Pitch Deck Teardown: Qortex’s $10M seed deck

This week’s Pitch Deck Teardown comes to you from the PCB-laden confines of CES in Las Vegas. Today, we’re looking at the slide deck that video analytics firm Qortex used to raise a $10 million seed round. Qortex uses AI to help brands, media companies and creators identify the right moments in a video to insert an ad and maximize engagement, so this is going to be a fun one.

So, without further commercial interruptions or preamble, let’s get to it. 

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Slides in this deck

Qortex has shared its 13-slide deck in full with just its client list redacted.

As you can see from the list below, the deck is missing quite a few of the slides that you’d expect to find in a fully fleshed out deck. There’s no “ask” or “use of funds” slides, no problem statement, no go-to-market strategy, and no business model or pricing slide, among others. To be honest, I’m a little surprised the company managed to raise money at all with this pitch deck, but the fact that it did manage to raise $10 million is a good reminder that the deck is only one part of the puzzle. The conversations you have and collateral you share outside of the deck itself are all part of the fundraising process. 

The slide deck comprises:

  1. Cover slide
  2. Mission statement
  3. Team slide
  4. Market size slide
  5. Interstitial slide: “Focus on the media sector”
  6. Solution slide
  7. Product slide
  8. Traction slide
  9. Future plans slide
  10.   Advisers slide
  11.   How it works slide
  12.   Entry into connected TV space slide
  13.   Clients

Three things to love

Besides the omissions mentioned above, Qortex’s deck has some weak slides, too. I had to dig deep to find things that I truly love or admire about this deck, but I did find some slides worth celebrating:

A stellar team of advisers

A large part of the fundraising process involves answering questions about edge cases and scenarios, and even the most experienced founders can feel a little stuck. That’s when it’s helpful to have an extraordinary list of resources to draw on — and your board, whether it’s an advisory board or your board of directors — is a good group of people to have in your back pocket.

And Qortex has surely collected an impressive group here:

[Slide 10] That’s how you advisory board! Image Credits: Qortex

Qortex is being strategic by spotlighting the media expertise on its board, notably the former president of ABC Television and ABC Studios. This is not just about flaunting an industry titan’s backing; it’s a clear signal of Qortex’s access to invaluable insights and strategic guidance.

Featured prominently on slide 10, this roster underscores the company’s savvy in leveraging high-profile confidence in its vision. This advisory board also features the brains behind Universal Sports Network and other seasoned startup advisers, making for a veritable brain trust.

Indeed, it can be a strong competitive advantage to be able to say, “I have access to a deep bench of folks who have done this before and have a big Rolodex to connect us with the right people.”

The biggest takeaway from this slide is that you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Fill the gaps in your knowledge and experience with a board, and lean on them to tell the right stories.

Show, don’t tell

[Slide 6] Showing your product in action makes for solid storytelling. Image Credits: Qortex

Qortex demonstrates it knows how to communicate a story by quietly leveraging the power of video to show off its cutting-edge product. It’s a masterstroke in visual storytelling, showcasing not once, but thrice, the capabilities of its video analytics technology.

Slide 6 has a video offering a real-time glimpse into how the company discerns audience engagement and tailors marketing strategies accordingly. Slide 7 ups the ante with another video, this time illustrating the seamless integration of ads into the user experience. And slide 12 features yet another video cementing Qortex’s commitment to revolutionizing the intersection of technology and marketing.

Is it a bit much? Maybe, but it effectively answers many questions about how well the product works and the use cases it addresses.

A rising tide . . .

[Slide 4] Nobody wants to invest in shrinking markets, so Qortex did well to show that its market is growing. Image Credits: Qortex

Qortex does a good job of showing that the global video analytics market is growing and could prove lucrative. That’s important: All VCs want to see that a startup is operating in a space brimming with opportunity.

Sadly, the company only tells part of the story here. Yes, the market is growing, but Qortex leaves out some important bits: How much of that market it can expect to capture, and what the company’s growth trajectory could look like.

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

Three things that could be improved

Above, I noted the glaring absence of several key slides that investors usually like to see in a pitch deck. But with this deck, it’s not only about what’s missing; the existing slides desperately need to be refined as well. Let’s look at how Qortex can revamp some of these slides to elevate its pitch to the next level.

Is this a world-class team?

[Slide 3] So, about that team . . .  Image Credits: Qortex

The driving force behind any startup’s ability to raise money is the founding team’s capability to turn its vision into reality. Investors are keen on founders with deep expertise in their respective domains and prefer seasoned professionals with prior startup experience. They look for a blend of creativity and resilience, which is essential for navigating the unpredictable seas of startup life and making the crucial decisions that running a company demands.

Qortex’s team slide falls short of showcasing these traits by quite a bit.

The slide introduces the leadership team as industry pioneers, but it only has their photographs, names, and titles at the company. It leaves out essentially everything regarding the team’s actual credentials. For a startup in this field, one would expect the leadership team to have AI experts, tons of media experience, and even a sales wizard, but the slide provides no evidence of such prowess.

Moreover, being an early entrant in a market isn’t always a guaranteed advantage. While the slide does mention Qortex’s inception in 2020, its headcount of 22, and its collection of three awards, those details alone are insufficient to convince a venture capitalist to invest.

It’s such a waste, too, because the team’s LinkedIn profiles show that there’s a lot of experience to highlight. Rosenberg has experience in sales, Altschuler has worked at startups, and Tammaro has been developing software since 2005. Now, is this a team that’s going to earn a slam-dunk investment? No, but there’s certainly more to this team than this slide shows off.

So, er, what is the solution?

[Slide 6] A slightly clunky solution slide. Image Credits: Qortex

Qortex omits a conventional “problem” slide, which casts a shadow of ambiguity over its solution slide here. This unconventional approach raises a question: Without a well-articulated problem, what exactly is Qortex’s solution addressing?

It appears Qortex is blurring the lines between a solution and a product demonstration in this slide. That isn’t really a problem from a storytelling point of view, but it does make the slide deck a lot less skimmable. VCs will often quickly click through a deck to form an initial impression of the company, so to catch an investor’s eye, the visual language and slide headings must be clear and consistent. In this deck, it’s hard to absorb the information quickly and completely.

This slide is a good illustration of why: Instead of delivering a succinct and impactful statement about the core offering — something like “Qortex simplifies the timing of brand marketing in videos” — the slide veers into a verbose discussion about categorization, correlation and curation.

This approach, while informative, is more a description of the product than a clear overview of the solution.

Where’s your traction?!

[Slide 13] Redacted or not, this is not the best way to show your traction. Image Credits: Qortex

Qortex claims that its marketplace is validated and used by major brands across the advertising supply chain on slide 13 but has redacted those clients’ names in the interest of privacy. Fair enough. So, assuming the company has a host of serious clients and considering that this pitch deck is being used to raise a good amount of money, Qortex is probably generating revenue.

What does this revenue look like? We have no idea. For traction, revenue is king, and by not talking about revenue, Qortex is making things much harder for itself.

If you have revenue, show it off. And if your revenue isn’t impressive, show it off anyway along with a plan for how you’re going to turn the ship around.

This deck actually doesn’t have a traction slide. Slide 8 — which is labeled “How Does On Stream Perform?” (On Stream is its “in-video experiences” product) — is probably closest to a traction slide, but instead of explaining its revenue and client retention figures with graphs, the company gives two statements about engagement and “viewability” for two users. Sure, having 2.3x better engagement on one platform compared to other providers is great, as is 6.8x better “viewability” (whatever that is) of ads compared to traditional ads on another platform. But these are very narrow metrics that don’t tell us much.

When you’re looking for funding to support the growth of your startup, you must be able to demonstrate that you have something to grow, and that comes in the form of traction. Use graphs to illustrate revenue, and even if you don’t want to disclose your actual customers, it’s crucial to show how many you have and the rate at which you’re increasing their number.

If you’re not doing that, I will always wonder why, and you’d best believe I’ll dig into that in a pitch.

The full pitch deck

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