The Definitive Guide to Raising a Series A in 2023
Raising a Series A has never been harder but there are tips, tactics, and tools to help you do it right. That's what we're going into today.
Hi, I'm Robbie. I'm the founder of Founder Fundraising, a former trial lawyer and a venture partner inside of the VC ecosystem. Today I'm going into how you can raise a Series A.
Now, you may be asking yourself, Robbie, why should I listen to you? That's a great question.
The reason is because over the last two years, I've helped founders who I coach raise over $575 million in venture capital.
So I want to tell you exactly what it takes so that you can run this process the right way. When it comes to raising your series A, you want to think about it three to six months out from when you're going to need to kick off the raise.
You need to start by creating, crafting, and perfecting two core stories. Your origin story and your future story.
When you create those stories - and this is something where you want to make sure that you're showing:
1. Why you are special.
2. How you got here.
3. Why you care.
4. Why you'll win.
Once you get that story right, you need to start speaking to the investors that might be interested in being a part of your round. This is what I like to call fundraising.
Without fundraising, you should be setting up meetings to get to know and investors and putting them then on your investor update list so that you can consistently keep them engaged and seeing all the progress you're making.
What you're doing in that three to six month warmup period is you are predicting the future. You're saying, here's what we're going to do. Here's where the world is going. And then each month they're going to see it coming true when they see it coming true.
You just became a prophet. You became a visionary who makes things happen.
So you have to have enough time to start setting the board. Sun Tzu said that the victorious warrior plans before he ever goes into war, and that's why he wins. The warrior who loses, goes into the war and hopes to win and figure it out at that point. You've gotta think about it that way, setting the field in your favor.
Once you have those stories and you start talking to investors, meet 5-15 on a weekly basis to get them excited and warm them up so you can get them on that investor update list. By the time you've been speaking to them for two months, you already have 30, 40, 50 investors who get to know you and who you can then keep updated on a monthly basis.
Critically, you need to make sure you do it on a monthly basis. It will create so much credibility and it's one of the things when I talk to investors all the time that separates a good from a great founder.
The founders who are transparent, open, honest, and showing their work. Just like back when you were in math class and you couldn't just write the answer, you had to show the work too.
Those are the ones that investors get excited by because they create this, this trust, this connection with them. So you must do that.
Building Your Process
Now, not only do you want to prepare your story and start speaking to investors and keeping them updated, you've must make sure that you get prepared to run a world-class process. That means building a CRM to identify who your warm intros are to all of those investors. That should be a part of your CRM that you're using. Then you create forwardable blurbs emails that you can send to your warm intros so that they can send that to the investors.
Of course, you simultaneously want to be building out your data room. This is where your contracts, paperwork, orders from your lawyers all of the information about your cap table and past rounds live.
You need to make sure that this looks well put together so that when an investor asks for it, you can provide it.
Here's an insider secret. Some investors care a lot about the data room and some care very little. But if you prepare it correctly, you're always going to be able to provide whatever that investor needs.
Building Your Deck
Now, from there, you want to build out a quality deck. But again I'm going to let you in on a secret, though.
You don't need to use the deck to get the meeting. You should be building those relationships where the investor wants to take the meeting and hear your story, the traction, and where you're going.
The big vision comes first , then you share the deck. After the first meeting, it's a tool that you let them dive deeper into.
So before your second meeting, there's enough there to really dig in and see if this investment make sense.
And remember, you're not fundraising during this entire time. Why? Because it makes the investor want to chase you. Just like in dating, if you are chasing after the investor, they feel like it's too easy and they're not going to want you.
Once this is all in place, you must make sure that one to two months out you're making sure the data room is ready, your deck is ready, your emails are ready, your CRM is built out, and your intros are built out. Then two to three weeks out from actually kicking off your fundraise, start having a few early conversations with some of the angels or lower tier investors on your list and start testing and seeing how they're responding to it and what questions are coming up.
Getting Your FAQs
The questions are used to build your FAQs.
You must be prepared for all the objections that are going to come up in later meetings, and with a properly prepared FAQ s list, you'll have the perfect answer.
Once you start getting signal that says people are interested and leaning in, you'll hit up those intro sources. "Hey, I need an intro to so-and-so, will you pass on this email to them?"
The last thing that you must do to run the process the right way is setting up calendar density.
You're going to run a process meaning, You're going to schedule all of your meetings in about a three week window so that you can have 40, 50, 60, 80 meetings. This creates momentum and creates a hot deal - because investors love a hot deal.
They want to be part of the in-crowd, and that's what you can create by running this process correctly.
So when you have the right story, when you have the right strategy you can raise your Series A.
Then when you're in it, you've just need to manage all of those relationships. Fundraising is either a full-time job for a period, or you'll be fundraising all of the time. Just ask any of the hundreds of founders I've worked with.
What that means is the founders who want to fundraise for three months, do it full time. Put all of their energy and effort in that. And then when that three months is over, they can get back to building. But the founders who say, "ah, I'm gonna put 50% of my time into it."
They end up fundraising all the time.It never ends.
They can never get the entire round closed. So they're picking up a million dollars here, $500k here. $250K here, $1.5 million there.
Six months later they're still fundraising. Since I want you to be successful, this is really what it takes to raise a Series A, all that prep work ahead of time.
Now, of course, there are things that you need to do in the middle of a fundraiser. I'm going to make another post on that to let you dive deeper. But today I want to make sure that you're set up, and understand the timeline.
Raising Shouldn't Be Hell
Three to six months is when you should start working on this. That's what it takes.
Anytime I'm working with a founder and we run a successful fundraise, it's because we've put in that level of prep and we follow this exact strategy to achieve massive success, and I want you to have the same thing because fundraising shouldn't be the thing that stops you from building your company.
Fundraising shouldn't be this huge source of stress for you. Fundraising should be something where you're excited to do it because you get to share. All the cool stuff you've done with your company and then you close the round so you can go and keep building to have that impact for customers that you know you can have.
That's why I want to make sure you get it done right.
So go out there, run the process, build your story, nail it down, and I'll see you on the other side when you get to announce your series A in TechCrunch.
And if you still need help on your round? Get in touch.
A former trial lawyer and prosecutor in Dallas, TX, Robbie trains founders to become world-class storytellers and venture capital fundraisers.
In barely two years, he's helped founders raise $575,000,000 of venture capital