Twenty-five PowerPoint slides were all it took to land Uber its initial $200,000 investment in 2008. Fast forward a decade, and the rideshare company’s IPO ended day one with an $81 billion valuation even after years of PR disasters and scandals. So what the heck was in that pitch deck, anyway?

Co-founder Garrett Camp actually posted it here. He and Travis Kalanick effectively pitched a totally new business concept during a huge financial slump, a time when even the savviest investors might have been leery of trusting new ideas.

If you’re mustering up the courage to pitch in a shaky economy, tight positioning is a surefire confidence booster. Here are 5 nuances from Uber’s deck you may want to keep in mind.

Related: This Is Why Your Business Should Avoid Taking Investor Money

#1: Prioritize Ideas Over Design

If you closely examine Uber’s pitch deck, it looks super basic. The founders didn’t rely on special fonts or jazzy animations; they avoided trying to look fancy and only used basic graphics and bullet points in black font on a white background.

We think we need to impress investors with highly branded materials and perfect feeds. But in most cases, this isn’t true; venture capitalists want to get to the meat of an idea as quickly as possible. By staying simple and driving home concepts – pun intended! – Uber was able to focus attention on the most compelling part of their pitch: An opportunity to permanently disrupt the cab industry.

#2: Make Informed Predictions About The Future

Uber thought their primary selling point was as a rideshare app with luxury vehicles for American professionals. The real innovation and ultimate reason for their success was the idea of an app for a cab with extra reliability. The original unique selling proposition given to investors turned out to be false.

But investors know that nobody can accurately predict the future. Camp and Kalanick used this to instead paint a picture of a probable future, pointing to opportunities like the complexity of taxicab medallions as an opportunity to innovate. Looking at their pitch deck now, with the benefit of hindsight, you can still clearly see how any of these possibilities might have come true.

The power of their pitch deck wasn’t in accuracy - it was in their vision, and how they managed to persuade investors to see the future the way they did.

Related: How to Spot Business Ideas Worth Pursuing

#3: Provide A Realistic Worst-Case Scenario

In a recession, investors are wary of blue-sky forecasts. Kalanick and Camp used their imagination to draw investors in with the possibilities, and they knew investors were probably guarding their checkbooks in the wake of a mortgage crisis.

The founders laid out what they saw as the worst-case scenario, then outlined their progress-to-date to make their pitch feel like a no-brainer.

#4: Hitch A Ride On Other Successful Technologies

It’s weird to remember that smartphones were only just becoming popular in 2008. Back then, smartphones were only 22% of handheld phone sales, whereas today over 70% of the US adult population uses a smartphone.

Showing remarkable foresight, Uber saw smartphones were the way forward. They pitched not just the cab service, but how also it would work as an app, using that as a core selling point.

As smartphones rose in popularity and engulfed households, ordering an Uber became increasingly normalized, allowing the startup to position itself at the front of the pack and seize market share.

Related: Uber's Green EV Ride Service Comes to 1,400 More American Cities

#5: Know Your Competitors Inside And Out

I mentioned cabs earlier, but let’s be clear: Uber’s pitch deck tore both taxicabs and limousines to shreds. The founders plotted out competitor weaknesses not just regarding consumer perspectives but also the industry’s employee and labor challenges.

By demonstrating an anatomical knowledge of their competitors’ makeup, Kalanick and Camp were able to persuade investors that Uber – or some form of it as an idea – had what it took to capture a large percentage of the market, even during a recession.

Final Takeaways

Pitching to investors can always give you the heebie-jeebies. But when you’ve done the work to position your offer well, investors and venture capitalists will see that and respond to the opportunity. Instead of letting a rocky economy rattle your hopes and dreams, use this time to recession-proof your pitch – then go after your destiny with everything you’ve got.


This post was originally written for Copyright 2021 by Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

Thanks for reading. 🙏🏼

Keep up the momentum with one or more of these next steps:

📣 Share this post with your network or a friend. Sharing helps spread the word, and posts are formatted to be both easy to read and easy to curate – you'll look savvy and informed.

📲 Hang out with me on another platform. I'm active on Medium, Instagram, and LinkedIn – if you're on any of those, say hello.

📬 Sign up for my free email list. This is where my best, most exclusive and most valuable content gets published. Use any of the signup boxes in this article, or go to the newsletter page here.

🏕 Up your marketing game: Camp Wordsmith™ is my business and writing program for small business owners and online entrepreneurs. Get instant access to resources and templates guaranteed to make your marketing hustle faster, better, easier, and more fun. (It's also "glamping"-themed – who doesn't love luxurious camping?!) Learn more here.

📊 Hire my marketing company: Hefty Media Group provides consultation and done-for-you services in content marketing. We're a certified diversity supplier with the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and we'll make you sound damn good via the written word. Learn more here.

© 2021, 2022, Hefty Media Group. All Rights Reserved.