The Startup Metrics Potential Investors Want to See
From working with hundreds of founders we often hear, “what metrics and data should I be sharing with potential investors?”
With droves of content laying out what you should and should not share before an investor meeting it can often complicate the process. To some investors, a “data room” and certain metrics are vital but the opposite can be said for others. Despite the difference from investor to investor there are a few traits most will keep their eye on during the fundraising process:
Don’t reinvent the wheel. When you’re pursuing a specific industry or market, there are generally benchmark numbers and stats standardized across the industry. Share these projections, benchmarks, and stats with prospective investors and paint a picture of the potential market and how you will use their capital to penetrate the market. If you’re targeting the right investors they’ll likely have experience in the field and should already have a deep understanding and belief in the market.
To get your foot in the door, you’ll need to show some kind of current growth and traction or the potential for growth. This more often than not comes in the plan of a business/financial model and historical data (which often ties into the market info above). At the end of the day, an investors job is to generate returns on their investment. Show them a strong financial model that creates growth for the business and returns for them and their LPs.
Some investors and founders make the case that you should be careful in how granular you get with the model you’re sharing as it can often lead to unnecessary questions/confusion. As Tommaso Di Bartolo wrote for Startup Grind, “Using excessive metrics can lead to unnecessary discussions that don’t matter at an early stage”.
Unit Economics & Margins
Margins on your product is a large part of the path to profit and returns for your investors. Margins are easily benchmarked by industry. Investors generally have a % they are looking for in the back of their mind. For example, a SaaS business should have no less than 60 or 70% gross margins.
As Tim Anglade of Scale Venture Partners puts it, “If you’re really not able to capture a margin on your current pricing now, it’s unlikely to change in the future, right? And you’ve got to stay within a certain benchmark to have a good business”.
Your customers are your business. Clearly showing potential investors that you can attract, convert, retain, and engage your customers is vital. Being able to show proof of repeat and loyal customers will help ease the mind of investors. This can come in the form of customer satisfaction surveys, net promoter score, and retention rates.