A typical pre-seed round sees a founding team (often pre-product) receive a small investment to hit one or more of the milestones they’ll need to ready themselves for “true” seed investment: from hiring a critical team member to developing a prototype product.
Led by many of the same investors that lead seed rounds, pre-seed financing is often used to bridge the gap to the next round.
Capital from a seed round often fuels a startup’s move beyond its founding team, funds product development, and in some cases, even facilitates early revenue generation.
Wrapped-up within seed investment are expectations that strong signs of Product/Market Fit and some degree of traction (in the form of a growing waitlist, or month-on-month revenue growth) will begin to emerge, paving the way for later fundraising.
Revenue growth is the name of the game in Series A. By this point, a startup is expected to have clear and growing evidence of Product/Market Fit, translating into significant revenue growth from new customers and increasing ARPA (Average Revenue per Account).
Angels (often referred to as “super” angels) will sometimes invest in Series A rounds, but it’s usually the venture capital organisations that dictate this round.
In Series B, investors are looking for the next stage of growth: the ability to take everything you’ve learned, and make it work at scale.
In practical terms, Series B investment might allow a startup to make expansive hires (across business development, strategic accounts, marketing and customer success), expand into different market segments or experiment with different revenue streams, and in dramatic instances, even buy-out businesses that offer a competitive advantage.
Series C rounds are raised to fuel large-scale expansion, like moving into a new market (commonly international expansion), or to fuel acquisitions of other businesses.
After Series C, there’s theoretically no limit to the number of investment rounds a startup can raise: some companies will go on to raise investment through Series D, E and beyond.
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