There is no question that 2023 was a tough year for the venture and tech ecosystem. Carta revealed a dramatic decline in funding rounds and total investment, showing the total number of rounds in Q1 2023 dropping 64% and the total dollars invested dropping 86% from the peak in Q4 2021. Forum Ventures has seen firsthand how difficult the fundraising environment is for founders at all stages of this market, having invested in 100+ B2B SaaS companies this year across their accelerator and seed funds. Michael Cardamone, CEO and managing partner at Forum Ventures, spoke to emerging managers about the state of this market and reflected that “this is the hardest it has been to raise a fund in a long time.”
In a recent report, Forum Ventures surveyed 70 funds and analyzed data from 167 closed pre-seed and seed rounds between January and October 2023 to provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of the early-stage B2B SaaS investment landscape.
A few key findings from that report:
- 75% of respondents noted a decrease in valuations since 2022 and the data across these rounds showed a 10% decrease from the same survey conducted last year.
- Mean valuations at pre-seed were $9 million post and that held true for pre-revenue through $250,000 in ARR (annual recurring revenue) across the rounds data was collected from.
- Companies with $250,000 in ARR or higher raised at a mean valuation cap of $15 million.
As a founder, be smart in managing your cash flow, convince great people to join your company, and focus on building a product that your customers crave.
Seed valuations have remained steady through 2022 and 2023, yet achieving the necessary traction for these rounds has become more challenging, which can create misaligned expectations for founders. In 2020–2021, it was relatively common for $3 million to $5 million seed rounds to get done with very little, if any, traction, and they were typically getting done at $12 million to $25 million valuations, depending on the space and the founders’ background.
There are exceptions, but today’s market demands substantial early traction where companies typically need $250,000 to $1 million in ARR to raise a $3 million+ seed round and these rounds are usually getting done at approximately 20% to 25% dilution (i.e., $3 million at $12 million to $15 million post or $4 million at $16 million to $20 million post). The bar is much higher to raise an institutional seed round, and a founder/company often needs to prove a lot more in today’s market than they used to. This dynamic means that many founders have to first raise a pre-seed round to get to those milestones and therefore raise multiple rounds to get to a Series A.