The company creates what it calls a cloud software development platform. It has reportedly increased from Crane Venture Partners of Acequia Capital† Essence of venture capital and Third type of venture capital join the round.
I wanted to look at this deck in more detail, especially because it tells a very elegant story in a market where it is extremely difficult to differentiate yourself – both for your customers and for investors!
Pitching a dev tool in a way that tells the story well enough to understand but without falling deep down a rabbit hole is a particularly difficult challenge, and that’s the needle that Encore threads so efficiently in this 24-slide game.
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Slides in this card game
- 1 — Cover Slide
- 2 — “We spent 8 years scaling Spotify Premium” – team slide
- 3 — “Modern software is richer and more advanced than ever” – problem slide
- 4 — “Building modern software is slow” – problem slide
- 5 — “Building Backends Seems Easy” – Problem Slide
- 6 — “But there is much more” – problem slide
- 7 — “Encore allows you to focus on your product” – solution slide
- 8 — “Unlike any other tools, Encore understands your application” – solution slide
- 9 — “Unique end-to-end insights to radically improve the development experience” – value prop slide
- 10 — “Encore: The Cloud Software Development Platform” – Product Slide
- 11 — Chart showing how current solutions are performing – product slide
- 12 — “Order of Improvement” – Product Slide
- 13 — “Flexible level of abstraction” – product slide
- 14 — “Always work at your ideal level of abstraction” – product slide
- 15 — “What’s in the Box” – Product Feature Set Slide
- 16 — “Roadmap” – product roadmap slide
- 17 — “Strong Traction” – Traction Slide
- 18 — Diagram slide
- 19 — “User Feedback Incredibly Positive” – Market Validation Slide
- 20 — Early User Characters – Audience Slide
- 21 — “Growth through word of mouth by nurturing a community of builders” – go-to-market slide
- 22 — “Start by Paying for Productivity, Add Incredible Tools for Entire Organizations” – Business Model Slide
- 23 — “Sales Through Organic Adoption and Bottom Up Meeting with Direct Selling” – Sales Strategy Slide
- 24 — Company vision slide
Three things to love
This is a relatively small round and Encore is still very early in its journey, and I can 100% understand how it can completely “get away with” some of the things I’ll bring up in this teardown. It also tells a really good story in an engaging way – so let’s start with the good!
Easy to understand problem space
Over some evolving slides (5, 6, 7), the founders do a very smooth job of creating a space within a market that currently has spectacular competition. Spending a few slides with the story of how the company is positioning itself in the space begins to hint at what the product challenge is. The message of letting the engineering team focus on building its product, rather than worrying about what’s going on under the hood, is a compelling proposition for anyone who’s ever let DevOps ruin the product party.
One complaint here that isn’t quite serious enough to warrant its own entry in the “things that could be improved” section: These slides are worded as if the company is talking to its customers. “Let’s you focus” makes sense when you’re talking to a potential sale. However, remember that you are not selling the product to the investors – you are selling stock in your company. “Let developers focus” would work better and is an opportunity to also mention who your target audience is.
Clear value proposition
Time is money, and if the profit and loss statement of most startups is anything, developer time is the most expensive time there is.
In slides 11 and 12, Encore captures why its product has such a powerful value proposition: If you scroll to this slide, it tells the story of how getting a product feature or bug fix for a production app incurs hours of avoidable delays. The subtext is clear: this can be prevented by using Encore’s tools.
If the company can put the money in the right place – that is, if it can really cut implementation time from hours to minutes – and if it can demonstrate a direct link to development efficiency, then the value to software companies is immense. That is it; that’s the story – it doesn’t really matter what exactly Encore does, if it can show that developers save significant amounts of time and it can make its way to market, this is a company that could become huge.
Telling the same story in a different way
This slide essentially says the same thing as slides 12 and 13 – but it says it in a way that is very easy to visualize.
One way to make a business more efficient is to make sure you focus your developers’ attention on the things that really matter, which is worth repeating across multiple slides.
In the rest of this teardown, we’ll look at three things Encore could have improved upon or done differently. In particular, I’m curious why it focuses so much on its product, while – in my experience – Investors generally don’t care as much as you might think† A more curious part is how the company operates now (in the form of traction and finding a repeatable business model) and what it hopes to accomplish with the money raised in this round. We’ll also be sharing Encore’s full pitch deck so you can see the whole thing in context.
Three things that could be improved
There’s a lot to love about Encore’s deck: it simplifies a complex product story into a few easy-to-digest slides and shows why there’s an opportunity in the market. But if I were to invest in this company, I would immediately have a few questions. Let’s take a closer look at what raises the red flags: