Parker Conrad has come to deeply loathe PowerPoint slides. He’s raised money for three different startups, and sending investors slides of a pitch deck feels like sending them only half a presentation, he said.
“It’s like sending someone a song and some of the tracks of music are missing,” Conrad, the co-founder and CEO of HR startup Rippling, told Protocol. “Any slide that you put together is meant to be accompanied by your voice track. And so if you’re sending slides without that, it’s a terrible way to convey information.”
That’s why more entrepreneurs like Conrad are turning to tools like Loom to record their pitches and demos instead. As part of raising $250 million at a $6.5 billion valuation in Rippling’s last funding round, Conrad sent VCs both a 13-page memo and a 39-minute product walkthrough that Conrad recorded on Loom.
It’s in part a time-saving maneuver and a way to get in front of more investors during a funding round. During the pandemic, VCs have embraced Loom videos as a way to get an overview of a startup or its product before even committing to a “get-to-know-you” meeting over Zoom. It even has its own catchphrase — “Loom, Zoom, Room” — thanks to angel investor Jason Calacanis.
But it also has the added bonus of being a way to control how your startup’s story is told, said Conrad.
Traditionally, pitching a venture firm is a game of telephone. An entrepreneur meets with a venture firm partner, who then in turn has to deliver their version of the pitch to their partners to try to get their buy-in or interest in a deal. Sending the loom and memo with Conrad’s own explanation of his product meant that the partners could get Conrad’s vision directly from him.
“Even in a world where those critical meetings are taking place in person, I think starting with that initial pitch being over video allows you to hit many more, many more investors, but also to get in front of many more individuals at a firm,” he said.
It also allowed him to cast a wider net for investors, breaking the geographic hold Sand Hill Road has had on fundraising simply because it was easier to hit a bunch of firms all located in one spot in person.
By shortcutting the process, Conrad could save himself the time of repeating the same 40-minute demo over and over again.
It took a lot more upfront work to write the memo and record the Loom demo, but after hitting send, Conrad said he wasn’t as involved in the fundraising process as he had to be in the past. Often the follow-up questions from investors were specifics better handled by his CFO or head of sales.
“I remember feeling actually in the process that I didn’t have that much to do,” Conrad said. “There were one or two calls that I joined, but a lot of the work was very front-loaded before we even talked to investors.”
Investors may like Loom because it saves them time in reviewing an investment, but it’s been a huge bonus for founders to avoid the tax fundraising puts on their schedule.
“The limiting factor about fundraising was always my time,” Conrad said.