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Q1 Startup Fundraising Trends from the DocSend Fundraising Network

We've reviewed more than 2,000 Pre-seed, Seed and Series A pitch decks through the DocSend Fundraising Network. Read about some of the fundraising trends we've seen and how we plan to grow our network even further.

The DocSend Fundraising Network (DFN) launched less than a year ago in June 2020. But since then, we’ve analyzed well over 2,000 Pre-seed, Seed, and Series A decks and connected hundreds of quality founders with top VCs. What’s even more exciting? The connections we’ve forged through the DFN have led to a few deals (details coming soon)!

We also received more submissions to the DFN than ever in Q1, up 7.5% from what was previously our highest-volume quarter (Q3 2020). In order to meet the demand of even more founders submitting their decks and VCs requesting to join, we’ve recently revamped the network. Our newly-launched DocSend Deal Flow Newsletter makes it easy for founders to get their pitch deck in front of more VCs than ever and for VCs to request introductions to exceptional companies with the click of a button.

Despite these changes, our pitch deck analyzer (the application mechanism for the DFN) continues to evaluate decks and deliver data-driven feedback to founders looking to improve their decks. Thanks to this round-the-clock activity of the DocSend Fundraising Network (as well as the Weekly Fundraising Trends) we like to think we’ve got a strong finger on the pulse of the fundraising ecosystem. Accordingly, here are some insights we’ve identified from decks that came through the network in the first few months of 2021:

FinTech Remains on Top while Ecommerce and Consumer Goods Companies Emerge

The decks that came through the DFN in Q1 were dominated by companies in fintech (10% of submissions), consistent with previous quarters. But Q1 also saw an uptick in innovators in the consumer goods space — retail, beauty, etc. — and the ecommerce/marketplace space (making up 9.2% and 7.4% of submissions, respectively). Following closely behind were high number of submissions in media and entertainment (7.1%), healthcare and wellness (6.1%), marketing and sales tech (5.9%), and IoT/data/cybersecurity (5.2%). Overall, we saw companies from a wide range of other industries as well, including real estate, social networking, edtech, food and beverage, HR/recruiting/future of work, gaming, sports/fitness, energy/sustainability, travel/hospitality, and logistics.

One third of teams accepted into the DFN had a woman in charge

DFN submissions from female-led companies jumped up to 15.38% during Q4, a 5% increase from the previous quarter.  But in Q1 of this year that number slid back down 11.3% — still a percentage point higher than the 10.4% we tracked in Q3 of 2020. Co-ed teams applied in slightly lower numbers as well (at about 17.5%, down from 18.9% last quarter). Despite their lower representation in submissions, however, about one third of the teams accepted into the DFN had at least one female member on the founding team. Our data-driven deck analysis aims to even the playing field for founders, so we’re always excited to see strong companies led by women and other underrepresented founders.

High-quality deal flow remains central to the DFN 

Acceptance into the DFN in Q1 was notably more competitive than in previous quarters. Our acceptance rate hovered around 11.13%, a notable decrease from where it was just six months ago at 18.98%. Even as more founders continue to apply and enter the DFN, we remain steadfast in our commitment to maintaining quality over quantity. VCs interested in this high-quality deal flow should email us at [email protected]

International startups make up about one fourth of companies in the DFN 

In Q1, about 58% of deck submissions came from the United States while 42% came from other countries around the world. We saw companies headquartered in Australia, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, but we received more decks from Europe and the United Kingdom than anywhere else, constituting 11.4% and 10.9% of international submissions, respectively.

About 23% of companies that were accepted into the DFN in Q1 were international, contributing to an already strong presence of international companies that have been a part of the DFN since its inception. Taking into account our accepted cohort of international companies from previous quarters (26.25%), this means that just about one fourth of companies in the DFN are international. We would like to expand our DFN to include more international VCs and founders. You can find more information about joining here.

How to join the DocSend Fundraising Network

Investors can find out more here and email us at [email protected] in order to gain access to our deal flow. We will follow up with more information.

Founders can find out how to apply here.

Stay tuned for more updates from the DFN as we continue sharing startup trends and insights!