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Breakpoint 2023: Fundraising in a Bear Market

A panel discussion with venture capitalists and founders on the challenges and strategies of fundraising in the 2023 bear market.

The notes below are AI generated and may not be 100% accurate. Watch the video to be sure!


In the current economic climate, where the bear market predominates, understanding the nuances of fundraising can be pivotal for startups. The panel discussion at Breakpoint 2023 features insights from both venture capitalists and founders. The conversation offers a treasure trove of information on the mechanics of securing investment, the importance of strategic partnerships, and the specific attributes that make Solana an attractive ecosystem for investors amidst market downturns. This discussion dissects the strategies for weathering a bear market, tailoring fundraising efforts, and the significance of network and investor relations for emerging businesses in the blockchain space.

Key Points:

Fundraising Strategy in a Bear Market

The panel highlights the distinct nature of bear market fundraising compared to a bull market. Julian Deschler, a founder, shares how his company, Elusive, navigated the process by starting at a Solana hacker house and engaging in hackathons, enjoying a healthy seed round despite difficult market conditions. Meanwhile, Tushar Jain from MultiCoin Capital emphasizes the importance of founders having a unique market insight and making thoughtful trade-offs in their strategies. The consensus is that, during bear markets, founders should anticipate a longer fundraising process, requiring 3-6 months preparation on average.

Selecting the Right Venture Capital Investors

When determining which venture capitalists to partner with, the strategic value beyond financial investment is a recurring theme. Panelists urge founders to seek investors who can bring more to the table, such as helping with customer acquisition, networking, regulatory navigation, and future fundraising efforts. Sharvin Baindur from Saison Capital and Tushar Jain highlight the need for mutual understanding and alignment in goals and vision, likening the founder-VC relationship to that of a marriage.

Building on the Solana Ecosystem

From both founders’ and investors' perspectives, Solana offers unique attributes that appeal to those seeking to innovate without the constraints they might face on other platforms, like Ethereum. Deschler says privacy-focused applications, like Elusive's own offerings, can flourish on Solana with support from aligned investors. Baindur and Jain note Solana's high-speed and low-cost capabilities as favorable conditions for developing and deploying scalable, user-centered applications, even highlighting its potential as the backbone for internet-native money.

Facts + Figures

  • Fundraising in a bear market necessitates a 3-6 months preparation period.
  • The Solana ecosystem's privacy and compliance are major selling points for investors and builders.
  • Julian Deschler raised a successful seed round for his privacy-focused Web3 startup amidst the bear market with support from staking facilities.
  • Tushar Jain manages over a billion dollars in assets at MultiCoin Capital and looks for founders with unique insights and large market potential.
  • Sharvin Baindur's firm, Saison Capital, has backed 30% of the unicorns in Southeast Asia and India, with a keen interest in financial applications.
  • Saison Capital can contribute to partnerships and technical support, exhibiting a deep involvement in private credit and decentralized finance.
  • The investment process at Saison Capital ranges from one to two months, emphasizing the importance of understanding investor focus areas.
  • Baindur stresses the role of Solana in achieving cost-efficiency for financial institutions, citing reductions in backend costs of 8% to 34%.
  • MultiCoin Capital's open-door policy allows for cold outreach, particularly effective during bear markets according to Jain.

Top quotes

  • "There's fewer deals happening, and you have a little more time. So what that means is cold outreach, much more successful in a bear market." - Tushar Jain
  • "If the valuation is too high and I'm going to say not worth the time or the number is too low and you just sold way more of your project than you need to because why would I bid higher than the number in the deck." - Tushar Jain
  • "We are looking for a founder has a unique insight about how some market is going to develop." - Tushar Jain
  • "I want to back applications that are built on fiber optic rails... I don't want to back dial-up applications." - Sharvin Baindur
  • "I think if you can do those three things at scale – cheap, fast, and simple – you have a real shot at being the next generation of internet-native money." - Tushar Jain

Questions Answered

How does fundraising in a bear market differ from a bull market?

Fundraising during a bear market is slower, involves deeper due diligence, and often requires extensive preparation. Venture capitalists have fewer deals to review and thus can be more deliberate in their decision-making, leading to a lengthier process for founders seeking investment. This scenario contrasts with the fast-paced and FOMO-driven environment of a bull market, where quick fundraising rounds and competitive term sheets are more common.

What factors should founders consider when choosing venture capital investors during tough economic times?

Founders should prioritize strategic value when selecting venture capitalists, focusing on investors who can provide more than just capital. They should look for partners capable of assisting with customer acquisition, regulatory expertise, and subsequent rounds of fundraising. Also, choosing an investor with a strong geographical presence or sector-specific knowledge can be advantageous.

Why is Solana a preferred ecosystem for investors and founders?

Solana is preferred due to its high transaction speeds, low fees, and scalability. Investors like Tushar Jain believe Solana's infrastructure could underpin an internet-native form of money, while founders like Julian Deschler have found it ideal for developing privacy-centric applications. Sharvin Baindur notes that building on Solana can significantly reduce operational costs for financial institutions, a compelling advantage for startups in the fintech space.

What are the signs that a startup is performing well in a bear market?

Signs of a successful startup in a bear market include rapid iteration on product development, a clear and user-centered go-to-market strategy, secure and reliable technology, and efficient utilization of capital without relying excessively on token incentives. Other indicators might include strategic partnerships, endorsements from established investors, and noticeable traction within their target market segment.

How important is it for startups to balance unique market insight with an understanding of trade-offs?

It's critical for startups to balance unique insights with a thorough understanding of trade-offs, as Tushar Jain emphasizes in the discussion. Investors are looking for founders who can articulate why their approach is necessary, acknowledge the costs and benefits associated with that approach, and be honest about the challenges they face. Recognizing and addressing these trade-offs is key to building a sustainable business and acquiring venture capital investment.