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Interview with Pitch Founder and CEO, Christian Reber

Zach Grosser
Sep 3, 2020
 in 
Interviews

Christian shares his insights on Pitch, a new tool for building better presentations — focusing on real-time communication, smart workflows, and intuitive design features.

Tell us about Pitch, what is the elevator pitch, and how did it get started?

Pitch is the first presentation software that allows modern teams to truly collaborate on great looking presentations. It’s a completely new take on a tool that we grew up using that hasn't grown up alongside us. I firmly believe that presentations are still one of the best ways to deliver an idea. It's just that legacy presentation software is clunky and slows us down. Pitch is different. It enables effortlessly beautiful creation, while also freeing you up to focus on what you're actually trying to say.

More broadly speaking, though, Pitch is tapping into a bigger shift: How we work has changed dramatically over the past couple of years and then some more in the past months alone — teams are faster, more collaborative, more productive. You can credit some of that to the tools that have risen to the occasion and help us do great work faster — but some tools have not kept up. Pitch is the presentation software we always wish we had.

What made you want to build the future of presentation tools?

Me and my co-founders started working together 10 years ago — we built Wunderlist, one of the most popular to-do apps in the world which we sold to Microsoft in 2015. Going from a small startup to a massive enterprise gave us a great perspective on what teams really need, and where today's software is lacking, especially when it comes to presentation and design tools. That’s how Pitch started, and we’re very grateful to have found investors that believe in our mission and product as much as we do.

We've all had to build an important deck on a deadline, only to get incredibly frustrated halfway through by the tools at our disposal. That’s what we wanted to fix. But more than that, we also got incredibly excited about creating something from the ground up. The entire software stack for modern teams has been completely transformed by tools like Notion, Slack, and Zoom. But somehow — in this world of cloud-based, unbundled, and highly collaborative tools — we're still locked in by presentation software created in the '80s.

Pitch isn't PowerPoint reinvented. We've taken inspiration from multiple software categories to make Pitch the best software for teams. For instance, we dipped into our project management heritage when designing some of our workflow features. Up until now, there was no easy way to see the status of content or understand who was responsible. The side bar that we have just introduced makes collaborating on presentations seamless. You’ll easily see teammates’ comments, the status for each slide, and you can add reactions. That’s a good example of how we aim to completely rethink what modern teams want from the software they use every day.

Updated Pitch interface, pre-launch. Read more about it from the Pitch blog.

Pitch, beyond being a great new design tool, seems like a tool for non-designers too. How do you see it being used by everyone?

Our ambition is exactly this — make Pitch sophisticated enough for designers while being accessible for those users who simply don’t want to spend hours on pushing pixels and formatting. Everyone’s presentation deserves to look its best, which is why we’ve spent a lot of time creating stunning templates that are easy to customize and easy to work with.

Memos have become increasingly popular in recent years for a good reason. Existing presentation tools are just painful. Pitch removes the pain and makes creating presentations a fun and easy team experience. I believe there would be a massive switch back from memos to slide decks as they’re simply more dynamic if it was just as easy to build a presentation as it was writing a memo. Naturally, we test the limits of Pitch more than anyone else. We use presentations for everything from weekly updates to board meetings to org charts to virtual offsites.

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I don’t think we’ve seen a tool with this much pre-launch attention in quite a while. What do you think that excitement does for a product or team?

The team is incredibly excited by the feedback our early users are sharing. Both the general encouragement and the specific feature requests help us in making Pitch better. From the get-go we put a heavy emphasis on user research, and most importantly, testing and iteration. I think we see that paying off now.

At the same time we’re trying to pace ourselves — we want to make sure to get the product right before sharing it with the world. To me, it’s more important that we take our time now and have teams absolutely fall in love with Pitch once they try it as opposed to giving in to the long waitlist now. What we’ve built is already pretty unique, but our ambitions go far beyond what you see today.

What, if anything, can you share about the future of Pitch?

2020 has been challenging for all of us on many fronts — despite that, for Pitch it’s going to be a big year! Over the course of this year, we've majorly scaled our beta, released a major redesign, and are now working our way to a global launch. Definitely expect many new releases, and new features that make Pitch even better and more fun!

What's one unique thing about Pitch the company?

The perspective we gained from building and selling Wunderlist has given us a unique advantage. While I made a lot of mistakes as a young CEO, we still built a product that many people around the world loved to use. And with Pitch, I get to learn from that experience. Plus it feels really special to work alongside my colleagues from those early days. My co-founders and I knew early on that we wanted to be very deliberate when building Pitch. We started with more senior talent, and intentionally built a transparent culture that enables everyone to do their best work while being able to enjoy their private life. Remote work for example is something that is now being embraced by many companies because of the pandemic — at Pitch, a lot of our team members were either partially or fully remote from the very beginning. Work is changing — we see that in the tools we use but also in the ways companies are run. And Pitch is at the forefront of both of these things.

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