Welcome back to our in-depth series on early stage startup acceleration. If you missed it, you can find the first part here.
Fundraising is key to success for almost any startup. Being able to collect equity investments from investors not just once, but over multiple rounds provides the necessary runway to build a team, acquire customers, and deliver products.
While we envisioned a large part of the URBAN-X value proposition to be mentorship and hands-on help around product and brand development, it was also clear that if we couldn’t help startups to fundraising success, the work during the program would mean little.
Founders rate help with fundraising among key aspects URBAN-X supported.
Through the combination of hands-on support with narrative and pitch decks, regular pitch training with friendly (but critical) investors as well as post-cohort investor office hours and hundreds of introductions through former venture partner Third Sphere, we enabled our portfolio startups to raise $440M to date. 94% of funding was raised after participating in URBAN-X which indicates that the program played a critical role in the startups’ ability to fundraise. 83% of founders agree that URBAN-X significantly assisted in their fundraising efforts.
Zachary Levevre (right) and part of the Chargelab team during Cohort 07.
“We raised from better investors, at a higher valuation, we got more money and had more runway. We had a better sense of who our customers are and how we sell to them,” said Zak Lefevre, ChargeLab’s CEO & Founder, of the benefits of URBAN-X. ChargeLab has raised more than $20M and now has 45 employees, having entered URBAN-X with five employees and $400K raised.
The initial investments provided to startups by URBAN-X were generally around $100k per startups – a small cash injection with the goal to help startups operate whilst in the program. At the time of writing, this initial investment only comprises 2% of the $5.7M that each URBAN-X startup has raised on average. Broken down, 70% of alumni companies raised at least $500k in funding after participating in the program, while 65% percent raised at least $1M. Broken down by rounds, 53% of startups have raised a seed round, 23% have raised a Series A and 4% a Series B.
Fundraising distribution across rounds 2016 – 2022.
Top fundraising companies by amount 2016 – 2022.
Top portfolio fundraiser Versatile entered URBAN-X in Cohort 03 with a small team and an early prototype of their product. With hundreds of hours from our dedicated in-house experts, we helped the team realize their first product, Craneview—which provides a comprehensive view of construction sites using sensors and machine learning to make rapid, data-driven decisions to support job site productivity and improve safety. As a result, Versatile’s customers see up to 50% productivity increases on their projects—a rate of improvement generally unheard of in the construction industry. This enabled Versatile to acquire customers faster than most of their competitors, which—in part—led to their outsized fundraising success.
Over 6 years, URBAN-X companies received funding from 210 unique investors, ranging from individuals to leading venture capital firms such as Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins to corporate entities such as Lennar, bp, and Toyota. 26 of those funders invested in more than one URBAN-X startup, an encouraging trend that indicates VCs believe in our ability to pick and “de-risk” early stage teams. The selectivity and de-risking effect of the URBAN-X program also seems to translate into good company survival rates: 86% of the 72 companies that participated in URBAN-X are still operating as of April 2022. Four URBAN-X companies have been acquired – most notably Blueprint Power (Cohort 03) t was acquired by bp (the oil and gas company) in October 2021, following an URBAN-X introduction.
On average, it takes 60 investor meetings to raise a seed round, a half-time job for 6 months all-in-all. That means the heaviest lift of closing is on the CEO and makes early fundraising a test of persistence and personal resilience. Looking at our track record, we believe that by providing hands-on support on product and customers, and making high-quality introductions to investors we can make this process more navigable and shift the odds significantly towards success.
Data collection, evaluation, projections, and figures by HR&A Advisors and Autocase. Graphic Design by Zihao Wang. Photography by Zack DeZon.