Inside Inovo
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Inside Inovo

What does it take to raise Seed or Series A, in the CEE region, in the second half of 2022?

Special thanks for help to Krzysztof Przybylak, Principal @ Inovo

Last update: 17.08.2022

The market has changed — be prepared

It’s always good for the founders to know their benchmarks, but it might be challenging to stay up to date given the recent rollercoaster. We went from 100x ARR multiples in 2021 to something that soon might be comparable to the burst of the internet bubble💥.

The Index of US tech stocks is down almost 50% YoY, and the sentiment on the stock exchange is slowly transferred to the earlier rounds. Both investors and founders should be prepared for a drastic change.

That’s why we have decided to prepare our own version of the famous funding Napkin, but ours is:

  • 🔮 Forward-looking: we present the parameters that the VCs are ready to offer you today, not the parameters of the historical rounds 1 year ago
  • 🌍 CEE-focused: we gathered the benchmarks for the startups that originated in the CEE — not in Asia, Australia or 100% US-based deals
The Index of US tech stocks [BVP Cloud] is down almost 50% YoY

Here is what you need to deliver to raise a top round at a given stage in the CEE region

We asked 10 VC funds investing in the CEE region about their requirements for good and great deals. Below they are marked as “Base” deals and ”Top” deals (because no one does bad deals 😎).

⚠ Disclaimer: the numbers are opinion-based

Here is a link to a high-quality graphic🎨

Inovo CEE METER 2022 H2

What is the METER methodology?

📏 METER stands for the most important areas that VCs assess before investing. Here you can watch the presentation by Tomasz Swieboda, but in short, it covers:

  • 🗾 Market size. The bigger, the better. Different VCs have different requirements depending on their fund size. But as a rule of thumb, small VCs get excited by $1B TAM. Bigger VCs like Sequoia are looking for $5–10B.
  • 💰 Earnings. At the earliest stages, VCs look at your revenues and compare them to other deals that they’ve seen. As a founder, you probably have heard that you need EUR 1M ARR to raise good Series A — there are benchmarks for most of the rounds. Make sure to keep your revenues at proper margins — a healthy SaaS margin is around 80%.
  • 🤷‍♂️ Team. This point is obviously difficult to quantify and assess objectively. Some VCs are excited by serial entrepreneurs, some by top product managers, and some by the best people worldwide in a given technological field. The similarity is that they need to see the archetypes of the founders that they like to get excited about the deal. Don’t forget about the team you hire — VCs want to see super-stars joining you at VP/Head of X levels.
  • 🚀 Exponential growth. VCs are looking for hockey sticks. They are difficult to find, but if you went from 0 to EUR 1M ARR in 12 months, you are more likely to spark the interest of investors.
  • 🧲 Retention. The users’ stickiness is one way to measure how great your product is and whether you have a product-market fit. You will have different benchmarks depending on whether you go B2C or B2B.

What are other things that do MATTER?

This list could be quite long, but let us focus on the 3 most important things that weren’t covered by METER.

  • 📊 Unit Economics. Know your CAC, know your CLTV, and make sure that they make sense. Preferably keep CLTV/CAC around or above 3.
The Importance of CAC Payback in Today’s Market Environment
What does it take to raise capital, in SaaS, in 2022?
ESOP Guide from Index

Inovo Venture Partners backs early-stage, post-traction startups that can grow 100x. We partner up with ambitious founders like Stefan from Booksy, Maja from Zowie, or Marcin from Spacelift. We invest between €0.5–2m in startups from Poland and the region.

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Tomasz Swieboda

Tomasz Swieboda

Managing Partner @ Inovo Venture Partners. Ex-Penta and ex-Rotschild, 10+ years investment experience, including early stage investments since 2012.