We took an unusual approach in raising our A, starting with the fact that we had no formal Pitch Deck. Instead, the centerpiece of our fundraising materials was an Investor Memo, which laid out our pitch in prose.
Accompanying the Memo were 46 slides of metrics, projections, and detailed methodology footnotes; rather than share these as siloed Excel sheets at the diligence stage, we packaged them before the pitch. Memos are great for storytelling, but data needs to be presented visually, and this is where slides thrive.
Fundraising success is ultimately driven by the business you’re building and the problems you’re solving for customers. The quality of the materials you prepare and tactics you use during the process are a much less important optimization. But we want to share our process because we think some of the things we did could be useful to other entrepreneurs and could help fundraising proceed more smoothly for both companies and investors.
Goodbye Pitch Deck, Hello Memo
Download a lightly-edited copy of Rippling’s investor memo here.
Pitch decks are the default format for startup fundraising, but they have one major downside: they’re merely a visual aid to accompany an in-person presentation. The spoken presentation is as important as the visual one but, inevitably, you’re not always there to deliver it.
The associate you meet with early in the process can’t forward the spoken part of your presentation to their General Partners. One GP will really dig in with you and understand the business backwards and forwards—but the rest of their partnership might only breeze through your deck. And something’s lost when you can’t be there to walk someone through the deck in person.
In contrast to a pitch deck, a memo has a number of distinct advantages:
It’s standalone. You can send the memo in an email and don’t have to worry about someone reading it without you there to walk them through it.Investors can read and digest the full pitch before they even meet with you, which means when you do meet, that time can be used to dig in on questions and objections, instead of spending the entire time performing “the pitch.”
It requires less up front face time. Not every fundraising process is competitive but when it is, things move quickly and the rate-limiting factor is often your time as an entrepreneur.There are only so many hours in the day, and this imposes a natural constraint on the number of firms you can seriously engage with. Sending a standalone pitch memo up front helps you, and the firms you’re pitching, quickly identify whether there is interest so they can either make your company a priority, or let you focus your efforts on firms with which you are a priority.
It aligns more closely with the material your sponsoring GP will ultimately put together about the investment. The final step in a VC’s evaluation of an investment in your company is usually a Monday morning full partnership meeting.If you’re fortunate enough to get this far in the fundraising process, you’re not the only person in the hot seat anymore.
Typically, the General Partner who is looking to lead your deal has to write a memo laying out the case for the investment. So while you’re practicing in front of the mirror on Sunday night, your GP is poring over their notes about your company and deck to prepare their memo for the partnership. If you’ve already written this for them, it makes it more likely they’ll present your company in the right way to their partners.
Putting Diligence First: The Metrics Deck
Download a modified copy of Rippling’s fundraising metric deck here.
Our memo shared the story of Rippling — the problem we’re solving and why, where we might be headed, and how we’re going to get there. The Metrics Deck showed investors a clear view of Rippling today.
Our goal was to anticipate every question and data request that investors would have, and provide it to them up front, so firms that were excited about the opportunity would be able to move quickly and wouldn’t be blocked on us pulling material together. We didn’t anticipate every request, but most of the information investors needed was prepared in advance, which meant the most interested firms could move quickly.
Our fundraising metrics deck included:
A summary slide of KPIs: Total ARR, Last 4 Months MoM Growth, YoY Growth, 12 month Cohort Expansion Rate, Average NPS Score, Sales Rep Payback Period.
Core financial growth metrics: Bookings ARR, ARR Growth, Cohort Percentage of Expansion, Expansion ARR in dollars compared to the sum of downgraded and churned ARR, Gross Margins, Burn Rate.
Sales and marketing efficiency metrics: Demos Scheduled by Source, Quota Attainment, Average Deal Size, Cash on Cash and Sales Rep Payback, Customer Acquisition Cost, CAC Payback Period, NPS Score.
At the end of the metrics deck, we wrote out detailed footnotes for each slide; we clarified how we cut the data, how we calculated the various metrics, and any other assumptions we made. This drastically cut down on the number of emails we traded back and forth with VCs clarifying what exactly each chart showed.
Finally, we included an appendix deck with additional data we thought investors might want to see, but which seemed too detailed for the main deck: sales rep ramp curves, close rates from demo by segment and cohort, revenue by industry, and a few other items.
Again, you can download a modified copy of our fundraising metric deck here.
Partnering with Kleiner Perkins
We are thrilled to be partnering with Mamoon, Ilya, and Kleiner Perkins. Ultimately, they invested in us because of the Rippling product customers love, not because of our pitch materials. Nonetheless, we hope this approach helps other startups with ambitious ideas receive funding.
Kleiner Perkins was probably the only VC firm I could have named when I was in high school, and I’m thrilled to be able to call them an investor in my new company. I’ve known Mamoon since 2013, and have wanted to work with him for years. I’m excited to have him join Rippling’s board of directors, along with Prasanna and myself, and Ilya Fushman as a board observer. Mamoon and Ilya have played a critical role in building some of the Valley’s iconic SaaS businesses, and I look forward to having them on the team.
Rippling solves an unsexy problem I’ve been passionate about for a long time — the administrative pain of disconnected business systems, and the accompanying grind of managing information about employees in hundreds of different places.
Most people think of employee data as an HR problem — but we’ve found that information about employees is scattered across almost all of a company’s departments and systems. On the most basic level, each of these systems needs to maintain employees’ login credentials to authenticate their access; many systems well outside of HR also need to know an employee’s department, role, manager, or level within the organization.
Rippling is the first employee system that works across the entire company — not just HR. We call this an Employee Management System to distinguish it from traditional payroll and HRIS, because Rippling integrates broadly across the entire company to automate wide swaths of administrative work.
This is particularly critical for IT. A great deal of the daily administrative work performed by IT professionals is ultimately about controlling access — who should have access to what systems and software within your company? How should those users be configured within those systems? What level of permissions should they have?
Those questions are, in turn, really about ‘who are your employees?’ and ‘what is their role or level or function in your organization, and therefore what type of access do they need to do their job?’ These are fundamentally questions about the employee record.
By tightly integrating HR and IT together, we can free up time for businesses by eliminating most of the administrative work it takes to onboard, manage, and offboard employees.
For example, when you hire someone in Rippling, we take care of their payroll, benefits, and new-hire paperwork in seconds — but we can also ship them a preconfigured computer, set up their keycard access, and even create their user account in all of the cloud apps your company uses, like GSuite, Slack, Github, and Dropbox.
In fact, Rippling integrates with over 500 different apps, from Salesforce to AWS — something no other HR system can claim.
Fundraising, of course, is not an accomplishment in and of itself, but it is a rare and humbling moment of outside affirmation that we’re on the right track. This financing will help us double down on product and engineering, build out the G&A infrastructure of our company, and continue down the path ahead.
Rippling is the world’s first way for businesses to manage their HR and IT in a single Employee Management System. A business using Rippling can click a button to onboard an employee, and instantly take care of their:
Most accountants are introduced to Rippling by their clients — their clients are running payroll through Rippling and add a 3rd party accountant or bookkeeper to help with that process.
As a result, some accountants end up with 4, 5, and in some cases 20 different Rippling accounts to manage on behalf of each of their clients. It can get cumbersome switching between different client accounts and keeping track of upcoming deadlines and payroll runs across dozens of different clients.
The Client Command Center for Accountants and Bookkeepers — One View, Every Client
Enter Rippling’s Client Command Center for accountants. The Client Command Center gives accountants one view of all their clients, in one dashboard.
You can run payroll for any client company with two clicks from this dashboard, onboard or offboard an employee, and view a consolidated calendar of upcoming payroll deadlines across all your clients.
What Rippling can do that no other payroll company can: take on your client’s back office, beyond payroll
For accountants with a value-based pricing model, Rippling lets you dramatically increase the value of services you offer your clients, without spending any more time.
Rippling isn’t just payroll. When you hire someone in Rippling, we set the employee up with payroll, but we also handle 100 other administrative headaches your clients already face, and which you can now take off their plate.
For example, we:
Set up the employee’s access to company systems like email, Slack, Dropbox, and hundreds of others, based on their role (e.g. sales hires might automatically get access to Salesforce).
Order the employee a new computer, install the right software on it, and pre-configure the machine based on your client’s settings.
Streamline bookkeeping technology at the touch of a finger by automatically adding new hires to critical systems like TSheets, Expensify, and Concur, and removing these employees when they leave the company.
Bookkeeping in the modern world is about technology curation and automation. Rippling is the first system that lets you automate your clients’ entire back office — not just payroll.
Why Rippling is a better payroll system
We believe payroll that’s modern and delightful doesn’t need to be shallow and simplistic.
Rippling payroll packs a heavy punch for advanced users, while still being simple & integrated enough that someone new to payroll can set it to auto-run and forget it. Here’s a few of the standard payroll features we think are particularly useful for accountants:
Advanced reporting: Run one of our standard reports or create any custom extract imaginable from the system. Use sophisticated filters, pivot tables, and sharing to analyze your clients’ business.
Accounting integrations: Connect with Xero and Quickbooks–but also Intaact and NetSuite as your clients grow. You can finely tune how Rippling places data in your accounting system to make sure payroll data is flowing the way *you* need it to, rather than being saddled with defaults.
Pro-rated, pre-calculated everything: New hire compensation is prorated. But so are compensation changes. Scheduling a raise for a future date, that’s effective in the middle of a pay period? Yeah, we do that with the click of a button. Converting someone from exempt to hourly? That’s three mouse clicks in Rippling, tops, and we handle all the transition pay runs automatically. Changing your pay schedules? We create the transition pay runs for you automatically, and pro-rate it all. The things that are time-consuming and complex in other payroll systems, are simple and everyday in Rippling.
Sub-departments: Rather than just setting up departments in Rippling, you can set up departments within departments–and map sub-departments to different accounts and expense codes in your General Ledger system–so that you don’t have to manually remap things in your accounting system.
Multiple EINs: if your client has subsidiaries or multiple EINs, you can manage all the EINs in a single Rippling account, with a single org chart, and Rippling payroll will automatically split out payroll runs by EIN, fund those runs from separate bank accounts, and make separate tax filings for each EIN.
Contractors are part of the same system as W2 employees in Rippling — which means you can add 1099 contractors to recurring pay schedules, you can send them agreements to sign as you would with W2 employees, and you can convert 1099 contractors to W2 automatically (and back again) with just a few clicks in Rippling.
The Rippling Accountant Partner Program
Rippling is serious about partnering with bookkeepers and accountants to increase the value they provide for their clients beyond anything previously possible. To that end, we’re launching a partner program we think is unparalleled in the industry:
Dedicated Support. Rippling partners get a dedicated support line and VIP treatment.
Free Payroll & HR for Your Firm. Yep, your firm gets Rippling — 100% Free.
20% Discount on Payroll & HR for Your Clients. You can pass along the discount, keep it as rev share, or do a little of both!
Client Command Center. One dashboard for all your clients.
Free, White-Glove Migrations. Move clients from their current payroll to Rippling Payroll — without moving a finger.
See a Demo & Get Free Payroll for Your Clients for 2019
Yep, that’s right. Your clients can get free payroll for all of 2019 if they sign up before Dec 31, 2018.
Today, we’re launching a best-in-class, all-in-one HRIS, payroll, and benefits system. But Rippling itself isn’t just an HR system. It’s a level deeper in the stack—a system for employee information that connects to all your key business systems and automates manual processes across the entire company, not just HR.
We call it an “Employee Management System” rather than an HRIS, because it’s not just for HR.
It may seem unusual to combine HR and IT into one system. But we think this is the future for these software categories because both the HR and IT departments are fundamentally concerned with who your employees are and what their roles are in your company.
HR + IT: The future of work.
IT manages employees’ access to business systems: who should get access to what and what policies or configurations should apply. This is the foundation of IT security and the cornerstone of IT professionals’ day-to-day work. But this is ultimately about who your employees are and what their role is in your company
HR owns the systems that track employee information such as roles, departments, managers, titles, compensation, and so on.
By creating an Employee Management System that sits underneath both HR and IT, Rippling gives you one place to manage all your key business systems, automate manual work, and save time.
For example, with Rippling:
You don’t have to manually add new hires to an email list—you can specify that “all support reps” should be added to email@example.com.
You don’t have to manually install Excel on employees’ computers—you can say that “everyone in Finance” gets this automatically.
You don’t have to create user accounts in Salesforce when a sales rep joins your company—you just tell Rippling that “all sales reps” get Salesforce
Then, when anything changes about an employee, all of your downstream business systems update as well.
Here are a few neat features that make Rippling unique, and which are launching today:
Full U.S. Payroll and Internationalization:
Rippling has payroll built-in across all 50 states—so you can pay your employees anywhere. We handle all of your federal, state, and local taxes. Automatically.
Rippling is also fully internationalized to support your non-US work locations—including local currencies, address formats, and tax IDs.
With Rippling, you can pay international contractors anywhere in the world. If you have a consultant working for your company outside the US, you can set them up in Rippling and pay them as part of a regular pay run along with all your U.S. employees.
Integrates with 250+ Apps:
Rippling integrates with hundreds of third party business systems from G Suite and Salesforce to Dropbox and Slack.
When you hire an employee through Rippling, you can instantly add them to these systems. Employees can log then into all of their apps in one click—no password required—right through Rippling.
The single best HR reporting system for businesses with up to 1,000 employees:
Rippling’s Reports system has all the standard canned reports that HR and finance expect—employee tenure reports, headcount reports, change logs, payroll journals, and more. But you can also create any custom extract you want from Rippling’s system:
Look at point-in-time reports to see everything in the system as it existed in the past.
Filter Reports by department, work location, start date, employment type, and more.
Pivot tables: group or aggregate data by department, work location, and more.
Share live Reports with others in your company instead of emailing static CSVs (although you can download CSVs, too).
Go beyond “standard” HR Data with Custom Fields: You can create custom fields for any information you want to track about employees, like a license #.
Order, configure, and remotely manage employee computers in just a few clicks:
Every time you hire an employee, Rippling can ship out their computer—pre-configured with the right software installed, the hard drive encrypted, and all of your password and security policies enforced.
You can set up Rippling Hardware Management for your existing computers too (you don’t have to buy new ones). We email your employees a link to install the Rippling agent and within minutes, your devices are protected. If you can install Candy Crush, you can install Rippling Hardware Management. It’s that easy.
Going forward, Rippling:
Monitors for viruses and malware via our partnership with Cylance
Installs OS updates automatically to make sure everyone’s using the latest, most secure version
Cuts off employee access to the computer when they leave, and automatically wipes and re-configures it for your next hire
Gives you one view of all the computers in your company and allows you to remotely reset passwords
Benefits administration built-in:
You can now manage your benefits directly inside of Rippling, including:
Medical, Dental, Vision Insurance
HSA and FSA
Paid Time Off
One big difference with Rippling’s benefits software: you don’t have to leave your broker.
If you’re working with a traditional insurance broker that you like, you can continue working with them—but still manage employee enrollments, deductions, and changes in Rippling’s online system, which is fully integrated with new hire onboarding, offboarding, and payroll.
We’re building the future of work. See it for yourself.
Schedule a demo here to see why businesses all across the country are leaving their traditional HR and payroll providers for Rippling—the first Employee Management System that combines HR, IT and Operations.