pitch deck teardown - Goodcarbon

Carbon credits (and the trading thereof) is big business, but it can be needlessly complicated to get those resolved. Goodcarbon just raised a €5.25 million (around $5.5 million) round to put a dent in that market. Let’s take a look at the deck the company used to bring home that sack of cash.

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Slides in this deck

Goodcarbon has an 18-slide deck that has a lot of repetition in it; more than half of the company’s pitch deck is the problem and solution section. The eagle-eyed among you will have realized that means there’s a bunch of stuff missing, but we’ll get to that. Below is a list of the slides. The company says it removed the ask and use of funds slides, and some of the other slides are redacted as well. What’s left behind is still a pretty decent deck:

  1. Cover slide
  2. Problem slide: Global context
  3. Problem slide: Market context
  4. Problem slide: The need for carbon removal
  5. Problem slide: The price of carbon credits
  6. Problem slide: It’s hard to find carbon credits
  7. Solution slide: Carbon portfolio building
  8. Solution slide: Building carbon credit portfolios
  9. Solution slide: Example portfolio projects
  10. Solution slide: How it works part 1
  11. Solution slide: How it works part 2
  12. Customer slide
  13. Traction slide: Revenue
  14. Traction slide: Customers
  15. Traction slide: Supply
  16. Case study slide
  17. Team slide
  18. Closing slide

Three things to love about Goodcarbon’s pitch deck

Decks are all about telling a compelling story that paints the picture that says: “OMG, if you miss out on this investment, you’re truly going to regret it for the rest of your life.” Goodcarbon does a good job on that front.

A large and growing market

It’s surprisingly complicated to tell good stories about carbon companies because it always involves a degree of describing a future that everyone knows is coming, even though nobody knows when it’s coming. Goodcarbon does a great job here:

[Slide 5] The explosive growth in the cost of carbon credits means a huge — and rapidly growing — overall opportunity.
Image Credits: Goodcarbon

Painting a picture of something huge, inevitable and growing is an easy way to explain that you’re gunning for a market size that’s worth paying attention to. If you can find a way to outline a trend like that in your pitch deck, you’re on the right track.

Gotta love a good portfolio approach

You know one thing VCs abso-frickin-lutely love? Portfolios. They live and breathe spread-risk portfolios as part of their own investment theses, and if you are able to convince them that you’re helping reduce risk through a portfolio approach, you’re often speaking the right language.

[Slide 7] Positioning yourself as a managed-risk balancing platform with a portfolio approach? Yeah, super smart.
Image Credits: Goodcarbon

One of the big challenges with carbon offsetting is that you don’t necessarily know how secure these credits are. “Many of the carbon offsets on offer today are outdated, of poor quality or hard to verify. They risk boosting global emissions instead of curtailing them,” according to a recent S&P Global report. So what do you do when there’s high risk? You spread the risk around — if one part of your portfolio goes sour, the rest will (hopefully) balance things out.

The problem, of course, is that carbon offsetting and buying credits is already pretty complicated, so risk balancing that is even harder. Goodcarbon doesn’t make that much of the portfolio angle of what it’s doing, but it was one of the more innovative and creative aspects of its business, in my opinion. Well done finding space for that in the deck.

Social proof out the wazoo

Goodcarbon has some excellent traction, but it layers that in with social proof: companies that trust goodcarbon with their carbon strategy.

[Slide 12] Hey, I recognize some of those logos.
Image Credits: Goodcarbon

Social proof is a powerful tool in a pitch deck. Goodcarbon would have been just fine without it, but it can’t harm — and what the company could be doing is priming the pump for some of the reference calls that are no doubt happening between the initial meeting and the investment.

Three things that Goodcarbon could have improved

As I hinted above, the Goodcarbon deck is pretty decent, but there’s so much information missing. Some of it is left out on purpose, but even still, this deck wouldn’t fly if you were raising from a U.S. institutional investor.

A checklist of the missing info

I fed this deck through my AI-powered deck review tool, and it gave a pretty damning summary:

The summary for the Goodcarbon slide deck: That’s a lot of missing info, you guys.
Image Credits: Pitch Guide/Haje Kamps

Yeah, that’s a lot of missing puzzle pieces.

  • Competition slide: You definitely need a competition slide.
  • Go-to-market slide: How are you going to reach your customers?
  • Target customer: But first, who are your customers? Of course, you can probably deduce that from the rest of the deck, but there’s no harm in being explicit. Good customer personas really help pull this together.
  • Operating plan: I’m a huge fan of an easy-to-read operating plan, in addition to more detailed financials. I’m guessing they were left out of this deck when the company submitted it to TechCrunch, but investors are finance people, so you might as well ensure you get ahead of that conversation.
  • Business model: There’s very little in this deck explaining how Goodcarbon is going to make money.
  • Pricing model: Or how much it’s charging for its services. Both are crucial aspects of a pitch, to know whether this is a good investment.
  • Unit economics: Unit economics (i.e., how the cost of delivering your service is changing as your company grows) is toward the “advanced financials” end of the scale, but for a business this complex, it’d have been a really good idea to include.
  • Moat: There are a god-awful number of companies trying to solve this problem. The fact that there’s no competition slide is one thing, but how does Goodcarbon see its business as defendable? Are there patents? Is there tech? Is there something else that puts it ahead of its competitors?

There are plenty of great checklists of what needs to go on a pitch deck (oh, hey, here’s one I created earlier), and there’s no excuse for leaving anything out.

We need to talk about this team slide

[Slide 17] Yeah, but …
Image Credits: Goodcarbon

Look at the above slide and ask yourself: Is this a slam-dunk perfect team to run a carbon credits company? My gut says no, so when we get to this slide in the pitch, I’d tell the team: “OK, so you’ve convinced me that this is a problem worth solving. Explain to me why you’re the right team to my $5.5 million.”

For the record, the “correct” answer here would be for the team to look at me like I’m a raging lunatic and click back to the traction slide. “Look what we did, you muppet. We’ve proven ourselves.”

Still, this team slide could do some much heavier lifting.

If you need this many slides to explain the problem …

Honestly, there isn’t really a good product slide anywhere in the deck. What does the product look like? What are the features and functionality? How much of this is actually built versus a figment of Figma? But I’m not going to give Goodcarbon too hard of a time about that. What I will roast it for, though, is this: The company spent more than half its deck on its problem and solution slides.

Put yourself in the investors’ shoes: Do you really think they need five slides to be convinced that (a) this is a problem, (b) this is a problem with a huge impact and (c) this is a problem worth solving?

The company could have removed almost a quarter of its pitch deck by summarizing the 10 problem and solution slides down to two or three slides, highlighting only the things that might be new or unusual about the way the company approaches the problem. The truth is that if an investor in this space doesn’t have a firm grasp of the problem and the effects of climate change, they’re not going to invest anyway. Don’t waste your breath or your pixels trying to convince them otherwise; instead, just get to the point.

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