The past couple of years were all about huge valuations and less about needing to prove peak operational efficiency across the entire business. Even if you didn’t experience this first-hand as a startup founder or employee, the sheer amount of funding dispersed just last year proves my point.
This year’s a bit different. In large part due to persistently high inflation, round sizes and valuations are starting to come down — or normalize.
As a CEO who successfully raised capital in Q4 last year and is actively raising another round right now, I want to share my observations and tactical tips with other founders looking to fundraise in today’s volatile market.
What investors aren’t interested in
To give you an idea of my data sample size, I met roughly 60 investors to raise both my seed and Series A rounds. About 95% of those investors were based here in the U.S. (mostly in Silicon Valley), and they came from a combination of private equity, investment banks and growth VC firms.
Based on my conversations, here are three things I’ve noticed investors aren’t interested in right now:
Investors right now really like safety and security products, life-saving drugs and low-cost consumables, because these are essential products and services.
Funding startup trends
Lately I’ve found most investors are looking for reasons not to invest. Common pieces of feedback for founders include, “Your churn is too high”; “You have too much revenue concentration from a single customer”; and/or “Your product has possible future regulatory risks.”
Businesses with lots of capital expenditure
If you have a capital-intensive business or go long stretches while being EBIT negative, you may find it hard to find a willing investor. Now is a terrible time to show a big loss in short-term operations.
Backing new companies
VCs are more apt to continue investing within their portfolio companies right now.
What investors are interested in
Don’t panic, VCs are interested in investing in right now, just in a few areas.