in itself words, Front side is a customer communication hub that keeps teams focused on what technology can’t replace: making sure every conversation strengthens the customer relationship. The company recently raised $65 million at a valuation of $1.7 billion, which is a great round of funding. Uniquely, the company has publicly published all of its past funding decks, meaning this is a rare opportunity to trace a company’s journey from its first growth funding round to the present.
From round to round, the company’s CEO, Mathilde Collin, outlines the evolution of the company and how it positions itself in the market. She writes one of the clearest breakdowns of how each round’s goal has evolved:
- Seed: “We are a good team with a great market opportunity.”
- Serie A: “We have evidence of product-market fit ($1 million ARR)” – see the company’s series A pitch deck.
- Series B: “We have leverage (we know how to spend money to grow faster)” — see the company’s series B pitch deck.
- Series C: “We understand our market, which unlocks new levers for growth (outbound & upmarket)” — see the company’s series C pitch deck.
- Series D: “We understand what is unique about our position in this market and why our mission is more important than ever.”
So let’s take a look at how market position knowledge translates into a pitch story.
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Slides in this deck
Front’s pitch deck is an incredibly sleek 11-slide deck that opens with a mic drop, and, well, these must be some buttered mics, because it sure is slick – the company just keeps dropping mics as the slides progressing. At first glance, I get nervous because I realize I need to find things to improve on these slides.
But! I feel brave, so let’s try.
- cover slip
- “Front in Key Numbers” – Traction Overview Slide
- “Innovative, growing, next-gen companies are using Front to align teams, execute faster and deliver world-class service” — social proof slide
- “A hub for customer communication” – product slide
- “A Huge Market Opportunity” – Market Description Slide
- “Typical Uses in Our Key Use Cases” – Solution Slide
- “A better product, at scale” – scale slide
- “Strong foundations keep getting stronger” – stats/traction slide
- “An ambitious vision that few companies can achieve” — vision slide
- “Built for the Long Term” – Summary Slide
- “Thank you” – close slide
The slide deck almost matches the pitch of the company’s founding team, with a few small edits. The company managed to get rid of the revenue data on slide 2, it hid some of its customers on slide 3, and while slide 8 kept the charts, the company removed the numbers from the axes.
Three things to love
First of all, this is one of the best slide decks I’ve ever seen. It tells a tight and compelling story without using too many words.
This is how you start a pitch!
When you’re raising angel funds or your first institutional money, you can get away with raising with a vision, a dream, and a glimmer of hope. By the time you do a grow round—usually your Series A and beyond—you’ll need more than a wing and a prayer. And if you pick up at a $1.7 billion valuation? Forget it. Hard data proving you know your market dynamics is non-negotiable.
While slide 2 has been slightly redacted, you get the picture: The company is coming out of the gate hard, showing it knows why it’s sitting opposite a venture capital firm: Traction, baby, and a plan for what happens next.
If I were an investor in this space, slide 2 alone would be enough to get the company to a second meeting.
If you get your Series D, if you don’t have a grip, you’re dead in the water. That means unless you’re raising money for something new and spectacular (say, a brand new product or a brand new market expansion), you’re opening your traction.
So yeah, Front got That true, but it also shows that it knows which stats matter. ARR, ARR growth and retention are central. The rest of the figures are eye candy, but, I mean, look at that eye candy! If I were an investor in this space, this slide alone would be enough to get the company to a second meeting.
Owning the Market
Call me ignorant, but until Front submitted his pitch deck for a teardown (you can do that too!), I had never heard of the company. Slide 4 is really elegant: it shows a screenshot of the product with explanations showing what its customers love about it. But Slide 5 does a fantastic job of nailing the company’s product and its position in the market. It also does something very subtle, which I’ll get to in a moment.
I love a good two-by-two chart in a pitch deck because it really helps show how a company is positioning itself in the market and how it differs from its customers. Front’s fifth slide can be read in several ways, but looking at it, I immediately noticed this: “If it’s incoming and important, use Front.” That means the platform can be used for key interactions with customer support, inbound sales, internal sales, and general customer communications.
That’s a hell of part of the market. It also shows that Front is not competing with the multitude of less effective customer support tools out there. Whether that’s a good idea can be left to the reader as an exercise, but it’s elegant, clear, and shows the company has great discipline.
The other fun thing – the subtle part of this slide I just mentioned – has to do with market expansion. An important consideration that comes to mind when I see this slide is how the company might expand its market. There are two logical options: either everything inbound (including the lower value inbound communications currently covered by more generic support tools) or anything valuable (switching to also enabling outbound sales and marketing communications and including Salesforce as a core business as well) .
Anyway, this is a clean slide that does a lot of heavy lifting, and I see this sparking some lively debate at a pitch meeting.
Customize your customers’ usage scenarios
On slide 6, I shook my head and muttered “yesss” under my breath. Aside from having more text than I’d like, the company does a few things extremely well here.
First, it shows off some of its very famous customers. Pilot, Shopify, Lead1, and Lydia are established brands, and seeing them on this slide is a reminder of how far Front has come in its market penetration. The description of how each company uses the platform is genius, as all four use cases are quite different and it shows both the value and the flexibility of the tool.
However, the real stroke of genius is the last sentence about each of these use cases. Front avoided the temptation to talk about features or even use cases. Instead, it talks about the value proposition it offers each of these customer groups. Perfect, and precisely what you should do on a slide like this. 75% fewer SLA violations? A 10% reduction in back-and-forth communication? Shorten response times from 13 to five hours? Anyone who manages incoming customer requests realizes just how huge those results are and the tremendous value that Front’s tools provide.
It’s beautifully done, and I’ve bookmarked this slide in my “This is how you do it” folder. You wouldn’t believe how many companies are painfully wrong about this.
In the rest of this teardown, we’ll take a look at three things Front could have improved or done differently, along with the full pitch deck!
Three things that could be improved
Raising it to a valuation of $1.7 billion and the amount of lavish praise I’ve already poured on this slide deck is worth celebrating. But, as always, there are a few details I feel compelled to poke fun at.
That’s not how you do a competition slide
As much as I loved the market positioning slide (slide 5), I was annoyed by the lack of publicly traded competitors. Yes, it is possible that Front dominates its market. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other tools that cover aspects of what Front does, and it seems a bit arrogant not to include them in the story.
I don’t care how big you get, I want to know what competitors you’re watching. And (possibly in the attachment) I’d like to see a SWOT analysis of those who are or could be an active threat in the future.
So, uh, what are you going to do with the money?
Front raised $65 million. That’s a lot of spondolahs for any business, and my immediate question is, “What are you going to do with the money?” I would have expected an operational plan in this deck, but they may have the long and short term financial data in spreadsheets instead. I don’t like that, but hey, I get it.
The only excuse I can imagine for not including plans for the foreseeable future is if the fundraising is for an IPO and most of the money will go toward preparing the company for an IPO.
What I don’t understand, however, is that the deck is almost completely rear-facing. I understand traction is crucial and impressive, but you’re raising money because you need the money to change what the… future of your company looks like. There is absolutely nothing about this in this deck. Is the company going to expand its market? Will it hire more staff? Are they rotating products? Will there be a marketing push?
The only excuse I can imagine for not including plans for the foreseeable future is if the fundraising is for an IPO and most of the money will go toward preparing the company for an IPO. If so, you’ll want to play your cards close to your chest until it happens and it may make sense not to include them in the pitch deck.
Since that’s the only reason I can think of for not including future plans, I’m 70% sure the company will file an S-1 next year and do an IPO process. Front, if that’s the case, you don’t have to admit it; just send me a postcard or something with a smiley on it as soon as your S-1 falls. I mentioned it ;-).
You can do better on the market side of things
As much as I love the market overview slide, it says nothing about the size of the local or global market. That’s unforgivable, because for a company going through aggressive growth, I’d like to know how much more it can grow before it conquers its full serviceable available market (SOM) and how it’s going to expand its addressable market (SAM).
It’s impossible that Front didn’t spend a lot of time on this, and there’s no chance it wouldn’t have been challenged at this point in the fundraising and due diligence process. You might as well grab that particular ox by its horns, get ahead of the conversation, and stick it front and center on a slide.
The full pitch deck
If you’d like to have your own pitch deck teardown on TC+, learn more here. Also check out all our Pitch Deck Teardowns and other pitch advice.
- 1 Slides in this deck
- 2 Three things to love
- 3 Three things that could be improved
- 4 The full pitch deck