Pitch Deck Teardown: WayRay’s $80M Series C deck

WayRay’s deck consists of a whopping 75 slides — around 50 more than I would typically recommend — and it’s clear that the founders took a different tack than what we’re used to seeing these days. …

We have quite a unique pitch deck on our hands today.

A few years ago, AR car hardware company WayRay raised $80 million at a half-a-billion valuation in a Series C round led by Porsche, and I’m super excited to show off their pitch deck today! Yes, it’s a little bit older than some of the decks we usually tear down, but it is rare that I get my hands on a 100% unedited, unabridged deck that resulted in a half-unicorn valuation.

WayRay’s deck consists of a whopping 75 slides — around 50 more than I would typically recommend for a deck like this — and it’s clear that the founders took a different tack than what we’re used to seeing these days. Nonetheless, you can’t argue with a successful fundraise of this caliber.

We’re looking for more unique pitch decks to tear down, so if you want to submit your own, here’s how you can do that

Slides in the deck

Typically, I list all of the slides in a deck here so you can get an overview. But as I mentioned above, this deck contains 75 slides, and many of them aren’t particularly clear in terms of what they are actually for. Just flicking through the deck leaves me really confused in general, but I’ll get to why that’s a bad thing in a bit.

Let’s start by outlining what’s in the deck, and then take a look at how it all comes together, what works and what needs improvement.

  1. Cover slide
  2. “What makes us stand out” — USP slide
  3. Our Mission — Mission slide
  4. Graphic slide
  5. Past investor slide
  6. “Leadership in holography” — Platform description slide
  7. Cover slide — “Our Main Focus”
  8. “We believe that the car windshield is the most natural medium for delivering AR content.”
  9. Technology layers — Tech stack
  10.   Technology layers — Tech implementation
  11.   AR Marketplace — Example use case 1
  12.   AR Marketplace — Example use case 2
  13.   AR Marketplace — Example use case 3
  14.   AR Marketplace — For the driver
  15.   AR Marketplace — For the passenger
  16.   Technology advantages
  17.   “Advantages of WayRay’s AR HUD” product features slide
  18.   “Technology comparison” — Compare head-up displays with competitors
  19.   “Technology comparison” — Compare head-up displays with competitors
  20.   “For us, conventional HUDs are no competition” — Positioning slide
  21.   “Deep Reality Display” — Product overview slide
  22.   “Conventional HUD” — Shows what the competition does
  23.   “Breakthrough in Volume” — Shows how WayRay HUDs take up a smaller footprint in cars
  24.   Cover slide — “Where we are now”
  25.   “We are set up to sign commercial contracts” — Traction slide
  26.   “True AR HUD: from the concept to commercialization” — Product roadmap slide
  27.   “When introduced into a vehicle model” — Explains “stickiness” of the product between model years
  28.   Business Model slide
  29.   Cover slide — “How we work”
  30.   Graphic slide: “Do Deep Tech”
  31.   Graphic slide: “Do Deep Tech”
  32.   “Vertical Integration” — Competitive advantage slide
  33.   Graphic slide: “Holography”
  34.   Graphic slide: “Holography”
  35.   “Groundbreaking advancements in holography” — Tech overview
  36.   Graphic slide: “Custom Lasers”
  37.   “PGU optical design” — Shows how the HUD is designed
  38.   “Advanced engineering techniques” — Shows how the products are designed
  39.   “AR Rendering Engine” — Product slide
  40.   “True AR SDK” — Third-party app developer slide
  41.   Cover slide — “WayRay Overview”
  42.   WayRay Team — Team slide 1
  43.   WayRay Team — Team slide 2
  44.   WayRay Team — Team slide 3
  45.   WayRay Team — R&D departments org chart
  46.   WayRay Team — Chemistry team slide
  47.   WayRay Team — Design team slide
  48.   WayRay Team — Electronics Engineering team slide
  49.   WayRay Team — Hardware Engineering team slide
  50.   WayRay Team — Optics & Holography team slide
  51.   WayRay Team — Platform Solutions team slide
  52.   WayRay Team — Quality Assurance team slide
  53.   WayRay Team — Software Engineering slide
  54.   WayRay Team — Swiss Technology Center team slide
  55.   WayRay Labs — Laser Lab slide
  56.   WayRay Labs — Holography Lab slide
  57.   WayRay Labs — Experimental production slide
  58.   WayRay Labs — PCB assembly facility slide
  59.   WayRay Labs — Test lab slide
  60.   WayRay Labs — CNC workshop slide
  61.   WayRay Labs — Metrology equipment slide
  62.   Cover slide — “Where we are headed”
  63.   New Markets/Radical Innovations — Positioning slide
  64.   Add-on holographic AR display — Future product slide
  65.   “Application across multiple industries” — Go-to-market brainstorm
  66.   Construction Equipment — Example use case slide
  67.  “AR Side Window Solutions in trains” — Example use case slide
  68.   “AR Side Window Solutions in Cabs” — Example use case slide
  69.   “AR smart glass” — Example use case slide
  70.   Awards — Awards received slide
  71.   Events — CES 2017
  72.   Events — CES 2018
  73.   Events — CES Asia 2018
  74.   Media Coverage slide
  75.   Thank you slide

Three things to love

There’s a lot of incredible stuff to get my teeth into with these many slides. To start off, these slides have been designed extraordinarily well.

WayRay operates in the OEM car space. In other words, for its products to be seen out in the world, they have to be tested and accepted by car manufacturers, who then have to add the product to a future version of the car.

It’s a daunting prospect because these types of deals can drag on forever. I’ve worked with startups that have had to wait for more than a decade from their first conversations with a car manufacturer until the tech became available in a car you can buy. It stands to reason that such an endeavor is capital-intensive, but it also means that once you get over certain hurdles, you’re on a pretty clear path to market.

There’s evidence of both in this deck.

Super clear road map

[Slide 26] The WayRay road map shows its plans clearly. Image Credits: WayRay (opens in a new window)

I loved the way the company presents its plans and its milestones to date in a really simple road map (pun intended). The company draws a clear picture of where it is and what it is trying to do.

I would have a lot of questions about this timeline (a Q2 2022 RFQ to production in 2023 doesn’t seem realistic in my experience), but I do appreciate the clarity and the defined goals the company has set.

One of the deepest moats I’ve seen in a while

[Slide 32] Vertical integration all the way. Image Credits: WayRay

I often recommend young companies do only what is absolutely core to their business and outsource or use platforms for everything else. WayRay takes a different approach — it has in-house personnel for every aspect of its product development and manufacturing process.

The company specifically lists Optics and Holography, Hardware, Software and Electronics Engineering, Quality Assurance, Design and Chemistry. For some hardware companies, I wouldn’t have expected anything else, but in this case, it’s helpful to spell out that WayRay is taking quite a broad approach. Both here, and elsewhere in the deck, it becomes unwaveringly clear that the company has a real interest in, and penchant for, research and development.

WayRay does a great job at showing off the world it wants to live in.

Notably, the company doesn’t say if it has an army of IP lawyers making sure that its assets are protected. In fact, the word “patent” doesn’t appear anywhere in the pitch deck, which feels like an oversight.

Nonetheless, the company says: “The underlying intellectual property of our deep tech innovations is well-protected and hard to reproduce.” As an investor, I’d have loved to hear a bit more about how many patents the company is generating, in which parts of the world and how many patents have been approved.

Painting a picture of a very different world

[Slide 67] One thing the founders got very right: They help investors imagine a different world. Image Credits: WayRay (opens in a new window)

Being a founder is a lonely, wild journey into a future that you can see clearly but doesn’t exist yet. Storytelling is an important part of turning that story into reality, and WayRay does a great job at showing off the world it wants to live in.

This deck has a number of slides showing potential use cases — such as the augmented reality train window mockup above — like tourist destinations with overlays of roads and towns you might be seeing that add information. Is it necessary? Who knows. But it’s so cool that it makes me excited to imagine what it might be like to live in this world.

As a founder, if you’re able to inspire daydreams of the world you’re describing, you’re doing an incredible job. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if these visions — beautifully rendered and shown off throughout the pitch deck — are some great opportunities for that to happen.

In the rest of this teardown, we’ll look at three things WayRay could have improved or done differently, along with its full, 75-slide, unedited, unabridged pitch deck.

Three things that could be improved

Ho boy! OK, so let’s get this out of the way: 75 slides is way, way, way, way too many slides.

What’s worse, some of these slides make me wonder who they are for. It seems as if whoever put these slides together was really excited by the technology (and that’s wonderful), but then they shout about some of the wrong things from the rooftops, which throws the pitch off the track, somehow.

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