Airbnb's original pitch deck from 2009 has become one of the most sought-after references for new entrepreneurs. It was one of the first pitch decks from unicorn companies to be released publicly, and it got a lot of media attention.
Most importantly, it's a great pitch deck. It's short, and to the point, it hits all the high notes, and most importantly, it perfectly paints the picture of the business. We are going to tear this pitch deck down, slide by slide.
The look of the slides is... very 2000's, so we took the liberty of redesigning it using Slidebean's AI design system.
4- Market Validation
5- Market Size
7- Business Model
8- Market Adoption
10- Competitive Advantages
13- User Testimonials
This is one of my favorite problems slides ever: 3 clear, direct, and indisputable statements.
Writing a problem slide is a common challenge; founders who are familiar with the status quo tend to overcrowd this slide excess industry details. Remember, the investor seeing your deck might not be familiar with the inner workings of a specific market niche.
Travel is by no means a niche- so the purpose here was simply to establish the reality of travel and three key points that the Airbnb was looking to tackle and solve. This slide is also, the first slide. You don't want to start the pitch deck with a statement that will make investors question your actual industry expertise. Remember, use undebatable statements. The Problems stated on this slide need to be tackled on the next slide, the SOLUTION. I usually like to show the product on this slide, but these guys opted to move the product showcase later in the deck.
Instead, they focused on answering the problems with three statements. Once again, notice how simple the headline is: A web platform where users can rent their space to host travelers. So. Simple. No complicated tech jargon.
Explaining what your product does in 10 words or less in such simple words is by no means an easy task. Be prepared to iterate time and time again over this slogan- you'll know when you find it. When your grandma asks you what you do, you can answer in a single sentence, and she can grasp it- you'll be there. Elevator pitch Nirvana.
Not every pitch deck needs this slide. We made this chart a few months ago showing the 'required' slides on a deck.
However, market validation is essential here to demonstrate how people are looking to move away from the hotel model. Craigslist is a classifieds site, not optimized for travelers or experiences (with that UI, it's not optimized for anything). However, it still shows how many people are looking to rent out their spaces.
Similarly, over half a million Couchsurfers demonstrate, once again, the problem statement: people are looking for cheaper travel options and are willing to sleep on a shared space.
Airbnb offered a new concept, but CouchSurfing provided the validation it needed, which is the reason this slide was critical.
This is not my favorite slide here. What the founders were trying to demonstrate is how many trips they could potentially reach if they owned 20% of the Budget/Online travel market. 20% of the Total Addressable Market is a bold statement, most definitely. However, with 2MM+ guests sleeping on an Airbnb location every night- we can safely say they've beat that metric.
When I write pitch decks, I tend to avoid lines like 'if we could only get 1% of this market'. I would much rather show a more in-depth study of the market opportunity, focusing on the industry data of similar companies.
Not much to add here. Showcase your product. If you don't have product screenshots to show, you are probably not ready to be pitching investors.
Check out our video on Seed Funding for more details on traction requirements to raise capital.
Once again, this slide assumes a bold and ambitious piece of the travel market. I think that the most significant value on this slide is, once again, simplicity:
We take a 10% commission on each transaction. That's simple and straightforward, and it provides a number that can be used to estimate business dimensions.
Notice how they are using an average fee per night, as well as actual data on their average room price. These are not made up numbers: Airbnb had an operational MVP when this pitch deck was created.
Also called a Go-To-Market slide, which should lay out a plan to grow the company and the user base.
Go-to-market slides are most undoubtedly speculative. As a marketer, I understand how a plan can fail or how quickly the marketing/sales plan of a company can shift to breakthroughs.
Still, the idea on this slide is to show that there is a plan, that the team can come up with solid ideas to grow the company, and that they will be able to execute them without having to recruit a larger team or an external agency.
The dual posting feature on Craigslist was one of Airbnb's most iconic marketing hacks. They developed a bot that would automatically re-list any Airbnb listing on Craigslist, thus exposing the property to a much larger audience, driving traffic to their site. The listing would also increase the chance of the host securing a guest, even though the organic traffic to their website was still small. Amazing, genius stuff.
I like business school 101 charts, especially if they can show how the product is differentiated. By setting themselves apart on affordability and online transactions, they would be able to carve out a piece of the market for their own.
I believe the highlights here are:
1- 1st to market.
2- Host incentive.
Airbnb was the first site of its kind. One of those game-changing ideas that were, of course, combined with fantastic execution.
The host incentive, as well as real ease of use, were also incredibly valuable. The motivation for extra revenue from unused home space is hard to beat, and non-tech people could easily list their homes and filter guests. Airbnb's system and insurance also protected both the guest and the host from scams, which are quite common on Craigslist.
Not a lot to add on the team slide. Make sure you only talk about core team members (people who will be 100% dedicated to the company). Advisors are useless here unless they are incredibly relevant in the space.
Also, the team shown on the slides needs to have the capacity to bring the business to its next fundable point. With the $500,000 Airbnb was planning on raising, they probably wouldn't be able to afford any industry leaders or extremely skilled employees. These guys were going to be the upper-level management for the next months to come.
Press and user testimonials are helpful. I usually like to merge these two into a single slide, perhaps even combining it with TRACTION, meaning revenue.
Simple and to the point, and most importantly, with a clear goal: reaching 80,000 transactions. The only detail I would add here is the use of funds: a rough estimate of where the round is going.
In this case, considering the product MVP was already developed, we could assume that the round would go to growth (validating the business); but we'd need Brian to answer that question.