Series Funding: A start-up, founded with a unique business idea, begins with a small customer base of 100 and limited funding from friends and family, totaling $50,000. However, as the company proves the effectiveness of its model and products, it experiences steady growth, with a 20% increase in customers each month and revenue growth of 30% quarter over quarter. The company continues to expand its operations and goals, eventually reaching a customer base of 10,000 and $5 million in funding.
Through consistent hard work and determination, the company rises above its competitors and becomes a highly valued player in the industry, opening opportunities for future expansion such as opening new offices, hiring additional employees, and even pursuing an initial public offering. As the famous startup quote goes, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs
Table of Contents
Points to Remember
- The development stage is one of the stages in the life cycle of a newly established company.
- This stage is considered a challenging phase and is characterized by a high risk of failure.
- For investors with a high tolerance for risk and the capability to invest, development-stage companies may occasionally offer significant returns.
Explaining Series A Financing
- While there are some exceptions, it is rare for a startup to experience the level of growth and success as described in the previous scenario without seeking external funding.
- The majority of successful startups engage in multiple rounds of funding to raise capital, through which outside investors provide cash in exchange for equity or partial ownership of the company.
- The terms “Series A,” “Series B,” and “Series C” funding rounds refer to this process of growing a business through outside investment, with each round typically indicating a different stage of a company’s growth and development.
- According to a study, on average, startups raise capital in 2-3 rounds before reaching the IPO stage, with Series A funding typically ranging from $2 million to $15 million, Series B funding ranging from $5 million to $25 million, and Series C funding often exceeding $25 million.
- Additionally, the study found that startups that raise more capital in each funding round tend to have a higher valuation and are more likely to reach a successful exit.
What Are Funding Rounds for Startups?
- There are various types of funding rounds available to startups, depending on the industry and interest among potential investors.
- One of the initial funding rounds that startups often engage in is “seed” funding or angel investor funding.
- After seed funding, startups can move on to Series A, B, and C funding rounds, as well as additional efforts to raise capital if necessary.
- Series A, B, and C funding rounds are typically required for startups that cannot rely solely on bootstrapping or funding from friends and family.
- According to a study, the average time for a startup to raise seed funding is about 6-9 months, with Series A funding taking about 12-18 months and Series B funding taking about 18-24 months.
- The path and timeline for funding can vary for each startup, with some spending months or even years searching for funding, while others with revolutionary ideas or individuals with a proven track record of success may move through the funding process more quickly.
How Series Funding Rounds Work
Here is a step-by-step guide on how a funding round works:
- Identify the company seeking series funding: This could be a startup that is in the early stages of development and looking to raise capital to get their business off the ground. For example, a company that has developed a new technology and is looking to bring it to market.
- Identify potential investors: These could be individuals, venture capital firms, or other companies that are interested in investing in the startup. For example, an angel investor who is interested in investing in new technologies.
- Determine the type of funding round: The type of funding round will depend on the stage of development of the company and the needs of the company. For example, a startup in its early stages may seek seed funding, while a company that has already established a customer base may seek Series A funding to expand its operations.
- Negotiate the terms of the investment: This includes the amount of funding that will be provided, the percentage of ownership that the investor will receive, and any other terms that need to be agreed upon. For example, an angel investor may invest $500,000 in exchange for 20% ownership in the company.
- Close the funding round: Once the terms of the investment are agreed upon, the funding round is closed and the funds are provided to the company. The investor now becomes a shareholder in the company and will be entitled to a share of the profits in proportion to the investment made.
- Company uses the funds to grow and develop: The company will use the funds to expand its operations, hire new employees, and develop new products. As the company grows, the value of the investment will also increase.
- Investor gets rewarded: As the company grows and earns a profit, the investor will be rewarded commensurate with the investment made. The investor may choose to sell their shares for a profit or hold on to them for future growth.
What Is the Series Funding Valuation?
- Before any funding round begins, analysts conduct a valuation of the company to determine its worth.
- Valuations take into account various factors such as the management team, track record, market size, and risk.
- One of the main distinctions between funding rounds is the valuation of the business, its maturity level, and growth prospects.
- These factors influence the type of investors that may be interested and the reasons for the company seeking new capital.
- For example, a startup in its early stages with a low valuation and high growth potential may attract angel investors or venture capital firms looking for high returns on their investment.
- On the other hand, a mature company with a high valuation and stable growth prospects may attract institutional investors or strategic partners looking for a stable return on investment.
- The earliest stage of funding a new company is known as “pre-seed” funding.
- This stage typically refers to the period in which a company’s founders are first getting their operations off the ground, before the official rounds of funding begin.
- The most common sources of “pre-seed” funding are the founders themselves, as well as close friends, supporters, and family.
- For example, a group of friends who have an idea for a new app may use their own savings to pay for the initial development costs.
- The amount of funding and the timeline for this stage can vary greatly depending on the nature of the company and the initial costs associated with developing the business idea.
- In most cases, the investors at this stage are not making an investment in exchange for equity in the company, but rather they are providing support to help the company get started.
This stage is also known as “bootstrapping” as the company is trying to survive on the generosity of friends, family, and the depth of their own pockets.
- Seed funding is the first official equity funding stage and typically represents the first official money that a business venture or enterprise raises.
- Some companies never extend beyond seed funding into Series A rounds or beyond.
- Seed funding can be thought of as the “seed” that helps to grow the business, similar to planting a tree.
- For example, a startup that has developed a new technology but needs funds to conduct market research and develop the product may seek seed funding.
- Seed funding helps a company to finance its first steps, including things like market research and product development.
- With seed funding, a company can determine its final products and target demographic.
- Seed funding is used to employ a founding team to complete these tasks, for example, a startup that has developed a new technology but needs funds to conduct market research and develop the product may seek seed funding to hire a team of engineers and designers to complete these tasks.
- Seed funding is also known as angel investor funding where angel investors provide funding to startup companies in exchange for equity, typically they are high net worth individuals who are interested in investing in new technologies.
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Step-by-step guide on how seed funding works:
- Recognize the startup: The startup is in the early stages of development and looking to raise capital to get their business off the ground. For example, a company that has developed or invented a new technology or product and is looking to bring it to sell.
- Find potential investors: These could be individuals, venture capital firms, or other companies that are interested in investing in the startup at beginers level. For example, an angel investor who is interested in investing in new technologies or products leads to series funding.
- Desiding the amount of funding needed: Seed funding rounds vary significantly in terms of the amount of capital they generate for a new startup or venture. It’s is quite possible for these rounds to produce anywhere from $10,000 to $2 million for the startup in question.
- Negotiate the terms and rules of the investment: This includes the amount of funding that will be provided, the percentage of ownership that the investor will receive, and any other terms that need to be agreed upon. For example, an angel investor may invest $500,000 in exchange for 20% ownership in the company.
- Finalize the seed funding round: Once the terms of the investment are agreed upon, the funding round is closed and the funds are provided to the company management. The investor now becomes a shareholder in the company and will be entitled to a share of the profits in proportion to the investment made which is agrred by all parties.
- Company uses the provided funds to grow and develop: The company will use the funds to conduct market research, develop the product and technology, modify as per requirment of market and employ a founding team to complete these tasks.
- Valuation of the startup: Most companies raising seed funding are valued at somewhere between $3 million and $6 million.
- Track record and additional funding: Once a business has developed a track record such as an established user base, consistent revenue figures, market status or some other key performance indicator, it could be ready to raise additional capital, such as a Series A funding round.
What Is Series A Funding?
- Series A funding is the first round after the seed stage and is focused on developing a business model that will generate long-term profit.
- In this round, investors are looking for companies with great ideas as well as a strong strategy for turning that idea into a successful, money-making business.
- Typically, Series A rounds raise approximately $2 million to $15 million, but this number has increased on average due to high tech industry valuations, or unicorns.
- For example, a company that has developed a new technology and has attracted a substantial amount of enthusiastic users but does not have a clear monetization strategy may seek Series A funding to develop a long-term profit strategy.
- In 2021, the median Series A funding was $10 million.
- Companies going through Series A funding rounds are typically valued at up to $24 million.
- The investors involved in the Series A round come from traditional venture capital firms, such as Sequoia Capital, IDG Capital, Google Ventures, and Intel Capital.
- For example, A company like “Uber” went through Series A funding and raised $11 million from Benchmark Capital, First Round Capital and others. Another company like “Airbnb” raised $7.2 million in Series A funding from Greylock Partners, Sequoia Capital and Y Ventures.
What Is Series B Funding?
- Series B rounds are focused on taking startups to the next level, beyond the development stage
- Investors provide funding to help expand the market reach of these companies
- Companies that have previously received seed and Series A funding have already established a substantial user base and have demonstrated their potential for success
- Series B funding is used to grow the company and meet increased demand
- This growth often includes expanding the team through quality talent acquisition
- This can include hiring for roles such as business development, sales, advertising, tech, support and other employees
- For example, a company that specializes in developing a popular mobile app may use Series B funding to hire additional engineers and designers to improve and expand the app, as well as increase their marketing and sales team to drive user acquisition.
How Series B Funding Works
- Companies undergoing a Series B funding round are well-established, and their valuations typically range from $30 million to $60 million
- The processes and key players involved in Series B are similar to those in Series A
- Series B is often led by the same key anchor investor as the earlier round, who helps to attract additional investors
- One key difference between Series A and Series B is the addition of new venture capital firms that specialize in later-stage investing
- These firms may provide additional resources, expertise, and connections to help the company continue to grow and scale.
- For example, Uber which raised $37M in Series B funding in 2011, was able to use the funds to expand its operations and build out its team. This included hiring new engineers and designers to improve the app, as well as increasing its marketing and sales team to drive user acquisition.
- Another example is Airbnb, which raised $112M in Series B funding in 2010. The series funding was used to expand the company’s offerings and grow its team, which included hiring new engineers, designers, and support staff to help improve the user experience and scale the platform.
What Is Series C Funding?
- Businesses that raise a Series C funding are already quite successful
- They look for additional funding to develop new products, expand into new markets, or even to acquire other companies
- In Series C rounds, investors inject capital into the core of successful businesses, with the expectation of receiving a significant return on investment
- The focus of Series C funding is on scaling the company, growing as quickly and as successfully as possible
- One possible way to scale a company could be to acquire another company
- For example, a hypothetical startup that creates vegetarian alternatives to meat products, that has reached a Series C funding round has likely already demonstrated success in selling its products in the United States
- The business has probably already reached its target market across the country.
- Through market research and business planning, investors reasonably believe that the business would do well in Europe
- If the startup has a competitor who currently possesses a large share of the market and has a competitive advantage that the startup could benefit, the culture appears to fit well, and the merger would be a synergistic partnership. In this case, Series C funding could be used to buy the company.
- As the operation gets less risky, more investors will be willing to invest.
How Series C Funding Works
- In Series C, groups such as hedge funds, investment banks, private equity firms, and large secondary market groups join the investors from earlier rounds
- The reason for this is that the company has already proven its business model to be successful, and these new investors come to the table expecting to invest significant sums of money into companies that are already thriving
- Most commonly, a company will end its external equity funding with Series C, but some companies can go on to Series D and even Series E rounds of series funding
- For the most part, companies gaining hundreds of millions of dollars in funding through Series C rounds are prepared to continue to develop on a global scale
- Many of these companies utilize Series C funding to help boost valuations in anticipation of an IPO, thus enjoy higher valuations
- Companies engaging in Series C funding should have established, strong customer bases, revenue streams, and proven histories of growth
- Companies that do continue with Series D funding tend to do so because they are in search of a final push before an IPO or because they have not yet been able to achieve the goals they set out to accomplish during Series C funding
- For example, Tesla raised $226 million in Series C funding in 2000, which helped the company to achieve its goal of developing and manufacturing electric vehicles on a large scale.
- Apple raised $200 million in Series C funding in 1980, which helped the company to develop the Macintosh personal computer and other innovative products.
- Zoom raised $100 million in Series C funding in 2017, which helped the company to scale its video conferencing platform and expand into new markets.
How Many Series of Funding Before IPO
- The average number of seed rounds that a company evantualy goes through before completing an initial public offering (IPO) is three.
- However, this is not a hard and fast rule and there is no set number of rounds that must be raised
- Some companies may raise additional rounds of funding (such as Series D or E) to continue growing and scaling their business before going public
- Other companies may be able to go public with just one or two rounds of funding.
- In addition, the amount of funding raised in each round can vary widely depending on the company and the stage of its development.
- For example, a company may raise several million dollars in a seed round, tens of millions in a Series A round, hundreds of millions in a Series B round, and so on.
- It’s important to note that not all companies raise enough funds to go public, some of them might get acquired by another company or fail to meet their goals.
What Happens After Series C Funding?
- Many companies will complete an initial public offering (IPO) after their Series C funding round
- However, other companies may need to raise a Series D round to further expand or grow.
- For example, Facebook, which raised $1.5 billion in Series D funding in 2011, used the funds to continue developing its platform and expand into new markets. The company then completed its IPO in 2012.
What Does Series D Funding Mean?
- Series D funding is the fourth stage of fundraising that a business completes after the seed stage
- The order of funding stages typically goes as: seed, Series A, Series B, Series C, and then Series D
- Series D funding typically comes after a company has already gone through the earlier stages of fundraising and established a strong customer base, revenue streams, and history of growth
- The funds raised in Series D are typically used to further scale and expand the business, potentially in preparation for an initial public offering (IPO)
The Conclusion in Nutshell
- Understanding the distinction between the various rounds of raising capital can help one to evaluate startup opportunities and understand startup news
- The different rounds of funding operate in a similar manner, where investors offer cash in exchange for an equity stake in the business
- The demands and expectations of investors may vary between the rounds, as the risk profile and maturity level of the company changes
- Seed investors and Series A, B, and C investors all play an important role in helping startups bring their ideas to fruition
- Series funding allows entrepreneurs to secure the necessary funds to execute their business plans, and investors have the opportunity to potentially cash out in an IPO down the line.
- Although the company profiles differ with each case, the main goal of the funding rounds is to help the entrepreneur’s idea to grow, and to bring the product to the market.