We have raised $124 million in three years to invest in Pre-Seed stage founders
Three years ago, we started Afore to address a widening gap in venture capital, between early-stage founders seeking their first funding and a venture market where “seed” funding increasingly came saddled with Series A -level expectations.
We saw an opportunity to help founders in the “zero to one” stage — that formative phase when there’s little or no product, no traction and no revenue — simplify their fundraising process and get on with the business of building. To that end, we raised a $47 million institutional venture fund in 2016 to back the next generation of promising startups, with a conscious focus on Pre-Seed.
The macro-trends affecting the seed market have only grown in the years since we started Afore; more money is flowing into fewer deals, invested much later in the startup lifecycle. That’s expected to continue.
More than ever, early founders need investors who will back them with the funding they need to get their startup running. And more than ever, Pre-Seed firms like Afore are playing that role.
Today, we’re opening a new chapter for Afore. We have raised a new $77 million institutional fund which will, like our first, be dedicated entirely to funding Pre-Seed stage investments. As with our inaugural fund, Fund II is the largest of its kind. We’ll begin making investments out of the fund this fall.
Building stronger companies
We believe that raising Pre-Seed funding enables founders to build stronger and more resilient companies that are better-positioned to raise follow-on funding. Our experiences with Fund I bear this out.
Companies in our portfolio have raised more than $350 million in subsequent follow-on funding, including investments from firms like Accel, Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, Spark and True Ventures, and now employ well over 1,000 people.
The startups we’ve backed have a much higher “graduation rate” for follow-on investment than the industry average. 86% of Afore’s portfolio companies attempting to raise have subsequently raised seed or Series A funding (a number we expect will increase, since many of our companies haven’t attempted to raise yet).
Doubling down on Pre-Seed
When we announced Afore’s first fund, Pre-Seed was a nascent category. Today, it’s a firmly entrenched part of the venture ecosystem. Virtually everyone — from angels and seed funds to Series A firms — dabbles in Pre-Seed to some extent.
At Afore, Pre-Seed isn’t a part of what we do. It’s *all* we do. We lead rounds, not just participate in them. Afore has led more than 90% of the rounds where we’ve invested. We serve as an anchor investor, funding as much as 80% of the typical Pre-Seed round (today, most rounds are between $500K- and $1M in size). Where it’s helpful, we can bring in additional angel investors and funds to close out the round more quickly.
At the Pre-Seed stage, the more time founders spend fundraising, the less time they spend building out their idea. Afore helps founders sidestep a protracted fundraising process and allows them to focus on building something new and excellent.
Afore has now raised $124 million in three years to invest in Pre-Seed stage companies. With this new fund, we’re even better-positioned to lead Pre-Seed deals of any size, and support those companies in subsequent rounds.
We’re thankful to our limited partners and to the founders we’re working with for their continued faith in Afore. But most of all, we’re thankful for the opportunity to work with so many amazing companies and people in the startup community who are trying something new.