Fundraising

“Seasons” of VC Fundraising

Authors: Andrew Shawber

A common misconception in the startup world is that venture capital (VC) fundraising grinds to a halt during the summer months. However, data from Carta Market Research challenges this notion, revealing that fundraising activities persist year-round, including during the traditionally “slow” summer period.

Year-Round VC Activity

Contrary to popular belief, VC deals are signed throughout the year. Carta’s analysis divides the calendar year into three periods:

  1. Pre-Summer (January to May)
  2. Summer (June to August)
  3. Post-Summer (September to December)

Its data shows that deal distribution across these periods is quite balanced. In an evenly distributed scenario, each month would account for 8.3% of total deals. Surprisingly, summer months often approach or exceed this baseline.

Summer Performance Analysis

June and August consistently demonstrate strong deal activity, comparable to other months of the year. While July does experience a slight dip, it’s far from the complete standstill that many entrepreneurs fear.

The 2023 data reveals robust summer deal activity, mirroring patterns observed in the years preceding 2022. It is worth noting that 2022 was an anomalous year due to broader economic factors, particularly the impact of changing interest rates on venture investing, which led to a general slowdown from Q2 onward.

Seasonal Trends: December Peak and January Trough

Certain patterns also emerge at other times of the year. December consistently ranks as the top month for deal closings, while January typically sees the lowest activity. Tax considerations may influence this trend, with many deals pushed to close before year-end.

It’s crucial to understand that these figures represent deal closings. The negotiation process often begins weeks or months earlier, meaning the discussions for December closings may have originated in late summer or early fall.

Timing: Beyond Seasonality

While timing does influence fundraising success, it’s less about the season and more about aligning venture capitalists’ deployment schedules with your company’s momentum. If your startup is gaining traction and demonstrating promising growth, it makes no sense to artificially delay fundraising efforts until a supposedly “ideal” month.

The key is to approach investors when your business has a compelling story, supported by solid metrics, and a clear growth trajectory. This alignment of company performance with investor interest is far more critical than the calendar month.

Practical Implications for Founders

Given the lack of any real “fundraising seasons,” here are some key considerations for founders:

  1. Year-Round Readiness: Be prepared to initiate fundraising when your business is ready, regardless of the season.
  2. Extended Timeline: Anticipate a fundraising process that spans several months from initial outreach to deal closing.
  3. Focus on Metrics: Prioritize building and showcasing your company’s growth and potential, as these factors ultimately drive investor interest.
  4. Understand VC Cycles: Research and comprehend the internal processes and timelines that VC firms follow for deploying capital.
  5. Continuous Networking: Engage in ongoing relationship-building with potential investors, not just during active fundraising periods.
  6. Strategic Planning: While deals occur year-round, be prepared for potential slowdowns around major holidays. Utilize these periods for preparation and strategy refinement.

Conclusion

The notion that summer is an unfavorable time for VC fundraising is largely a myth. While slight variations in deal activity exist throughout the year, the differences are less dramatic than often portrayed. Successful fundraising hinges on the strength of your business, the compelling nature of your growth story, and your ability to connect with the right investors at the opportune moment.

*Perkins Coie Summer Associate Marissa Madrazo contributed to writing this blog post.

How to Prepare for an Equity Financing

We have covered in past FTTWs how to value your startup and how much capital to raise. Once your startup decides to pursue equity financing, you should start to prepare for the investor due diligence process. On the business side, you will need to prepare a business plan and should take steps such as obtaining management references, interviews and background reviews, customer/user references, technical/product reviews, financial statements and business model reviews.