Sample Series A extension pitch deck: Phospholutions’ $10.15M deck

I didn’t see Many agricultural technology startups submitted their pitch decks for this series, so I was happy to get one from Phospholutionsthat just closed a $10 million roundbringing its total funding raised to $32 million.

The team initially said they were using the deck to raise a Series B round, which confused me, but reading the press information more carefully, it seems they were wrong. I usually let people get away with this kind of stuff, but this deck is full of issues that could have been avoided by just paying more attention to detail.

We’re looking for more unique pitch decks to break down, so if you’d like to submit your own, here’s how you can do so.

Slides in this deck

Parts of Phospholutions’ deck have been somewhat redacted, making it difficult to get the full picture, but there’s still a lot to take in.

  1. Cover slide
  2. Problem slide
  3. Market context slide
  4. Commercial opportunity slide
  5. Slide the solution
  6. Benefits slide
  7. Product slide
  8. The benefits of continuing to slide
  9. Competition slide
  10. Value proposition slide
  11. Competition price comparison slide
  12. Margin slides (redacted)
  13. Go to the market slide
  14. Funding history slide
  15. Short term goals slide (redacted)
  16. 5 year forecast (redacted)
  17. Series B use of income (redacted)
  18. Team slides
  19. Investors are now sliding
  20. Summary slide
  21. Closing slide

Three things to love

Phospholutions’ pitch deck is a fascinating showcase of innovation and strategic insight, which embodies the essence of an effective pitch. It is a harmonious combination of compelling storytelling, clear value propositions and compelling data points that come together to create a compelling narrative.

To P or not to P

(Side 2) Clear out of the gate. Image Credits: Phospholutions

I like how the title is at the heart of things. “Global P Use is Inefficient & Unsustainable” is all we have to say, really.

Investors familiar with ag tech probably know this all too well – the market has some incumbents that have done well over the years, and if Phospholutions has a fresh take on this problem, it’s an obvious investment to say yes.

I love the simplicity of the graphics. I like that the company communicates the impact of the problems (“reducing profits for farmers” and “improper use harms our waterways”) in addition to discussing the problems themselves. All excellent story points.

The bottom line, “Growers need more reliable solutions . . .” suggests a solution-oriented approach and communicates what needs to be done. Since this is a pitch deck, it’s obvious what happens next.

There is little information on this slide, but I like how each point logically leads to the next, creating a narrative flow that helps guide the eye and prompts the reader to stay engaged. It’s also scannable, so you can quickly absorb the content, too. Very clever.

A few minor quibbles: I know the P stands for phosphorus, but the writer in me keeps stumbling over abbreviations that don’t make sense. Also there is no lack of room in this slide, so while unfit GHG stands for greenhouse gases, you can spell it out. And “~ 1.7MT CO2 eq / MT P2or5” is a lot of alphabet soup to throw in an early slide.

I’ll get my soapbox out now, but attention to detail is key!

Contextualizing the near and medium term

I rarely see startups doing this, which is a shame, because it helps make the stories really good:

(Slide 3) “What will happen if we don’t solve this problem.” Image Credits: Phospholutions

The sliding market opportunity continues where the problem left off. Again, there is a many in the text here, but it works. Key points are made with graphics, and things are further broken down and supported by claims with little hint of crisis.

Segmenting the content into “Current,” “Short Term,” and “Long Term” buckets will allow the reader to understand how market dynamics change over time. It’s good storytelling, but it also does something more important: It suggests the founders have an eye toward the future and are skating where the puck is going rather than where it is. Investors want to see builders with an eye on the future.

The other storytelling win here is that although it’s not obvious on this slide, it sets the stage for action: Action that Phospholutions is set to deliver, of course.

Real impact

The deck spends a little time on the product, in my opinion. But the flip side is that it gets a lot of things very right. This slide, in particular, does a lot of the heavy lifting:

(Slide 7) Backed by data. It’s delicious. Image Credits: Phospholutions

Phospholutions’ RhizoSorb is more expensive than the alternatives and the deck addresses that in two ways: by showing that the product is more effective, and therefore, you need to use less to get more yield. The deck spends a lot of time at this point. I believe that is the result of the team getting a lot of price push.

The thing I like about this set of slides, though, is that it goes deep into proven effectiveness. If an investor asks for more information, there is a many this.

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

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