Trends in Startup Valuations for Founders

By Ellie Pigott

Over the last two years we’ve watched as Covid has turned our world upside down. Virtually every industry was affected, and Venture Capital was not an exception. In an attempt to keep the economy moving while the country was at a standstill, the Federal Reserve pushed more money into the U.S. economy than ever before. Families received stimulus checks, student loans were put on hold, and even the Venture Capital world got a boost.

This led to a record-breaking raise in the VC world. Thanks to the increased amount of corporate bonds purchased by the Fed, many investors were left with an influx of cash. This was re-invested in a variety of ways, one avenue being through VCs.

With the boost of investment money, the obvious assumption might be that VC’s would be investing in more businesses. This is partially true. The number of businesses they invested in rose but not proportionally to the amount of money they raised. According to the Q4 2021 PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor, the total number of deals grew to 17,054 in 2021. Up 40% from 12,173 the previous year. For context the total amount of funding almost doubled during this period (330 billion raised in 2021 compared to 166.6 billion in 2020).

This enormous gap in capital and deals can be explained by hockey stick growth in startup valuations. However, as we see the light at the end of the covid tunnel, many are left wondering what is in store for valuations in 2022? While nobody can say for certain, we are already seeing startup valuations trend down. The money that helped VCs achieve their record-breaking capital will still be in their circulation but the rate new capital is being raised will slow dramatically due to the Fed taking a step back.

Valuation data is showing consumer tech and enterprise tech taking the biggest hits, while Fintech, Biotech and Pharma remain steady. Although we shouldn’t expect to see a complete drop off from the 2021 high, valuations will gradually start to dip. However, they are still expected to remain higher than pre-pandemic.

Regardless of which way the market is trending, the importance of an accurate valuation remains constant. With a valuation too high you risk getting turned away from investors before you even set foot in the door. On the contrary, with a valuation too low you risk losing money you didn’t know you had. To help improve your valuation or ability to raise funding, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Well Thought Out and Defined Use of Capital
  • IP or Protections
  • Barriers to Entry
  • Experienced Team
  • Clear Objectives and Plan
  • Thoughts Around a Future Exit
  • Aggressive but Attainable Projections

When presenting to any source of potential investment money, whether it be VC or not, it is extremely important to clearly define your use of capital. It needs to be visible that there is both a need and an effective use for the funds. The best way to demonstrate this is through your budget. Show your revenue, costs, variables, and any extra expenses that you foresee as your company grows.

Going hand in hand with your use of capital is your clear objective and plan. Not only do you need to show where you’re putting the money, you need to show how you’re going to make it work. Do you already have set goals and milestones you want to achieve? How will you stay on track and ensure you meet those quotas?

Consistently measuring how you stay on top of these things will be critical to your success. Part of this approach will also need to include any barriers to enter the market and any potential exit strategies you might foresee. All of these reenforce the idea that you need to be the most educated person on your industry, this will help to back your valuation.

Another important thing to keep in mind is your team. Each individual’s knowledge, expertise and experience will play a vital role in the company, especially in its early stages. It is important to make sure the gaps are being filled. The experience of your team will play a key role in its valuation. If you can prove their value to the company, you may be able to justify a higher valuation.

Lastly, be sure to include your projections. These need to be aggressive but attainable. Show your potential investor you’re a go-getter with confidence in your business but don’t make promises you can’t keep. Higher projections can lead to a high valuation but that’s only true if you can meet those expectations. Falling short of your high projections will not leave others with much faith in you or your business.

With these few tips in mind, it is easy to stay optimistic for valuations in the future. As we enter Q3 of 2022 nobody can say for certain what valuation trends will emerge. Whether valuations are on the verge of a dip or at their all-time high, it’s vital to remember the best type of valuation you can have is an accurate one. If you still have questions about valuating your company, reach out to our team. Our experienced team of entrepreneurs is ready and willing to answer any questions you have.

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