In Between: The Tough Place To Be
In a comment on the latest tally of VC fundraising, NVCA President Mark Heesen said:
“The venture capital fundraising environment has settled into a ‘new normal’ which is characterized by a barbell structure of larger funds which are stage and industry agnostic on one end, and smaller, early stage, industry or region specific funds on the other.
This is certainly true and has been for a long time. The two successful models seem to be the large megafund and the small early stage fund. It's hard to be anything else in VC.
Entrepreneurs need to understand this. There are a ton of options out there for early stage funding. And if you get to the stage where you need a growth round from a big fund, there are plenty of options for that too. But if you are looking for a Series B round to help you grow from early revenue status to true growth status, you are going to find that challenging.
To put it another way, there are plenty of us who fund hopes and dreams. And plenty of us willing to fund true success. At the stage where you are past hopes and dreams, where you have customers, revenue, and a real business, but have not yet reached "true success", there just aren't many investors to choose from.
The truth is early stage investors are often asked to be the funders of last resort for the "in between" stage. We do that all the time at USV. We will lead or do an inside round for the Series B and Series C rounds if we have to. So choose your early stage investors well. Make sure they are willing to see you through the in between phase if need be. Because they will probably need to.