It's not easy to launch a company. You, as a startup's founder, are probably preoccupied with product development, talent acquisition, and funding. It doesn't matter how far along a company is in its development, the fundraising procedure for a startup is always the same. When seeking startup financing, a firm must be able to demonstrate its worth to investors and have a concrete strategy for spending the funds it receives. The stock of a firm would inevitably be diluted with each new round of investment.
A few long-term tendencies have significantly altered the startup funding landscape during the last decade. Fundraising cycles go through highs and lows, with highs caused by optimistic over-investment and lows caused by defensive cost cutting. It's important to gain a handle on these shifts if we're going to comprehend the drivers of today's investing landscape. So, why is there a fluctuation in funding rounds? What causes these changes in funding rounds? We will have them answered here.
Startup Funding rounds
The startup's sector and the amount of interest among investors determine the financing options accessible to the company. Seed investment, often known as funding from angel investors, is a typical kind of early financing for firms.
After these first investment stages, further capital-raising initiatives, such as Series funding rounds, may be pursued. When a company realizes that it can't make it on the kindness of strangers and its resources alone, it has to raise money through Series A, B, and C rounds of financing.
The fundraising process and timetable might vary slightly from one company to the next. Many firms take months or years to get finance, but some especially those with genuinely innovative ideas or those associated with successful people, may skip several rounds and generate cash faster.
What are funding rounds?
Almost all seed and early-stage investments are structured to ensure the investor or participating firm has some stake in the business even after the fundraising round is complete. The investor will get a return on their money that is proportional to the success of the business. Seed money may come from a wide variety of sources, including the company's creators, acquaintances, incubators, VC firms, and more. Some firms may never pursue a Series A investment because the founders believe that a seed capital round is sufficient to get the business off the ground. When a company demonstrates success in the past (via a large user base, steady sales numbers, or some other performance metric), it may be ready to seek outside funding rounds.
When a firm has just a concept, a plan, or a prototype, and is still in the testing phase with few or no paying clients, it is said to be at the seed financing or angel investment stage of its life cycle. The investment has the potential for high profits but might be lost if the company fails.
Angel investors or seed funders invest in startups via the purchase of shares rather than providing loan funding because of the risk involved. Instead of cash, the investor may be offered an interest in the company or the option to buy shares in a subsequent round of equity financing.
These investors are usually those who have substantial vertical expertise and the means to assess the viability of a startup's founder. Other alternatives to public equity funding for companies include venture capital firms and private equity.
Series A Funding
Series A funding is the next round of investment after seed capital and often involves several million dollars. In most cases, a startup won't be able to get funding of this size until it has already shown itself as a profitable venture with significant room for expansion. With the money from a Series A funding round, a promising but cash-strapped startup may hire more people, buy more supplies and machinery, and pursue other long-term expansion plans.
In return for their risk, investors in a Series A round of financing usually get a substantial equity stake in the venture. Seed capital is different from Series A financing primarily in terms of investment quantity and the investor's stake in the company. Series A finance is normally within millions of dollars, whereas seed money is frequently in the tens, hundreds, or thousands of dollars.
Series B Funding
By the time a company is ready for Series B funding, they have made significant strides in growing its business and are thus worth more to investors. A Series B fundraising round provides an opportunity for businesses to pursue several funding strategies. Typically, the share price paid by Series B investors is greater than the share price paid by Series A investors.
Series A funding round is used by entrepreneurs with a proven business strategy to raise more funds. Series A funding often comes from private equity companies and is utilized for things like inventory and machinery as well as new hires. Series B investment often comes from a mix of the original investors from Series A and new investors interested in the firm now that it has proven itself.
Series B fundraising occurs whenever the firm has established a track record of profitable operations and is ready to expand. In this way, shareholders may evaluate the management team's performance and decide whether or not to continue funding the company. Hence, Series B funding is often safer than Series A financing.
Series C and further
The purpose of Series C financing is to get a firm ready for an acquisition, an IPO, or rapid growth via other means. While some companies go on to explore future rounds of investment, this is often the final one for a startup.
Businesses seeking this kind of funding round have shown themselves successful and have a valuation of about $118 million for Series C financing is a big infusion of capital into a company that has already shown its viability by generating revenue and carving out a niche for itself in the market. The goal is to rapidly expand the company to maximize the investors' return.
Companies that are ready to raise capital are no longer considered startups. They have established themselves as credible businesses with devoted followers and widespread name recognition, despite being relatively young. This fundraising round is popular among private equity companies, hedge funds, and investment banks because of the low risk, established business model, and opportunity to support a company with the potential to expand into a multibillion-dollar enterprise.
How long should a funding round last?
The standard duration for funding help is 12 to 18 months. You should be able to easily reach your objectives and projections with the amount of money you raised. Seed funding should be raised four to six months before the pre-seed round's funds are fully deployed. This time frame should be sufficient for your team to present your company's current traction and direction to new and current investors, convincing them to fund your next phase of growth.
Your current and prospective investors must know you're gathering funds before you announce it. It is the founder's duty to keep existing investors informed every month. The founder must reach out to new investors well in advance of any fundraising efforts.
Funding round trends
By the end of 2022 Q1, the VC sector had begun to feel the effects of the global economic downturn, with late-stage firms bearing the brunt of the impact on their valuations. The ripple effects became more widespread during Q2 of 2022 when companies raising seed funding and Series A investments saw large declines in value. The startup funding rounds have shown to be surprisingly robust in the face of several geopolitical and socioeconomic challenges. The seed and series A phases of the startup ecosystem have shown early indications of resurgence during the last several months.
In addition to financial backing, early-stage businesses are helped by experts in the fields of business plan, design and development, building communities, and mentoring.
In the coming years, early-stage firms that have received money from hopeful shareholders are expected to encounter more challenges and will need a more compelling business case to acquire funding.
Several venture capitalists also urged the businesses in their portfolios to hold off on raising capital and to standardize their operations until the financing storm had passed.
Equity crowdfunding is becoming more popular as a viable alternative to traditional bank loans for businesses in the early stages of their development due to the risks associated with interest rate swings and onerous loan compliance requirements.
Why do funding rounds fluctuate?
It might be difficult to sort out what a funding round is in today's business climate. A company's initial institutional investment round may have been a Series A, but that was before the days of crowdfunding and funding from family and friends. Yet, the focus of institutional capital has shifted upstream. But, this just scratches the surface of the technical complexity of the startup fundraising ecosystem.
As things are changing rapidly throughout the globe, investors are more or less likely to put money into new ventures on a global scale. Global startup funding dropped to $415.1 billion in 2022, a 35% decrease from the record $700 billion raised in 2021.
Certainly, there is a seed round, but a new breed of pre-seed investors is developing to support businesses at even younger stages. Companies who have already received seed funding may choose to seek a "seed-plus" or "seed extension" round if they feel they are not yet prepared to pursue a Series A round.
Financing for startups is dependent on a wide range of criteria, including the quality of the team, how much money was obtained during the initial round, how innovative the business is, etc. Depending on the existence of one or more factors, the funding rounds may fluctuate.
The fluctuations are also partly because investors' tactics have evolved. If prices aren't increasing proportionally to the size of the funding round, then it makes financial sense for investors to finance larger rounds. Startup funds supporting larger rounds may provide better returns over time if they can negotiate and exercise rights in subsequent rounds to protect their larger holdings. Changing the anti-dilution protection or substituting it for other investor benefits like upside protection are also possible options for renegotiating the round's conditions.
What are Down rounds and how do you prevent them?
A company issues a certain number of fresh shares in exchange for a predetermined sum of money during a funding activity. The value of every share is then determined as a proportion of the total increase in the company's capital. As a consequence, we'll be able to compare a "pre-money" value with a "post-money" valuation. A down round occurs when the pre-money value of the new round falls below the post-money appraisal of the prior round. If a firm is unable to meet its targets, its growth projections and subsequent value will suffer as a result. Down rounds also activate anti-dilution protection.
Minimizing running costs is a straightforward way to stretch the available funds. This will buy time until an outside fundraising effort is required, but it may not be possible for a small company or one with little income. In addition, income for new businesses is notoriously unstable, especially in hard times.
Being cautious and intelligent in your fund-raising efforts can help you avoid down rounds. Startups have a tremendous incentive to maximize their capital raising since high valuations and capital injections are seen as indicators of success. Nevertheless, instead of constantly raising funds, which is time-consuming and unpleasant, it is more productive to raise the money required to fulfill realistic development goals.