DocSend’s fourth annual seed report is out now. Every year, we study unique pitch deck data to analyze changes in startup fundraising rounds over time, and identify emerging trends to help founders prepare for the ever-changing and increasingly competitive landscape of fundraising. This year, we saw investors scrutinizing key differentiators in a crowded yet disruptive marketplace while founders attempt to demonstrate definitive success metrics and need for urgency.
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Despite sustained interest in AI startups and glimmers of optimism in early-stage valuations, seed funding has continued to drop off in 2023. Seed founders who have managed to secure funding in 2023 have focused on the timeliness of their idea, and investors have responded positively to pitch decks that show recipes for success in the uncertain market and current events.
Our 2022-23 report shows that although staple deck sections like Product and Business Model remain important, investors have sharpened their focus on sections like Competition and Why now? that speak directly to the current market environment. In addition to these changes in VC scrutiny, fundraising success also varies by demographic and geographic factors.
As VC scrutiny increases and fundraising competition remains fierce, how can early-stage founders thrive in times of uncertainty and rapid change? Here are some key insights from our research to help founders capture VC attention and navigate a successful raise:
Keys to success for seed rounds in 2023
- Cut through the gloom: why are you a good investment today?
- VCs spent 65% more time on Why now? sections in 2023
- Successful seed companies foregrounded the Why now? section more prominently than companies that didn’t get funded
- Address your competition head-on
- Discerning investors gave extra scrutiny to the Competition section in a crowded seed market
- Traction in a crowded field matters: VCs spent 33% more time on Traction slides and 88% more time on Competition slides in 2023
- Build a tight process, but prepare for the long haul
- Seed founders contacted more investors but had fewer meetings in 2023 vs. 2022
Download our 2022-23 seed report to get the full scoop into how today’s fundraising climate has changed, and how to adjust your fundraising strategy and pitch deck for maximum success.