Pitch Deck Teardown: Careerist’s $8M Series A deck

Careerist claims it closed an $8 million funding round with a tight 12-slide platform and gave us a batch to learn in the process. Not all in a good way, but I’m making some progress.

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Slides on this deck

The team presented this slide deck, with the note being presented exactly as it was presented to investors.

  1. Cover slide
  2. Mission slide
  3. Problem slide
  4. Solution slide
  5. Traction slide part 1
  6. Traction slide part 2
  7. Business model slide
  8. Go to the market/customer funnel slide
  9. Customer rating slide and promoter net score
  10. Slide of the market
  11. Team slide
  12. Thank you slide

Three things to love

What can you do to get a place in the market? What are your marketing and customer acquisition channels? This question is only partially answered by Careerist, and that worries me a little

This platform sets off a number of alarm bells for me (I’ll get to why in a moment) and I imagine the founding team fought an uphill battle doing this to investors. That said, the company went through Y Combinator and says it was successful in raising an $8 million round from Cathexis, Xploration, Cold Start Ventures, Grant Park Ventures and others. Let’s dig in and see if we can find some clues as to why the company caught the attention of these investors.

If you have traction, nothing else matters

[Slide 5] Traction is king. Image credits: Carrerista

Traction really solves any problem a business might have. Building a company that grows from half a billion dollars to $12 million in revenue in four years is pretty impressive, especially considering that to date, according to its own press release, the company had raised just 1.2 million dollars of capital. Turns out, turning $1.2 million in investment into $12 million in revenue is enough to get investors’ attention.

Extraordinary customer acquisition

In order to make that much income, you have to find your clients somewhere and it looks like Careerist cracked this nut:

[Slide 8] This is serious growth hacking. Image credits: Carrerista

In its slides, the company claims that it gets 35% of its traffic organically and another 25% from referrals. These are two extremely powerful, low-cost acquisition channels that can generate extraordinary, high-value customers. But this is a double-edged sword. Referrals generally scale well alongside other channels: if you average 0.2 referrals per customer and acquire 10 customers, you get two “free” customers because of the referrals. The challenge is with organic traffic, which is much harder to scale on demand. In other words: Once you close an $8 million funding round, how do you dramatically accelerate sales?

It does not specify whether the other channels (Google, webinars, and Facebook) are paid acquisition channels. If they are, I would expect to see here the cost of acquisition (CAC) and an analysis of whether those customers also end up referring additional customers. But overall, there’s a lot to love about this slide: Finding 1,600 customers paying you over $12,000 each (see slide 7 in the slide deck, below) is objectively impressive.

The best part is that you can check these numbers: the company claims it has 1,600 customers and has accumulated $19 million in revenue. That’s about $12,000 per customer, showing that the numbers are internally consistent.

That’s one hell of a market size

[Slide 10] E-learning is huge, finding jobs is popular and hiring the right staff is crucial. It all adds up Image credits: Carrerista

Careerist is here in a curious space, with a great opportunity; in fact, if the company wasn’t seeing extraordinary traction and lifetime value (LTV), these numbers would be hard to believe. But with traction in place, these figures seem more or less plausible. Also, in really huge markets (hiring, training, etc.), market size is essentially just a checkbox.

An example of this would be toothpaste – there is no doubt that there is a huge market for that, and no investor will argue with you about that. Instead, the question becomes: What can you do to gain a foothold in these markets? What are your marketing and customer acquisition channels? Careerist only partially answers these questions, and that worries me a little.

The above are some of the positives in Careerist’s presentation, but unfortunately there are also some Texas-sized red flags that make me wonder how the company was successful in raising money. I suspect the answer, as I alluded to above, is because of its traction. In the rest of this teardown, I’ll take a look at three things that Careerist could have improved or done differently, along with its full set.

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Ikaroa is proud to feature the amazing work of Careerist – a tech startup who recently secured an $8M Series A round of funding. Founder Jen Fisher created her own successful career coaching business and turned it into a powerful platform using AI-driven technology to help tens of thousands of jobseekers—and counting—build the career of their dreams.

The strategy behind the success of Careerist’s $8M Series A pitch deck comes down to the level of detail put into the presentation. Rather than a bland overview, Careerist dug into the value proposition, marketing, and user acquisition to show potential investors the full picture.

At Ikaroa, we like to celebrate exemplary pitch decks like Careerist’s that showcase the innovation and complexity of a startup’s product within a well-structured and visually-appealing presentation. Here’s what entrepreneurs can learn from Careerist’s pitch deck:

The team highlighted features of their product that appeal to key demographic groups, which visualized their progress in the different areas. This made their product’s value proposition clear to potential investors.

For the deck’s financials section, Careerist provided detailed estimates so that investors could gauge their potential success.

The founders included a section of customer replay videos that showcased potential users’ enthusiasm for their product. This showed that Careerist had a presence of customers who were eager to use the product.

The company had actionable goals for the funding that went further than just the founders’ ambitions. They broke down how the money would be used and what results they intended to achieve.

At Ikaroa, we recognize the exceptionally well crafted pitch deck that not only helped Careerist secure the funding they needed, but also show that they’re a team of innovative thinkers who know how to target the right investors. You too can create a great pitch deck that emphasizes your team’s unique product or service, allowing you to stand out and showing investors why your business is the right choice.


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