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Product Update: Turn Emails Into Insights With Visible AI Inbox
Structured data. The holy grail of business intelligence. Structured data unlocks a realm of possibilities, from setting benchmarks to enhancing decision-making processes. Yet, in the venture capital landscape, accessing reliable, structured data remains a formidable challenge. This is precisely why we created the Visible AI Inbox. With unique features like automated metric detection and file parsing, the Visible AI Inbox stands out as a pioneering solution for portfolio monitoring. Discover how it can transform your data strategy by meeting with our team. Turning email into insights We believe that investors should spend time sourcing new deals and helping founders, not manually copying and pasting data from email 🙂. The AI Inbox helps aggregate insights that exist siloed in data, files, and updates across a venture firm. Updates from founders often stay stuck in one team member's inbox because it's too time-consuming to extract and enter the data and files into a more centralized repository. Visible AI Inbox makes this possible within seconds. Requests + AI Inbox = A Complete Picture The addition of the AI Inbox continues to advance our market-leading portfolio monitoring solution. The pairing of Requests + the AI Inbox will give investors a holistic view of portfolio company performance across a fund. Visible continues to be the most founder-friendly tool on the market. We’ll continue to build tools in existing workflows where both founders and investors live every day. How Does it Work? Visible AI Inbox works in three simple steps. Forward emails to a custom AI inbox email address Visible AI automatically maps data and files to portfolio companies Investors can review and approve content before it is saved From there, dashboards, tear sheets, and reports are all automatically updated on Visible. Learn more about how Visible AI Inbox can streamline workflows at your firm by meeting with our team. FAQ Will this be available on all plans? Visible AI Inbox is only available on certain plans. Get in touch with your dedicated Investor Success Manager if you want to explore adding this to your account. How is Visible addressing privacy and security with Visible AI Inbox? No data submitted through the OpenAI API is used to train OpenAI models or improve OpenAI’s service offering. Visible AI Inbox leverages OpenAI GPT 4 and proprietary prompts to extract data in a structured way and import it into Visible. If you’re uncomfortable with utilizing OpenAI to optimize your account, you can choose not to utilize this feature. Please feel free to reach out to our team with any further questions. These processes adhere to the guidelines outlined in Visible’s privacy policy and SOC 2 certification. Visible AI Inbox Best Practices We'll be sharing best practices for how investors are leveraging Visible AI Inbox in our bi-weekly newsletter, the Visible Edge. Stay in the loop with best practices and product updates by subscribing below:
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Top Creator Economy Startups and the VCs That Fund Them in 2024
The creator economy is rapidly transforming the global economy, driving billions of dollars in value as it reshapes how content is created, distributed, and monetized. At the intersection of technology and creativity, startups within the creator economy are pioneering innovative platforms and tools that empower individuals to turn their passions into professions. This rapidly growing sector not only offers vast opportunities for creators but also attracts significant attention and investment from venture capitalists keen to support the next wave of digital innovation. What is the creator economy? In today's digital age, the "creator" embodies a broad and dynamic role, reflecting the vast opportunities for individual creativity and entrepreneurship online. A creator is anyone who produces content across various platforms to engage, entertain, or educate an audience, leveraging digital tools and social media to monetize their skills and passions. This definition spans from writers, artists, and musicians to influencers, vloggers, and podcasters, among others, who utilize platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Twitch to share their work and generate revenue through ad shares, sponsorships, merchandise sales, and more​​​​​​. The creator economy has democratized content production and distribution, enabling individuals to turn their passions into professions without the traditional barriers of entry like access to large capital or institutional gatekeepers. With just a smartphone and internet access, creators can reach a global audience, exemplified by individuals who have gained fame and financial success through platforms like TikTok and YouTube with minimal initial investment​​. In the evolving landscape of the creator economy, founders, content creators, and VCs are witnessing a dynamic shift towards diversified revenue streams beyond traditional brand partnerships. The spotlight has increasingly turned towards direct audience monetization strategies, including digital product sales, affiliate marketing, ad revenues, and brand deals. This shift underscores the importance for stakeholders in the creator economy to innovate and adapt. For creators, it's about embracing new technologies and platforms to engage with audiences and monetize their content effectively. For founders and VCs, the emphasis is on investing in and developing tools that support creators in these endeavors, recognizing the value of direct audience relationships and the growing independence of creators from traditional advertising models. It's not just about creating content but also about understanding the ecosystem's business models, audience engagement strategies, and monetization mechanisms. As the creator economy continues to evolve, staying informed and adaptable will be key to leveraging its potential for individual growth and investment opportunities. Related Resource: 18 Pitch Deck Examples for Any Startup Creator Economy Areas of Investment VCs are investing in tools to help influencers operate and monetize. Here are some examples of the areas of focus that we gathered from SignalFire’s Creator Economy Market Map. Related Resource: 14 Gaming and Esports Investors You Should Know Content Creation Tools Video Photography / Graphic Design Motion Photos Music Podcast Influencer Marketing Specialized Influencer Marketing Agencies. Influencer Marketing Platforms and Marketplaces: CRM Tools Patronage Platforms Ad Hoc Project-Based Funding Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe Subscription-Based Funding Patreon Tip Jar Concept Ko-fi and Buy Me a Coffee Other Opportunities Community Engagement Tools Finance Management Tools Key Insights for Founders in the Creator Economy Space We pulled some key insights from ConverKits State of the Creator Economy 2024 Report: Shift in Preferred Content Formats Written Content Dominates: Contrary to previous predictions, written content such as emails, newsletters, articles, blog posts, and books has emerged as the most popular and lucrative form of content. In 2023, 58% of creators produced emails or newsletters, and 51% focused on articles, blog posts, or books​​​​. Decline in Short-Form Videos: The percentage of creators making short-form videos decreased significantly, dropping from 45% in 2022 to 23% in 2023. This trend suggests a pivot away from platforms like TikTok towards more substantial, written content​​​​. Gender Pay Gap Progress Closing Income Disparity: The creator economy is witnessing a positive trend towards earning equality. The percentage of female creators earning six figures or more has increased, reflecting a closing gender pay gap​​. Notable Female Creators: Examples of successful female creators include Bonnie Christine, Nisha Vora, XayLi Barclay, and Chaitra Radhakrishna, who have built substantial businesses and incomes in the creator space​​​​. Transition from Traditional Jobs Leaving 9-5 Jobs: A significant number of creators are leaving traditional salaried jobs to focus on their creator businesses. Economic uncertainty and layoffs have spurred this shift, with creators seeking more control over their income and career​​. Income Expectations and Speed: Many creators expect to earn more from their creator businesses in 2024 compared to 2023, with full-time creators often starting to make money within their first year of operation​​​​. Diverse Income Streams Multiple Revenue Sources: Full-time creators typically have six or more income streams, compared to hobbyists and part-timers who have fewer. This diversification is key to their financial stability and growth​​​​. Top Income Sources: Professional services (36%), digital products (18%), advertising (11%), and affiliate marketing/links (10%) are among the top ways creators earn their income​​. Generational Differences in the Creator Economy Cultural Differences Between Generations: Generational differences are evident in the creator space. Gen-Z, known as the side-hustle generation, accounts for the largest share of hobbyists and part-time creators. While 87% of Gen-Z creators earn under $10,000 a year, there are positive trends for this group. Initially, around 3% of Gen-Z respondents were full-time creators; now, about a quarter of all Gen-Z creators make a full-time living from their business. Actionable Insights for Startup Founders Focus on Written Content: Prioritize developing solutions for written content, as this format has proven to be both popular and profitable for creators. Facilitate Career Transitions: Provide resources and guidance for creators looking to transition from traditional jobs to full-time creator roles. Diverse Revenue Models: Help creators develop multiple income streams to enhance their financial resilience and growth potential. Top 8 VCs Actively Investing in the Creator Economy Venture capitalists play a crucial role in fueling the growth of the creator economy by providing the necessary capital and resources for startups to thrive. Here are eight leading VCs that are making significant investments in this sector: 1. SignalFire Location: San Francisco, California, United States About: SignalFire is a venture capital firm that invests in seed-stage companies and breakout companies. Investment Stages: Seed, Series A, Series B Popular Investments: OneSignal Ledger Investing Join Check out SignalFire’s Visible Connect Profile, to learn more! 2. Antler About: Antler is a global startup generator and early-stage VC that is building the next big wave of tech. With the mission to turn exceptional individuals into great founders, Antler aims to create thousands of companies globally. Thesis: We identify and invest in exceptional people Investment Stages: Pre-Seed, Seed Popular Investments: Mast Technologies Upflowy Appboxxo Check out Antler’s Visible Connect Profile, to learn more! 3. Harlem Capital Location: New York, United States About: Harlem Capital is an early-stage venture firm that invests in post-revenue tech-enabled startups, focused on minority and women founders. Thesis: Women or POC founders (no deep tech, bio, crypto, hardware) Investment Stages: Seed, Series A, Series B, Growth Popular Investments: Lami Gander The House of LR&C Check out Harlem Capital’s Visible Connect Profile, to learn more! 4. Night Ventures Location: Texas, United States Thesis: Our LPs are 50+ of the top creators in the world across YouTube, TikTok, Twitch and elsewhere. Together, we specialize in influence – understanding what’s popular, what’s trending and how to acquire more customers/fans of your product. Popular Investments: Moonpay Pearpop Beacons Check out Night Ventures’ Visible Connect Profile, to learn more! 5. Slow Ventures Location: San Francisco, California, United States About: Slow Ventures invests in companies central to the technology industry and those on the edges of science, society, and culture. Thesis: Slow Ventures invests in companies central to the technology industry and those on the edges of science, society, and culture. Investment Stages: Seed, Series A Popular Investments: Juice Stem Human Check out Slow Ventures’ Visible Connect Profile, to learn more! 6. Behind Genius Ventures (BGV) Location: Los Angeles, California, United States About: Behind Genius Ventures invests in pre-seed/seed stage companies centered around product-led growth. Co-Founded by two Gen Z investors: Joshua Schlisserman and Paige Doherty. Investment Stages: Pre-Seed, Seed Popular Investments: Decaf Impulse Maca Payments Check out BGV’s Visible Connect Profile, to learn more! 7. Crush Ventures Location: LA and NYC About: We formed Crush Ventures to focus on early stage investing at the intersection of media, culture, and commerce. To founders, we bring to bear our capital, operating expertise and powerful relationship network earned from two decades spent building Crush Music into a global powerhouse. Thesis: We invest in founders building the future of how talent will discover, engage, and monetize fans. Investment Stages: Pre-Seed, Seed RPopular Investments: Beacons Create O/S Splice Check out Crush Venture’s Visible Connect Profile, to learn more! 8. Freestyle Capital Location: California, United States About: Freestyle is an early-stage VC with $565M+ AUM & investments in 150+ tech co’s like Airtable, Intercom, Patreon, BetterUp and Snapdocs. Thesis: We are high-conviction, low-volume investors and invest in only 10-12 companies each year. This gives us the freedom to work closely with founders, and holistically support our companies. We typically lead Seed rounds with a $1.5M — $3M check. We make decisions efficiently and are 100% transparent with you along the way. We invest in founders building soon-to-be massive tech companies across many verticals. Investment Stages: Pre-Seed, Seed Popular Investments: Spot Change Grain Check out Freestyle’s Visible Connect Profile, to learn more! 9. Seven Seen Six Location: They are a remote-first company with locations in Miami and Los Angeles About: Seven Seven Six is a venture capital firm founded by Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, with a mission to invest in bold and ambitious startups that have the potential to significantly impact their industries and communities. Established in 2020, Seven Seven Six focuses on early-stage investments, providing not only capital but also strategic guidance and support to help founders scale their businesses effectively. Thesis: The firm has a strong focus on the creator economy, supporting platforms and tools that enable creators to monetize their work and engage with their audiences. Additionally, Seven Seven Six invests in sectors such as consumer technology, blockchain, and fintech, always looking for disruptive innovations that can redefine industries. Investment Stages: Seed Popular Investments: Dispo Pearpop Simulate Check out Seven Seven Six’s Visible Connect Profile to learn more! 10. Creandum Location: Stockholm, Berlin, and San Francisco About: Creandum is a leading European early-stage venture capital firm investing in innovative and fast-growing technology companies. Thesis: We are a venture capital advisory firm powering innovation from Stockholm, Berlin, and San Francisco. Investment Stages: Pre-Seed, Seed, Series A, Series B Popular Investments: Depop Kahoot! Spotify Check out Creandum’s Visible Connect Profile to learn more! 11. R/GA Ventures Location: New York, USA About: R/GA Ventures is a venture capital firm that partners with startups to build and scale their businesses. It leverages the resources of R/GA, a globally recognized innovation consultancy, to provide startups with strategic guidance, mentorship, and access to a vast network of industry experts. R/GA Ventures focuses on fostering innovation in various industries by helping startups develop transformative products and services. Thesis: Focusing on companies that are at the intersection of technology, design, and digital innovation. Their thesis revolves around backing startups that leverage technology to disrupt traditional industries and create new market opportunities. R/GA Ventures aims to support startups that are developing cutting-edge solutions in areas such as AI, IoT, digital media, and the creator economy. Investment Stages: Early-stage startups, including Seed and Series A rounds Popular Investments: Cameo Teachable SuperPhone Check out R/GA Ventures’ Visible Connect Profile to learn more! Alternative Funding for Creator Economy Founders Along with VC, accelerators and incubators, you can consider Gumroad’s new innovative funding model. Gumroad’s Creator Investing Play: Gumroad, an ecommerce platform helping creators sell digital products, offers a unique funding alternative to traditional venture capital. Instead of pursuing equity, Gumroad buys a 10% stake in creator-led businesses, providing checks ranging from $100K to $500K directly to creators. This approach allows creators to maintain full control over their business while Gumroad receives regular dividends on the business’s earnings​​. Benefits of Gumroad’s Model: This funding model aligns with creators' needs and goals, emphasizing sustainability and revenue growth over exits or liquidity events. Sahil Lavingia, Gumroad’s founder, highlights that creators have a competitive advantage due to their deep audience connection, quick adaptability, and authenticity as founders and business leaders​​. Addressing Growth Challenges: Despite the growth of creator-led startups, there remains a lack of clear blueprints for scaling while maintaining brand integrity. Lavingia points out that aspects like hiring teams, managing expenses, and balancing growth with creativity are still uncharted territory. However, initiatives like Gumroad's funding model aim to address these challenges and provide a path forward for creators​​​​. Top 8 Content Creation and Creator Economy Startups As venture capital continues to flow into the creator economy, numerous startups have emerged as leaders in facilitating content creation, distribution, and monetization. These companies are at the forefront of innovation, providing creators with the tools and platforms they need to succeed in a digital-first world. Related Resource: 7 Startup Growth Strategies 1. Caffeine Caffeine is a live-streaming platform that focuses on gaming, sports, and entertainment content. Founded by Ben Keighran and Sam Roberts, it went live in early 2018 and has quickly gained traction among users and creators alike. Caffeine distinguishes itself by emphasizing interactive and real-time engagement between broadcasters and their audiences, aiming to create a more dynamic and engaging experience than traditional broadcasting platforms. Location: Redwood City, California. Funding Rounds and Amount Raised: Caffeine has successfully raised significant funds through various rounds. In September 2018, it secured a $100 million investment from 21st Century Fox. As of 2019, the company had raised $146 million from investors across three rounds, including prominent names like 21st Century Fox, Andreessen Horowitz, and Greylock Partners​​. 2. Spotter Spotter is an innovative startup that has carved a unique niche within the creator economy, focusing on YouTube content creators. It offers a financial model that provides creators with upfront cash for licensing their existing or upcoming content. This approach is designed to assist creators in scaling their brands, funding ambitious projects, and growing their businesses more efficiently. Spotter’s model is likened to a venture capital investment but for the digital content creation space, aiming to secure a stake in the future success of these creators by investing in their content libraries​​​​​​. Location: Los Angeles, California. Funding Rounds and Amount Raised: A significant milestone was a $200 million Series D funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, part of a combined $755 million raised across this and other undisclosed rounds. This influx of capital has elevated Spotter's valuation to $1.7 billion. The company plans to invest $1 billion directly into its YouTuber partners to assist in their business growth. Spotter's total funding has reached $240.6 million, underscoring its robust financial backing and confidence from investors​​​​​​. 3. Jellysmack Jellysmack leverages machine-learning technology and data analytics to create and optimize video content for social media platforms. Founded in 2016, it aims to identify social video trends, optimize video performance, and uncover niche audience segments to build vibrant communities around content creators. Jellysmack is known for its innovative approach to the creator economy, helping creators amplify their reach and monetization across multiple platforms​​. Location: New York with additional offices in Los Angeles, Corte, Corsica, Paris, and London​​. Funding Rounds and Amount Raised: Jellysmack has secured $16 million in total funding. 4. Passionfroot Passionfroot provides a unified no-code platform for creators, focusing on simplifying their business operations. It offers tools for storefront management, CRM, collaborations, and cash flow, targeting younger millennial & GenZ creators and small media brands, particularly those involved in B2B monetization like sponsorships and ad placements. Location: Berlin, Germany. Funding Rounds and Amount Raised: Raised €3.4 million in a pre-seed funding round. 5. Stir Stir is a platform designed to help digital creators manage their revenue streams, analytics, and collaborations. It facilitates the sharing of funds among collaborators, aiming to streamline the financial aspects of content creation. The startup has introduced tools like Collectives for shared financial management among creators. Location: San Francisco, California. Funding Rounds and Amount Raised: Stir raised $4 million in a seed funding round with contributions from notable investors including Casey Neistat, YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley, and others​​. 6. Kajabi Kajabi, founded in 2010 by Kenny Rueter, is a SaaS platform designed for creators and entrepreneurs to create, market, and sell digital content. It has quickly risen to prominence as a tech unicorn, valued at $2 billion. The platform supports creators across various niches, offering tools for online courses, membership sites, and more, emphasizing its role in the booming creator economy. With a mission to empower digital entrepreneurs, Kajabi has facilitated over $3 billion in sales, serving thousands of users worldwide. Location: Irvine, California. Funding Rounds and Amount Raised: In November 2019, Kajabi received its first outside investment from Spectrum Equity Partners. A significant funding milestone was reached in May 2021 with a $550 million round led by Tiger Global, along with TPG Capital, Tidemark Capital, Owl Rock, Meritech Capital, and Spectrum Equity, catapulting Kajabi to a $2 billion valuation. 7. Linktree Linktree, launched in 2016 by co-founders Alex Zaccaria, Anthony Zaccaria, and Nick Humphreys, revolutionized the way individuals and businesses manage their online presence. Conceived as a solution to the limited link options on social media platforms, Linktree enables users to share multiple content links through one bio link, facilitating a centralized online presence. This technology startup quickly became a staple tool for influencers, creators, publishers, and brands, seeking to streamline their digital footprint. The platform's user-friendly interface and versatile application across various social media sites have propelled its growth, making it a critical tool in the digital arsenal of the modern internet user. Location: Melbourne, Australia, with additional operations in Darlinghurst, NSW, Australia​​. Funding Rounds and Amount Raised: Linktree has raised over a series of 4 rounds with a total of $176.2 million invested. 8. Sagespot SageSpot, established in 2020, emerges as a transformative player within the creator economy, offering a subscription-based social media platform. This innovative platform distinguishes itself by empowering creators to foster interest-based communities, enabling a direct monetization path through engaged and dedicated followers. By focusing on this model, SageSpot aims to rectify the monetization challenges creators face on legacy platforms, providing a more sustainable and creator-focused alternative for monetizing content and personal brands. The platform's focus on subscription-based models offers a promising alternative to ad-revenue dependency, potentially leading to a more sustainable and fulfilling creator-follower relationship. Location: New York. Funding Rounds and Amount Raised: $5.6 million led by Khosla Ventures. Related Resource: 7 Essential Business Startup Resources Looking for Funding? Visible Can Help- Start Your Next Round with Visible We believe great outcomes happen when founders forge relationships with investors and potential investors. We created our Connect Investor Database to help you in the first step of this journey. Instead of wasting time trying to figure out investor fit and profile for their given stage and industry, we created filters allowing you to find VC’s and accelerators who are looking to invest in companies like you. Check out all our investors here and filter as needed. After learning more about them with the profile information and resources given you can reach out to them with a tailored email. To help craft that first email check out 5 Strategies for Cold Emailing Potential Investors and How to Cold Email Investors: A Video by Michael Seibel of YC. After finding the right Investor you can create a personalized investor database with Visible. Combine qualified investors from Visible Connect with your own investor lists to share targeted Updates, decks, and dashboards. Start your free trial here and check out Visibles Fundraising page: https://visible.vc/fundraising Related resources: Valuing Startups: 10 Popular Methods Seed Funding for Startups 101: A Complete Guide The Ultimate Guide to Startup Funding Stages
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Our Guide to Building a Seed Round Pitch Deck: Tips & Templates
Imagine stepping into a boardroom, facing a panel of seasoned investors, knowing you have a secret weapon to turn their interest into commitment. A compelling seed round pitch deck can do just that, transforming an idea into an irresistible investment opportunity. With the right slides, you can captivate investors, clearly communicate your vision, and demonstrate why your startup is poised for success. Investors will want to see various assets and data points throughout the fundraising seed stage. One thing that founders can expect most if not all, investors to see is a seed round pitch deck. This guide will walk you through creating a pitch deck that stands out and effectively wins over investors. What is a Seed Round Pitch Deck? A seed round pitch deck is a carefully crafted presentation that communicates your startup's vision, business plan, metrics, and other critical insights to potential investors. It is designed to provide a comprehensive overview of your business, highlighting its potential and viability in the market. The primary goal of a pitch deck is to engage investors, moving them further down your fundraising funnel and increasing your chances of securing the capital you need to grow. By effectively presenting your story, team, product, market opportunity, and financial projections, you can make a compelling case for why investors should support your startup. Related resource: How To Build a Pitch Deck, Step by Step What Investors Want To See in Seed Round Pitch Decks Companies raising funds for the first time need a seed round pitch deck to share their story with investors effectively. In a seed round, it’s common to raise funds from angel investors, startup accelerators, and early-stage VCs. With the growing number of pre-seed and seed-stage investors, venture capital has also become more accessible for early-stage startups. Regardless of the investor type, there are certain key elements that every early-stage startup should include in their pitch deck. Founders should tailor their pitches based on their audience, but successful seed round pitches generally include a succinct and exciting story, an exceptional team, product potential or traction, and a clear growth plan. Related resource: Tips for Creating an Investor Pitch Deck A Succinct but Exciting Story Your pitch deck needs a compelling narrative outlining your vision and future plans. Since your company is still developing, it's crucial to inspire and excite your audience about your mission and potential. Make your story engaging and relatable, showing why your company’s purpose is important and why you are the right team to execute this vision. The goal is to make investors want to be part of your journey and invest in not just your company, but also in your vision and the impact it aims to create. An Exceptional Team Having a top-notch team is one of the most critical factors for many venture capitalists. In this slide, you need to establish credibility, demonstrate expertise, and build trust in both your idea and your company. Highlight the relevant experience, unique skills, and past successes of your team members to show why they are the best people to execute this vision. This builds confidence in investors that your team can navigate challenges and drive the company to success. Product Potential or Traction If you have achieved product-market fit, gathered user/customer metrics, or generated revenue, make sure to share these as proof of concept. Highlight any key metrics that demonstrate traction, such as user growth, engagement rates, or revenue figures. This evidence helps build investor confidence in your product’s potential and market demand. However, if you’re in the early stages and have limited or no data, be transparent about it. Investors understand that early-stage startups might not have extensive metrics yet. Focus on showcasing your product’s potential, the problem it solves, and the market opportunity. Use qualitative data, pilot program results, or early user feedback to support your claims. A Growth Plan Even if your product is still in development or you haven't finalized your business model, it’s essential to demonstrate a thorough understanding of your market, customers, and scalability. Present a well-thought-out growth plan that highlights your strategy for reaching and expanding your customer base, penetrating the market, and scaling your business. Your growth plan should be data-driven to lend credibility to your projections. Use market research, customer insights, and relevant data points to support your strategy. This approach shows investors that you have a realistic and actionable plan for growth. For more detailed guidance on modeling your company's future, check out our guide, “Building A Startup Financial Model That Works.” Our 10-Step Guide to Building a Seed Round Pitch Deck (+ A Free Template) Seed-stage startups should approach their first pitch deck differently than they would in later rounds because they typically won’t have extensive stats or user data to rely on. This is why storytelling is crucial. Focus on elements such as the team, competitive advantages, and the market opportunity to help investors understand the future value of your company. These elements can paint a compelling picture of your startup’s potential, even if there isn’t much data available at this stage. For a more detailed breakdown of successful pitch deck examples check out Visible’s guide here and download our free pitch deck template here. Step One: Create The Cover/Title Slide Your cover slide is the first impression investors will have of your pitch, so make it count. It should be visually appealing and include your startup’s name, logo, and a tagline that encapsulates your mission. This slide sets the tone for the rest of your presentation and should immediately grab attention. An example of a successful title slide includes: Startup Name: Clearly displayed at the top Logo: Positioned near the name for brand recognition Tagline: A short, compelling statement about your mission or value proposition Visuals: High-quality images or graphics that align with your brand Create your own by downloading our free pitch deck template here. Step Two: Introduce The Team The team is one of the most critical factors for seed investors when considering a seed round investment. A strong team is often seen as a key to a company's success. Highlight how each team member brings a unique and beneficial aspect to the company, including their roles, relevant experience, and contributions to the company’s mission, the problem being solved, or competitive advantage. This establishes a solid foundation for the rest of the presentation, allowing investors to understand who they are engaging with and lending credibility to your pitch. An example of a successful team slide includes: Photos: High-quality images of each team member Names and Titles: Clearly displayed for each person Brief Bios: Highlighting relevant experience and expertise Unique Contributions: How each member's skills and background benefit the startup Create your own by downloading our free pitch deck template here. Step Three: Diagnose The Problem Clearly articulate the problem your startup aims to solve. Help investors understand the significance of the issue and its impact on the world or specific groups of people. Explain why this problem needs to be addressed and why existing solutions are inadequate or nonexistent. Your goal is to make the problem relatable and compelling, showing that there is a genuine need for a solution. This sets the stage for introducing your product as the ideal answer. An example of a successful problem slide includes: Clear Problem Statement: Concisely describe the problem. Impact: Explain how the problem affects individuals or industries. Data and Examples: Use statistics or real-world examples to illustrate the problem's significance. Create your own by downloading our free pitch deck template here. Step Four: Propose The Solution State that the right solution to this problem hasn't been solved yet or can be significantly improved upon. Explain how your startup has innovatively developed a way to address the problem, why this solution will benefit customers, and why your company is uniquely positioned to execute it. This is essentially your elevator pitch and should be short, compelling, and to the point—aim for around 30 seconds. An example of a successful solution slide includes: Clear Solution Statement: Concisely describe your innovative solution. Customer Benefits: Highlight how your solution benefits customers and addresses their needs. Unique Positioning: Explain why your company is best suited to deliver this solution. Create your own by downloading our free pitch deck template here. Step Five: Prove Your Product Has Traction Use this slide to demonstrate the traction your product has gained so far. If you haven't collected any metrics yet, focus on showcasing your product's development and any qualitative feedback you've received. However, if you have data and are tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), this is where you should highlight them. Metrics that prove traction could include user growth, revenue, engagement rates, customer testimonials, or any other relevant data points that validate your product's market acceptance and potential. With Visible, you can track and automate your startup’s key metrics and build beautiful charts and dashboards for your seed-round pitches. This can help you present your data in a clear and visually appealing way. An example of a successful traction slide includes: Key Metrics: Display relevant data such as user numbers, revenue, or other KPIs. Growth Charts: Use charts and graphs to visualize your growth. Qualitative Feedback: Include customer testimonials or quotes if quantitative data is limited. Create your own by downloading our free pitch deck template here. Step Six: Define Market Size and Opportunity In this section, include all relevant information about the opportunity you’re aiming to seize and the size of that market. It’s crucial to highlight why this market is attractive and how your startup plans to dominate it. Investors often appreciate a strategy that starts with targeting a niche market before expanding. They value the potential for growth and scalability over the initial market size. “Sequencing markets correctly is underrated, and it takes discipline to expand gradually. The most successful companies make the core progression—to first dominate a specific niche and then scale to adjacent markets—a part of their founding narrative.” – Peter Thiel, Zero to One To effectively define your market size and opportunity, consider the following: Total Addressable Market (TAM): Estimate the total market demand for your product or service. This is the broadest measure of your market opportunity. Serviceable Available Market (SAM): Narrow down the TAM to the portion of the market you can realistically target. Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM): Further narrow the SAM to the market segment you can capture in the short term. Check out our detailed guide on How to Model Total Addressable Market (Template Included). The guide covers: What is Total Addressable Market (TAM)? How to Calculate TAM The Free Visible Total Addressable Market Template and Evaluation Model Where Does Your Total Addressable Market Start (and End)? Why Knowing Your Total Addressable Market is Important Building Your Total Addressable Market Model An example of a successful slide includes: Market Segmentation: Breakdown of TAM, SAM, and SOM. Visual Data: Charts or graphs to illustrate market size and growth potential. Strategic Insights: Explanation of how you will capture and expand your market share. Create your own by downloading our free pitch deck template here. Step Seven: Conduct a Competition Analysis Having competitors in your space doesn’t mean your business idea isn’t viable; in fact, it can validate the need for your solution. However, you must clearly understand and articulate what sets you apart from the competition. Investors and customers need to know why your product or service is the better choice. In your competition analysis slide, focus on the following elements: Identify Competitors: List your main competitors and provide a brief overview of each. Highlight Differentiators: Clearly state your unique value proposition and competitive advantages. Explain why your solution is superior or more effective than existing options. Market Positioning: Use a visual representation, such as a competitive matrix, to show where you stand in relation to your competitors. Highlight the areas where you excel. By presenting a well-thought-out competition analysis, you demonstrate to investors that you have a strategic understanding of the market and a plan to capture and defend your market share. An example of a successful competition analysis slide includes: Competitor Overview: Brief descriptions of key competitors. Competitive Matrix: A visual chart comparing features, pricing, market share, etc. Unique Value Proposition: Clear articulation of what makes your product unique and better. Create your own by downloading our free pitch deck template here. Step Eight: Prove Profitability With Financials/Metrics In this section, you need to provide evidence of your startup's potential profitability and share projections for the next 3-4 years. At the seed stage, this information will be more high-level and based on assumptions, but it's crucial to include revenue and user/customer projections to give investors a sense of your financial outlook. Here's what to include in your financials/metrics slide: Revenue Projections: Outline your expected revenue growth over the next few years. Use realistic assumptions based on your market research and business model. User/Customer Projections: Estimate the growth in your user or customer base. This helps demonstrate the potential demand for your product. Key Metrics: Highlight other important financial metrics such as customer acquisition cost (CAC), lifetime value (LTV), gross margin, and burn rate. These metrics provide insight into the financial health and efficiency of your business. Break-Even Analysis: Show when you expect to become profitable. This gives investors a timeline for when they can expect returns on their investment. An example of a successful financials/metrics slide includes: Revenue Graph: Visual representation of projected revenue growth. User Growth Chart: Projected increase in users or customers. Financial Metrics: Key metrics displayed in an easy-to-understand format. Break-Even Point: Highlight the timeline for reaching profitability. Create your own by downloading our free pitch deck template here. Step Nine: Answer The Question: “Why Now? Why Me?” This section is another opportunity to pitch yourself, your team’s expertise, and your company's unique advantages. Emphasize what makes your team and solution the perfect combination for success. Here's how to craft a compelling “Why Now? Why Me?” slide: Team Expertise and Competitive Advantage Team Expertise: Reiterate the strengths and relevant experience of your team. Highlight specific achievements and skills that make your team uniquely qualified to solve the problem and succeed in the market. Unique Value Proposition: Clearly articulate your “secret sauce” — what makes your product or service unique and better than existing solutions. Explain your competitive advantage and strategy for maintaining it. Timing and Market Entry Timing is a crucial factor that can significantly influence the success of a startup. Here's how to justify your market entry: Market Conditions: Explain any trends, technological advancements, or changes in consumer behavior that make this the ideal time for your product. Use data and market research to support your points. Early Entry: If you’re entering the market early, highlight the benefits of being a first-mover. Emphasize how this allows you to establish a strong brand presence and capture market share before competitors. Late Entry: If you’re entering a more mature market, detail your competitive advantage. Explain how you can leverage existing market data, customer feedback, and technological advancements to create a superior product. Discuss how you can avoid the pitfalls encountered by earlier entrants and use their learnings to your advantage. Every potential disadvantage can be turned into an advantage with the right strategy. You can convince investors that your startup is poised for success by addressing timing and your competitive edge. An example of a successful slide includes: Team Highlights: Key achievements and relevant experience. Competitive Advantage: Clear articulation of your unique value proposition. Market Timing: Justification for entering the market now, with supporting data. Create your own by downloading our free pitch deck template here. Step Ten: Wrap Things Up With The Ask Slide The ask can often be an underutilized section in investor updates, and founders might not realize it’s also essential to include in a pitch deck. Investors should not only be seen as capital resources but also as sources of knowledge and connections. Clearly stating your ask shows investors where you need help and allows them (and you) to determine if they are in a position to provide that support. When they decide to invest, it is in their best interest to contribute to the success of your business in any way they can. Key Elements of a Successful Ask Slide Funding Request: Clearly state the amount of capital you are seeking. Provide a breakdown of how you plan to use the funds, such as product development, marketing, hiring, etc. Additional Support: Mention other forms of support you are looking for, such as mentorship, industry connections, or specific expertise. This shows that you value the investor's experience and network. Milestones: Outline the key milestones you aim to achieve with the requested funds. This gives investors a clear picture of your goals and how their investment will be utilized. An example of a successful ask slide includes: Clear Funding Amount: Specify the total amount you are raising. Detailed Use of Funds: Breakdown of how the funds will be allocated. Support Requests: Mention any additional support needed beyond capital. Milestones: Key objectives to be achieved with the funding. Create your own by downloading our free pitch deck template here. The Best Seed Funding Pitch Deck Examples Many successful founders and startups have shared the pitch decks they used to raise their seed rounds. Studying these examples can provide valuable insights and inspiration for your own pitch. Here are a few of our favorite pitch deck examples: Airbnb Pitch Deck Before becoming a publicly traded company, Airbnb (originally AirBed&Breakfast) used a pitch deck to raise $600k to get things off the ground. The Airbnb seed round deck is an excellent example of effective storytelling and hooking potential investors with a compelling narrative. Uber's Original Pitch Deck Uber, initially named UberCab, started with a humble pitch deck that emphasizes the importance of clarity and brevity. Their original deck focuses on facts and data, avoiding unnecessary fluff, and clearly presenting their value proposition and market potential. Buffer's Seed Round Pitch Deck Buffer, a social media management toolkit for small businesses, raised a $500k seed round and shared their deck on their blog. The Buffer seed round deck is notable for its focus on traction, showcasing the product's early success and growth potential. The Buffer team reached out to over 200 investors, conducted 50 meetings, and ultimately secured 18 investors. Sequoia Capital Pitch Deck Template Sequoia Capital, one of the leading venture capital firms, has also shared a pitch deck template that outlines key elements of a successful pitch. This template is designed to help startups communicate their vision and value proposition effectively. You can view Sequoia’s pitch deck template here. For more detailed breakdowns and to download our free pitch deck template, check out Visible’s guide here. Related resource: 18 Pitch Deck Examples for Any Startup How to Pitch Seed Stage Investors Once your pitch deck is complete, the pitching process begins. Here are some best practices for pitching seed stage investors: Best Practices for Pitching Seed Stage Investors Target the Right Investors: Save time by only reaching out to investors who match crucial factors such as industry, funding amount, stage, and geography. Use tools like our Connect Investor Database to find suitable matches. For tips on emailing your first investors, check out 5 Strategies for Cold Emailing Potential Investors. Incorporate Feedback: Treat feedback as a gift. When you start receiving feedback from your pitches, implement it back into your deck immediately. Notice which slides grab investors’ attention and consider moving those to the beginning or integrating their elements into other slides. Be a Confident Storyteller: Confidence and good storytelling are key to delivering a compelling pitch. Ensure investors feel your passion, energy, and ability to drive the company forward. Consider taking a stand-up comedy or public speaking class to enhance these qualities. Researching what makes good storytelling can also be advantageous. Prepare Thoroughly: Know your pitch deck inside out. Be ready to answer any questions investors might have about your business, market, financials, and growth plans. The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll appear. Leverage Your Network: Whenever possible, seek warm introductions to investors. A recommendation from a mutual connection can significantly increase your chances of getting a meeting and receiving serious consideration. For more inspiration and resources on creating a compelling pitch, check out our free pitch deck template here. How Visible Helps Startups Raise Capital There is no one-size-fits-all pitch deck solution these points are meant to help guide the process but you should also see what makes sense for your company. Fundraising can be boiled down to storytelling. We believe a VC fundraise mirrors a B2B sales motion. The fundraising process starts by finding qualified investors (top of the funnel) and building relationships (middle of the funnel) with the goal of them writing a check (bottom of the funnel). Just as a sales team has dedicated tools for their day-to-day, founders need dedicated tools for managing the most expensive asset they have, equity. Our community can now find investors, track a fundraise, and share a pitch deck, directly from Visible. Easily upload your deck, set your permissions, and share your deck with potential investors via a unique link (check out an example deck here). In return, we’ll surface the analytics that matter most so you can better your odds of closing a new investor. Try Visible here.
founders
Pros and Cons of Crowdfunding for Your Startup
Crowdfunding has become a popular way for startups to raise capital, offering an alternative to traditional funding methods. While it promises various benefits like community engagement and validation of your concept, it also comes with its own challenges. This article will delve into why some founders choose crowdfunding, explore the different types of crowdfunding, and outline the key pros and cons to help you decide if this path is right for your startup. Why Do Some Founders Choose to Crowdfund? Crowdfunding can be an attractive option for many startup founders due to its unique benefits and flexibility. Unlike traditional funding methods, crowdfunding allows founders to raise capital without giving up significant equity or taking on debt. This approach mainly benefits startups with innovative ideas but limited access to traditional financial resources. Crowdfunding enables founders to test the market and validate their product concepts by engaging directly with potential customers and investors​​​​. Crowdfunding campaigns can significantly enhance a startup's visibility. By showcasing their ideas on popular crowdfunding platforms, founders can reach a broader audience and build a community of early adopters and brand advocates. This exposure can lead to valuable marketing opportunities and further fundraising potential​​​​. Additionally, the democratization of funding allows everyday people to invest in startups they believe in, aligning their interests with the success of the business. This not only diversifies the funding sources but also turns backers into passionate supporters who promote the startup's vision​​. Crowdfunding also offers flexibility in how funds can be used, often with fewer restrictions compared to traditional loans or venture capital investments. This can be crucial for startups needing agility in their early stages​​. For many founders, the ability to maintain control over their company while still accessing necessary funds makes crowdfunding an appealing option. Types of Crowdfunding Crowdfunding is not a one-size-fits-all solution; various types cater to different needs and goals. Each type has its own unique characteristics and benefits, making it important to choose the one that aligns best with your startup's objectives. The main types of crowdfunding include reward-based, equity, peer-to-peer lending, and donation-based. Understanding these options can help you determine the best approach for raising capital for your startup​​​​. Related resource: Types of Crowdfunding Reward-Based Crowdfunding Reward-based crowdfunding is a popular method where backers contribute funds to a project in exchange for rewards. These rewards can vary widely but often include early access to the product, special editions, or exclusive merchandise. This type of crowdfunding is particularly appealing for creative projects, new product launches, and innovative ideas that can excite a broad audience. Platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are leading examples of reward-based crowdfunding sites. Kickstarter is known for its all-or-nothing funding model, where projects must reach their funding goal to receive any money, ensuring that backers' contributions go towards fully realized projects​​​​. Indiegogo offers more flexible funding options, allowing projects to keep the funds raised even if they don't reach their target, which can be beneficial for creators with ongoing development needs​​​​. Reward-based crowdfunding not only provides necessary capital but also helps in building a community around the product. Backers often become early adopters and advocates, spreading the word about the project through their networks. This engagement can create a strong foundation of support and interest, vital for the long-term success of the startup​​. Equity Crowdfunding Equity crowdfunding is a method where startups raise capital by offering shares of their company to investors in exchange for funding. Unlike reward-based crowdfunding, where backers receive tangible rewards, equity crowdfunding allows investors to become partial owners of the company, potentially earning a return on their investment if the company succeeds. This type of crowdfunding is ideal for startups looking to raise larger sums of money and willing to share ownership to achieve their goals​​​​. Platforms like SeedInvest and Crowdcube specialize in equity crowdfunding. SeedInvest connects startups with accredited investors and provides a streamlined process for raising capital. The platform has helped numerous companies secure significant funding while offering investors the opportunity to be part of innovative ventures​​. Crowdcube, based in the UK, is another prominent platform that allows businesses to raise funds from a large pool of investors, including both accredited and non-accredited investors. This democratizes the investment process and enables a wider range of people to support and benefit from startup growth​​​​. Equity crowdfunding not only provides the financial resources needed for growth but also helps in building a strong base of invested supporters who are financially and emotionally committed to the startup's success. This type of crowdfunding can be a powerful tool for startups looking to scale rapidly and access a broader investor base​​​​. Related resource: Advantages and Disadvantages of Venture Capital Peer-to-Peer Lending Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending is a form of crowdfunding where startups and small businesses can obtain loans directly from individual investors, bypassing traditional financial institutions. This model connects borrowers with lenders through online platforms, allowing startups to access necessary funds more quickly and often at more favorable rates than those offered by banks​​​​. LendingClub and Prosper are two of the most well-known P2P lending platforms. LendingClub allows borrowers to apply for personal and small business loans, which are then funded by individual investors who choose to invest in the loan based on the borrower's profile and creditworthiness. Prosper operates similarly, providing a marketplace where borrowers can list loan requests and investors can fund these loans in exchange for interest payments​​​​. P2P lending offers several advantages for startups. It can provide access to capital without the need for extensive credit history, and the application process is typically faster and more straightforward than traditional bank loans. Additionally, P2P lending can offer more competitive interest rates and flexible terms, making it an attractive option for startups looking to manage their cash flow effectively​​​​. However, it is important for startups to carefully consider the terms and ensure they can meet repayment obligations, as defaulting on a P2P loan can impact their credit rating and investor relations​​​​. Donation-Based Crowdfunding Donation-based crowdfunding is a method where individuals contribute money to support a cause, project, or individual without expecting any financial return or tangible reward. This type of crowdfunding is often used for charitable projects, personal emergencies, community initiatives, and other ventures that rely on the goodwill of supporters. Donors contribute purely out of a desire to support the mission or cause presented. GoFundMe is one of the most popular platforms for donation-based crowdfunding. It allows individuals to create fundraising campaigns for a wide range of purposes, from medical expenses to educational endeavors, and even community projects. Donors can easily contribute to these campaigns and share them within their networks to increase visibility and support​​​​. Donation-based crowdfunding can be incredibly effective for raising funds quickly, especially when the cause resonates with a large audience. It also allows for the creation of a supportive community around the project or cause, fostering a sense of shared purpose and engagement among donors​​. However, this type of crowdfunding does not provide financial returns to donors, which can limit the amount of funds raised compared to equity or reward-based crowdfunding. Additionally, campaign creators must communicate transparently and regularly with their supporters to maintain trust and credibility​​. Pros of Crowdfunding Crowdfunding offers a range of benefits that can be particularly advantageous for startups. However, it's crucial to assess these advantages in the context of your specific business needs and future plans to determine if this funding path is the right choice for you. Here’s a brief overview of the main pros of crowdfunding: Build Community Around the Product By fostering a dedicated community through crowdfunding, you create a network of engaged supporters who are financially invested and emotionally committed to your product and mission. This community can be a powerful asset for your startup, driving sustained growth and success. Early Adopters and Advocates: Crowdfunding campaigns attract early adopters who are passionate about innovation and new products. These individuals are not just backers; they become advocates who promote your product within their networks, amplifying your reach and credibility​​​​. Direct Feedback and Involvement: Engaging with backers during the crowdfunding campaign allows for direct feedback and involvement in the product development process. Supporters feel valued when their opinions are considered, creating a stronger connection to the product and its success. This interaction helps refine the product to better meet market demands​​​​. Shared Mission and Vision: A successful crowdfunding campaign effectively communicates the mission and vision behind the product. This narrative resonates with backers who share similar values and goals, fostering a community united by a common purpose. This alignment can result in long-term loyalty and ongoing support beyond the initial campaign​​​​. Enhanced Trust and Loyalty: Regular updates and transparent communication throughout the campaign build trust and loyalty among backers. When supporters are kept informed about progress and challenges, they feel more connected and invested in the journey, which strengthens their commitment to your brand​​​​. Co-Creation Opportunities: Involving the community in decisions, such as product features or design choices, transforms backers into co-creators. This collaborative approach not only enhances the product but also deepens the emotional investment of the community in its success​​​​. Validates the Concept Crowdfunding not only raises funds but also validates your product concept by proving market demand, gathering real-time feedback, attracting additional investors, and identifying early adopters. This validation is crucial for refining your product and ensuring its success in the marketplace. Market Demand: A successful crowdfunding campaign indicates strong market demand. When backers contribute to your project, they are essentially voting with their wallets, showing that there is genuine interest and willingness to pay for your product​​​​. Real-Time Feedback: Throughout the campaign, you receive real-time feedback from backers. This input helps you understand customer preferences, make necessary adjustments, and improve your product before a full-scale launch. Positive feedback reinforces that your product is meeting market needs​​​​. Proof of Concept for Investors: Demonstrating successful crowdfunding can attract additional investors. It provides tangible proof that your product resonates with consumers and has the potential for broader market success, making it easier to secure further investment​​​​. Early Adoption Indicators: Early adopters who support your campaign are likely to become repeat customers and advocates. Their enthusiasm and initial support can be a strong indicator that your product is positioned correctly and poised for market acceptance​​​​. Allows Access to Finance Without Loans Crowdfunding enables you to raise capital without the need for traditional loans, which means you can avoid interest payments and the pressure of debt repayment, thereby maintaining better cash flow​​​​. Increases Visibility of the Company Crowdfunding can greatly enhance your startup's visibility through media coverage, social media engagement, customer interaction, improved SEO, and sustained marketing momentum. These benefits are crucial for building brand awareness and attracting further investment. Media Attention: Successful crowdfunding campaigns often attract media coverage. This exposure can help your startup gain attention from journalists, bloggers, and influencers who can further amplify your reach. Media coverage not only increases brand awareness but also adds credibility to your venture​​​​. Social Media Buzz: Crowdfunding platforms are inherently social, encouraging backers to share campaigns with their networks. This organic sharing can create a viral effect, dramatically expanding your audience and increasing engagement on social media channels​​​​. Customer Engagement: Engaging directly with backers through updates, comments, and feedback during the campaign fosters a sense of community and loyalty. This interaction helps build a strong brand identity and a base of enthusiastic supporters who can become long-term customers​​​​. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Crowdfunding campaigns often generate a lot of online content, including blog posts, news articles, and social media mentions. This content can improve your startup's SEO, making it easier for potential customers and investors to find you online​​​​. Marketing Momentum: The excitement generated by a crowdfunding campaign can carry over into subsequent marketing efforts. The initial buzz helps build momentum for product launches, promotional events, and future funding rounds​​​​. Allows You to Retain Equity One of the key benefits of certain types of crowdfunding, such as reward-based or donation-based models, is that they allow founders to raise capital without giving up equity in their company. Here’s why this is important: Maintaining Control: By not giving away equity, founders retain full control over their company's decisions and direction. This autonomy is crucial for maintaining the original vision and executing long-term strategies without external interference​​​​. Future Valuation: Keeping more equity in the early stages can be beneficial when seeking future funding. Retaining equity means founders can offer a larger share of ownership in later funding rounds, potentially attracting larger investments at higher valuations​​​​. Financial Benefits: Retaining equity allows founders to reap more financial benefits if the company becomes successful. Founders can maintain a significant stake in the company, ensuring they benefit proportionally from the company’s growth and profitability​​​​. Investor Appeal: Having a larger equity stake can make the company more attractive to future investors, as it shows confidence and commitment from the founders. It also leaves more room to negotiate with potential investors in subsequent funding rounds​​​​. Related resource: Seed Funding Cons of Crowdfunding While crowdfunding can offer many advantages, it also comes with its own set of challenges and drawbacks. It's crucial to weigh these cons against your business's specific needs and future plans before deciding to pursue this funding route. Here’s a brief overview of the main cons of crowdfunding: Success is Not Guaranteed An unsuccessful crowdfunding campaign can have several serious implications for a startup. Firstly, it results in a significant loss of time and resources spent on planning, marketing, and engaging with potential backers​​​​. Failure can also harm your startup's reputation, as potential investors and customers might see it as a lack of market interest or viability, making future funding harder to secure​​. An unsuccessful campaign means missing out on valuable market validation and feedback, which are crucial for product development and refinement​​​​. Lastly, on some platforms, not meeting the funding goal means pledged funds are returned to backers, leaving the startup without any capital despite the effort invested​​​​. Your Intellectual Property Could Be at Risk If people "steal" your idea after you've shared it on a crowdfunding platform, it can have several detrimental effects. Competitors might copy your concept and bring similar products to market faster, undermining your unique selling proposition and competitive advantage​​​​. This can result in lost potential revenue, market share, and increased competition. Without proper intellectual property protections like patents, trademarks, or copyrights, you may have little legal recourse to stop others from using your ideas​​. This situation can also damage your reputation if backers perceive your idea is not original or sufficiently protected, potentially affecting future funding opportunities​​​​. Protecting your intellectual property before launching a crowdfunding campaign is crucial to protecting your business from these risks. Social and Legal Pressure to Deliver to Fundees on Promise When you launch a crowdfunding campaign and receive backing, you enter into a commitment to fulfill the promises made to your supporters. Here are the key obligations you have towards your backers: Delivering Promised Rewards: For reward-based crowdfunding, you must provide the specific rewards promised to your backers, such as products, services, or exclusive content. Failure to deliver these rewards can lead to dissatisfaction, negative reviews, and damage to your reputation​​​​. Regular Updates and Communication: Transparency is crucial in maintaining trust with your backers. This means providing regular updates on the progress of the project, addressing any delays or issues, and being honest about challenges and timelines. Effective communication helps manage backers’ expectations and can mitigate negative reactions if problems arise​​​​. Financial Accountability: Backers expect that the funds they contribute will be used as outlined in the campaign. Mismanagement of funds or deviation from the stated use can lead to loss of trust and potential legal issues. Keeping accurate financial records and being transparent about expenditures is essential​​​​. Legal Compliance: Depending on the platform and the nature of the crowdfunding, there may be legal obligations regarding the fulfillment of promises and the management of funds. Failure to comply with these legal requirements can result in lawsuits or other legal actions from backers​​​​. Managing Expectations: Backers are often passionate and vocal about the projects they support. Managing their expectations involves not only delivering on promises but also engaging with them constructively and respectfully, even when facing criticism or setbacks​​​​. Exposure and Public Scrutiny Crowdfunding campaigns inherently place your startup in the spotlight, significantly increasing both visibility and scrutiny. Here’s how this exposure can put your company under a microscope: Public Feedback and Criticism: Crowdfunding platforms allow backers and the general public to comment on your project. This means you can receive both positive feedback and harsh criticism. Negative comments or reviews can quickly spread, affecting public perception and potentially deterring future backers and customers​​​​. Transparency Requirements: To maintain trust, you must provide regular updates on your project's progress. This level of transparency means any delays, challenges, or changes are exposed to public view. If you face setbacks, you must explain these openly, which can amplify the pressure to meet your commitments​​​​. Performance Pressure: The success or failure of your crowdfunding campaign is publicly visible. This visibility can amplify the impact of both achievements and failures, making any missteps or unmet goals more damaging to your reputation and future fundraising efforts​​​​. Competitor Awareness: Publicly sharing detailed information about your business idea and progress alerts competitors, who might replicate or improve upon your concept. This can increase competition and pressure you to innovate continuously and protect your intellectual property​​​​. It’s Not Free, in Fact, It Can Be Costly Crowdfunding can require significant upfront investment and ongoing costs that startups need to consider carefully. Here are the key ways in which crowdfunding can be costly: Marketing and Promotion: A successful crowdfunding campaign requires extensive marketing to reach potential backers. This includes creating promotional videos, running social media ads, and possibly hiring PR firms to generate buzz. These marketing efforts can quickly add up, often running into thousands of dollars​​​​. Platform Fees: Most crowdfunding platforms charge a percentage of the funds raised as a fee. For example, Kickstarter and Indiegogo typically take around 5% of the total amount raised, plus additional payment processing fees of around 3-5%. These fees can significantly reduce the net funds received from a campaign​​​​. Production Costs: For reward-based crowdfunding, the costs of producing and shipping the rewards can be substantial. This includes manufacturing the products, packaging, and logistics. Misestimating these costs can lead to financial shortfalls and the inability to deliver promised rewards, further impacting the startup’s reputation and finances​​​​. Professional Services: To ensure the campaign is professionally managed, startups might need to hire various professionals, such as graphic designers, videographers, and copywriters. Additionally, legal and accounting services might be required to navigate the complexities of managing funds and ensuring compliance with financial regulations​​​​. Time and Resource Allocation: Running a crowdfunding campaign demands significant time and effort from the startup team. This can divert resources from other critical business operations, potentially slowing down other areas of growth and development​​​​. Key Things to Consider When evaluating crowdfunding as a funding option, there are crucial factors beyond just the basic pros and cons that you need to consider. These elements can significantly impact the success of your campaign and the overall health of your startup. Choose the Right Crowdfunding Platform Selecting the appropriate crowdfunding platform is crucial to the success of your campaign. Different platforms cater to various types of projects and audiences, each with unique features, fee structures, and support systems. Here are some of the major crowdfunding platforms and their differences: Kickstarter Kickstarter is one of the most well-known reward-based crowdfunding platforms. It operates on an all-or-nothing funding model, meaning projects must reach their funding goal to receive any money. This platform is ideal for creative projects, including art, music, film, and technology innovations. It has a large, active community of backers who are enthusiastic about supporting new and innovative ideas. However, the all-or-nothing approach can be risky if the campaign does not meet its target​​​​. Indiegogo Indiegogo also focuses on reward-based crowdfunding but offers more flexibility than Kickstarter. It provides both fixed and flexible funding options. With flexible funding, you can keep the funds raised even if you do not meet your goal, making it a safer option for projects that need any amount of funding to proceed. Indiegogo supports a wide range of projects, from tech gadgets to community initiatives, and offers additional services such as InDemand, which allows successful campaigns to continue raising funds after the initial campaign ends​​​​. SeedInvest SeedInvest is a leading equity crowdfunding platform, where backers invest in exchange for equity in the company. It targets startups looking to raise significant capital from accredited investors. SeedInvest provides extensive vetting and support, ensuring that only high-quality, vetted startups are presented to potential investors. This platform is suitable for startups ready to scale and attract serious investors who are looking for a return on their investment​​​​. Crowdcube Crowdcube, based in the UK, also specializes in equity crowdfunding. It allows both accredited and everyday investors to invest in startups in exchange for equity. Crowdcube has a large and diverse investor base, making it an excellent choice for startups looking to raise funds from a wide audience. It provides a comprehensive platform for managing investments and maintaining ongoing communication with investors​​​​. GoFundMe GoFundMe is a donation-based crowdfunding platform commonly used for personal causes, charitable projects, and community initiatives. It does not offer tangible rewards or equity in exchange for contributions. Instead, donors give money to support a cause they believe in. GoFundMe is ideal for non-profit organizations, individuals seeking help with medical expenses, or community projects that need financial support​​​​. Set a Strategy and Goals Ahead of Time Setting a strategy and goals ahead of time ensures that your crowdfunding campaign is well-organized, efficiently run, and more likely to succeed. It also helps align efforts, manage resources, and effectively engage with your target audience, all of which are critical for achieving your funding goals. Clarity and Direction: Having a well-defined strategy provides a clear roadmap for your campaign. It helps you outline the steps you need to take, the resources required, and the timeline to follow. This clarity ensures that everyone involved in the campaign is on the same page and working towards the same objectives​​​​. Target Setting: Specific goals allow you to set realistic funding targets. These targets not only help in measuring success but also in planning the allocation of funds. Knowing exactly how much money you need and for what purpose enables you to communicate this effectively to potential backers, increasing their confidence in your project​​​​. Resource Allocation: A strategic plan helps in identifying and allocating the necessary resources, such as marketing efforts, team roles, and financial investment. By understanding what resources you need and planning their use, you can optimize efficiency and avoid last-minute scrambles that could derail your campaign​​​​. Marketing and Promotion: Effective marketing is essential for a successful crowdfunding campaign. A pre-defined strategy helps you plan your promotional activities, such as social media campaigns, email newsletters, and press releases. It ensures that you reach your target audience effectively and create the necessary buzz around your campaign​​​​. Risk Management: By setting goals and planning ahead, you can identify potential risks and challenges that might arise during the campaign. This foresight allows you to develop contingency plans to address these issues, reducing the likelihood of unexpected setbacks​​​​. Backer Engagement: A clear strategy includes plans for engaging with backers throughout the campaign. Regular updates, prompt responses to inquiries, and transparent communication help build trust and maintain backer interest. Knowing how and when to interact with your supporters can significantly impact the campaign's success​​​​. Decide What Type of Funding Is Right for Your Startup with Visible.vc Crowdfunding offers both significant benefits and notable challenges for startups. While it can build a supportive community, validate your product, and provide necessary capital without loans, it also requires careful planning, transparency, and the management of public scrutiny. As you weigh these factors, consider your specific needs and future plans to determine if crowdfunding is the right path for your startup. To effectively track and manage your crowdfunding efforts and overall startup growth, create your Visible account today and give it a free try for 14 days here.

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Product Update: Turn Emails Into Insights With Visible AI Inbox
Structured data. The holy grail of business intelligence. Structured data unlocks a realm of possibilities, from setting benchmarks to enhancing decision-making processes. Yet, in the venture capital landscape, accessing reliable, structured data remains a formidable challenge. This is precisely why we created the Visible AI Inbox. With unique features like automated metric detection and file parsing, the Visible AI Inbox stands out as a pioneering solution for portfolio monitoring. Discover how it can transform your data strategy by meeting with our team. Turning email into insights We believe that investors should spend time sourcing new deals and helping founders, not manually copying and pasting data from email 🙂. The AI Inbox helps aggregate insights that exist siloed in data, files, and updates across a venture firm. Updates from founders often stay stuck in one team member's inbox because it's too time-consuming to extract and enter the data and files into a more centralized repository. Visible AI Inbox makes this possible within seconds. Requests + AI Inbox = A Complete Picture The addition of the AI Inbox continues to advance our market-leading portfolio monitoring solution. The pairing of Requests + the AI Inbox will give investors a holistic view of portfolio company performance across a fund. Visible continues to be the most founder-friendly tool on the market. We’ll continue to build tools in existing workflows where both founders and investors live every day. How Does it Work? Visible AI Inbox works in three simple steps. Forward emails to a custom AI inbox email address Visible AI automatically maps data and files to portfolio companies Investors can review and approve content before it is saved From there, dashboards, tear sheets, and reports are all automatically updated on Visible. Learn more about how Visible AI Inbox can streamline workflows at your firm by meeting with our team. FAQ Will this be available on all plans? Visible AI Inbox is only available on certain plans. Get in touch with your dedicated Investor Success Manager if you want to explore adding this to your account. How is Visible addressing privacy and security with Visible AI Inbox? No data submitted through the OpenAI API is used to train OpenAI models or improve OpenAI’s service offering. Visible AI Inbox leverages OpenAI GPT 4 and proprietary prompts to extract data in a structured way and import it into Visible. If you’re uncomfortable with utilizing OpenAI to optimize your account, you can choose not to utilize this feature. Please feel free to reach out to our team with any further questions. These processes adhere to the guidelines outlined in Visible’s privacy policy and SOC 2 certification. Visible AI Inbox Best Practices We'll be sharing best practices for how investors are leveraging Visible AI Inbox in our bi-weekly newsletter, the Visible Edge. Stay in the loop with best practices and product updates by subscribing below:
investors
The VC Sentiment Index — May 2024
The macro venture markets have been challenging for founders and investors over the last few years. We launched the VC Sentiment Index to help investors understand how their peers feel about the venture markets over the next 3, 6, and 12 months. With the help of Let's Talk Ops and Going VC, we distributed the VC Sentiment Index survey to VCs worldwide. The 10-question survey asked investors how they feel about the current and future macro markets. Download The VC Sentiment Index to understand how your peers feel about the current market and why they believe greener pastures are ahead.
investors
Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) Analysis: The Purpose, Formula, and How it Works
A Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) analysis is a powerful tool for investors to assess the value of a company or investment by projecting future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. This approach allows venture capitalists to identify promising startups, considering their growth potential and market conditions. In this guide, you'll discover the essentials of DCF analysis, how it differs from other valuation methods, and a detailed, step-by-step approach to conducting one. By mastering DCF, you'll gain valuable insights into determining an investment's intrinsic worth and making smarter investment decisions. What is the Purpose of DCF Analysis? DCF analysis serves as a cornerstone of financial valuation, especially in the venture capital arena. It enables investors to estimate the present value of an investment based on its expected future cash flows, adjusted for risk and the time value of money. DCF analysis is crucial for venture capitalists because it provides a detailed, quantitative assessment of a startup's financial health and growth prospects. By using DCF, investors can determine whether the potential returns of a startup justify the inherent risks of investing in early-stage companies​​​​. DCF vs. NPV While both DCF and Net Present Value (NPV) are methods used to assess the value of future cash flows, they serve slightly different purposes and are related yet distinct concepts. DCF is the process of forecasting what an investment's cash flows would be worth in today's money, giving a holistic view of future profitability adjusted for the time value of money. NPV, on the other hand, is a direct outcome of the DCF analysis, representing the difference between the present value of cash inflows and outflows. NPV tells you whether an investment will yield a profit or loss by comparing the initial investment to the DCF. It is particularly valuable in decision-making processes, helping investors weigh the profitability of different investment opportunities​​​​. What Is the DCF Formula? The DCF formula is used to estimate the value of an investment by predicting its future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. Here's the formula: CF (Cash Flows): These are the projected cash flows that the investment is expected to generate over each period (1,2,3,n). Cash flows can include revenue minus operating expenses, taxes, and changes in working capital​​. r (Discount Rate): This represents the rate of return required to make the investment worthwhile, often calculated as the Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC). The discount rate accounts for the risk and time value of money, reflecting the riskiness of the projected cash flows​​​​. What Does the DCF Formula Tell You? The DCF formula provides a method for valuing an investment based on its intrinsic value. By discounting future cash flows to their present value, the DCF formula helps investors determine whether the current price of an investment reflects its true value. This approach allows investors to: Assess Profitability: Determine if an investment is likely to yield a return that meets or exceeds the required rate of return. Compare Investments: Evaluate multiple investment opportunities to see which one offers the best value relative to its price and risk. Make Informed Decisions: Use quantitative data to support investment choices, helping to minimize risks and maximize returns​​​​. How to Conduct a DCF Analysis Conducting a DCF analysis involves several key steps that help investors estimate the intrinsic value of an investment. This process requires careful planning, detailed financial data, and precise calculations to ensure accuracy. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to perform a DCF analysis, from gathering information to interpreting the results. 1. Gather Information The first step in conducting a DCF analysis is to collect all necessary financial data and relevant information about the company. This includes: Financial Statements: Obtain the company’s income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. These documents provide historical financial data that is crucial for making accurate projections. Market Research: Conduct research on the market and industry in which the company operates. This includes understanding the competitive landscape, regulatory environment, and macroeconomic factors. Company-Specific Information: Gather detailed information about the company’s operations, business model, growth strategy, and management team. This helps in making realistic assumptions about future performance​​​​. 2. Forecast Future Cash Flows (FCF) Projecting future cash flows is a critical step in the DCF analysis. This involves: Analyzing Historical Data: Use historical financial data to identify trends and patterns in the company’s performance. Making Assumptions: Develop assumptions about future revenue growth, operating expenses, capital expenditures, and working capital needs. These assumptions should be based on historical trends, industry benchmarks, and market conditions. Projecting Cash Flows: Forecast the company’s free cash flows (FCF) for a specific period, typically 5 to 10 years. Free cash flow is calculated as operating cash flow minus capital expenditures​​​​. 3. Determine the Discount Rate (WACC) The discount rate used in a DCF analysis is typically the Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC). Calculating WACC involves: Cost of Equity: Estimate the cost of equity using models like the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM), which considers the risk-free rate, beta (a measure of stock volatility), and market risk premium. Cost of Debt: Determine the cost of debt by assessing the interest rates on the company’s outstanding debt, adjusted for tax savings. Weighting: Calculate the weighted average of the cost of equity and cost of debt based on their proportions in the company’s capital structure​​​​. 4. Estimate the Terminal Value (TV) Terminal value accounts for the value of cash flows beyond the forecast period. There are two common methods to calculate TV, the Perpetuity Growth Model and Exit Multiple Method. Industry professionals often favor the exit multiple approach because it allows them to compare the business's value to observable market data. In contrast, academics tend to prefer the perpetual growth model due to its strong theoretical basis. Some practitioners opt for a hybrid method, combining both approaches to arrive at a more balanced valuation. Perpetuity Growth Model: The perpetual growth method is widely favored by academics for calculating terminal value due to its solid mathematical foundation. This approach assumes that a business will continue to generate Free Cash Flow (FCF) indefinitely at a stable, normalized rate. This model captures the ongoing value of a company's cash flows beyond the forecast period, reflecting a perpetuity scenario. TV is calculated as: TV = (FCFn x (1 + g)) / (WACC – g) Where: TV = terminal value FCF = free cash flow n = year 1 of terminal period or final year g = perpetual growth rate of FCF WACC = weighted average cost of capital Exit Multiple Method: The exit multiple approach estimates the terminal value by assuming the business can be sold at a multiple of a certain financial metric, such as EBITDA. This multiple is determined based on the trading multiples observed for similar businesses in the market. The formula for calculating the exit multiple terminal value is: TV = Financial Metric (e.g., EBITDA) x Trading Multiple (e.g., 10x) 5. Calculate the Present Value (PV) Discounting the forecasted cash flows and terminal value to their present value is a critical step in the DCF analysis. This process involves applying a discount rate to each projected cash flow and the terminal value to reflect their value in today's terms. Here’s how you can do it both mathematically and conceptually: Present Value of Cash Flows: Calculate the present value of each projected cash flow using the formula PV= CFt / (1+r)ₜ Where: PV = Present Value CFt = Cash Flow in period t r = Discount rate (often the Weighted Average Cost of Capital, WACC) t = Time period (year) Present Value of Terminal Value: Discount the terminal value back to its present value using TV / (1+r)ₙ Total DCF Value: Sum the present values of the projected cash flows and the terminal value to obtain the total DCF value​​​​. 6. Interpret the Results Analyzing the results of the DCF analysis involves: Comparing to Current Market Value: Compare the calculated DCF value to the company’s current market value to determine if the investment is undervalued or overvalued. Sensitivity Analysis: Assess how changes in key assumptions (e.g., growth rates, discount rate) impact the DCF value. This helps in understanding the sensitivity of the valuation to different scenarios. Making Investment Decisions: Use the DCF valuation to make informed investment decisions, considering both the potential risks and returns​​. Related resource: Valuing Startups: 10 Popular Methods Advantages of DCF Analysis Understanding the advantages of a DCF analysis is crucial for investors. By providing a comprehensive evaluation of an investment's potential, DCF helps investors make well-informed decisions to maximize returns and manage risks effectively. This method provides a robust framework for evaluating investments by focusing on future cash flows and intrinsic value. Here are some key advantages of using DCF analysis. Intrinsic Value DCF analysis provides an estimate of the intrinsic value of an investment by focusing on the underlying cash flows. This approach is independent of current market conditions, making it a more reliable indicator of an investment's true worth. By projecting future cash flows and discounting them to their present value, investors can assess whether an investment is undervalued or overvalued relative to its intrinsic worth​​​​. Future-Oriented One of the significant benefits of DCF analysis is its forward-looking nature. Unlike other valuation methods that rely heavily on historical performance, DCF considers expected future cash flows. This makes it particularly useful for assessing the future potential of an investment, especially in dynamic or rapidly growing industries. By focusing on future cash flows, DCF helps investors make more informed decisions based on the expected performance of the investment​​​​. Flexibility DCF analysis offers considerable flexibility in making assumptions about future growth rates, discount rates, and cash flow projections. This adaptability allows investors to model various scenarios and understand how different assumptions impact the investment's valuation. Whether it's adjusting for optimistic or conservative growth forecasts, DCF can accommodate a wide range of scenarios, providing a comprehensive view of potential outcomes​​​​. Detailed Insight By breaking down the valuation into its components—cash flows, discount rate, and terminal value—DCF analysis provides detailed insights into what drives the value of an investment. This granularity helps investors understand the key factors influencing the investment's valuation and identify potential risks and opportunities. DCF allows for a deeper analysis of the financial health and future prospects of the investment, aiding in more strategic decision-making​​​​. Limitations of a DCF Analysis While DCF analysis is a valuable tool for investment valuation, it comes with limitations that investors must consider. The sensitivity to assumptions, complexity of financial modeling, and challenges in forecasting future cash flows highlight the importance of careful and informed analysis when using DCF to value investments. By being aware of these limitations, investors can better navigate the intricacies of DCF and make more reliable investment decisions. Sensitivity to Assumptions DCF valuations are highly sensitive to the assumptions made about growth rates, discount rates, and future cash flows. Small changes in any of these variables can significantly alter the valuation outcome. For example, a slight increase or decrease in the discount rate can have a substantial impact on the present value of future cash flows, leading to vastly different valuations. This sensitivity requires investors to be cautious and thorough when making assumptions and to consider a range of scenarios to understand the potential variability in the valuation​​​​. Complexity The DCF method requires detailed financial modeling and a deep understanding of the business being evaluated. This complexity can be time-consuming and may not be accessible to all investors, particularly those without a strong financial background. Accurate DCF analysis demands precise data, robust financial models, and a clear grasp of the industry dynamics, which can be challenging to achieve. This complexity often means that DCF analysis is best performed by experienced professionals or with the assistance of financial experts​​​​. Forecasting Challenges Accurately forecasting future cash flows is inherently difficult, especially for new or rapidly evolving industries. The further out the forecast period extends, the greater the uncertainty becomes. This challenge is exacerbated in industries with high volatility, where predicting future performance can be fraught with uncertainty. Inaccurate or overly optimistic forecasts can lead to misleading valuations, making it crucial for investors to base their projections on realistic and well-researched assumptions​​​​. Leveraging DCF Analysis with Visible for Informed Investment Decisions DCF analysis is an essential tool for investors, offering a robust framework to evaluate the intrinsic value of investments by focusing on future cash flows. This guide has explored the significance of DCF in venture capital, detailed the formula and steps to perform a DCF analysis, and highlighted both its advantages and limitations. By mastering DCF analysis, investors can make more informed decisions, assessing the true potential of their investments and mitigating risks effectively. For startups and investors seeking detailed insights and efficient financial tracking, Visible provides a comprehensive platform to streamline your investment processes. Learn how to get started with Visible to track your crucial investment data here. Related resources: Use Storytelling to Increase your Price The Complete Guide to Investor Reporting and Updates

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founders
What Is TAM and How Can You Expand It To Grow Your Business?
Understanding your Total Addressable Market (TAM) is essential for any startup founder aiming to attract investors and drive growth. In this article, we'll define TAM, explain its significance, and differentiate it from similar metrics like Serviceable Available Market (SAM) and Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM). You'll learn how to calculate your TAM, recognize the right time to expand it, and discover five practical strategies for successful TAM expansion. From boosting brand visibility to exploring new markets, we'll provide actionable insights to help you maximize your business potential. Dive in to ensure your startup's growth trajectory stays on track. What Is Total Addressable Market (TAM)? The TAM represents the overall revenue opportunity for a product or service if it achieves 100% market share. It quantifies the total demand for a product or service within a particular market. This metric helps businesses understand the full potential of their market, guiding strategic decisions and investment priorities​​​​. Importance of TAM Investment Decisions: TAM helps companies determine the potential return on investment for new products or market expansions. It provides a clear picture of the revenue potential, which is crucial for attracting investors​​​​. Strategic Planning: By understanding TAM, businesses can prioritize specific products, customer segments, and market opportunities, ensuring that resources are allocated effectively to maximize growth​​. Market Viability: Evaluating TAM allows companies to assess whether a market is large enough to support their growth goals. This can prevent entering markets that are too small or overly saturated​​. Competitive Analysis: Knowing the TAM helps businesses understand the competitive landscape, identify market gaps, and develop strategies to capture market share​​. Long-term Growth: TAM provides insights into the potential scalability of a business, helping to forecast long-term growth and sustainability​​. TAM Vs. SAM Vs. SOM Understanding the differences between Total Addressable Market (TAM), Serviceable Available Market (SAM), and Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM) is crucial for strategic business planning and market analysis. These distinctions help businesses effectively allocate resources, prioritize market segments, and develop strategies that align with their capabilities and market conditions. Definitions Serviceable Available Market (SAM): SAM is the portion of the Total Addressable Market that your company can realistically target with its products or services. It considers geographical, regulatory, and logistical constraints that might limit market reach​​​​. Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM): SOM, also known as the share of market, represents the segment of the SAM that your company can realistically capture, considering factors like competition, market saturation, and your company's capabilities​​​​. Differences Between TAM, SAM, and SOM Scope: TAM represents the broadest market size and includes all potential customers and revenue opportunities without any limitations. SAM narrows this down by factoring in the portions of the market that are within your reach based on current operational constraints. SOM further refines this by identifying the realistic market share you can capture, given existing competition and market conditions​​​​. Application: TAM is often used to gauge the overall market potential and is particularly useful for attracting investors by showcasing the maximum opportunity. SAM helps businesses focus on specific segments where they can actually operate, ensuring more targeted marketing and sales efforts. SOM provides a realistic view of the immediate opportunities and helps in setting achievable sales and growth targets​​​​. Related resource: Total Addressable Market vs Serviceable Addressable Market How To Calculate TAM Calculating the TAM is a critical step for any business looking to understand its full market potential. Here are three primary methods to calculate TAM: 1. Top-Down Approach The top-down approach starts with a broad market size and narrows it down to your specific market segment. This method typically relies on industry reports and market research studies. Step 1: Identify the total market size using industry data from reputable sources such as Gartner, Forrester, or industry-specific reports. Step 2: Segment this data to reflect your specific market. For example, if you are targeting small businesses with your software, you would narrow the data to show the number of small businesses in your market. Step 3: Apply relevant percentages to reflect the portion of the market you can realistically target. Example: If the overall market for software is $100 billion and small businesses represent 20% of this market, your TAM would be $20 billion​​​​. 2. Bottom-Up Approach The bottom-up approach is based on actual data from your business operations. It is often seen as more accurate because it uses real sales figures and customer data. Step 1: Calculate the average revenue per user (ARPU) by dividing your total revenue by the number of customers. Step 2: Multiply your ARPU by the total number of potential customers in your market. Example: If your ARPU is $1,000 and there are 50,000 potential customers, your TAM would be $50 million​​​​. 3. Value-Theory Approach The value-theory approach estimates TAM based on the value that consumers derive from your product or service and how much they are willing to pay for it. Step 1: Identify the unique value your product offers compared to competitors. Step 2: Estimate how much more customers would be willing to pay for your product due to its unique features. Step 3: Multiply this enhanced value by the total number of potential customers. Example: If customers are willing to pay 20% more for your product than the standard market price and there are 50,000 potential customers, calculate the TAM based on this increased price point​​. Tips Use multiple methods to get a well-rounded view of your TAM. Validate your assumptions with market research and customer feedback. Regularly update your TAM calculations to reflect changes in the market and your business. Related resource: How to Model Total Addressable Market (Template Included) When Is The Right Time To Invest In TAM Expansion? Investing in expanding your TAM is a significant decision that can drive substantial growth for your business. Here are some signs that indicate it’s the right time to consider a TAM expansion strategy: Market Saturation: If you’ve captured a significant share of your current market and growth rates are slowing down, it’s a clear sign that expanding into new markets or customer segments is necessary to maintain growth momentum​​​​. Product Maturity: When your existing products or services have reached maturity in their lifecycle and there's limited scope for further innovation or differentiation within the current market, expanding TAM by entering new markets or developing new products can provide new growth avenues​​​​. Competitive Pressure: Increasing competition in your current market can erode market share and profitability. Expanding your TAM can help you mitigate these risks by diversifying your market presence and reducing dependency on a single market​​. Customer Demand: If there is growing interest or demand for your product from customers outside your current market, it’s a good indicator that there are untapped opportunities that you can explore​​. Strategic Goals: When your business has set ambitious growth targets that cannot be met within the confines of your current TAM, expanding into new markets becomes essential to achieve these goals​​. Risks of Not Expanding TAM Growth Stagnation: Without TAM expansion, your business may struggle to achieve its growth targets, leading to stagnation. This can be particularly detrimental if investors or stakeholders expect continuous growth​​​​. Increased Vulnerability: Relying on a limited market can increase vulnerability to market fluctuations, competitive pressures, and changes in customer preferences. This can lead to reduced market share and profitability over time​​. Missed Opportunities: Failing to explore new markets means missing out on potential revenue streams and growth opportunities that could strengthen your business's market position and financial health​​. Investor Reluctance: Investors are often wary of businesses with limited market potential. A small or shrinking TAM can make it challenging to attract investment, as it signals limited scalability and growth prospects​​​​. Related resource: Total Addressable Market: Lessons from Uber’s Initial Estimates 5 Tips For Successful TAM Expansion Expanding your TAM is a strategic move that can significantly enhance your business’s growth potential. We've compiled five practical tips to help you navigate this process effectively. These strategies will guide you through increasing brand visibility, strengthening customer relationships, exploring new markets, learning from past mistakes, and diversifying your offerings. By implementing these tips, you can successfully broaden your market reach and drive sustainable growth. 1. Boost Brand Visibility Improving brand visibility is essential for expanding your TAM. A well-recognized brand can reach a broader audience, making it easier to enter new markets and attract diverse customer segments. Increased brand visibility helps build trust and credibility, encouraging potential customers to choose your product or service over competitors. By effectively communicating your brand’s value proposition, you can create a strong market presence and drive demand across various market segments​​​​. How to Boost Brand Visibility Invest in Marketing and Advertising: Allocate resources to marketing and advertising campaigns that target both your current and potential markets. Utilize various channels, including social media, search engine marketing (SEO), and display advertising, to reach a wider audience​​​​. Digital Marketing: Leverage digital marketing strategies such as SEO, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and social media marketing to increase online visibility​​. Content Marketing: Create high-quality content that addresses the needs and interests of your target audience. This can include blog posts, videos, infographics, and whitepapers that provide value and position your brand as a thought leader in your industry​​. Public Relations: Engage in public relations activities to get your brand featured in industry publications, news outlets, and influential blogs. Positive media coverage can significantly enhance your brand's reputation and visibility​​. Partnerships and Collaborations: Form strategic partnerships with other brands, influencers, and industry leaders. Collaborative marketing efforts can introduce your brand to new audiences and enhance its credibility​​. Community Engagement: Participate in community events, sponsor local activities, and engage with your audience on social media platforms. Building a strong community presence can foster loyalty and attract new customers​​. Brand Consistency: Ensure consistent messaging and visual identity across all marketing channels. Consistency helps reinforce your brand's image and makes it more recognizable to consumers​​​​. 2. Strengthen Customer Relationships Building strong customer relationships is vital for expanding your TAM. Loyal customers are more likely to become repeat buyers and refer your products or services to others, increasing your market reach. Positive customer relationships can lead to higher customer retention rates, increased lifetime value, and a robust brand reputation. Satisfied customers often share their experiences, which can attract new customers and open up new market opportunities​​​​. How to Strengthen Customer Relationships Provide Excellent Customer Service: Offering outstanding customer service helps build trust and loyalty. Ensure your customer service team is well-trained, responsive, and capable of resolving issues quickly and effectively. Personalized Service: Tailor your interactions to meet individual customer needs. Use customer data to personalize your communication and offers, making customers feel valued and understood​​. Multichannel Support: Provide support across various channels, including phone, email, chat, and social media, to meet customers where they are and ensure convenience​​. Engage with Customers Regularly: Regular engagement helps maintain a connection with your customers and keeps your brand top of mind. Email Marketing: Use email campaigns to share updates, promotions, and valuable content. Personalize emails based on customer preferences and past interactions​​. Social Media Interaction: Actively engage with your audience on social media platforms. Respond to comments, participate in conversations, and show appreciation for their support​​. Collect and Act on Feedback: Regularly solicit feedback from your customers to better understand their needs and expectations. Use this feedback to improve your products, services, and overall customer experience. Surveys and Polls: Conduct surveys and polls to gather customer opinions and insights. Analyze the data to identify trends and areas for improvement​​. Customer Reviews and Testimonials: Encourage customers to leave reviews and testimonials. Address any negative feedback promptly and use it to make necessary improvements​​. Loyalty Programs and Rewards: Implement loyalty programs that reward repeat customers. Offer incentives such as discounts, exclusive access to new products, or special events to keep customers engaged and coming back. Points System: Create a points-based system where customers earn points for every purchase, which can be redeemed for rewards​​. Exclusive Offers: Provide loyal customers with exclusive offers and early access to new products or services as a token of appreciation​​. Customer Education: Educate your customers about your products and services through webinars, tutorials, and informative content. This helps them maximize the value they get from your offerings and fosters a deeper connection with your brand. Educational Content: Produce and share content that helps customers understand how to use your products effectively. This can include blog posts, how-to videos, and FAQs​​. Webinars and Workshops: Host webinars and workshops to provide in-depth knowledge and answer customer questions in real-time​​. 3. Explore New Markets Exploring new markets is a powerful strategy for expanding your TAM. By entering new geographical areas or targeting different customer segments, you can unlock additional revenue streams and reduce dependence on a single market. New markets can offer untapped demand, diverse customer bases, and opportunities for innovation. This expansion not only increases your TAM but also enhances your business’s resilience and growth potential​​​​. How to Collect and Analyze Data to Determine Suitable Markets Market Research: Conduct thorough market research to identify potential new markets. This includes studying industry reports, market trends, customer demographics, and competitive landscapes. Industry Reports and Studies: Utilize reports from reputable sources such as Gartner, Forrester, or local market research firms to gather data on market size, growth rates, and trends​​. Online Marketplaces and Databases: Explore online databases like Statista, IBISWorld, or Trade Maps to access detailed market statistics and insights​​. Customer Segmentation Analysis: Analyze your existing customer base to identify segments with similar characteristics that might be present in other markets. Look for patterns in demographics, behaviors, and preferences. Customer Data Analysis: Use data analytics tools to segment your customers based on various criteria such as age, income, location, and buying behavior​​. Surveys and Feedback: Conduct surveys or focus groups with your current customers to understand their experiences and identify potential new segments​​. Competitive Analysis: Evaluate your competitors’ presence in new markets to identify gaps and opportunities. Analyze their market strategies, strengths, and weaknesses. SWOT Analysis: Perform a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) on your competitors to understand their position in the new market​​. Competitor Benchmarking: Compare your offerings with those of your competitors in the target market. Identify unique value propositions and areas where you can differentiate​​. Feasibility Studies: Conduct feasibility studies to assess the viability of entering new markets. This includes evaluating legal, regulatory, economic, and logistical factors. Regulatory Analysis: Research local regulations, trade laws, and compliance requirements in the target market​​. Economic Analysis: Assess the economic conditions, such as GDP growth rates, disposable income levels, and market stability​​. Pilot Testing: Before fully committing to a new market, consider conducting pilot tests or trials to gauge customer interest and market response. Test Marketing: Launch a limited version of your product or service in the new market to collect feedback and measure demand​​. Focus Groups and Beta Testing: Organize focus groups or beta testing sessions with potential customers in the new market to refine your offering based on real-world feedback​​. 4. Learn From Losses Not every strategy or initiative will succeed in business, and these failures provide valuable learning opportunities. By assessing what isn’t working, you can identify weaknesses, understand the reasons behind failures, and implement corrective measures to avoid repeating the same mistakes. This process of continuous improvement is crucial for refining your strategies and achieving long-term success​​​​. How to Find What Isn’t Working and Correct These Things Conduct a Post-Mortem Analysis: After any project or campaign, hold a post-mortem meeting to review what worked and what didn’t. Collect Feedback: Gather feedback from team members involved in the project to get diverse perspectives on the issues encountered​​. Identify Key Issues: Focus on identifying the primary reasons for failure, whether related to strategy, execution, market conditions, or other factors​​. Analyze Performance Metrics: Use data analytics to evaluate the performance of your initiatives. Look for trends and anomalies that can provide insights into what went wrong. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Monitor KPIs such as sales figures, conversion rates, customer acquisition costs, and customer satisfaction scores to identify areas of concern​​. Root Cause Analysis: Conduct a root cause analysis to determine the underlying causes of poor performance. This helps address the issues at their source rather than just treating symptoms​​. Engage with Customers: Solicit customer feedback to understand their experiences and perceptions of your product or service. Customer Surveys: Use surveys to gather insights into customer satisfaction and identify pain points​​. Customer Interviews: Conduct in-depth interviews with customers to better understand their needs and expectations​​. Benchmark Against Competitors: Compare your performance with your competitors to identify areas where you may be falling short. Competitive Analysis: Study your competitors’ strategies and performance metrics to understand what they are doing differently and how you can improve​​. Best Practices: Adopt industry best practices that can help you enhance your operations and customer offerings​​. Implement Corrective Measures: Based on your findings, develop and implement a plan to address the identified issues and improve future performance. Strategic Adjustments: Make necessary adjustments to your strategies based on the insights gained from your analysis. This could involve changing your marketing approach, modifying your product features, or entering new markets​​. Continuous Improvement: Establish a culture of continuous improvement where regular reviews and updates are made to ensure ongoing optimization of your business processes​​. 5. Diversify Your Offerings Diversifying your product or service offerings can significantly enhance your TAM by attracting new customer segments and entering different markets. This strategy allows businesses to reduce dependency on a single product line, mitigate risks associated with market saturation, and adapt to changing market demands. By offering a broader range of products or services, businesses can cater to varied customer needs and preferences, expanding their market reach and increasing revenue opportunities​​​​. How to Diversify Your Offerings Develop New Products: Innovate and introduce new products that complement your existing offerings. This can attract a new customer base and meet different market needs. Market Research: Conduct thorough market research to identify gaps in the market and understand customer needs. Use this information to develop products that address these needs​​. Prototype Testing: Develop prototypes and conduct testing with a select group of customers to gather feedback and refine the product before a full-scale launch​​. Create New Service Packages: Bundle your services into new packages that offer added value to customers. This can make your offerings more attractive and accessible to different market segments. Customer Segmentation: Segment your customer base to understand their specific needs and preferences. Develop service packages tailored to these segments to increase relevance and appeal​​. Value-Added Services: Include additional services or features in your packages that enhance the overall value proposition, such as premium support, extended warranties, or exclusive access to content​​. Expand Into Related Markets: Identify related markets where your expertise and capabilities can be leveraged. This can help you tap into new revenue streams without straying too far from your core competencies. Adjacent Market Analysis: Analyze markets closely related to your current operations. Determine how your existing products or services can be adapted to meet the needs of these markets​​. Strategic Partnerships: Form partnerships with companies in related markets to facilitate entry and gain insights into market dynamics. Collaborations can also provide access to new customer bases and distribution channels​​. Enhance Existing Products: Continuously improve your existing products by adding new features or improving functionality. This can help retain current customers and attract new ones looking for enhanced offerings. Customer Feedback: Regularly collect and analyze customer feedback to identify areas for improvement. Use this information to guide product enhancements and ensure they meet customer expectations​​. Technology Upgrades: Invest in technology upgrades to keep your products up-to-date with the latest trends and innovations. This can help maintain a competitive edge and appeal to tech-savvy customers​​. Explore New Distribution Channels: Diversify your distribution channels to reach a broader audience. This can include online marketplaces, retail partnerships, or direct-to-consumer models. E-commerce Platforms: Expand your online presence by leveraging e-commerce platforms to reach customers beyond your geographical location​​. Omnichannel Strategy: Implement an omnichannel strategy that integrates various sales channels to provide a seamless customer experience and maximize reach​​. Get A Clear Idea Of Your Current TAM And Find Ways to Grow It With Visible’s TAM Template Understanding and expanding your TAM is crucial for business growth. Visible's TAM Template can accurately determine your current market size and identify new opportunities for expansion. This tool helps streamline your market analysis process, ensuring you make informed decisions backed by reliable data. By leveraging these insights, you can strategically target new segments, optimize resources, and ultimately drive higher revenue. Ready to take your market analysis to the next level? Download Visible’s TAM Template.
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9 Signs It’s Time To Hire in a Startup
Knowing the right time to expand your team is crucial for a startup's success. In this article, we’ll explore nine key signs that indicate it’s time to hire, helping you avoid common pitfalls such as team burnout, missed opportunities, and declining work quality. From maxed-out bandwidth to spotting new revenue streams, understanding these indicators will ensure you bring in talent at the right moment, maintaining your startup’s momentum and competitiveness. Learn how timely hiring can drive your startup's growth and sustainability. Why Do Founders Wait Too Long to Hire? Founders often hesitate to hire new team members for several reasons. Financial constraints are a major concern; many startups operate on tight budgets and may not have the funds to cover additional salaries​​. Another reason is the fear of losing control—founders might worry that bringing in new employees could dilute their influence over the company’s direction and culture​​. Additionally, there is uncertainty about future growth and revenue stability, making founders cautious about committing to long-term expenses​​. Some founders also believe they can manage all tasks themselves or with their current team, leading to overextension and delayed hiring decisions. Related resource: How to Hire in a Startup What Can Happen if You Don’t Hire Soon Enough? Delaying hiring can lead to significant issues within a startup. When team members are stretched too thin, it can result in burnout, decreased morale, and high turnover rates. This overwork can lead to mistakes and a decline in work quality, negatively impacting customer satisfaction and retention​​​​. Financially, missing out on hiring can mean lost opportunities for growth and revenue. Overwhelmed teams may turn down new projects or be unable to innovate, stunting the startup’s potential to scale and compete effectively in the market​​​​. 1. Your Team’s Bandwidth Is Maxed Out When your team is consistently operating at total capacity, it can have several negative consequences. Overloading your team for extended periods leads to increased stress and burnout. Employees working long hours and handling excessive workloads often experience reduced productivity and lower morale. This can result in higher turnover rates as employees seek more balanced work environments elsewhere​​​​. Additionally, when your team is overstretched, the quality of work may suffer. Mistakes become more common, and attention to detail decreases, leading to subpar outcomes and customer dissatisfaction. This harms your startup's reputation and can result in lost business opportunities and revenue​​. Excessive workloads can stifle innovation and growth. When your team is constantly focused on managing their current tasks, they have little time or energy to explore new ideas or take on additional projects. This can prevent your startup from capitalizing on new opportunities and staying competitive in the market​​. To mitigate these risks, monitoring your team's workload and ensuring it remains manageable is crucial. Implementing effective resource allocation strategies, prioritizing tasks based on urgency, and maintaining clear communication channels can help balance the workload and maintain a healthy, productive team​​​​. 2. You Are Turning Down New Work Turning down new work due to insufficient capacity can have several detrimental effects on a startup. Missed opportunities for new projects or clients mean potential revenue is lost, which is crucial for the growth and sustainability of any startup. Every declined project could have been an avenue for expanding your market presence, enhancing your portfolio, and building your reputation. Consistently turning down work can harm your startup's reputation in the industry. It sends a message that your company cannot meet market demands, which can deter potential clients from considering your services in the future. This limits your immediate growth prospects and your long-term business relationships and networking opportunities​​​​. The inability to take on new work stifles innovation and scalability. Startups thrive on being agile and able to pivot quickly to seize new opportunities. By not hiring when needed, you restrict your team's ability to engage in innovative projects and explore new revenue streams, ultimately impacting your startup's competitive edge​​​​. Ensuring your startup can handle new opportunities is critical for maintaining momentum and fostering growth. This might involve strategic hiring to build a robust team capable of managing increased workloads and seizing opportunities as they arise​​​​. 3. You Either Do Too Much Admin or Have 0 Time for It In a startup, the executive team should focus primarily on activities that drive growth and enhance efficiency. Spending excessive time on administrative tasks detracts from these high-value activities and can impede the company's progress. Here’s why focusing on growth and efficiency is crucial: Strategic Decision-Making: Executives need to steer the company's vision and strategy. This involves making critical decisions about market positioning, product development, and customer engagement. When bogged down by administrative tasks, executives have less time to focus on strategic planning, which can delay crucial business moves and affect the startup’s competitive edge​​​​. Resource Allocation: Effective resource allocation is vital for startups, where budgets are often tight. Executives should prioritize identifying the most profitable projects and ensuring that resources are allocated efficiently to maximize returns. This requires a deep understanding of the company's operations and market conditions, which is compromised if executives are swamped with admin work​​. Investor Relations: Attracting and maintaining investor confidence is key to securing necessary funding for growth. Executives must spend time developing and presenting a compelling narrative about the company’s vision, performance, and potential. Focusing on administrative duties can hinder these efforts, reducing opportunities to attract investment​​. Team Development: Building a strong, motivated team is essential for a startup's success. Executives need to focus on hiring the right talent, fostering a positive company culture, and providing leadership. These activities help in retaining top talent and ensuring that the team is aligned with the company's goals and values​​​​. 4. Your Team Members Are Wearing Too Many Hats In the early stages of a startup, it's common for team members to juggle multiple roles to save costs and maximize productivity. While this approach can be beneficial initially, it becomes detrimental as the startup grows. When team members wear too many hats, it can lead to several issues affecting work quality and overall productivity. Decreased Focus and Productivity: When employees are responsible for various unrelated tasks, they struggle to focus and maintain productivity. Constantly switching between roles leads to context switching, which disrupts their concentration and reduces efficiency. This often results in tasks taking longer to complete and increases the likelihood of errors​​​​. Burnout and Low Morale: Handling multiple roles can quickly overwhelm employees, leading to burnout. When team members are overworked, their job satisfaction decreases, and their stress levels rise. This not only impacts their well-being but also their performance, causing a decline in the quality of work produced​​​​. Compromised Work Quality: Specialized tasks require focused expertise. When employees are spread too thin, they can't dedicate the necessary time and attention to each task, leading to subpar results. For instance, a team member juggling marketing, sales, and administrative tasks may not execute any of these roles effectively, resulting in missed opportunities and errors​​​​. Stunted Growth and Innovation: A startup thrives on innovation and strategic growth. However, when key team members are bogged down with administrative or peripheral tasks, they have less time to focus on strategic initiatives and creative problem-solving. This can hinder the startup's ability to innovate and scale effectively​​​​. Related resource: What do Startup Employees Want 5. Customers Are Complaining About Work Quality Poor customer service can have several detrimental impacts on a startup, affecting both its short-term performance and long-term sustainability. Here are the key impacts: Damaged Reputation: In the age of social media, one negative experience can quickly be amplified, leading to a tarnished reputation. Dissatisfied customers often share their grievances online, which can deter potential clients and harm your brand's image​​​​. Lost Sales and Revenue: Customers who experience poor service are unlikely to return. This loss of repeat business can significantly affect your startup's revenue. Moreover, potential customers might be discouraged from engaging with your business after reading negative reviews​​​​. Decreased Customer Loyalty: Poor service can drive existing customers to seek alternatives, leading to increased churn rates. Maintaining customer loyalty is more cost-effective than acquiring new ones, and losing loyal customers can be financially damaging​​​​. Employee Morale and Turnover: Consistently dealing with unhappy customers can demoralize your staff, leading to higher stress levels and burnout. This not only reduces productivity but also increases employee turnover, which incurs additional costs for recruiting and training new employees​​​​. Missed Opportunities for Growth: Negative customer feedback can highlight areas for improvement, but if these issues are ignored, your startup misses valuable opportunities for growth and enhancement. Consistently addressing and learning from customer complaints can lead to better products and services​​​​. 6. Your Competitors Are Scaling Keeping track of your industry and competitors is crucial for several reasons. Here’s why it’s important to monitor the competitive landscape: Identify Market Trends and Opportunities: Regularly monitoring competitors helps you stay informed about the latest market trends and opportunities. By analyzing competitors’ moves, such as new product launches, marketing strategies, and customer engagement efforts, you can identify gaps in the market and areas where your startup can innovate and differentiate itself​​​​. Benchmark Performance: Understanding how your competitors are performing helps you benchmark your own progress. This includes tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) such as sales, market share, customer satisfaction, and engagement. This comparison allows you to set realistic goals and measure your performance against industry standards​​​​. Adapt to Industry Changes: The business landscape is constantly evolving, and staying aware of your competitors’ activities enables you to adapt to changes swiftly. This might involve adjusting your pricing strategies, marketing campaigns, or product features to remain competitive and meet the changing needs of your customers​​​​. Strategic Planning: Competitive monitoring provides valuable insights that inform your strategic planning. By understanding your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, you can develop strategies to leverage your unique selling propositions (USPs) and mitigate potential threats. This proactive approach helps in maintaining a competitive edge​​​​. Enhance Customer Value: Analyzing competitors' customer feedback and reviews can reveal areas where they may be falling short. This information can be used to improve your own customer service and product offerings, ultimately enhancing the value you provide to your customers and increasing customer loyalty​​​​. 7. You’ve Found Potential New Revenue Streams Identifying and capitalizing on new revenue streams is critical for the growth and sustainability of a startup. Here’s why taking advantage of these opportunities is essential: Increased Financial Stability: Diversifying your revenue streams reduces reliance on a single source of income. This mitigates risks associated with market fluctuations, changes in consumer demand, or disruptions in supply chains. With multiple income sources, your startup can maintain a steady cash flow and enhance financial resilience​​​​. Growth and Expansion Opportunities: New revenue streams open up avenues for expansion into different markets and customer segments. This not only boosts your growth potential but also helps in tapping into underserved or emerging markets. For example, adding subscription services or digital products can attract new customers and create additional income​​​​. Competitive Advantage: Leveraging new technologies and innovative solutions can set your startup apart from competitors. By continuously exploring and adopting new revenue models, such as offering premium services through 5G technology or personalized health tech services, your startup can stay ahead in a competitive landscape and attract more customers​​​​. Improved Customer Engagement: Introducing new revenue streams often involves understanding and meeting evolving customer needs. This can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty. For instance, offering AR/VR experiences or cloud services can provide added value to customers, improving their overall experience and strengthening their connection to your brand​​​​. Innovation and Adaptability: Exploring new revenue opportunities encourages innovation within your startup. It fosters a culture of adaptability, allowing your business to pivot and adjust to market changes quickly. This is crucial for long-term success in the fast-paced startup ecosystem​​​​. 8. There Is Enough Extra Work to Keep a Freelancer Busy Hiring freelancers for large amounts of “spillover” hours can offer several significant benefits for startups. Here’s why tapping into freelance talent can be an excellent solution: Cost-Effectiveness: Freelancers can be a more affordable option compared to full-time employees. They typically work remotely, using their own equipment and resources, which means your business can save on overhead costs such as office space, utilities, and equipment. Also, freelancers are not entitled to benefits like healthcare or retirement plans, reducing expenses​​​​. Access to Specialized Skills: Freelancers often have extensive experience and specialized skills in their fields. This allows them to start contributing high-quality work with minimal training. Whether you need a graphic designer, web developer, or content writer, freelancers can bring immediate expertise to your projects, ensuring that tasks are completed efficiently and to a high standard​​​​. Flexibility and Scalability: Freelancers provide unparalleled flexibility, allowing you to scale your workforce up or down based on your needs. This is particularly useful for managing fluctuating workloads or seasonal demands. You can hire freelancers for short-term projects or ongoing support, ensuring you have the necessary resources without long-term commitments​​​​. Time Savings: The process of hiring freelancers is typically faster and less cumbersome than recruiting full-time employees. Freelancing platforms provide access to a global talent pool, where you can quickly find and hire professionals with the specific skills you need. This streamlined hiring process can save valuable time, allowing you to focus on core business activities​​​​. Diverse Perspectives and Innovation: Hiring freelancers from different geographic locations and backgrounds can introduce diverse perspectives and innovative ideas to your business. This diversity can lead to creative problem-solving and new approaches that might not emerge from a more homogeneous in-house team​​​​. Risk Mitigation: By hiring freelancers, you can minimize risks associated with overcommitting to permanent hires during periods of high workload. This approach allows you to manage workload spikes without the long-term financial commitment of additional full-time staff​​​​. 9. There Are Clear Skills Gaps on the Team When your startup faces clear skills gaps, it’s often more cost and time-effective to hire new talent rather than upskill existing employees from the ground up. Here’s why: Cost-Effectiveness: Training existing employees can be expensive. The cost includes not just the training programs themselves but also lost productivity during the training period. On average, hiring new talent with the necessary skills can be 70-92% more cost-effective than upskilling existing employees​​. This cost-saving is significant for startups operating on tight budgets. Immediate Impact: New hires bring immediate expertise, allowing them to contribute effectively from day one. This contrasts with the time it takes for existing employees to acquire new skills and reach proficiency. By hiring skilled professionals, you can quickly address the skills gaps and meet project deadlines without compromising on quality​​​​. Focus on Core Competencies: Upskilling existing employees often means diverting their focus from their core responsibilities, which can hinder overall productivity. Hiring new talent allows your current team to continue focusing on what they do best, while new hires fill the specific gaps that exist​​. Reduced Risk: Bringing in experienced professionals reduces the risk associated with training employees who might not acquire the necessary skills quickly enough. New hires with proven expertise ensure that critical tasks are handled by competent individuals, reducing the likelihood of costly mistakes​​. Scalability: Hiring new talent to fill skills gaps makes it easier to scale your operations. As your startup grows, you can continue to hire experts in various fields, ensuring that your team remains robust and capable of handling increased demands and more complex projects​​​​. Related resource: Chief of Staff Scale Your Startup with the Top-Tier Talent at the Right Time Recognizing when to expand your team is crucial for maintaining your startup's momentum and competitiveness. We've discussed nine signs indicating it's time to hire: from maxed-out bandwidth and turning down new work to the need for specialized skills and managing customer expectations. Each point highlights the importance of timely hiring to avoid burnout, seize opportunities, and ensure high-quality output. By proactively addressing these signs, you can strategically scale your startup with the right talent, driving sustainable growth. To effectively manage this growth, consider using Visible. Visible simplifies tracking your startup’s performance, investor updates, and team progress. It provides the tools you need to keep your stakeholders informed and engaged, making it easier to attract and retain top-tier talent. Ready to find top-tier talent for your startup? Create an account with Visible to streamline your hiring process and keep your growth on track. Try Visible free for 14 days and start strengthening your investor connections. Check out what's possible Visible: Find investors with Visible Connect, our free investor database, at the top of your funnel Track your conversations with our Fundraising CRM Nurture them with our Pitch Deck sharing tool Work through due diligence with our Data Room tool Delight them with regular investor Updates
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The Top 9 Social Media Startups
In the ever-evolving landscape of social media, a new wave of startups is making significant impacts on how we connect, share, and do business online. This article explores the top 9 social media startups, each bringing innovative solutions and fresh perspectives to the digital table. From empowering local entrepreneurs to reshaping global networking, these companies are not just riding the digital wave—they're making the waves. Join us as we unveil these game-changers, their groundbreaking approaches, and how they're sculpting the future of social interaction. Related resource: The Ultimate Guide to Startup Funding Stages 1) Meesho Meesho is a pioneering social commerce platform based in India that revolutionizes the traditional e-commerce model by integrating social media channels into the buying and selling process. This startup empowers individuals, particularly women, to start their own businesses with zero capital by facilitating their role as resellers to end customers via social platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram. Headquarters Location: The company is headquartered in Bangalore, India. Known as the Silicon Valley of India, Bangalore offers a vibrant ecosystem that supports startups and technological innovation, making it an ideal base for Meesho. Current Funding: Meesho has successfully raised approximately $1.1 billion in funding through several rounds, with major investors including Fidelity, Softbank, and Meta. Their latest funding was raised on Oct 13, 2023. Years in Operation: Meesho has been operational for over eight years, during which it has significantly impacted the social commerce market in India. Founders: Founded in 2015 by Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal, both alumni of IIT Delhi, co-founded Meesho. They started with the insight that many small merchants and individuals in India were already using WhatsApp informally to sell products and saw an opportunity to streamline and scale this process. Their vision was to make e-commerce accessible to everyone, especially those without the means to invest in inventory or setup traditional online stores​​​​. 2) ShareChat ShareChat is a dynamic social media platform based in India that caters exclusively to the Indian audience by offering its services in several regional languages. It is designed to enable users to share content, such as videos, photos, and messages, fostering community and cultural connections in a language they are most comfortable with. The platform is especially popular among users in smaller cities and towns. ShareChat has grown to incorporate various features tailored to its audience, including AI-driven content feeds that help users discover content without needing to follow others. This model is particularly effective for ShareChat's diverse and expansive user base​​. Headquarters Location: ShareChat is headquartered in Bangalore, India. This location positions the company in a major hub for technology and startups, providing access to resources and talent in the country's Silicon Valley. Current Funding: ShareChat has experienced robust growth in funding, having raised a total of $1.7 billion across 16 rounds. Their latest funding was raised on Mar 27, 2024 from a Debt Financing round. Years in Operation: Founded in 2015, ShareChat has been operational for about eight years, during which it has significantly expanded its user base and service offerings. Founders: ShareChat was founded by three Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur alumni: Ankush Sachdeva, Bhanu Pratap Singh, and Farid Ahsan. The trio started the company with the vision of creating a social platform that supports India's vernacular languages, thus making digital content accessible to a broader segment of the population​​​​. 3) Hinge Hinge brands itself as a relationship-oriented dating app that emphasizes long-term connections over casual encounters. It is popularly known as "the dating app designed to be deleted," aiming to facilitate meaningful matches that lead to lasting relationships. Hinge distinguishes itself with a user interface that prompts users to engage with specific content on other profiles, which helps initiate more thoughtful interactions. Hinge's approach to dating is tailored to foster relationships rather than endless browsing, which has helped it carve out a unique niche in a crowded market. This focus on quality matches and encouraging users to get off the app has resonated well with a user base looking for more than just a casual dating experience​​​​​​​​. Headquarters Location: Hinge is based in New York, USA, placing it in one of the country's main hubs for technological innovation and business, which supports its growth and operational capabilities. Current Funding: Hinge is owned by Match Group, which also owns several other major dating platforms. This acquisition has provided Hinge with substantial backing, supporting its continuous growth and feature development. Prior to being fully acquired by Match Group in 2019, Hinge had attracted significant investments to fuel its expansion and technological advancements. Years in Operation: Founded in 2012, Hinge has been operational for over a decade. It has undergone significant transformations since its inception, notably pivoting from a "swipe culture" towards more substantive engagements between users. Founders: Justin McLeod is the founder of Hinge. His personal experiences and challenges in finding meaningful relationships inspired him to create a platform that facilitates deeper connections, countering the superficial interactions typical of the dating app landscape at the time. 4) Fishbowl Fishbowl is a unique professional social network that facilitates semi-anonymous interactions among professionals across various industries. Unlike traditional professional networks that focus on curated profiles and formal interactions, Fishbowl offers a platform for candid, often anonymous discussions, allowing professionals to seek advice, share experiences, and discuss industry-related topics freely without the pressure of maintaining a polished image. Fishbowl's unique approach to professional networking continues to fill a niche for those seeking more honest and direct communication about workplace and industry dynamics, distinguishing it from more polished and curated networking sites​​​​​​​​. Headquarters Location: Originally based in San Francisco, California, Fishbowl has since moved its headquarters to New York, New York. This location places it in one of the major hubs for both tech innovation and business in the United States. Current Funding: Fishbowl has raised a total of $7.4M in funding over 2 rounds. Their latest funding was raised on Jan 22, 2019 from a Seed round. This includes investments from notable firms like GGV Capital, Plug and Play Tech Center, and Binary Capital. Years in Operation: Fishbowl was founded in 2016, and it has been providing a platform for professional networking for over seven years. Founders: The platform was co-founded by Matt Sunbulli and Loren Appin. Sunbulli serves as the CEO, while Appin is the COO. Their vision was to create a space where professionals could interact more openly and authentically than on traditional platforms like LinkedIn. 5) Public App Public App is a hyperlocal social media platform from India that connects individuals with their local communities. It allows users to receive and share real-time updates from local businesses, media, politicians, and other entities, catering primarily to non-English speaking users. The platform has been particularly effective as a space for citizen journalists to post videos and updates about local events and issues, contributing to its rapid growth in user engagement. Public App continues to thrive by providing a unique service that taps into the need for localized content, making it a critical tool for community engagement and information dissemination in India. Headquarters Location: Public App is based in Noida, India. This location serves as a strategic point for the app, given its focus on hyperlocal content and the significant user base in and around the region. Current Funding: Public App has successfully raised significant funding to fuel its growth. The app has accumulated $41.3 million in a funding round led by A91 Partners. Years in Operation: Public App was launched in 2019. In just a few years, it has become one of the leading hyperlocal social networking platforms in India, with plans to expand further into global markets. Founders: The founder of Public App, Azhar Iqubal, who is also the co-founder and CEO of the news aggregator service Inshorts, envisioned the Public App as a platform to keep the local population informed and engaged with their immediate surroundings. His leadership has steered the platform to impressive growth, leveraging the infrastructure and success of Inshorts to build a robust social networking service​​. 6) Yubo Yubo is a social media platform designed primarily for Generation Z, focusing on creating a virtual space for young people to meet, interact, and form friendships through live streaming and social discovery. Unlike typical social networks, Yubo does not feature a 'like' system or a following mechanism, aiming instead to foster genuine social interactions among its users. Yubo stands out for its commitment to safety and inclusivity, implementing rigorous measures such as real-time content moderation and age verification to protect its users. This focus on creating a secure and welcoming environment has helped it become a favored platform among young people worldwide. Headquarters Location: Yubo is headquartered in Paris, France. This location places the company in a vibrant cultural and technological hub, facilitating creative and innovative developments for the platform. Current Funding: Yubo has raised significant funding to support its growth and development. Most notably, it completed a Series C funding round where it raised $47.5 million in November, 2020. This round included contributions from existing investors such as Idinvest Partners, Iris Capital, Alven, and Sweet Capital, with new investors like Gaia Capital Partners also joining​​. Years in Operation: Founded in 2015, Yubo has been active for over eight years, during which it has grown to serve a large global user base. Founders: The platform was co-founded by Sacha Lazimi, Arthur Patora, and Jérémie Aouate. These founders aimed to create a social space that diverged from traditional social media dynamics, emphasizing interactions that are more reflective of real-life socializing​​​​. 7) Reddit Reddit is a vast network of communities that are created, run, and populated by its users. Each community, known as a "subreddit," revolves around a specific interest, topic, or theme. Users can share news articles, post original content, and engage in discussions. It's often described as "the front page of the internet" due to its user-generated content that spans countless topics and areas of interest. Reddit has grown to be a platform where millions of users worldwide converge to discuss a myriad range of topics, making it one of the most popular websites globally. Its structure allows for a unique blend of content and discussion, which is moderated by community-selected moderators, ensuring that the vast variety of content is largely self-regulated. Headquarters Location: Reddit is headquartered in San Francisco, California, which positions it in the heart of the tech industry alongside many other leading technology companies. Current Funding: Over the years, Reddit has raised significant amounts of funding, with a total of $1.3B in funding over 9 rounds. As of their latest round, Aug 12, 2021 from a Series F round, Reddit has been valued in the billions. Years in Operation: Reddit was founded in 2005, which means it has been operational for over 18 years, evolving significantly in that time from a simple news link sharing site to a complex aggregation of forums. Founders: Reddit was founded by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian. They created the site as part of a startup accelerator, Y Combinator. The site was envisioned as a place where people could find and discuss anything they found interesting on the internet, which has fundamentally remained the core of what Reddit is today. 8) Exolyt Exolyt is a Finnish startup that offers a B2B SaaS platform specializing in TikTok analytics and insights. It provides tools for brands, media agencies, record labels, and creators to understand and optimize their engagement on TikTok. The platform offers data-driven performance monitoring, social listening, and intuitive insights to help users navigate the fast-paced environment of TikTok and develop effective social media strategies. Exolyt's platform is designed to cater to the needs of modern digital marketers and content creators who require real-time analytics to stay competitive in the dynamic social media landscape. Headquarters Location: Exolyt is based in Helsinki, Finland. This location places the company in one of Europe's active hubs for technology startups, providing a conducive environment for innovation and growth. Current Funding: Exolyt has raised a total of €450K in funding over 2 rounds. Their latest being on Mar 7, 2023 from a Pre-Seed round. Years in Operation: Founded in 2020, Exolyt has been operational for over three years, during which it has focused on developing and refining its TikTok analytics capabilities. Founders: The startup was founded by Henri Malkki, Jonne Bovellán, and Mauri Karlin. These serial entrepreneurs aimed to create a platform that could provide substantial insights into TikTok data, helping businesses leverage the popular social media platform more effectively​​. 9) BitClout BitClout started as a decentralized social media platform built on its own blockchain, allowing users to buy and sell "creator coins" tied to the profiles of public figures and influencers. These coins represent a form of social currency that fluctuates in value based on the popularity of the individual it represents. It aimed to decentralize social media much like how Bitcoin decentralizes finance, by giving users direct control over their content and interactions. Now BitClout redirects their user to the Diamond App, a decentralized and open-source web3 Twitter app for creators & communities. Headquarters Location: BitClout does not operate from a traditional physical headquarters due to its decentralized nature. Current Funding: BitClout has raised a total of $200M in funding over 2 rounds, the latest raised on Sep 21, 2021 from a Initial Coin Offering round. Other prominent investors include Andreessen Horowitz and the Winklevoss twins. Years in Operation: BitClout was launched in March 2021 and has been operational for over two years. Founders: The platform was initiated by an anonymous figure known as "Diamondhands." The true identity of Diamondhands was later revealed to be Nader Al-Naji, who previously founded the cryptocurrency project Basis. Get Your Social Media Startup Funded With Visibles Help Each of the nine companies brings its unique twist to the digital landscape, proving that social media continues to be a fertile ground for technological and entrepreneurial innovation. For founders inspired to bring their own visions to life in this dynamic sector, securing the right funding and guidance is crucial. To manage and enhance investor relations with ease and efficiency, try Visible. By using Visible, you can streamline investor communications, track important metrics, and report progress efficiently, keeping your investors engaged and informed. Ready to take your investor relations to the next level? Try Visible free for 14 days and start strengthening your investor connections. Related resource: How To Find Private Investors For Startups Related resource: How to Hire Your First 10 Startup Employees

Hiring & Talent

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Why the Chief of Staff is Important for a Startup
Why the Chief of Staff is Important for a Startup Startup founders and practitioners are often debating the best actions to take and decisions to make in their early-stage companies. Determining the right hires has been a major part of this conversation. The hot topic on the table lately has been around hiring the role of Chief of Staff. There is a growing conversation about whether startup leaders and founders should hire a Chief of Staff (COS), and here at Visible, we believe it is one of the most important hires you can make. A Chief of Staff is essential for your startup because their role is designed to be an extension of the c-suite’s leadership and strategy. Their role allows companies to scale faster and more strategically. Between the Board of Directors, Executive Board, stakeholders, and employees, startups have a lot of moving parts, and a Chief of Staff can be the cog in the machine that makes all those pieces work smoothly together. A Chief of Staff is the right-hand person to an executive team member, typically the CEO or COO. The COS is tasked with managing the executive’s goals, priorities, internal and external operational tasks, and special strategic projects as needed. The typical responsibilities included in a Chief of Staff role may include: Managing Executive Goals and Priorities A Chief of Staff helps determine what optimized time really looks like. For CEOs and COOs, there is plenty of work that could easily fill the day. But what work is most important for business development and moving the business forward? A Chief of Staff helps direct the decision-making and serves as a sounding board for the CEO, owning the task of keeping the executive aligned to the goals he or she set forth to push the business forward. A COS considers these executive goals and even formalizes them in a framework such as the OKR (Objective Key Results) framework. With these executive OKRs formalized, a COS helps guide the CEO/COO’s priorities day over day. Related resource: Should I Consider a Part-time Executive for My Startup? Operational Tasks With specific areas of work, including board meetings and other critical decision-making sessions or meetings on the agenda, the Chief of Staff helps manage these priorities by handling operations tasks like agenda setting and distribution, communications with teams across the startup to gather insight and updates on various company-wide priorities and progression. Not only will a Chief of Staff work on internal operational tasks like meeting prep, gathering updates, and tracking company progress towards goals, but they also tend to handle external operational tasks as well. These external operational tasks might include sending investor updates to stakeholders, serving as the point of contact to the Board of Directors representing the CEO’s office, or even working on communications and PR. Special Strategic Projects Startups move fast, and different priorities and special obligations come up for leadership out of the blue. Additionally, as your startup goes through strategic growth periods like fundraising or even acquiring smaller startups down the line, the priorities of a CEO’s time will greatly change. These strategic times are the perfect way to utilize a COS. If fundraising is going to take up a significant chunk of a CEO’s time, a Chief of Staff can step in and manage aspects of that strategic task such as deck assembly, overview materials for the potential investors, and communication with parts of the business that need to deliver information for said fundraising presentation. Chief of Staffs are typically very versatile in their skill set, with communication, strategic thinking, and analytical skill sets. This background makes them the perfect person to take on roles that require strategic thought and concise summaries but are potentially too time-constraining for a CEO to dedicate all of their energy to. With their unique mix of hard and soft skills, executive insight, and strategic position in the company, a COS is a major value-add to any startup. Our team at Visible has identified seven primary ways that a Chief of Staff can strengthen your startup. When is it Time to Hire a Chief of Staff? Determining the right moment to bring a COS into your startup is crucial for maximizing their impact. By recognizing the following indicators and acting promptly, startups can leverage the unique skills and perspectives that a Chief of Staff brings to the table, ensuring sustained growth and success. Related resource: How to Hire Your First 10 Startup Employees Here are some key indicators that it might be the right time to hire a COS: Leadership Bandwidth is Strained As your startup grows, the demands on the leadership team increase exponentially. This strain manifests as longer work hours, difficulty in prioritizing tasks, and a constant feeling of being overwhelmed. Executives may find themselves bogged down with operational details rather than focusing on strategic initiatives. A Chief of Staff can help alleviate this burden by managing critical tasks, streamlining decision-making processes, and allowing leaders to focus on high-level strategic goals. They act as a force multiplier, extending the reach and effectiveness of the leadership team. A Need for Cross-Departmental Collaboration Effective cross-departmental collaboration is essential for startups to innovate and scale. However, as the organization grows, silos can form, and communication breakdowns can occur. This can lead to inefficiencies, duplicated efforts, and missed opportunities. A Chief of Staff ensures seamless collaboration by facilitating communication between departments, aligning goals, and overseeing cross-functional projects. They help to break down silos and ensure that all parts of the organization are working towards the same objectives. Related resource: How to Build Organizational Alignment Easily Mergers, Acquisitions, or Product Launches Significant events like mergers, acquisitions, or major product launches require focused attention and meticulous coordination. These initiatives bring unique challenges such as integrating new teams, managing extensive paperwork, and aligning strategies. A Chief of Staff can manage these complex processes, ensuring that all aspects are covered and that the executive team can concentrate on high-level strategic decisions. They provide the necessary oversight and coordination to make these critical events successful. Leadership Succession Planning Succession planning is vital for maintaining continuity and stability within the leadership team. It involves identifying and developing future leaders within the organization. However, amidst the daily hustle of running a startup, this can often be neglected. A Chief of Staff plays a crucial role in leadership succession planning by mentoring potential leaders, overseeing development programs, and ensuring there is a clear plan for leadership transitions. This not only secures the future of the company but also helps in retaining top talent by providing clear career progression paths. Typical Responsibilities for a Chief of Staff A Chief of Staff in a startup wears many hats, acting as a strategic partner to the CEO or COO. Their role involves a wide range of responsibilities that help streamline operations, drive strategic initiatives, and ensure that the leadership team can focus on high-priority tasks. Below are some of the key responsibilities that a Chief of Staff typically handles, each of which will be covered in more detail in their respective sections. Managing Executive Goals and Priorities A Chief of Staff helps determine what optimized time looks like for the executive team. For CEOs and COOs, there is plenty of work that could easily fill the day. But what work is most important for business development and moving the business forward? A Chief of Staff directs the decision-making process, ensuring that the executive's time is spent on tasks that are crucial for growth. They serve as a sounding board for the CEO, aligning the executive with the company’s strategic goals and formalizing them using frameworks such as OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). This helps guide the CEO/COO’s priorities day by day. Operational Leadership The Chief of Staff manages both internal and external operational tasks, ensuring smooth day-to-day operations. This includes setting agendas for board meetings, gathering updates from various teams, and tracking progress towards company goals. They handle communications across the startup to ensure everyone is aligned with the company’s priorities. Externally, they might send investor updates, serve as a point of contact for the Board of Directors, and manage public relations tasks. By overseeing these operational details, the Chief of Staff allows the executive team to focus on more strategic issues. Strategic Projects Startups often encounter special strategic projects that require focused attention. Whether it’s fundraising, a product launch, or an acquisition, a Chief of Staff manages these projects, ensuring they align with the company’s strategic goals. They take on roles that require strategic thinking and concise summaries, handling aspects such as preparing decks for investors, assembling materials for presentations, and coordinating communication across the company. This enables the CEO to concentrate on core business functions without getting bogged down by the intricacies of these special projects. Important Skills for a Chief of Staff to Have When making the strategic hire of a Chief of Staff, startup founders need to look for specific skills that will ensure the candidate can effectively support the leadership team and drive the company forward. These skills serve as crucial filters and green flags in the interview process, guiding founders on how to frame their questions and identify the best candidate for their organization. Strategic Thinking Strategic thinking is vital for navigating the complexities of a growing startup. A Chief of Staff must be able to anticipate future challenges, identify opportunities, and develop long-term plans that align with the company's vision. By outsourcing strategic thinking to a Chief of Staff, the executive team can ensure that someone is always focused on the bigger picture, allowing them to concentrate on immediate operational needs. This skill is essential for maintaining a clear direction and ensuring the startup's long-term success. Project Management Effective project management is crucial for keeping various initiatives on track and within budget. A Chief of Staff must be adept at coordinating multiple projects, setting deadlines, and ensuring that resources are allocated efficiently. In a growing startup, where rapid execution is key, outsourcing project management to a Chief of Staff ensures that projects are completed on time and meet the company's strategic objectives. This allows the executive team to focus on higher-level strategic decisions without getting bogged down in the details of project execution. Analytical Skills Analytical skills enable a Chief of Staff to interpret data, identify trends, and make informed decisions. In a data-driven startup environment, these skills are critical for providing valuable insights that inform strategic direction and operational improvements. By outsourcing analytical tasks to a Chief of Staff, the executive team can ensure that decisions are based on solid data and analysis, reducing the risk of errors and improving overall efficiency. Communication Skills Strong communication skills are necessary for a Chief of Staff to act as a liaison between the executive team and other departments. They must be able to convey complex ideas clearly, facilitate effective meetings, and ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page. Good communication helps maintain transparency, fosters a collaborative work environment, and ensures that everyone in the organization is aligned with the company's goals. By outsourcing communication management to a Chief of Staff, the executive team can ensure that information flows smoothly and efficiently throughout the organization. Ways a Chief of Staff Can Strengthen Your Startup A Chief of Staff can significantly enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of a startup. By taking on critical tasks and responsibilities, they enable the executive team to focus on strategic goals and high-priority items. Here are some of the ways a Chief of Staff can strengthen your startup: Focus on Priority Items The day-to-day life of a CEO or COO can be extremely hectic, with numerous decisions and tasks competing for their attention. A Chief of Staff helps manage these priorities by filtering out less critical tasks and directing the executive’s time towards the most strategic decisions that align with the company's OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). This ensures that the leadership focuses on what truly drives the business forward while the Chief of Staff handles smaller issues and routine decision-making. Facilitate Smooth Information Sharing Effective communication is crucial for the smooth operation of a startup. A Chief of Staff acts as a central point for gathering and disseminating information across the organization. They collect updates from various departments, distill the most important points, and present a contextualized executive summary to the CEO. This process ensures that the CEO receives all the necessary information without being overwhelmed by details, and that communication flows smoothly from the CEO to the rest of the company. Inform Strategy and Decision-Making A Chief of Staff serves as a valuable resource for keeping the executive team connected to the various happenings across departments. By providing an executive summary of company-wide updates, a Chief of Staff helps the leadership team make informed strategic decisions more quickly. They ensure that all relevant information is considered, facilitating better and faster decision-making processes. Maximize Time While You Scale As a startup scales, the demands on the executive team’s time increase. A Chief of Staff helps maximize this time by prioritizing tasks and focusing on critical projects. They handle routine and operational tasks, allowing the CEO to dedicate more time to deep-think projects and strategic initiatives. This ensures that the leadership’s time is used efficiently, even as the company grows and evolves. Tackle Special Projects Special projects, such as fundraising rounds, product launches, or industry presentations, require focused attention and dedicated resources. A Chief of Staff is perfectly positioned to spearhead these projects, managing aspects such as preparing investor decks, assembling materials for presentations, and coordinating communication across the company. This allows the CEO to stay focused on daily priorities while still ensuring that special projects are executed effectively. Provide Oversight and Perspective Startups can often become echo chambers where new perspectives are hard to come by. A Chief of Staff, especially one with experience from other startups, brings a fresh viewpoint to the c-suite. They provide oversight and serve as a sounding board for new ideas and strategies, helping to ensure that the company stays innovative and adaptable. Push the Business Forward Ultimately, a Chief of Staff is a strategic player in moving the business forward. They streamline operations, manage strategic projects, and ensure effective communication, all of which contribute to the company’s growth. By freeing up the executive team to focus on high-level strategic goals, a Chief of Staff helps take a startup from good to great and potentially to unicorn status. Chief of Staff vs Executive Assistant Understanding the difference between a COS and an Executive Assistant (EA) is crucial for startup founders to ensure they make the right hire at the right time. While both roles support the executive team, they do so in different ways and with distinct focuses. Chief of Staff A Chief of Staff is a strategic partner to the executive team, particularly the CEO or COO. Their responsibilities are broad and focus on aligning the company’s strategic goals with daily operations. Here are some key aspects of the COS role: Strategic Focus: The COS works on high-level strategic initiatives, ensuring that the executive team’s vision and goals are implemented across the organization. Project Management: They handle complex projects that span multiple departments, such as mergers, acquisitions, product launches, and fundraising efforts. Decision-Making Support: The COS provides critical insights and data analysis to support executive decision-making, helping to inform strategy and operational improvements. Cross-Departmental Collaboration: They facilitate communication and collaboration between different departments to ensure everyone is aligned and working towards common goals. Leadership Development: The COS often plays a role in leadership succession planning and mentoring potential future leaders within the organization. Executive Assistant An Executive Assistant, on the other hand, focuses on optimizing the executive’s daily schedule and administrative tasks. Here are some key aspects of the EA role: Administrative Focus: The EA manages the executive’s calendar, schedules meetings, handles correspondence, and organizes travel arrangements. Time Management: They ensure that the executive’s time is used efficiently by prioritizing meetings and tasks, allowing the executive to focus on their most important responsibilities. Task Coordination: The EA handles a variety of administrative tasks that help keep the executive’s day running smoothly, from booking appointments to preparing documents. Support Role: They provide general support to the executive, ensuring that they have everything they need to perform their duties effectively. Routine Operations: The EA is instrumental in managing routine operational tasks, allowing the executive to concentrate on more strategic issues. Key Differences Scope of Responsibilities: The COS has a broader, more strategic scope, focusing on aligning and implementing the company’s long-term goals. The EA’s scope is narrower, concentrating on the day-to-day administrative support of the executive. Strategic vs. Administrative: The COS is involved in strategic decision-making and high-level project management, while the EA handles administrative and logistical tasks. Cross-Departmental Impact: The COS often works across departments to facilitate collaboration and ensure alignment with company goals. The EA typically works closely with the executive and less so with other departments. Long-Term vs. Short-Term Focus: The COS is focused on long-term strategic initiatives and projects that drive the company forward. The EA is focused on the immediate, short-term needs of the executive. Making the Right Choice For startup founders, deciding between hiring a Chief of Staff and an Executive Assistant depends on the company’s current needs and stage of growth: If the company needs high-level strategic support, project management for complex initiatives, and cross-departmental coordination, hiring a Chief of Staff is the right choice. If the primary need is managing the executive’s schedule, handling administrative tasks, and ensuring day-to-day operations run smoothly, then an Executive Assistant is the appropriate hire. Equipping a Chief of Staff for Success at a Startup To ensure a COS is successful at your startup, it's crucial to clearly define their role and responsibilities from the outset. This includes creating a detailed job description that outlines specific tasks and expectations. Additionally, providing a comprehensive onboarding process with clear goals and KPIs will help the COS integrate smoothly and start contributing effectively. Regular check-ins and feedback sessions will also ensure they are aligned with the company’s strategic goals and can adjust to any evolving needs. Equipping your COS with the right tools and resources, fostering open communication, and maintaining a supportive environment will enable them to execute their duties effectively. This preparation ensures that the COS can focus on driving strategic initiatives and managing critical projects, ultimately contributing to the startup’s growth and success. How Visible Can Help Visible offers a range of tools and resources designed to support Chief of Staffs in their roles, making it easier to streamline executive and investor communications. With features that facilitate data tracking, reporting, and stakeholder updates, Visible ensures that your Chief of Staff can efficiently manage information flow and keep everyone aligned with the company’s strategic objectives. By leveraging Visible's platform, startups can enhance their operational efficiency, improve decision-making processes, and ultimately drive growth. For more information about how Visible helps Chiefs of Staff streamline their executive and investor communications, learn more here.
founders
Advisory Shares Explained: Empowering Entrepreneurs and Investors
Managing company equity is a crucial part of a founder’s job duty. In the early days of building a business, chances are there will be countless advisors, investors, peers, etc. that help a business. However, most early stage businesses do not have the cashflow to compensate every advisor along the way. Founders need to get crafty with how they compensate their earliest advisors and experts — enter: advisory shares. We always recommend consulting a lawyer before taking further action on advisory shares. Learn more about advisory shares and how you can leverage them for your business below: What Are Advisory Shares? As put by the team at Investopedia, “One common class of stock is advisory shares. Also known as advisor shares, this type of stock is given to business advisors in exchange for their insight and expertise. Often, the advisors who receive this type of stock options reward are company founders or high-level executives. Advisor shares typically vest monthly over a 1-2 year period on a schedule with no cliff and 100% single-trigger acceleration.” Advisor Shares vs. Regular Shares (or Equity) Advisor shares come in different shapes and sizes. There is not a technical definition of advisor shares but is rather any form of equity in a business. Learn more about the characteristics of advisory shares below: Characteristics of Advisory Shares As mentioned above, advisor shares typically vest monthly over a 1-2 year period with no cliff. Advisory shares are typically granted as stock options but not every company grants their shares in the same way. This generally comes in the form of Non-Qualified Stock Options (NSOs). Related Read: The Main Difference Between ISOs and NSOs How Do Advisory Shares Work? While advisory shares can take on different forms, they typically can be boiled down to a few similarities. Of course, these can change depending on your business. Exchanged for advice or expertise Typically offered as NSO stock options Follow a shorter vesting schedule Learn more about how advisory shares typically work below: Implement a Startup Advisor Agreement As put by the team at HubSpot, “A startup advisor agreement is a contract between a startup and its advisor. This agreement outlines the terms of the relationship, including the responsibilities of each party and the compensation the advisor will receive.” There are countless advisor agreement templates online to get you started. The Founder Institute offers a free template called the FAST Agreement. Determine the Vesting Schedule As advisor shares are for advisors that offered their expertise, they are typically granted on a shorter vesting schedule because their value is given over a shorter amount of time. This is typically a 1 or 2 year vesting schedule (as opposed to the 4 year vesting schedule traditionally used for startup employees). Benefits of Advisory Shares Advisory shares come with their own set of pros and cons. Properly maintaining and distributing equity is a critical role of a startup founder so understand the benefits, and drawbacks, of offering advisory shares is a must. Related Resource: 7 Essential Business Startup Resources Learn more about the benefits of offering startup advisory shares below: Access to Real Experts When setting out to build a business, chances are most founders lack expertise in certain areas when it comes to building a business or in their market. However, most early-stage companies are typically strapped for cash and are unable to afford the defacto experts in the space. With advisor shares, startup founders can attract real experts to get guidance and strategic support in the early days in return for shares in the business. Related Resource: Seed Funding for Startups 101: A Complete Guide Better Network Credibility If hiring the right advisor, chances are they will be able to help beyond strategic advice or their expertise. They will be able to expose your business to their network and will be able to make introductions to new business opportunities, partnerships, investors, and potential hires. Cost-Effective Compensation As we previously mentioned, most businesses that benefit most from advisors are unable to offer them a salary or cash compensation. With advisor shares, startup founders are able to offer shares as compensation and conserve thei cash to help with scaling their business and headcount. Drawbacks of Advisory Shares Of course, offering advisor shares is not for everyone. While there are benefits to offering advisor shares, there are certainly drawbacks as well. Weighing the pros and cons and determining what is right for your business is ultimately up to you. We always recommend consulting with a lawyer or counsel when determining how to compensate advisors. Diluted Ownership The biggest drawback for most founders will be the diluted ownership. By offering shares to advisors, you will be diluting the ownership of yourself and existing shareholders. As advisors are fully vested in 1-2 years, they will potentially not be invested in future success as other stakeholders and could be costly when taking into account the diluted ownership. Potential Conflicts of Interest Advisors might not have the same motivators and incentives as your employees and other shareholders. As their ownership is generally a smaller % and their shares vest early, they are potentially not as incentivized for the growth of your company as employees and larger % owners will be. Getting in front of these conversations and making sure you have a good read on any potential advisors before bringing them onboard is a good first step to mitigate potential conflicts. Extra Stakeholder to Manage Chances are most advisors are helping other companies as well. This means that their attention is divided and you will need to ensure you are getting enough value to warrant dilution. This also means that you are responsible for managing a relationship and communication with another stakeholder in your business — what can be burdensome on some founders. The 2 Variations of Advisory Shares Advisory shares are generally offered in 2 variations — restricted stock awards and stock options. Learn more about each option and what they mean below: Restricted Stock Awards As put by the team at Investopedia, “A restricted stock award is similar to an RSU in a number of ways, except for the fact that the award also comes with voting rights. This is because the employee owns the stock immediately once it is awarded. Generally, an RSU represents stock, but in some cases, an employee can elect to receive the cash value of the RSU in lieu of a stock award. This is not the case for restricted stock awards, which cannot be redeemed for cash.” Stock Options As we mentioned, NSOs (Non-Qualified Stock Options) are commonly used for advisor shares. As put by the team at Investopedia, “A non-qualified stock option (NSO) is a type of employee stock option wherein you pay ordinary income tax on the difference between the grant price and the price at which you exercise the option… Non-qualified stock options require payment of income tax of the grant price minus the price of the exercised option.” Who Gets to Issue Advisory Shares? Issuing advisory shares is typically reserved for the founder or CEO of a company. Having a decision-making process and gameplan when issuing advisory shares is important. This might mean offering no shares at all, having an allocated amount of advisor shares from the get go, or something inbetween. Making sure your board of directors and other key stakeholders are on board is crucial to make sure that interest and strategy stays aligned for all stakeholders. How Many Shares Should You Give a Startup Advisor? Managing the balance between sufficient incentives and managing equity dilution is crucial for any business. Determining the number of shares to offer an advisor is subjective to the founder and advisor. When determining the number, a couple of things to keep in mind include: Advisor’s experience Time commitment Expected contribution As put by the team at Silicon Valley Bank, “An advisor may receive between 0.25% and 1% of shares, depending on the stage of the startup and the nature of the advice provided. There are ways to structure such compensation that ensures founders get value for those shares and still retain the flexibility to replace advisors, all without losing equity.” Let Visible Help You Streamline the Investment Management Process Use Visible to manage every part of your fundraising funnel with investor updates, fundraising pipelines, pitch deck sharing, and data rooms. Raise capital, update investors, and engage your team from a single platform. Try Visible free for 14 days. Related resource: Navigating the World of QSBS: Tax Benefits and Eligibility Criteria Explained
founders
Developing a Successful SaaS Sales Strategy
Founders are tasked with hundreds of responsibilities when starting a business. On top of hiring, financing, and building their product, early-stage founders are generally responsible for developing initial strategies — this includes the earliest sales and market strategies. In this article, we will look to help you craft a successful SaaS sales strategy. We’ll highlight the elements you will want to think of when you start to build your sales motion. This will help your team to understand how to measure the number of potential customers in your pipeline and the growth potential you might see in your revenue numbers. How are SaaS sales different from other types of sales? Like any sales strategy, it is important to start with the basics when looking at a SaaS sales strategy. At the top of your funnel, you have marketing leads that likely find your brand via content, word of mouth, paid ads, your own product, etc. From here, leads are moved through the funnel. In the middle, SaaS companies can leverage email campaigns, events, product demos, etc. to move leads to the bottom of their funnel. However, as the SaaS buying experience takes place fully online — sales and marketing organizations can be creative with their approach. The online experience allows companies to track more robust data than ever before. Additionally, SaaS products have turned into their own growth levers as well — the ability to manipulate pricing and plans has led to the ability for companies to leverage their own product for growth. Related Resource: How SaaS Companies Can Best Leverage a Product-led Growth Strategy The online presence and emergence of product-led growth have led to new sales strategies unique to SaaS companies. Learn more below: 3 Popular SaaS sales models There are countless ways to structure your Saas sales strategy. For the sake of this post, we’ll focus on 3 of the most popular strategies. Learn more about the self-service model, transactional model, and enterprise sales model below: Related Resource: The SaaS Business Model: How and Why it Works Self-service model The self-service model allows prospects to become customers without communicating with your team. As put by the team at ProductLed, “A SaaS self-serve model is exactly what it sounds like. Rather than rely on a dedicated Sales team to prospect, educate, and close sales, you design a system that allows customers to serve themselves. The quality of the product itself does all the selling.” This strategy is typically best for a strong and simple product that typically has a lower contract size. Transactional sales model The transactional model allows you to create income-generating actions where prospects have to become a customer at that point in time. This requires transactional sales models to have high-volume sales that can be supported by a strong sales and customer support team. Enterprise sales model The enterprise model is a strategy to sell more robust software packages to corporations – you will need baked-in features in a prepackaged manner to sell to a fellow business. Enterprise sales is the model that shares the most similarities with a traditional B2B sales funnel. Inbound vs outbound sales In a Saas sales funnel, you are constantly looking to consistently fill your sales funnel with fresh prospects. Once you have prospects you will look to find which prospects are worthy of being qualified and have a high likelihood of converting so you can spend your time communicating with those high-quality prospects. There are two popular strategies for creating fresh prospects that would be defined as inbound and outbound sales strategies. Inbound sales is when you invest in marketing to create prospects reaching out to you – fresh prospects reaching out to your business to ask about your software product. As put by the team at HubSpot: “Inbound sales organizations use a sales process that is personalized, helpful, and directly focused on prospects’ pain points throughout their buyer’s journey. During inbound sales, buyers move through three key phases: awareness, consideration, and decision (which we’ll discuss further below). While buyers go through these three phases, sales teams go through four different actions that will help them support qualified leads into becoming opportunities and eventually customers: identify, connect, explore, and advise.” An inbound strategy typically works best for SaaS companies that need a greater volume of customers and can nurture them and move them through their funnel at scale (e.g. self-service model) Outbound sales on the other hand are having members of your organization reach out to potential prospects to see if they would be interested in using your service. Outbound sales require highly targeted and proactive pushing of your messaging to customers. Generally, outbound sales require dedicated team members to manually prospect and reach out to potential customers. This means that outbound sales organizations do not naturally scale as well as an inbound sales organizations and will likely require a higher contract value. An enterprise model would rely heavily on Outbound sales, while a self-service business model will rely heavily on Inbound sales. The SaaS Sales Process The best Saas sales strategy will be a hybrid of inbound and outbound sales, but all of them should include a sales funnel. This funnel should have stages that help to qualify your prospects. These stages should be: Step 1: Lead generation This activity is often times a marketing activity that gives you contact or business information to explore the fit further Step 2: Prospecting This is where you develop the bio of who is the contact you are reaching out to within the organization. It is always helpful to prospect for someone who can make a buying decision Step 3: Qualifying In this step, you need to understand whether the prospect has the resources to pay for your product and the problem that your product can solve. This step is often the time for you to ask questions of your prospects Step 4: Demos and presenting This is when you will share the features and capabilities of your product with the qualified prospect. You want to show them the different features and where they can get the most value. Step 5: Closing the deal After your demo or a presenting call, the prospect should be pushed to a point where they need to make a decision on whether to buy your product. Step 6: Nurturing Once someone becomes a customer, you need to make sure to nurture them and grow your product offering with their business. This is the most difficult stage. Make sure to share your new product releases, stay in tune with how they are using your product, and build relationships with your customers. Cultivating a robust sales team To create a sustaining sales team, it is important to hire talented and tenacious people to own your sales funnel. They will need to track conversion numbers, stay organized with their outreach to prospects, and grow your funnel over time. There are three key roles within a Saas sales funnel. Those positions within your organization are: Sales development representatives (also known as business development representatives) These members of your team own lead generation, prospecting, and qualifying potential customers on your sales team. They get paid 40-60k/year depending on geographical location and experience. They should be tasked with outreach and drumming up new business. Account executives Account executives should focus on giving product demos, closing deals, and nurturing existing customers. They should be a bit more buttoned up in their approach and have a commission incentive associated with the # of accounts they manage. Sales managers/VPs Sales managers and Vice presidents of sales should take ownership of the data within your sales pipelines. Numbers like # of new leads, # of new qualified leads, # of new customers, # of churned customers, amount of new revenue, and lead to customer conversion %. Growing these sales numbers each quarter. Measuring these numbers weekly, monthly, and quarterly. Making them visible to the rest of the company regularly. 8 Key Elements of a successful SaaS sales strategy One of the most important elements of building a successful business is having a like-minded team around you to support and work with you. Make sure to align with all your team members and hire people with good work ethics and similar values of your company. A good sales team should be competitive, goal-oriented, and metric-driven. The sales managers and VPs will be really crucial in shaping the team dynamics and culture of your business. Hire great people and the numbers will take care of themselves! We’ve identified 8 elements of a successful sales strategy that every Saas sales strategy should include 1. Solidify your value proposition It is so important to understand thoroughly and communicate your product’s core value proposition. If someone decides to buy your product, they should know how to use the product and how to get the most out of it. 2. Superb communication with prospects Communication is of the utmost importance. Make sure your prospects understand your product and how it will help their business. Inform them of new product updates 3. Strategic trial periods An effective strategy is to give potential customers a free trial of your product to understand your value proposition. You want to make sure not to make this trial period too short or too long. Make it strategic so the prospect will understand the value prop but also be encouraged to make a buying decision. 4. Track the right SaaS metrics Tracking your core metrics is vital to success. See a few of those below: Customer Acquisition Cost – the amount of money it takes to acquire a new customer Customer Lifetime Value – the amount of value a customer provides your company over the course of their relationship with you as a customer. Lead velocity rate – the growth percentage of qualified leads month over month. This will help you understand how quickly you are qualifying your leads Related Resources: Our Ultimate Guide to SaaS Metrics & How To Calculate and Interpret Your SaaS Magic Number 5. Develop a sales playbook Every successful sales management team should develop a playbook on how to deploy their resources and where each team member should spend their time. Playbooks are often thought of in sports terms, but they also work wonders in the business world. They will help you do things efficiently and effectively. 6. Set effective sales goals How many new customers does your business hope to bring in next month? This is an important question and one your whole sales team should understand and work towards! 7. Utilize the right tools to enhance the process Your team should have all the resources at their disposal to communicate effectively and track their metrics. As you build out your strategy and team, be sure to give them all possible resources at their disposal. There are tons of great tools out there for teams to make the most out of their time and have direct methods of communication with customers and one another. 8. Establish an effective customer support program A huge part of an effective sales strategy is welcoming potential customers and making sure your existing customers are not forgotten about. When customers reach out, it is important to talk and listen to their issues. Understand what they are needing so your product can continue to evolve. Make sure anyone getting introduced to your product will also have the information they need to use your product successfully. It might be helpful to include this member of your team in your sales meetings and keep them informed as to messaging and efforts for growth! Generate support for your startup with Visible Developing a successful SaaS sales strategy is not an easy task. It will take a hybrid approach of many of the elements listed in this article and will need attentive members of your team to nurture it and test new things. We created Visible to help founders have a better chance for success. Stay in the loop with the best resources to build and scale your startup with our newsletter, the Visible Weekly — subscribe here.

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founders
How Jessica Long from Maad Leveraged Visible to Raise a Seed Round
Jessica is the co-founder and president of Maad, francophone Africa’s fastest-growing B2B e-commerce player. Jessica and her team adopted Visible in December 2021 to start sending out investor updates for the first time after closing a pre-seed round. Since then the team at Maad has continued to leverage Visible’s suite of fundraising tools such as data rooms and pitch decks. Maad successfully closed its seed round led by Ventures Platform in late 2023. Read more about their recent coverage in TechCrunch here. This case study details why Maad chose Visible and the specific solutions they leveraged to support the successful raise of their seed round. Jessica's Founder Journey—From Airbnb to Empowering Retail Owners in Africa Maad was co-founded by Jessica Long in 2021. Jessica has a demonstrated passion for creating software that adds value operationally. She fostered this passion in her previous work as a software engineer at Airbnb, building systems to support novel machine learning and crowdsourcing technology at Idibon in San Francisco, and leading the development of national digital health platforms in West Africa as the Director of Global Services at Dimagi. Jessica started Maad because she believed that better data tools could transform the business landscape of Senegal and other developing West African countries. After spending two years building out a generalizable tech platform to track field operations of all kinds, she and her cofounders zeroed in on the informal retail market. With 100,000s of small shops sourcing the same products from a patchwork supply network, Jessica saw a big opportunity to connect small shops directly to the agribusinesses supplying them. Maad is now Francophone Africa's fastest-growing B2B e-commerce player. Maad supplies food, beverages, and everyday household products to thousands of small shops. The company is dedicated to empowering traditional retailers in Francophone West Africa. Their product offerings provide traditional retailers with a mobile app that’s a one-stop shop for all their supply needs and Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) brands with a complete picture of the fragmented consumer market. The Need to Professionalize Investor Communications After Raising a Pre-seed Round Maad closed a pre-seed round in 2021 led by Launch Africa, Oui Capital, and Alumni Ventures. This was the first time Jessica and her cofounders had ever sent out monthly investor updates. Their first attempt included a few bullet points in an email to which her investors gave her feedback: “You could be doing this more professionally.” Jessica’s early investors explained that monthly updates are often the first thing that new investors will look at to understand the trajectory of a company. “Writing crisp, effective updates was one of the best ways to showcase our company’s growth and development,” - Jessica Long, Co-Founder and President of Maad The team at Maad took this feedback to heart and evaluated several tools for the job. In response to why Jessica chose Visible she shared, “Visible struck us as the best choice, with its emphasis on high-quality email reports.” Jessica highlighted specific features that made Visible stand out: Filterable contact lists that make it easy to manage the email’s audience The ability to add charts and graphs inline The optional live data integration The ability to add photos and GIFs Recipient engagement tracking Maad’s Growing Need for Visible’s Fundraising Solutions Originally Maad’s primary use case for Visible was sending out monthly updates to investors. When Maad started its second fundraise, Visible became its centralized fundraising solution where they also hosted their pitch decks and data rooms as well. “It truly became a home for sharing information with investors about our company.” - Jessica Long, Co-Founder and President of Maad Since first leveraging Visible in December 2021 to update current investors, Maad utilized Visible’s more advanced fundraising solutions and successfully closed their Seed round of $2.3M (in equity) in late 2023. The round was led by Ventures Platform. Read more about the announcement of Maad’s recent financing in TechCrunch here. Visible Impact on Maad’s Investor Engagements Visible has equipped Maad to send high-quality investor updates every month since December 2021. Visible's update engagement tracking allowed Jessica to see how closely prospective investors were following her company, which helped their team prioritize their timespend during the seed stage fundraise. Increasingly, the team at Maad kept all investor-related information assets on the Visible platform including monthly investor updates, pitch decks, and data rooms. This created a clean and consistent place for sharing information and tracking engagement. “Every month we get compliments on the quality of the investor updates we are able to generate with Visible’s platform.” Maad’s Top Four Visible Solutions Jessica shared the key advantages of using the Visible platform are: The beautiful and polished investor updates Thoughtful collaboration and versioning features Engagement tracking Consolidation of all major sources of investor information onto a single platform Below are some examples of some of Maad’s favorite solutions in Visible. 1) The ability to store investor updates all in one place. This makes it easy to review previous updates, track engagement rates, and resend the updates if needed. 2) Fun features like directly embedded GIFs in newsletters allow us to connect with Maad’s supporters with more immediacy. 3) Uploading different pitch decks to the same link is an incredible feature for us. We love the versioning and collaboration this allows us internally, while presenting a unified experience to external collaborators 4) Beautiful graphs, directly configurable on the platform, are one of the most popular features of our monthly updates:
investors
Case Study: Airtree Venture's Transformation with Visible
About Airtree Ventures Airtree is a Sydney-based venture capital firm backing founders based in Australia and New Zealand building the iconic companies of tomorrow. The firm was founded in 2014 and is now deploying out of its 4th fund with $1.3 billion in assets under management. Their portfolio includes over 105+ portfolio companies and 250+ founders who have helped create over 17,000 jobs. Airtree’s portfolio includes the region’s breakout technology companies, such as Canva, Go1, Employment Hero, Pet Circle, Immutable, and Linktree. For this case study, we spoke to Dan Lombard who is the Data Lead at Airtree Ventures. Related article: Airtree Ventures already returned its first fund thanks to Canva while maintaining the majority of its stake Fragmented Systems and Processes Prior to Visible Prior to the integration of Visible, Airtree relied heavily on a fragmented system of spreadsheets to manage their portfolio of 105+ companies. Each quarter, four employees were tasked with managing the relationships with the points of contact at 15 to 20 portfolio companies through manual outreach and communications. This reliance on spreadsheets resulted in inefficiencies and potential data loss, as spreadsheets are prone to break when modified. Challenges With Data Accuracy and Scaling Manual Outreach to a Growing Portfolio Before Visible, 80% of Airtree’s portfolio monitoring problem was having clean data and scaling outreach to their portfolio companies. They faced two primary challenges with their former system: Operational Efficiency: Four team members spent significant time manually collecting data from over 100 companies every quarter. The Airtree team members were sending one-off email communications to each company and manually keeping track of who needed to be followed up with at each company which diverted resources from other critical projects they could be working on. Data Integrity and Scalability: Frequent changes to the data in spreadsheets resulted in errors in the sheets and data loss, which caused frustration as there was no way of understanding which changes were made to the sheet and when. This process made it difficult to scale portfolio monitoring operations as Airtree grew. Why Airtree Chose Visible as their Portfolio Monitoring Platform Airtree chose Visible for its robust, scalable, and user-friendly platform. Key factors influencing their choice included: Ease of Use and Customization: Visible's platform offered unparalleled customization and ease of use. Support and Development: Visible’s team actively listened to feedback, offered best practices, and continuously invested in their product, ensuring a partnership that catered to Airtree’s evolving needs. Automation and Integration: Visible excelled in automating portfolio monitoring and offered a frictionless experience for founders. Airtree leveraged the Visible API to seamlessly integrate data into their existing data warehouse system. Airtree’s historical data collection process, previously led by four Airtree team members, is now a streamlined process led only by Dan, who leverages Visible Requests to collect data from their portfolio of 105+ companies. Visible Requests empowers Dan to send customized link-based data requests to each company, automate the email reminder process, and easily keep track of where companies are in the reporting process. View an example Visible Request below. Onboarded to Visible within 24 Hours Visible provided Airtree with an efficient and supported onboarding. When asked about Airtree's onboarding with Visible Dan Lombard shared the following: Visible stood out by enabling a swift and seamless transition that was operational in less than 24 hours, a stark contrast to other providers who estimated a quarter for full implementation. This rapid integration was facilitated by a comprehensive onboarding template provided by Visible. Visible API & Airtree’s Data Infrastructure With the implementation of Visible, Airtree wanted to take a more sophisticated approach to the way they handle their portfolio data with the goal of driving more valuable insights for their team. The approach needed to be automated, integrate with other data sources, and have a singular view accessible for the whole team. This was not possible when their data lived in disparate systems, files, and spreadsheets. Dan Lombard has led the improvement of Airtree's data infrastructure. Now, data sources like Visible and Affinity are piped into Snowflake via recurring AWS Lambda jobs. Airtree leverages the Visible API daily. Dan mentioned that while Airtree collects data quarterly, a daily sync of the data is crucial because Airtree is always onboarding new companies, communicating with their founders, and uploading historical data. “The Visible API gives us this level of daily fidelity and only takes the AWS Lambda job 5 minutes to populate an entire data architecture.” - Dan Lombard, Data Lead at Airtree Ventures Once the data is in their database, Snowflake handles the ETL and entity matching. Airtree then has Streamlit sit on top of Snowflake to query data, provision access, and build out new insights. Advice for Other VC Firms Building Out Their Data Infrastructure Don’t overcomplicate things to start. It is easy to get caught up in the bells and whistles. Dan recommends a bias towards simplicity. Start small and use it as a stepping stone as you build things out. Conclusion Airtree’s adoption of Visible transformed their portfolio management by automating key processes and centralizing data, thus enabling more strategic decision-making and efficient operations. The case of Airtree is a testament to how the right technological partnerships can profoundly impact business efficiency and data management.
investors
[Webinar Recording] VC Fund Performance Metrics to Share When it’s ‘Early’ with Preface Ventures
It’s common for venture firms to start raising their next fund in the last year of capital deployment, typically years 3-4 of a fund’s life. This poses a sort of chicken-and-egg problem because many of the common fund performance metrics that Limited Partners use to drive allocation decisions only become reliable, and therefore more meaningful, around year six (Source: Cambridge Associates). Farooq Abbasi, founder and General Partner of Preface Ventures, created a Seed Stage Enterprise VC Funding Napkin to help GPS think through alternative fund metrics that help communicate performance outside the traditional indicators that LPs use to measure success for more mature funds. The Seed Stage Enterprise VC Funding Napkin helps answer the question "What is good enough to raise a subsequent fund in the current market conditions". Farooq from Preface Ventures joined us on Tuesday, February 27th for a discussion about the fund performance metrics GPs can use to benchmark and communicate fund performance when it's still 'early'. View the recording below. Webinar Topics The issue with ‘typical’ fund performance metrics for ‘early’ funds Overview of Preface Venture’s Seed Stage Enterprise VC Funding Napkin Deep dive into alternative early performance benchmarks How to keep track of alternative fund performance metrics How to leverage alternative fund performance indicators into your fundraising narrative Inside look into how Preface Ventures keeps LPs up to date Q&A Resources From the Webinar Christoph Janz's What does it take to raise capital, in SaaS, in 2023? Preface Ventures' A GP's View on VC Fund Performance When It's Early Diversity VC About Preface Ventures Preface Ventures is a New York City-based firm started in 2020 led by Farooq Abbasi. Preface invests $500-$2M at the pre-seed and seed stage into startups who are building the Frontier Enterprise structure. Preface has 20 active positions in Fund II and 7 active positions in Fund III. (Learn more)

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