Watching events unfold across the world over the last few weeks has been truly unsettling. At the same time, I’m encouraged by the way many businesses have reacted to the events that are unfolding. Zoom has donated its software to allow students to still learn while being away from their classrooms, Slack is giving away upgrades to teams working on the coronavirus, and Microsoft launched the COVID-19 Response Fund. While we won’t know the full impact of this pandemic until much later, many of us know we’re doing, and will continue to do, everything we can to continue to keep people safe and help businesses move forward.
One of the reasons we started DocSend was to help startups get through one of the hardest parts of running a business: getting funding. Fundraising was already an arduous and opaque process when the economy was booming. As TechCrunch reported last week, we’re entering a time when VCs are likely to scrutinize deals more than normal, and founders may have to take a hit on valuations.
Our commitment to founders hasn’t changed. We’re one of the key tools a founder has to not only get funded, but to run the most efficient fundraising process possible. As our research has shown, early-stage startups can expect to spend 12-16 weeks on average fundraising. During times of uncertainty, fundraising might take even longer, and that’s time you don’t want to spend away from your business.
Pitch Deck Interest Metric
We are paying close attention to how fundraising interest is being affected in this new climate by aggregating activity in our platform, as it is being used for fundraising by tens of thousands of companies every year. We created the Pitch Deck Interest Metric to determine how active investors are right now in terms of interest in consuming pitch decks. We’re measuring interest week by week, and you can find the updates every week here.
We’re tracking the average number of pitch deck visits per startup from potential investors. A low number will indicate limited overall activity, while a high number will indicate ongoing interest. As you can see in the graph below, 2018 was off to a big start, peaking at 20.5 in the last week of February. Over the course of the year, demand leveled off, dropping to 13.4 before hitting the holiday low of 12.6. In 2019, we saw a slower start to the year, but unlike 2018, the demand rose in the latter half of the year, rising to 18.6 in December.
This year is off to a stronger start than 2019, with a steady climb for the first few weeks, rising to 17.9 at the end of February. The week San Francisco announced the “shelter-in-place” order, we saw a decrease in demand, with our interest metric resting at 14.4. That’s still not far off the pace from the previous year, with week 13 in 2019 reaching 16.3. As many other cities and states around the country taking more measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, we expect to see a lull in demand while investors and businesses react. But as you can see from the graph, investors are still active and reading pitch decks.
Supporting founders through uncertainty
Any founder who’s currently fundraising can use our Pitch Deck Analyzer, a free tool that uses our data to score decks based on nine pieces of criteria to not only rank your pitch deck, but also to offer data-based, actionable feedback on how you can improve it.
We’re also committing to give founders who are currently fundraising a list of potential investors who are actively investing right now. In the coming weeks, we will provide a list of top VCs that founders who are currently fundraising can reach out to and pitch and who are actively looking for deals.
Additionally, we want to help support startup innovators in healthcare and life sciences that are working to bring to market products or services related to the COVID-19 crisis and are currently fundraising. If you are in this space, please email us at [email protected] and we will make DocSend available to you at no charge while you fundraise.
But we won’t stop here. We will continue to work closely with founders who are currently fundraising and VCs who are actively changing their processes to find ways to provide as much value to both founders and investors as we can.
If there’s more that DocSend can provide, please don’t hesitate to let us know at [email protected].