know what it is an enormous pain where the
=sum()Does not shine? Financial reports, planning and analysis. I often go on and on (and so on) about startups not getting their finances and operating plans right on their startup pitching platforms, so… not gonna lie, I picked an Austrian startup helu.iowho completed a Round of 9.8 million euros in July, hoping that a company that focuses exclusively on FP&A (that’s “financial planning and analysis,” for those unaware of the financial jargon) can show the rest of us how it should be done.
We’re looking for more unique pitch decks to take down, so if you want to submit yours, this is how you can do that.
Slides in this deck
When Helu submitted his presentation, he did so with a note that economic information on income and units was removed.
In a world where I see pre-product, pre-revenue companies weaving wild dreams of global market domination, slide 10 seems pretty defensive.
It’s also worth noting (because I’ll be honest, I had to Google it, and I’m willing to spare you a Google search or two) what “DACH” means, 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 commonly used term for the group of countries in Europe that have German as their Sprachraum, in other words where German is predominantly spoken.
- deck slide
- “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
- “Addressing a 100 Billion B2B SaaS Market Worldwide” – TAM Slide
- “Billion dollar market on DACH alone”: SAM slide
- “Specificities of the DACH market” — SOM slide
- “Unique Position in DACH” – Pit Slide/Competitive Advantage
- “Helu automating data aggregation” — product slide
- “Typical Helu Customer” – Customer Profile Slide
- “International top-tier team” — team slide
- “Backed by Strong Investors and Advisors” – Investors and Advisors Slide
- closing slide
three things to love
Overall, Helu’s slide deck looks a bit strange seen through Silicon Valley eyes. Having an English slideshow focused on German-speaking countries, while saying nothing about an English expansion plan, is strangely unsettling. There are also some notable things missing from this slide deck, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take a look at the things that work really well, first.
Strong value proposition
For founders working in a space that’s a bit inside baseball, it can be very tempting to over-explain what a product does. The truth is, investors don’t really care what your product does. Not really. What matters to them is that customers are happy enough to keep coming back and to get that part of the story across, you need to explain what the customer is getting. He does it by sharing the benefits or the value proposition. The Helu team gets it right over the course of two slides:
On slide 6, the team shows a couple of screenshots of their product, dividing it finely between explaining features and benefits. If they were trying to sell this product to meAs someone who runs their own business, I’d like to see it more profit-oriented, but it’s not: they’re “selling” shares of the company to institutional investors, who tend to be very clear about how financial reporting works. .
The second part of the value proposition argument is more of the same, but helps highlight the strengths of the software package. More importantly, I can perfectly see how this is crucial to operational concerns; you need to drill down, simulate and analyze various scenarios. This package has you covered. Excel can do this of course, but good luck resetting the model to pre-scenario states.
Now, these slides are not complete slam dunks; I would have liked more consistency. On slide 7, the bullets on the left have uppercase letters and the rest begin with lowercase. The slides switch between using “&” and “and” to join things together. But generally, they do the trick.
Show me the money. And take my money.
I’m an Excel/Google Sheets nerd, and I think a lot of investors are, in general. Ingesting data and keeping it fresh is terribly difficult, and the ugly little secret is that many of us are working with data snapshots. These snapshots may or may not be updated. Working entirely on anecdotal data? I suspect most of the time the snapshots are not updated. That means you’re making important 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, and the data geek in me really wanted to see what this looks like in real life. It’s rare that a slideshow introduces me to a completely new product category. Y It makes me want to play with financial models.
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 at all surprised if investors asked one or more of their startups to try Helu’s tools for their financial reporting and modeling; they fall squarely on the bull’s-eye for the product, and if it works as well as it looks, it’s an obvious win. The slide itself is unobtrusive and simple, but if I squint my ears, I can hear a founder deliver a voiceover with an example or two that shows just how powerful this can be.
Well, this slide is one of the best and one of the worst on this platform. We’re talking about the top three things I loved, so we’re going to talk about those in this section, but spoiler alert: this slide is making a comeback in the “three things that could be improved” section below. If you’ve read a couple of my pitch deck teardowns in the past, here’s your chance to do an exercise: What’s wrong with this slide? Yes, it has too many words, 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 has a solid foothold in this market, it will be essentially unbeatable; and I suspect that $10 million and a solid product will help him with this. It will not have competition abroad in the short term, because it has “the most complex accounting and tax system in the world.” I’m sure someone from the Internal Revenue Service reads that and will start to feel a bit competitive, but I think 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 efficient businesses that are hard to imagine in any other country; In the US, small companies tend to grow into larger companies. As the company points out, 99.5% of all companies and 97.5% of all exporters belong to the SME category. That’s a scenario that most international SaaS companies really don’t know what to do with; local and cultural knowledge and construction tools that work very well for this specific subset of businesses mean that Helu could end up with a formidable moat. The company doesn’t directly say that this is a winner-take-all market, but I think that’s what they mean.
In the rest of this teardown, we’ll take a look at three things Helu could have improved or done differently, along with his full introduction!