do you know what is a huge pain where the
=sum()don’t shine? Financial reporting, planning and analysis. I often go on and on (and so on) about startups not getting their financial and operational plans right in their startup pitch decks, so… I’m not going to lie, I chose an Austrian startup helu.iowho completed a round of €9.8 million in July, in hopes that a company that focuses solely on FP&A (that’s “financial planning and analysis,” for those who can’t get over their heads in financial jargon) can show the rest of us how to do it.
We’re looking for more unique pitch decks to break down, so if you’d like to submit your own pitch decks, here’s how.
Slides in this deck
When Helu submitted its deck, it did so with the comment that the economic information about income and units had been removed.
In a world where I see pre-product, pre-income companies dreaming of global market dominance, slide 10 comes across as quite defensive.
Also worth noting (because I’ll be honest, I had to Google it, and it’s about saving you a Google search or two) what”DACH” stands for, because it appears in the slides below. D is Deutschland – that’s easy. A is for Österreich (Austria) and CH is for… Switzerland. DACH is a somewhat common term for the cluster of countries in Europe that have German as Sprachraum – in other words, where German is predominantly spoken.
- cover slip
- “Helu is to CFOs what Personio is to HR” – Market Opportunity Slide
- “The CFO’s Pain Is Excel” – Problem Slide
- “Goodbye Excel Sheets” – Solution Slide
- “Our approach is unique and different” — product slide
- “Automated financial reporting: real-time in one step” — value proposition slide
- “Collaborative Analysis” – Value Proposition Slide
- “Tackling a $100 Billion Global B2B SaaS Market” — TAM slide
- “Billion dollar market in DACH alone” — SAM slide
- “Specific of the DACH market” — SOM slide
- “Unique position in DACH” – slide / competitive advantage
- “Helu Automates Data Aggregation” – product slide
- “Helu’s typical customer” – customer profile slide
- “Top class international team” – teamdia
- “Backed by strong investors and advisors” – investors and advisors slide
- closing slide
Three things to love
In general, Helu’s slide deck comes across as a little strange from the eyes of Silicon Valley. It’s strangely disturbing to have an English-language slidedeck targeting German-speaking countries, without really saying anything about an English-language expansion plan. There are also some notable things missing from this slide deck – but I’m getting ahead of things. First, let’s take a look at the things that work great.
Solid value proposition
For founders who work in a space that’s a bit baseball-like, it can be very tempting to over-explain what a product does. The truth is that the investors don’t really care what your product does. Not really. What they care about is that the customers are happy enough to keep coming back and to get that part of the story across you have to explain what the customer gets out of it. You do this by sharing the benefits, or the value proposition. The Helu team does that well over the course of two slides:
On slide 6, the team shows a few screenshots of its product, explaining it right between features and benefits. If they tried to sell this product to: meas someone who runs their own company I would like it to be more benefit oriented but they aren’t – they “sell” stock in the company to institutional investors who are generally very clear about how financial reporting works .
The second part of the value prop argument is more of the same, but it helps emphasize the software package’s strengths. Most importantly, I can fully see how this is critical to operational concerns; you have to zoom in, simulate and analyze different scenarios. This package has you covered. Excel can of course do this, but good luck resetting the model to pre-scenario states.
These slides are not complete slam dunks; I would have liked more consistency. In slide 7, the bullets on the left are capitalized and those on the rest begin in lowercase. The slides alternate between using “&” and “and” to tie things together. But generally they do.
Show me the money. And take my money.
I’m an Excel/Google Spreadsheets geek, and I think a lot of investors in general are. Recording data and keeping it up to date is unbearably difficult, and the ugly little secret is that many of us work with snapshots of data. These snapshots may or may not be updated. Working entirely with anecdotal data? I’m guessing the snapshots don’t get updated most of the time. That means you’re making huge, strategic financial decisions based on outdated information. It doesn’t take an MBA to realize that’s not the best way to run a business. This slide got me really excited indeed, and the data geek in me actually wanted to see what this looks like in real life. It’s rare that a slide deck makes me both aware of an entirely new product category and makes me want to play with financial modeling.
I think this slide is masterful; it showcases the power of Helu’s tools in a way that helps a potential investor understand why this is so important. I wouldn’t be surprised if the investors asked one or more of their startups to try Helu’s financial modeling and reporting tools; they fall in the center of the bull’s eye for the product, and if it works as well as it looks, it’s a clear win. The slide itself is understated and simple, but as I close my ears, I hear a founder give a voiceover with a few examples showing just how powerful this can be.
OK, so this slide is one of the best and one of the worst in this card game. We’re talking about the three main things I loved, so in this section we’ll talk about those, but, spoiler alert, this slide makes a comeback in the “three things that could be improved” below. If you’ve read some of my pitch decks in the past, here’s an opportunity to do some exercise: What’s Wrong With This Slide? Yes, there are too many words on it, but that’s not the problem – see if you can figure it out!
What I love about this slide is that it paints a picture of how, once Helu gets a firm foothold in this market, it will be essentially unbeatable; and I suspect $10 million and a solid product will help it with this. It will not soon have competition from abroad, because it has “the most complex accounting and tax system in the world”. I’m sure someone at the Internal Revenue Service will read that and start to feel a little competitive, but I believe it’s probably a pretty unique landscape of rules and regulations.
With an added twist, the German Mittelstand is a powerful force to be reckoned with. These are thousands of small but efficiently run businesses that you can’t imagine in any other country; in the US, small businesses tend to roll up into larger ones. As the company states, 99.5% of all companies and 97.5% of all exporters fall into the SME category. That is a landscape that most international SaaS companies do not know how to deal with; local and cultural knowledge and building tools that work really well for this particular subset of businesses mean Helu could end up with a formidable moat. The company won’t come out right away and say this is a “winner take all” market, but I think they want that.
In the rest of this teardown, we’ll take a look at three things Helu could have improved or done differently, along with the full pitch deck!