Aidan Hornsby is a designer and video producer-turned-marketer who got his start in the tech world making videos for startups. Today, he’s founder of DoubleUp, a marketing agency that helps startups and content creators build sustainable digital businesses, and co-founder of Supercast. Both companies are part of Tiny — a holding company by MetaLab founder Andrew Wilkinson.
Like Andrew, who went from working out of his apartment to overseeing a group of companies with tens of millions in revenue, many businesses in the Tiny family started as passion projects and side hustles that evolved to become profitable businesses.
“Andrew’s approach to entrepreneurship informs how Tiny tackles opportunities,” Aidan says. In the Tiny way, Supercast’s origin story is representative of this entrepreneurial spirit. After the startup Aidan had been working for was acquired, he moved to lead marketing at one of Tiny’s companies.
After a range of collaborations, Aidan moved on to found DoubleUp with Andrew a couple of years later. As the podcasting industry exploded, DoubleUp began working with high-profile podcasters looking to move beyond advertising revenue and explore other monetization models. DoubleUp spotted the opportunity, and Supercast was born.
Supercast helps podcasters turn their relationship with fans into real money. After a successful Product Hunt launch, they quickly began attracting attention from podcasters and investors.
“We hadn’t set out to raise money, so we didn’t have a pitch deck prepared,” Aidan explains. “But a lot of people were interested in investing, so there was pressure. Turnaround time was not a week, it was: We need something now.”
As anyone who has created a pitch deck knows, creating an initial draft, getting feedback from others, and then implementing this feedback to create a final version everyone is proud of is no easy feat. And it’s definitely not a task most people complete in a matter of days.
People usually spend weeks on their pitch decks. Supercast had days.
Andrew and Aidan knew this all too well. They’d both been around enough pitch decks in their careers to know that in addition to the general challenge of just getting it ready, there are also all the nerve wracking times when content doesn’t save or display correctly. That’s why for this deck, Aidan and his team at Supercast sought a better solution. They were sick of the frustrations of the old way and wanted something that worked the way they did. With the clock ticking, they started throwing around some ideas.
“We’d just wrapped up a DoubleUp project with Pitch so we said, 'Let’s use Pitch for this. Let’s just build it out here. Let’s literally use these templates, because that’s what they’re there for.' We really jumped in headfirst. Andrew and I started throwing the link back and forth and sharing ideas in real time," Aidan says.
Within one day, they had their first draft.
“Templates make it so easy. Having something to start from and not having to worry that we’re going to have to design from scratch is a huge time saver.”
After they created their initial draft, it was time to start integrating feedback. Previously, Aidan’s experience collaborating on pitch decks was, as he puts it, “a lot of Keynote decks flying back and forth. These were the pre-Slack days (can you imagine?) so we had tons of files being sent back and forth by email. Version C-Final_Final, that kind of thing.”
Working between multiple companies, Aidan and Andrew faced the added challenge of collaborating with many people, across different teams and time zones. With so many like-minded creatives and entrepreneurs, Tiny is a hub for collaboration and idea sharing. But in the day-to-day of modern life, communication can quickly become chaotic.
“Between Tiny, Supercast, DoubleUp, and our design team at Z1, we had different people on different teams giving feedback across different channels,” Aidan says. Jumping between email, iMessage, and Slack, trying to manage the logistics of rewrites and redesigns (the all-too-familiar requests of “Can you make this look good, can you make this make sense?”) — all of this wasted valuable time. Time that the team didn’t have.
As a busy entrepreneur, trying to juggle raising a round with running an agency, Aidan had more pressing things to do than worry whether or not the team had the latest version of a pitch deck. With Pitch, working together felt seamless.
“One thing I found particularly valuable in Pitch is the ability to clearly mark things as to-do’s. Slide statuses helped me navigate through the labyrinth of feedback and move away from having a dozen slides littered with messy comments.”
“The ability to mark which slides were done and which ones weren’t is such a simple thing but when you have five people jumping in and out of the deck and you have someone like Andrew or me just jumping in and out, having the context to know: 'Just look at the slides with the yellow label' is really powerful for collaboration and staying focused in feedback.”
"Factoring in all the time saved by Pitch's collaboration tools, we finished the first draft at least twice as fast as we would have with Keynote or Google Slides."
Another feature that helped streamline the process was presentation styles. In contrast to master slides, styles function as a design system that ensure everyone working on a deck is on brand, all the time. Using styles, Aidan could easily update the font settings, typefaces, or colors, and then apply them throughout the deck. This was a game changer for a budding startup still working to nail their branding.
“We hadn’t even picked a font yet. We didn’t have branding. We went through three different shades of red, so you can imagine that being able to use the style builder to update it across all the slides instead of adjusting each individual slide was a big time saver.”
“In my previous pitch deck experience, I’d spent two hours working on the spacing on the slide and someone nuked it because they didn’t have the font.”
Once it was ready to show to investors, Aidan liked being able to share it via a public link so that everyone had the latest version of the deck. “It lets you control the story,” Aidan says. “Plus, it makes it easy to have constant collaboration and refinement as you incorporate and improve through different feedback rounds.”
The biggest benefit of Pitch for him? One source of truth that's as flexible as it needs to be to meet the needs of our working environment and collaborative process.
“Pitch really helped us take this from a side project to a separate company. Hiring a team, raising money and getting the business on its way.”
At the end of February, Supercast announced a $2M seed round and hired Jason Sew Hoy as CEO to build out a dedicated team, take the platform to market and help podcasters everywhere turn their listeners into paid subscribers and unlock sustainable, recurring revenue from their podcasts.