a selected subset of the board of directors is lovely and all, but I think I’d be more excited to hear about how all of these folks are direct benefits to the company. As it stands, I don’t think this slide does much of anything; there are better ways of making this slide benefits-driven.

Personally, I’d focus just on the management team and leave the others off. It may also have been an opportunity to talk about the holes in the team — exploring what is still needed and whether there’s a chance to grow the team.

Of course, I’m missing a huge piece of the puzzle here; if the new investors are passionately excited about Unity, Roblox and Nordisk Film, then this is a great slide — but I’d try to connect it all better. A list of faces is cool, but tell us why!

The full pitch deck

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