Understanding the full promise of Beautiful.ai's new visual presentation product requires understanding Founder-Market Fit. Let me explain.
Visually presenting information is a vital part of functioning in our knowledge economy. For a lot of us, it doesn’t come easily.
It means late nights and a lot more time than we’d like designing slides, sizing boxes, drawing circles, aligning text fields or finding relevant visuals. Worldwide there are some 500 million PowerPoint users, most of whom don’t enjoy creating presentations. They’re just thrilled to get them done.
Starting today, thankfully, there is a great new option.
Beautiful.ai’s new product - launched today at the SaaStr Conference - harnesses artificial intelligence to help regular business folks communicate their ideas better and faster. And, yes, more beautifully.
Its value proposition is really that simple. And the user experience is amazing.
Beautiful.ai’s Design AI technology is the first AI-powered design presentation tool ever launched. It lets anyone build clean, modern, and professionally-designed slides—quickly and easily.
At Shasta, we couldn’t be more excited to lead (alongside our friends at First Round Capital) Beautiful.ai’s Series A round - ahead of its product launch. And here’s why.
Betting on the Founder
In Silicon Valley, Product-Market Fit is a widely understood concept.
Young, promising startups (a.k.a good investments) need to have a high-quality product that addresses the needs of a market, preferably a very large one that’s growing rapidly.
However, as early-stage investors at Shasta, we don’t always have the luxury of waiting for a potential investment to have a great product and paying customers —or even a clear concept of what that product might ultimately look like.
Sometimes, we simply make a bet on a Founder where we believe there is extraordinary Founder-Market Fit.
Having Founder-Market Fit means backing one of the top people in the world to solve a distinct problem. It often means a founder whose entire career has culminated in starting a specific company solving a huge problem and building a product that only that founder could build. Usually, that founder has a special view on how to solve a problem, and the unique ability and skill set to build a game-changing product to tackle that problem.
For example, when Shasta backed Nest Labs in 2010, the home automation market was unchartered territory. There was no equivalent of the iPhone, or iPod, for the smart home. No company had yet created anything close to it.
However, few entrepreneurs anywhere in the world were as capable of envisioning and then building that device as Nest co-founder Tony Fadell, the former head of the Apple iPod division who is considered one of the fathers of the groundbreaking device.
The same calculus drove our investment in Marketo.
When Bruce Cleveland and I invested in 2006, the marketing automation software startup didn’t have customers, or even a product. But Phil Fernandez, Jon Miller and Dave Morandi’s experience convinced us they could deliver a game-changing product. Their work reinventing B2B marketing at Epiphany was so relevant that we bet they would build the leading company in the market. And they did.
A Rare Entrepreneur
Before launching Beautiful.ai, Mitch Grasso founded SlideRocket, a company that offered a groundbreaking cloud-based presentation product attracting millions of users. It was such a success that VMware acquired SlideRocket in 2011. But Mitch didn’t stop there. He kept thinking about how to make the process of creating presentations easier, better and more beautiful.
Mitch is the rare entrepreneur that possesses several skillsets - equal parts product visionary, designer and engineer. Mitch can envision the right solution, design it beautifully and then build it.
For someone to create a breakthrough product, especially in the presentation space, you need all those assets. Mitch is that founder. He not only envisioned Beautiful.ai’s presentation tool, he built the complete product nearly entirely on his own.
Like the founders of Nest and Marketo, Mitch has the unique perspective and experience along with the energy, enthusiasm and dogged perseverance necessary to bring his vision to the market and succeed.
I couldn’t be more proud to support Mitch and his vision. See it for yourself here and you’ll understand why I believe in Founder-Market fit.