What we can learn from Airbnb’s pitch deck

Building and visualising a pitch-deck is challenging because of many reasons. However, it’s also very important as effective pitching is one of the cornerstones of securing funding because it proves investors that you have a clear marketing vision. As a consequence pitching is one of the cornerstones of your pre-seed start-up survival chances. Let’s have a look at a successful pitch-deck, the one from AirBnB, and see what we can learn by focussing on what could be improved:

  • There is no reason to include the slide number on top of the slide because it just distracts your audience from what really matters. If you do want to include the page number, NEVER put it in the right top of the slide and make it small. In this presentation it automatically attracts the eye towards something completely irrelevant. Just as a rule of thumb: page numbers are used to help readers navigate a large document, not an audience during a presentation.
  • Try to keep your visual identity consistent. This is a minor shortcoming of this pitch deck as you’ll soon recognise that they ditch the ‘red color’ and only play around with blue and grey.
  • Use the principle of contrast to make the deck easier on the eye. You could for example choose for a light red or light blue background instead of white – this immediately gives you a more intense interaction with the audience and helps you to keep your style consistent across the deck.
  • This slide should prioritise the third issue (no easy way exists…) because it touches the very essence of what Airbnb is. It solves 1: a problem for people who are looking to rent a room and 2: a problem for people who are looking to rent out a room. The main problem is therefore that, at the time, there was no platform that connected these two groups of people.
  • The consequence of the lack of such a platform is that people are forced to stay at hotels if they travel,  and hotels are expensive and are disconnected from local culture.
  • So simply restructuring these 3 problems makes a connection between them, and clearly prioritises one central issue.
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  • The word ‘users’ is confusing, as of course travellers are also users of the platform. You could rephrase it too ‘homeowners’ for example.
  • ‘Renting out their space to host’ is kind of complex as well.. you could just say ‘rent out their space to travellers to’.
  • Connecting two groups of people could have been visualised as well which would help to emphasise the core of the solution: a platform that connects homeowners and travellers directly.
  • However, this slide clearly shows a strong marketing vision: SAVE money, MAKE money, SHARE culture – is clear, to the point and extremely relevant.
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  • Good slide because it is to the point. It immediately shows the audience that there is a lot of demand for temporary housing.
  • However, as this pitch deck was used after Airbnb was already on the market for a couple of years, it would have made sense to exclude this slide (market validation was already clear at this point) or to include the number of temporary housing offers available at their own platform.
  • A very good example of effective data visualisation: they use circles & different sizes to facilitate the comparison process.
  • I admire they way they cheated a little bit with their data visualisation: the market share of AirBnB ‘seems’ larger than it actually is.
  • We might suggest to include the number of trips booked with Airbnb as well, which would give you a more relevant comparison between the total market and AirBnB’s marketshare in that market.
  • Again very concise and clear slide – showing how the platform works. Although nowadays you could easily include an ‘video – kind’ of slide where you can see how potential customers would interact with the platform in real-life.
  • Do you notice that the words on top of the slide are kind of floating? That’s because there is no intuitive connection between the screenshots and the process written out.
  • The overlap of the screenshots is unnecessary: it’s kind of annoying not being able to see the complete screenshot (even though there is no valuable information lost). Suggestion here would be to have three separate slides with each slide representing one of the steps. A fourth slide could be added to summarise the process – using icons and words.
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  • This obviously a killer-slide -> this just blows away investors: it clearly shows the platform works and that they know how to monetise it (a strong market vision).
  • Looking closer there are a couple of things that are not really necessary:
    • The word ‘Share of market’ seems irrelevant in this context. We would suggest to include the period of time it took to get to that number here instead of putting it under the revenue (if you put it under the number of trips booked, it’s going to be obvious that the revenue stream was realised between 2008-2011).
    • We would suggest as well to put a greater visual emphasis on the realised revenue as this is clearly the main point of focus and also the ‘outcome’ of a thinking process visualised on the slide.
  • Visually speaking an awful slide to behold but it does the job: it gives you an understandable overview of the current market.
  • However, if you use these kind of maps to plot your competitors, you need to include a specific point of focus for each competitor: if you look at where AirBnB is positioned, you are not sure whether they are more or less ‘online’ compared to hostels.com. The same thing could be said about the position of bedandbreakfast.com: what is their exact position compared to Craiglist for example.
  • You could raise the question whether the two axis of their competitive analysis are indeed the two most relevant axis: expensive vs affordable is surely very relevant, as it is one of the main components in the problem they are trying to solve. However: offline vs online transaction is probably not that relevant (this was not at all a cornerstone of either the problem or solution).