DocSend CEO Russ Heddleston peers into a post-pandemic future
At the end of 2019, no one would have predicted what an unpredictable and difficult year it has been for both startups and VCs in the fundraising world. Now we are staring down the end of 2020 and looking toward what we all hope is a better, safer 2021. What will this new year bring? With an end-of-year sprint to close deals, the anticipation of a new presidential administration and the hope of a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, startups and VCs know that change is on the horizon — but how much of that change will be positive?
As 2020 proved, no one can say for sure what 2021 will bring, but I’d like to put a few predictions on the table based on DocSend’s data and research, including the DocSend Startup Index, as well as some trends I’ve seen and my own experiences. These predictions center around how we’ll fundraise post-pandemic, how the funding divide may widen for some, what fundraising activity could look like into 2021, a few sectors we think will fare well and will incorporate some tips on how to succeed in the new year, no matter what comes our way.
We’ll interact through a mix of the old and the new
The pandemic forced all of us to drastically change how we work and interact with colleagues and clients. When the pandemic subsides and vaccines are widely available, in-person meetings and gathering back at the office will definitely resume, but it’s safe to say the old ways of networking and fundraising won’t shift back 100%. Founders and VCs alike have navigated the ups and downs of remote networking and fundraising interactions and will stick to what works and what doesn’t.
Is traveling to a conference the best way for a founder to have a chance at meeting the VC who is right to support their business? Will a VC want to drive an hour through Bay Area traffic for an in-person status update meeting on their latest investment? Zoom fatigue aside, video conference calls do have some benefits — efficiency, no travel time — although not all meetings are best conducted virtually.
No matter what 2021 has in store, founders can still take proactive steps to help them succeed in their fundraising efforts.
The extent to which businesses go in-person or stick to virtual meetings could depend directly on what round of fundraising they are working toward or have completed. Businesses in the pre-seed round might stick with more Zoom meetings in order to conserve resources.
Founders in the seed round will likely split between video and in-person meetings as they are under pressure to show traction in this round, as we found in our report on seed fundraising, yet will also need to conserve resources and time. For Series A, they might have to meet less in person because they have established relationships with their investors. Series B might see more in-person meetings as their business has reached a level of complexity that is difficult to communicate via a deck or video conference.