On Thursday, September 28th, my client Tara Bosch goes on the season premiere of Dragon’s Den to pitch her company SmartSweets.

SmartSweets is already a remarkable success story. And they have a great pitch (full disclosure – I was part of the team that crafted it), with thoughts in their deck that every startup could benefit from. In the interest of helping more startups create a more compelling story, here are a few of SmartSweets’ pitch deck eye-openers.

Don’t Confuse Your Product with Your Advantage

There is nothing terribly unique about a gummy bear that is naturally low in sugar. Well, at the moment it’s still unique, but let’s not kid ourselves: if the folks at Cadbury or Mars wanted to replicate Tara’s formula, they could. In a heartbeat.

So why haven’t they?

I heard an illuminating interview on the subject with Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. In the interview, Sara described the the nay-saying she was forced to endure from family and friends while she was struggling to launch her product.

In essence, they told her that surely, some genius at one of the big, billion-dollar fashion houses had already thought of a product like Spanx. And even if they hadn’t, the moment Spanx showed any promise, they’d rip off Sara’s idea or buy her out.

That didn’t happen.

Certainly, Spanx was a simple product. But Sara’s real advantage was Sara. Her personality, her ability to relate to real women, her authenticity in front of the camera.

A big fashion house could copy her product. But they could never copy Sara’s real advantage: her personality.

When you watch Tara in action on Dragon’s Den, you’ll get a better understanding for this. When you interact with her on Instagram, you’ll really get it.

We made sure to capture that in the deck.

Your Tribe is Your Greatest Asset

SmartSweets’ Instagram tribe is 80,000 and growing.

Again, this isn’t remarkable. Any big brand with a savvy social agency can drive big follower numbers.

What they can’t do, however, is have the CEO personally communicate with that tribe several times a day.

Which is exactly what Tara does.

Her Instagram followers weren’t bought, or cajoled into signing up through some marketing scheme. Instead, Tara reaches out to them, tells them what’s going on in her life, pumps them up with good news, and listens to them. She’s a social media natural.

Her tribe rewards her with active conversation, candy ideas, personal ‘I beat sugar’ stories, and most important, loyalty. The sort of loyalty that leads to store shelves being cleaned out at record speed.

When we built the deck, this tribe was a key element. Products can be copied. Relationships can’t.


Tara was inspired to create SmartSweets by her Oma (German for Grandma). Oma had faced health issues because of her love of sugar, which sparked Tara’s imagination – resulting in SmartSweets.

It also led to #KickSugar, Tara’s mission to help people around the world enjoy candy without falling prey to sugar addiction (fun fact: in lab tests, sugar has been proven to be more addictive than cocaine).

Our deck actually included a mission roadmap, outlining how #KickSugar would grow in the coming years.

And yes, Oma figured prominently in the deck.

As a brand strategy expert, successful entrepreneur, founder of Your Ultimate Speech, and award-winning author, Marc Stoiber uses simplicity and creativity to help people discover what’s awesome about their business… then helps them tell the world. For more on creating an effective speech for your company, connect with Marc and Your Ultimate Speech on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and sign up to his monthly newsletter.