The last year proved: It’s a challenge to raise venture capital nowadays.
But even though it’s harder to attract investment nowadays, nobody said it’s impossible, especially if startups are raising a Series A round. At this stage, they have established a solid track record but are still young, meaning their greatest growth lies ahead.
In this blog post, the CEO of the company, Dawn Salvucci-Favier, provides insights on when startups should consider raising a Series A round, how much funding they should aim for, and which metrics can persuade investors to support their venture.
Profile: Greenscreens.ai Greenscreens.ai is a U.S.-based startup founded in 2020; it develops a dynamic pricing infrastructure for the freight market. The company has around 105 customers, including Yellow Logistics, GLS US, Gampac/U.S. Foods, Primo Logistics, Giltner Logistics, and R2 Logistics. Backed by existing investor Tiger Global, the startup raised a Series A round in November 2022 ($5 million) to grow the team in the U.S. and Lithuania and invest in product development.
Deciding to raise Series A
Typically, it takes about 6 months for startups to attract Series A funding. The process includes reaching out to potential investors and due diligence. The common practice is to start pitching VCs 6-8 months before a startup runs out of money from previous rounds.
The Greenscreens.ai case was quite unique — the whole process took the startup 4 weeks.
Initially, the company didn’t plan to raise capital. While drawing up its budget for 2023, the team came to existing investor Tiger Global for a piece of advice. “When is it better for us to fundraise again? Which milestones should the company achieve by then?” they asked.
And instead of giving a consultation, the investor offered to lead a Series A round right away, doubling the previous investment after minimal due diligence. “Our investors said we were killing it. We had healthy unit economics, growth, margin, and other metrics,” says Salvucci-Favier.
Given the uncertainty in the global market and the startup’s concerns about possible future valuation and dilution, Salvucci-Favier decided to seize the opportunity. “The stars aligned, as it was an extraordinary opportunity, great valuation, cheap money, and a deal with a solid partner,” she says.
But — perhaps more importantly — the startup was ready for it. “A good time to raise a Series A round is when your startup finds product-market fit and the product demand but needs the capital to scale and go beyond an MVP,” she says. “And we had all of this.”
Tip from Greenscreens.ai CEO Dawn Salvucci-Favier “If you like your investors, talk to them, ask for support — it’s in their interest to help you do better as well. And you may end up as we did — not having to look for new VCs.”
How much capital to raise
In 2022, the average check size across Series A rounds was $15 million.
The $5 million raised by Greenscreens.ai was exactly the amount needed to accelerate growth and lay a solid foundation for the Series B round. The main areas of growth were team expansion, sales, and marketing.
“I didn't want to bring in more capital than we absolutely needed to give us a runway to grow. We don't want to be the company that brings in a lot of capital and overhires, the company that brings in people at super high salaries only to need to eventually lay those people off if things get tough,” says Salvucci-Favier.
Tip from Greenscreens.ai CEO Dawn Salvucci-Favier “Know how you will deploy the capital when you raise it and which value it will bring. Whatever the business case is for having raised funds, ensure that once you get the money, you are in a position to execute the plan immediately.” “And spend money gradually, over the course of at least 18 months, as you can’t be sure when you manage to fundraise again or at what cost.”
Milestones to achieve first
The Greenscreens.ai CEO believes the key difference between the Seed and Series A stages is that the first funds growth and the second — accelerates it.
The startup took seven months to raise its Seed round. At the time, the company had minimal revenue and only a handful of customers. Although many investors expressed interest in participating, none were initially willing to lead the round due to the high level of risk involved.
After Seed, the startup aimed to achieve a high margin, low burn rate and low customer churn rate before Series A. Ten months later, they gained additional 60 customers and increased their ARR by over 550%.
The conversation with investors became much easier.
“Our existing investors had been tracking our performance (since we closed our Seed round), and we were performing well. It proved that investing more in Greenscreens.ai was worth it,” says Salvucci-Favier.
The CEO also believes, when looking to raise capital, it’s essential to be able to tell VCs a compelling story about your startup. For Series A funding, it's crucial to focus on tangible progress and provide a clear plan for achieving key metrics, especially if growth is not yet evident. Similarly, the narrative of moving beyond Series A must remain compelling.
The story should describe:
the founder’s background;
the company’s evolution from founding to the Seed round, and up to Series A;
traction, including customer acquisition data;
the product’s story and vision;
a comprehensive understanding of the market.
Tip from Greenscreens.ai CEO Dawn Salvucci-Favier “Put metrics on a constant track and know what all those numbers mean for your business. This will ensure that you’re getting a return on every dollar before spending more. Anybody can easily burn a bunch of cash if the capital you’ve deployed is not serving its purpose.”
Salvucci-Favier’s final advice is to thoroughly research potential investors before closing any deals. Determine if they can provide the hands-on assistance that your business needs, if they are interested in a board seat, and if your expectations and values align.
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