Lotanna Ezeike is the CEO and cofounder of invoicing service XPO, which aims to help content creators.
XPO raised more than $1 million in seed funding before officially launching its product.
Ezeike shares the pitch deck he is using to lure investors and explains why bright colors and emojis helped his presentation.
More than 50 million content creators have to wait 120 days to be paid by the brands they work with, said Lotanna Ezeike. His company, XPO, is trying to shorten that period to 24 hours.
XPO is an invoicing service that seeks to be the intermediary between creators and brands. Once a creator submits an invoice to XPO, the company confirms its legitimacy with the brand, collects the earnings, and distributes the money.
XPO officially launches to the public on August 2 but already raised more than $1 million in a seed round led by investment firm Blue Wire Capital. What's more, it's on track to close the round at $1.6 million in September, Ezeike said. This comes as the creator economy, which counts 50 million people globally, continues to grow, according to a report by venture capital firm SignalFire.
Ezeike, 23, and Tomi Aiyeola, 24, started the business in 2019. XPO is beta testing its product with 250 creators and, so far, has worked with companies like Adidas, Depop, Fenty Beauty, and Nike.
"We have no cases of brands not paying," Ezeike said, noting that XPO has a waiting list of more than 2,000 people. "We only work with blue-chip brands who are under-written and credit checked."
Ezeike shared XPO's pitch deck and explained how they organized the slides, engaged investors with succinct points, and appropriately used emojis. Sensitive information has been redacted.
The first slide sets the tone
The next slides describes the problem XPO wants to solve
Ezeike begins the pitch deck by explaining the problem XPO is aiming the solve, using numbers to prove his point. He chose to make this slide bright purple since similar brands opted for a navy blue. "We wanted to brighten it up a bit to show the youthfulness of it," he said.
He chose not to put too much text on the screen, because as he speaks he doesn't want to repeat what is already on the screen. "When you communicate that to an investor, they don't have to read the entire thing," he said. "They can just see: problem, 50 million, 120 days."
Then, Ezeike dives into the specifics of the problem XPO is trying to solve. The goal of this slide is to show the company did its research and gives a visual example showing why it takes so long for invoices to be paid.
"We wanted to show it in a fun way," he said. They used emojis to highlight the youthfulness of the company but chose a pie chart to show the "vicious" cycle in a succinct and simple way, Ezeike said.
Then, the slides outline XPO's solution
The slide turns bright pink as Ezeike presents his company's solution so that investors physically see a change in tone.
Next, Ezeike presents an overview of XPO's solution before diving deeper into what their product does. He also shows a mockup of what their app would look like after someone downloaded the product.
The next two slides explain their product using a diagram format, answering what happens when creators don't use XPO and how their lives change after downloading it.
In the presentation, Ezeike purposely put errors on the "before" side to show common mistakes people might make as they complete the invoice process themselves. He also uses arrows to show how disorganized the system, without XPO, can quickly become.
On the "after" slide, a direct arrow line shows the simplicity of XPO's product. "We pay the creators in 24 hours instead of them having to chase the brand." XPO does wait up to 45 days for a brand to give it the money before it starts to chase them down.
Investors liked how XPO showed its benefits from both the creator and the brand perspective, Ezeike said. For example, XPO would create a more organized system for companies to track invoices, making it easier to handle and fulfill them.
Ezeike hopes XPO will one day grow into an alternative payment method, similar to the pay-later fintech firm Klarna, and make the payment process easier for brands, he said.
"There is less time spent on invoices," he said. "Brands get a lot of crazy agencies chasing them — with us working with them, it's only us. Not a bunch of new people."
Next, the company presents its overall vision
Investors liked that XPO's pitch deck was organized so the upcoming slide would answer any questions from the previous one, Ezeike said. To do this, they anticipated what investors might ask or want to know more about.
"It's about telling a story," Ezeike said. "The story is how we first began, where we are now, and selling the larger vision of us."
The white text on a dark background also made it easier for investors to read along, Ezeike said.
Then addresses its competitors
XPO selected its competitors by researching other services that offered similar invoicing finance solutions for freelance talent. It included a part on generic invoice finance because these companies can also create their own invoicing tools for niche audiences, Ezeike said.
"We beat competitors in the long run by utilizing the financial data we collect, using that data to help creators become better at their craft," he said.
Then, introduce the team
Ezeike introduced the members of his team and included their bios to showcase what they brought to the team.
Ezeike graduated from the University of Leicester with a degree in economics before going on to work at Barclays as a digital specialist. Cofounder and CMO Tomi Aiyeola has a background in building event startups and previously worked as a service delivery analysis for online retailer WorldStores Group. And CTO Ahmad Karkouti was at Google as a professional services intern.
"We are the perfect mix to tackle this problem because we understand it from all sides," Ezeike said.
Lastly, highlight the company timeline
Investors understood XPO's concept because it's known problem in finance, Ezeike said. They also liked that he was taking an old model and applying it to a new industry.
"What they know is that the creator economy is growing exponentially quickly," he said. The timeline is to show the investors what their goals are and how quickly the company can move.
The company is free for creators but Ezeike hopes to later launch a monthly subscription plan and other features. The real value is in the financial data the company can gather — XPO analyzes what creators make then suggests what brand should be charging, Ezeike said.
"We also use the financial data to build a credit report on creators," he continued, adding XPO hopes to offer this information to banking institutions. "This allows incumbent banks to understand how creators earn and gives creators fair access to finance products — car finances, loans, mortgages — at fair rates."
The final slide is a simple call to action: "Join Us!" Followed by the social media handles of the company and an email address where investors can quickly get in touch.
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