by Aaron Harris1/25/2019
One year ago, we announced the Series A program (YCA) to bring more transparency and consistency to fundraising. Six months ago, we announced the first Series A Batch. Here’s how it has been going, and a bit of what we learned.
In the last year, YC companies raised over $945mm across 95 Series As. That’s an increase of 50% over the prior year in terms of rounds done, and 71% in dollars raised. We helped 65 of these companies run better processes with better stories and a better understanding of what matters; . We think that’s a good start.
In July, we ran our first batch of YCA. 50 YC companies applied to the program, and we accepted 12. Over the course of 2 months, we worked with these companies as if they were in a new YC batch. We met for meals, worked on their company’s stories, focused on metrics, and ended with a fundraise.
12 companies kicked off fundraising in September. 10 of those companies have already closed their rounds. These rounds were led by some of the best investors in the world, including Benchmark, Lightspeed, and Bessemer.
I’m working on an expanded version of these learnings for founders and VCs, but here’s the quick version:
We learned a number of interesting things from the first YCA batch (YCA1). The first was the importance of the batch itself. We thought batching companies would help us work more efficiently. That was true, but the more important piece ended up being the same types of benefits that accrue to normal YC batches. We met for regular breakfasts at which the companies bonded with one another while going through similar experiences. The companies helped one another refine pitches, made introductions to investors and customers, and gave one another real-time information on pricing and diligence. They were able to act as references, boosters, and reality checks.
The second thing we learned was just how important pitch practice can be for Series A founders. It is shocking to think of how many companies go out to raise their As without practicing their pitches first. We think this is so important that we’re doing more of it in the current YCA batch.
The third thing I found interesting was the wide difference between how different VCs act before, during, and after a fundraising process. I met with 30 different VC funds to discuss the companies in the batch. After those meetings, some investors requested meetings with companies within 30 minutes and provided detail as to which partner would be the right match, which companies didn’t make sense, and why. Other investors never followed up. I was surprised to discover that a fund’s public renown was not necessarily correlated with execution quality. The best funds, though, are the best for a reason.
Partners at the best funds make quick decisions on what they’re interested in vs. not. They follow up quickly from meetings and are responsive to new questions – especially those that come from founders. The best investors make high conviction decisions without waiting to hear about what other investors are doing. These are the investors that consistently win the best deals.
Our second YCA batch is now in session. These companies are currently fundraising. We invited a set of investors to meet them, yesterday, through our investor portal.
If you’d like access to that system, or to be considered for it in the future, please apply here. If you’ve applied in the past, please fill this new form out as it has more information and will allow us to better gauge what companies would fit you in the future.
Aaron was a Group Partner at YC and a cofounder of Tutorspree, which was funded by YC in 2011. Before Tutorspree he worked at Bridgewater Associates, where he managed product and operations.