A view of Seattle today as you plan for tomorrow

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Photo: Zhifei Zhou via Unsplash

Seattle has quickly emerged as a candidate to lead the next wave of innovation. As a part of the Silicon Valley Bank team in Seattle, I can see the market accelerate around us. Yet while the energy is growing locally, the Seattle community has not always marketed itself beyond the northwest. By sharing an overarching view of our ecosystem we can provide an entry point for readers who are considering new markets in which to deploy capital, open a second office or start something completely new.

Does that describe you? Start with getting a lay of the land below. …

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Courtesy of JP Valery, Unsplash

For today’s B2B companies, successfully raising Series A funding signifies a big step toward proving the viability of a business. In many cases the company will have a few foundational customers and roughly 1MM+ in revenue in order to garner the attention of investors who seek a specific ownership percentage, within a valuation range. While many will note (and rightfully so) that the Series A is just another small step on the long journey to building a sustainable business, the early stage entrepreneurs I meet with tend to position the Series A as a future threshold of credibility.

Perhaps it’s perceived credibility from the newly minted investor names, total dollars raised, or the proof point of multiple customers paying for the product but the next phase of the journey will introduce a new challenge: your distribution approach. For founders with this threshold on the horizon, I’d like to share a few revenue-driven observations on what lies ahead to stress the importance of how you allocate your time, effort and capital. …

In my first year of working with early stage founders at SVB I quickly saw a pattern emerge. The same questions were asked time and again on the fundamentals — and nuances — of fundraising. And rightly so! Founders pursuing outside capital must learn and execute a fundraising strategy to keep the lights on.

Timely enough, I was (and still am) learning the finer points of fundraising alongside those founders, in part through diligently reading the blogs of leaders in the early stage tech scene. As I read all the content I could get my hands on I started filing away helpful blog posts, articles and data sets for later review. …

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Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Building an effective pitch deck is a unique topic of conversation in the startup ecosystem. It’s one of the few topics where every startup has created one before, many people have written playbooks about how to create them, yet many early stage companies I speak with are still looking for guidance. What I surmise from hearing this time and again is that pitch decks are so important to the livelihood of a startup that we’re constantly in the pursuit of more perfect information.

In that spirit, I turned to Silicon Valley Bank’s unique data set that has been aggregated over the years and in various markets to provide tangible, quantifiable guardrails based on the successful fundraising processes of our clients. We then pressure tested our findings from the investor perspective with Randall Lucas of Voyager Capital, a first-round VC having led or co-led over 70 Seed and Series A rounds, to ensure we’re surfacing the most valuable points in the research. …

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Photo courtesy of rawpixel via Unsplash

I often receive a surprised reaction from founders when I tell them I get paid to learn. While the archetypal ‘banker’ might rely on historical financials and warehouses full of collateral, Silicon Valley Bank leans heavily into the symbiotic relationship between a founder’s vision and their investors’ expectations. It’s through listening and learning from these relationships that we can become a meaningful provider of minimally-dilutive growth capital alongside equity investors for early stage companies.

Pretty dang cool, right? While pioneers in tech like Mark Suster have written about both sides of the table founders and investorswe’re the fortunate party to pull up a third chair and join the conversation. …


Matt Rubright

Operator turned banker focused on helping early stage companies grow

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