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Negative emotions, including stress, are the result of self-sabotage. Mental fitness allows you to travel the startup journey with a positive mindset and boost performance.

  • Writer's pictureDaniel Kraft

Updated: Dec 31, 2022

IPOs - especially unicorns - are on track to reach new records.

Why do we care?

Well, those VCs you're after, care a lot. The cash they invest in your startup comes from investors they convinced to trust them with their money. When IPOs happen, liquidity happens. Investors get their money back and (often) invest again, maybe in your company.

US VC-Backed IPO & Post-Valuations

US VC-Backed IPO & Post-Valuations
US VC-Backed IPO & Post-Valuations

Source: SVB State of the markets Q3/2021 report. 2021 are estimates, with 36 IPOs and an aggregate post-valuation of $313bn as of July 16, 2021.

An IPO is just one exit option for startups but a very special one: It’s the Unicorn exit. While Unicorns are often celebrated - who doesn’t like “a billion” - they come with a challenge: How to get your cash back? The average tech M&A deal is around $120m and we see about 600’ish deals a year. The average unicorn is valued $3.2bn and there are around 800 of them. As growth-stage capital has provided the means to stay private longer, every investor wants to see their money back one day. IPOs play a critical part in that story. Just in 2021 alone, 59 of 65 unicorn exits happened via IPO.

Global Unicorn Exits 2011 - 2021

Global Unicorn Exits 2011 - 2021
Global Unicorn Exits 2011 - 2021

Source: Statista - Number of unicorn exits worldwide by type. As of July 2021.

Investors look at your startup in the context of the market and IPO valuations are steadily climbing, reaching 18.5x revenues in 2021. Which is in showing startup funding valuations, reaching revenue multiples of about 12x in the consumer internet, 20x in enterprise software and even 22x in Fintech.

US VC-Backed Tech IPO Revenues & Multiples

US VC-Backed Tech IPO Revenues & Multiples
US VC-Backed Tech IPO Revenues & Multiples

Source: SVB State of the markets Q3/2021 report. Data as of July 16, 2021.

Which brings us back to why we care. While you still need to build your product, win those customers and get your employees motivated, it is helpful to understand how investors look at your startup. An IPO (or another exit type) is their final chapter with your startup. Since only very small group of founders achieve an exit, IPOs are serving as lighthouses for startup opportunities. They are the public display of what could happen to their investment if all stars align.

Updated: Dec 31, 2022

As M&A within the startup community is reaching record levels, we’d like to shed some light on potential unintended consequences of an acquisition, in particular future funding rounds.

Acquisitions are a vital tool for startups. You might close a product gap or enter a new region by acquiring a local player. And of course there is the opportunity to grow faster. To grow by acquisition is something you want to be very intentional about.

Assume you’re a $35m ARR business and you’ve just closed a nice funding round based on your stellar 50% growth rate. Your direct competitor is struggling and you’re using some of that new cash to acquire their $15m business for a very reasonable multiple. That deal is allowing you to post a 100%+ growth on the combined business. Life is awesome.

A little less than two years later you’re going for the next round of funding. Your core business has continued to grow with an exceptional 50% and you’ve managed to keep churn on the acquired business at a net 20%. A great job given that it was a direct competitor. As you approach new investors, you now find yourself in the position to explain your growth has been “only” 29%. Life is now very complicated.

Note: Simplified illustration of the impact of an acquisition (here as a Google Sheet).

What the example illustrates, is that acquisitions are impacting your business far beyond the announcement date. Especially acquiring cheap, e.g. a struggling competitor, comes with unintended consequences. A single acquisition that is not growing or adding cross selling is a short lived pleasure and your year 2 results might be painful. I emphasise single acquisition as a rollup of multiple companies might eliminate these issues, especially when timed right.

Planning to grow by M&A or like to learn more about how acquisitions shape startups? Ping me and we’ll connect you to a startup CEO that has been there before.

Updated: Jan 2, 2023

Druck ist für mich, mich wie der Belag in einem Sandwich zu fühlen, wo die Soße rauszulaufen droht. Ich bin Unternehmerin, auf keinen Fall läuft hier irgendwas schief. Alles soll appetitlich und ansprechend bleiben.

Aber was mache ich, wenn sich die Soße nicht mehr halten lässt? Wenn der Druck einfach zu groß wird? Wenn ich die Ansprüche an mich nicht mehr erfüllen kann?

Genau so ging es mir vor ein paar Tagen. Als Single Mom mit drei Kindern und einem schwerstkranken Vater fiel die Pflegekraft aus. Als Lieblingstochter lasse ich alles fallen und organisiere die Kinder und dringende Aufgaben weg oder sage sie ab: Ich bin da für meinen Vater. Emotional und körperlich komme ich an meine Grenzen.

Und da ist ja noch etwas, das mir am Herzen liegt, unser Business, das kurz vor einem wichtigen Meilenstein steht. Was mache ich jetzt? Unsicherheit bis Panik macht sich breit. Wie gehe ich damit um und hilft mir jemand, die “Soße” aufzuwischen? Als Startup CEO sind diese Momente schwer auszuhalten, in denen ich nicht frei gestalten kann und auf die Hilfe anderer angewiesen bin.

Es freut mich, dass bereits 25% von Euch die Hilfe eines Coaches nutzen. Mir hilft es sehr mich im Moinland Team zu öffnen, emotionale Last loszuwerden bei Menschen die mich verstehen und ähnliches erlebt haben. Bleib nicht allein! Die Aufgaben des Lebens lassen sich auch für Startup CEOs in Gemeinschaft am besten lösen.

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