Investor Funnels for Series As

By: Aaron Harris and Janelle Tam

Our third batch of the YC Series A Program is wrapping up and the companies are kicking off fundraising. As we gear up for those raises, we wanted to share some things we’ve learned.

First, an update on Series As at YC.

In the last year, YC companies raised over $1.1B across 111 Series As. That includes two Series A batches. Our first batch included 12 companies, 11 of which have either raised their As or are in post-term sheet diligence. The second batch, which launched in January, had 17 companies, 14 of which have raised their As, or are in post-term sheet diligence.

These rounds have been led by some of the best investors in the world, including Sequoia, Benchmark, Accel, Bessemer, Khosla, Matrix, Norwest, Lightspeed, and Threshold.

YCA Investor Portal

Last batch, we tried something new – we built an investor portal designed to help great investors meet our companies. We did this because we realized that there are simply too many investors in the world for us to meet personally, and we think those investors will be better at identifying which companies they want to talk to than we will.

After the launch of that portal, investors requested introductions to our companies 145 times. That’s more introductions than we could have managed without software. The portal for our next batch is going live on June 3rd. If you are a Series A investor and would like access to this portal, please apply here.

Investor Funnels

Part of the reason we started the Series A Program was to better understand the mechanics of good fundraises. A key part of this is the number of investors in the process- how many the founders meet, how many they pitch, how many times they hear “no” before they hear “yes.”

To figure this out, we started tracking all of our companies’ fundraises through a simple CRM we built. Looking at this, we now have a better sense of what it takes to raise. Note that these numbers are based only on companies that successfully raised a Series A in the last batch.

On average, the companies that raised As had 30 coffee meetings with individual investors. 50% of these meetings led to pitches to individual partners. About 30% of partner pitches led to full partnership pitches. On average, 1 of every 5 partnership meetings produced a term sheet.

The fact that founders needed to meet with roughly 30 investors in order to produce a term sheet surprised us. We thought this number would be lower. We were even more surprised to discover just how many times founders who raised rounds heard “no” after pitching investors before hearing “yes.” One company got 30 rejections before getting a great term sheet, and the median was 18. There doesn’t seem to be an upper limit on how many investors to pitch while fundraising, so long as the process is organized and the founders control the flow of information.

We’re using this information to evolve the process we use for Series As. Hopefully, it will help non-YC companies as well.