If you’ve been reading up on startup valuation, you might have heard the line, “valuation is an art, not a science.” After all, investors consider how the business faired in the past and how it’s projected to perform. Not to mention, factors like market position, team, tech, and so many others also come into play.
However, with a new emphasis on growth valuation, businesses have been valued based on their growth potential instead of their financials or brand recognition. And this has caused major problems for startups and VCs alike.
What’s the problem with startup funding?
Startups are at their best when scaling quickly and generating large amounts of revenue. They can only do this for so long before they need to start thinking about expansion.
This is where growth capital comes into play. Growth investors are committed to helping a company grow its business and scale quickly if they are involved in financing a startup. In return, they are looking for high returns on their investments. This allows startups to hire employees, pay rent, buy materials, and buy new equipment while growing their businesses.
They may be unable to do this with their funds because they have limited experience or budget. They may not have the option to go public or sell equity to investors to raise capital either.
Jacked up startup valuation in 2021
As the economy recovered from the onset of the coronavirus disease pandemic in 2020, 2021 was a breath of fresh air for players in the economy.
For the first time, many were ready to move on and fuel up various industries that stood still in 2020. According to TechCrunch, this resulted in free-flowing funding and a rise in startup valuation.
For instance, VC funding almost doubled from $335 billion in 2020 to $643 billion in 2021. In addition, there were 586 new unicorns in 2021 compared to 167 in 2020. Though the funding seems awesome for founders, it could spell disaster in the long run.
For instance, the once-inflated startup valuation can be a big problem with 2022’s geopolitical issues, inflation rates, and normalizing tech conditions.
How VCs can help solve the problem
Venture capitalists are adapting to the changing landscape of funding for startups. They are now looking for earlier-stage investments that are more focused on a company’s growth potential. The new standard for valuing companies is based on their ability to generate revenue and grow their business.
VCs are now looking for companies with proven growth models, strong customer traction, and strong sales teams. This is a change in the investment approach. They used to only look for the best possible financial return on their investments. Now they are looking for promising growth companies that can generate revenue and achieve massive growth. This new standard for valuing companies is based on the ability of the company to grow.
Evolving investor expectations and the future of funding for startups
VCs now expect startups to be more liquid. This means they will need to be able to raise large amounts of capital from the public markets at any time. This is a significant shift in the investment approach. VCs used to only look for the best possible financial return on their investments. Now they are looking for promising growth companies that can generate revenue and achieve massive growth.
The public markets may not be able to provide the liquidity these companies need. This means venture capitalists must step in to provide liquidity for their portfolio companies.
In the end, it’s all about investors now looking to fund startups that can withstand the test of time. After all, it’s not about the art of seeing the startup’s potential anymore; it’s more on the science of what it has actually done before.
And for other stories, read more here at Owner’s Mag!
How a Startup Incubator Can Accelerate Your Business
In today’s fast-paced and competitive business landscape, startups often find themselves navigating a maze of challenges that can hinder their growth and potential.
This is where the concept of a startup incubator comes into play as a guiding light for emerging ventures. A startup incubator is more than just a physical space; it’s a dynamic ecosystem designed to nurture and propel early-stage ventures toward success.
In this article, we’ll tackle some of the most common questions surrounding incubators. For instance – what is the role of a startup incubator? How does it differ from an accelerator?
And most importantly, how can it optimize your business?
What is an incubator in a startup ecosystem?
In a startup ecosystem, an incubator refers to a supportive environment or program designed to help early-stage startups grow and develop.
Incubators provide a range of resources and services to entrepreneurs, typically for a fixed period of time, with the goal of nurturing and accelerating the growth of their businesses.
Here’s the usual process of how an incubator supports a startup:
Startups who applied and were accepted are welcomed into the incubator with an orientation session. During this phase, startups get an overview of the program’s structure, expectations, and available resources. They also meet their mentors, advisors, and fellow cohort members.
Mentorship and Guidance
Startups are paired with mentors who have relevant industry experience or expertise.
Regular mentorship sessions provide guidance, feedback, and insights to help startups navigate challenges and refine their strategies.
Workshops and Training
Incubators organize workshops, seminars, and training sessions on various aspects of entrepreneurship. Topics covered during the startup incubator program may include:
- Business planning
- Marketing strategies
- Product development
- Legal and regulatory matters
Access to Resources
Aside from training sessions, startups can also gain access to resources such as:
- Office space
- Co-working environments
- Internet connectivity
- Meeting rooms
Some incubators provide access to shared equipment, startup software, and other tools needed for product development.
Networking and Events
Incubators often facilitate networking events, pitch sessions, and demo days where startups can showcase their progress to potential investors, partners, and the broader community.
Startups work on refining their business models, products, and market strategies. They receive support in identifying their target audience, creating a value proposition, and developing a sustainable revenue model.
Funding and Investment
Incubators may provide introductions to potential investors, venture capitalists, and angel investors Startups also learn about different funding options and how to pitch their ideas to secure investment.
Successful completion of the incubator program results in a “graduation” for startups.
Graduated startups may continue to receive support through alumni networks, ongoing mentorship, or access to incubator resources.
Startup Incubator vs. Accelerator
A startup incubator and a startup accelerator are both support programs designed to assist early-stage startups, but they have distinct characteristics and objectives. Here’s a comparison between the two:
- Focus. Incubators typically have a broader focus and cater to startups in various stages of development. They often work with startups that are in the ideation or early development phase. Accelerators, on the other hand, are more specialized and typically work with startups that have a viable product or service and are ready to scale rapidly. They focus on accelerating growth and reaching key milestones quickly.
- Stage. Incubators are well-suited for startups that are still refining their business models, conducting market research, and building their initial product or service. Accelerators, meanwhile, are best suited for startups that have a minimum viable product (MVP) and are seeking to refine their business model, gain traction, and secure funding to scale.
- Mentorship. A startup incubator provides mentorship and guidance, often with a focus on helping founders refine their business ideas, develop prototypes, and validate their concepts. On the other hand, an accelerator’s mentorship is often geared towards specific aspects of growth, such as scaling operations, marketing, fundraising, and product-market fit.
Startup Incubator Examples
If you’re looking for the best startup incubators in the world, here are a few you of the most popular ones to consider.
1. Y Combinator
Situated in the USA, Y Combinator is considered one of the best startup incubators which has played an instrumental role in fostering the growth trajectories of some of the most renowned startups globally. The Y Combinator program spans a duration of three months, during which startups receive a funding injection of $500,000, albeit subject to certain conditions.
Subsequently, founders are immersed in a sequence of mentoring and refinement initiatives that culminate in the prestigious Demo Day. Here, founders showcase their concepts to an audience comprising investors and handpicked media representatives.
Mentees: Airbnb, Dropbox, Coinbase, Gitlab
Techstars directs its energy toward nurturing startups rooted in technology. Since its inception in 2006, Techstars has been a driving force behind the growth of numerous startups. Annually, they select more than 500 fledgling companies, providing them with up to $120,000 in investment and the invaluable chance to partake in mentorship programs.
Backed by an impressive funding sum of $21.3 billion, Techstars stands out as a reliable choice for technology-oriented startups. Within its portfolio of activities, Techstars hosts several high-profile events and initiatives, including Startup Week and Startup Weekend.
Mentees: Uber, DigitalOcean, SendGrid
3. 500 Startups
500 Startups operates as a dual-purpose platform, functioning as both an accelerator program and a seed fund dedicated to startups. Positioned primarily as a venture capital entity, they proudly proclaim a management portfolio worth $2.7 billion. Their primary interests converge on sectors where technology, innovation, and capital growth converge harmoniously.
Their extensive investment history spans more than 2,600 startups worldwide, underscoring the maturity and comprehensiveness of their accelerator program across diverse markets.
Mentees: Grab, Canva, Credit Karma
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do I need an incubator for my startup?
If you’re in the early stages, lack experience, and could benefit from structured guidance, resources, and mentorship, an incubator might be valuable. However, if you’re aiming for rapid growth and have a clear roadmap, an accelerator could be more appropriate.
Do startup incubators provide funding?
Yes, many startup incubators provide funding as part of their support package. However, the funding offered by incubators can vary widely depending on the specific program, location, and the terms of the agreement. Some incubators offer direct funding to startups, while others may connect startups with potential investors or provide resources to help them secure funding elsewhere.
10 Best Startup Software for 2023
Every new business owner wants to keep costs as minimum as possible. This will allow them to do more with the limited budget they have. If you are one of them, the following startup software can significantly help:
An online presence is a necessity for new businesses. Hootsuite can help you create content and get more followers quickly and easily. It is one of the most popular startup software, with a user-friendly interface and affordable pricing plans.
It has a free plan that allows you to schedule 30 posts across any social media platform. Not only that, Hootsuite will help you monitor the Return On Investment (ROI) of all your social media campaigns. This will let you know which works and which doesn’t. Its three other plans start at $49 per month.
2. Google Analytics
Understand your website better with Google Analytics. This startup software will let you track the traffic coming to your website. This will allow you to tweak whatever strategies you have in place as it tells you what needs improvement.
You can use Google Analytics free of charge as long as you don’t exceed 5 million impressions a month. It will help you understand your customers’ journey and improve your marketing ROI. It will provide insightful data that can aid you with your marketing strategies.
Excellent communication with your customers helps build stronger connections and build loyalty. Whatever messaging channel you choose, SendPulse is a superb startup software. It includes lead generation tools as well as promotional channels such as email, SMS, social media, and messenger chatbots. It also offers a free CRM tool and many others features.
SendPulse has a free plan ideal for startups, but if you want to upgrade, there are three premium plans to choose from. Prices start at $7 up to $11 per month.
Once your business is running, you’ll be needing an accounting and invoicing software. That’s when you’ll need FreshBooks, an app that automates invoicing, bookkeeping, payment tracking, and many other financial tasks. In just a few clicks, you can view your financial status through its Profit and Loss Statements (PLS) feature, do taxation summaries, and check expenditure reports.
FreshBooks offers four pricing plans which start at $6 per month and up to $22 for the premium plan. If you need more services, they offer a custom plan in which you’ll need to contact them for a quotation.
5. HubSpot CRM
Primarily a CRM (Customer/Contact Relationship Management ) tool, HubSpot CRM is a must-have startup software. It lets you manage contacts, sales, pipelines, lead generation, and digital marketing, among many others. It consists of multiple tools or ‘hubs’ that you can buy separately.
HubSpot CRM offers three pricing plans that start at $45 per month and can go up to $1,200 monthly. It may seem expensive, but if you consider what this startup software can do, you’ll know it’s worth every penny.
Starting your business involves advertising and marketing. And to do this effectively, you’ll be needing graphic design. It can elevate your business in ways you can’t even imagine. For this, you need Penji, an unlimited graphic design service that lets you request all your visual assets.
For as little as $499 per month, you can request logos, digital ads, social media graphics, and many other branding collaterals. They have two other plans, plus a 30-day money-back guarantee that lets you decide without making a huge commitment.
According to statistics, infographics are the fourth most-used type of content marketing. They can increase traffic to your website by 12%. To create interesting and engaging infographics, you can use Piktochart. With this startup program, you can add videos, charts, interactive maps, and many other elements to your infographic and embed them on your website or blog.
Piktochart offers a free plan that’s suitable for startups and medium-sized businesses. If you want to enjoy more of its features, you can get any of its premium plans that start at $14 a month.
Join the over 455 million websites that use WordPress, the world’s most popular website builder. It is an open-source content management system, which means it’s free to use. You can build the website of your dreams using this startup software’s plugin architecture and template system. It can help you create a website with responsive design, SEO, social sharing, and many other features.
Aside from the free plan, WordPress has four premium plans with pricing that starts at $5 per month and up to $45 a month if you pay annually.
Another CRM tool ideal for startups, Salesflare automates many repetitive tasks to make handling your business easier and faster. It can help with your email applications, social media accounts, company calendars, and many other processes. It also provides you with crucial data such as sales funnel analysis, quota management, sales funnel analysis, and many others.
Salesflare offers simple and affordable pricing. It has three pricing plans that start at $29 per month and go up to $99 a month. It also has a free trial that lets you try the software without a credit card.
If you’re thinking of strategies to add to your marketing campaigns, you need to add email marketing. It is one of the most effective but can involve a laborious process. To make it easy, use MailChimp, a marketing platform that lets you manage and communicate with your clients, customers, and prospects. With it, you can customize your emails, generate leads for your database, and perform many other email-related tasks.
MailChimp has a free plan if you want to try out the service first. However, its three premium plans offer many valuable features you won’t get from the free plan.
Growing your business can be an exciting yet arduous endeavor. There is a multitude of concerns, issues, and tasks you need to take care of. Fortunately, there are startup software that you can get to make your life easier. Whether free or paid, these are absolutely helpful and worth looking into.
How Side Startups Are Growing During the Pandemic
Side hustles aren’t unheard of. Zapier reports that a third of Americans (34%) have a side hustle. Many individuals rely on different sources of income due to increasing prices. Plus, it can help pay off debts and earn more money. Fortunately, more people are launching side startups or businesses because of remote work and flexible working arrangements. But how do people manage their full-time work and still conduct other activities through their side startup?
The Pandemic Side Gig Boom
Before we discuss how people manage side startups, which side gigs boomed during the pandemic?
- Selling on Etsy
- Freelancing on Fiverr
- Delivering groceries and food
- Launching small businesses
- Managing social media
How Has Remote Work Contributed to Side Startups?
Due to the flexible nature of remote work, many have decided to launch their side startups. For example, one pharmaceutical company director has started a Web3 company.
However, it’s not easy for him to manage the side startup while working for the company. He sees an unfair transaction. Although he does work eight hours, he believes that he doesn’t owe his company the extra work hours he might have after finishing his regular work. After all, he doesn’t get paid overtime for working extra.
Plus, whenever he’s up for a promotion, the company always brings up his family and how long he can take some time off after the birth of his children.
Shari Rose is another startup founder. Unlike the pharma company director, the dentist practice Rose was working for was more than okay with her startup. They have said they needed her to stay.
Should The Boss Know Or Keep It To Yourself?
For starters, many businesses aren’t too strict about their employees launching startups on top of their full-time work. However, having a side gig like a startup could contribute to their performance at their job. At the same time, it could affect their current professional relationship with their bosses. Plus, there are fears of employees being fired.
Vox interviewed a marketing director working on HR software and said he chose not to tell their boss about his side startup. Even if they searched on Google if they should or should not do it, they ended up not telling them. The marketing director says his current full-time work will help him develop his side startup because he’s not well off.
However, some bosses are open about having their employees start their business on the side. Kaitlyn Borysiewicz works at a nonprofit but is working on her startup, the Melanin Collective. She has received approval from her boss that she can work on her startup on the side but can only work on it outside the nonprofit’s operational hours.
The Employer Perspective
Some employers have voiced their opinions about the side startup arrangement. One manager, in particular, has mixed feelings about this. They don’t speak on behalf of the company, but they are 50-50 over the side startup because employee growth matters in their company. But they’re open to having their employees explore and discover what they want to do on the side.
Meanwhile, another employer, Chinwe Onyeagoro, is supportive of the side startup arrangement. What matters to her is so long as her employees are meeting their deadlines, they’re more than welcome to work on their side startup anytime.