Fundraising: from 25 meetings to single term sheet

Assistly CEO Alex Bard's floating point at Venture Shift in San Francisco

Lessons learned from entrepreneur by Ronny Kerr
July 21, 2011
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Maybe it's the typical, maybe it's not the typical, or maybe there is no typical, but here it is: a fundraising story.

Alex Bard, CEO at social CRM service Assistly, took the stage at Venture Shift in San Francisco on Wednesday night to share the 15-minute version of his company's funding history.

Assistly was started in October 2009 by Bard and his three co-founders, who had previously created three other companies, two of which focused on the customer service and support space. So clearly they have a passion. The most recent, Assistly, is a direct outgrowth of the rise of social media. Companies need help responding to customers wherever the discussion is, whether its via email, Facebook, Twitter or whatever else.

Current customers include Twitter, Spotify, Yelp, Pandora, Vimeo, Shopify, TaskRabbit, Rdio, Gowalla and Disqus.

Here's Assistly's funding history:

Series A (March 2010)

  • 25+ first meetings
  • 10+ follow-up meetings (investors expressed genuine interest in learning more)
  • 3+ indications of interest (wanting to get to next step of drafting term sheet)
  • one signed term sheet for $1.7 million from True Ventures

Series B (January 2010)

  • 10+ first meetings
  • 7+ follow-up meetings
  • 5+ indications of interest
  • two offered term sheets
  • one signed term sheet for $4 million from Bullpen Capital, Index Ventures, Salesforce, Kenny Van Zant and existing investors

As should be well-known by today's entrepreneurs, Bard described how it is dramatically more cost-effective to build a company than ever before. Bandwidth is free, infrastructure is cheap and open-source tools have made it easier than ever before to build powerful products.

That's why there's such a huge bubble in funding. The challenge is that you're now competing with a bubble of companies materializing to fight for all that funding.

Naturally, the further in your growth-stage you go, the greater granularity of your financing options. With an up-and-to-the-right trajectory, like Assistly, you'll have term sheets waiting in the ranks--even when you're not looking to raise money.

To end, in response to an audience question, Bard described his preparations for Assistly's Series A demo. That is, he and his team had built a comprehensive project, got the product working and already had around eight alpha customers on board.

"The more you have, the more you de-risk. The more you show your vision, the greater the opportunity."

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