Ten Levers for Startup Growth After Series A

After a successful Series A round, startup founders don’t always know what comes next or how best to utilize the funds they’ve raised.

Completing a successful Series A round is one of the great milestones in the life of a startup. This is often when founders start to truly believe that they can make it. Of course, the biggest questions are what startups do after raising their Series A and how do they use the money they raised. 

To answer these questions, I have come up with 10 levers for startups to pull once they’ve reached their Series A. These 10 levers are how startups can accelerate their growth. After all, founders will want to show their investors and supporters that they are right to believe in them. The best way to do that is by growing and putting the Series A funding to good use.

The 10 levers are designed to cover all areas of a startup. Keep in mind that this is when the startup begins to grow, and things can get chaotic. Therefore, some of these levers are related to the go-to-market, some are product-related, some involve talent capacity, and some involve your startup’s runway stretch.

By focusing on all 10 levers, you will position your startup for growth while keeping different departments of the business connected. Ultimately, I will go into greater detail about each individual lever. For now, watch this video for an introduction to each of the 10 levers. As always, feel free to reach out with any questions.

For any startup founder wondering what’s next after raising a Series A round, you’re not alone. This is a key moment for a startup because it’s when it needs to move into hyper-growth mode and put the Series A fundraising money to good use. By pulling 10 key levers across all departments of the company, your startup can maximize its growth during the next phase of the journey. Here is an overview of these 10 levers and how they can help expedite the growth of your startup once you’ve raised your Series A.

Lever#1: Conquering Target Market

The first lever involves focusing on your target market, and only your target market. Don’t worry about the dream scenario and the total available market. For now, focus on defining your ideal customer profile and make sure that you’re set up to conquer and dominate that segment.

Lever#2: Boosting Net Revenue Retention

By the time you complete Series A, you should have impressive sales figures. However, you can’t let those sales land in leaky buckets and lose them. This is the time when you need to work on training and support for your customers so that they stay with your product for the long haul. At the same time, start to upgrade your product in ways that can further boost revenue.

Lever#3: Linking Go-To-Market Budget to Payback Time

Too many founders make the mistake of not investing in the go-to-market after Series A. But studies show that the startups that invest in their go-to-market end up growing the fastest. The key is not having an unlimited budget but rather connecting your go-to-market budget to customer payback time. Ideally, it’ll take no more than 12 months for the revenue from each customer to pay back the cost of acquiring that customer.

Lever#4: Shortening the Path to Value

On the product front, it’s imperative to reduce the time it takes, and the steps involved in customers recognizing the value of your product. Let your product team re-engineer these steps so customers get to their “a-ha” moment quicker and see the value your product provides sooner.

Lever#5: Creating an Announcements Cadence

This is often the secret sauce of successful Silicon Valley companies. Every month, every two months, or every quarter, the sales and marketing departments have a list of features they can use to sell to customers. The product and engineering teams should have a road map for creating new features that can be announced with regularity, even if that map isn’t set in stone. This is the best way to keep rolling out new features while getting different teams to work together and stay on the same page.

Lever#6: Adding Buyer Features

One more lever on the product side is to not just rely on user features but add buyer features. Things like an analytics dashboard, access control, and billing options are all common buyer features. The engineering department can also work out how to create more plans, which will ultimately be a way to start attracting different segments.

Lever#7: Defining Clear Roles & Handovers

After your Series A, the size of your team is bound to grow. But don’t just hire and onboard new people because you think that’s what you’re supposed to do. You have to provide clarity about everyone’s responsibility, including their output, the team’s output, and how everything they do relates to other departments. The best practice is to create an organizational chart without levels or titles, just defined roles.

Lever#8: Keeping Dependability Rhythms

In addition to defined roles, your growing team needs to find its rhythm. They should know when to deliver outputs and when their results will be checked. There should be a regular rhythm as far as meetings are concerned, whether it’s an annual strategy review, quarterly OKR workshops, monthly or weekly meetings, or even daily team huddles. Keeping regular rhythms will help people work together, learn from each other, and hopefully accelerate how your startup learns and adapts to its growing needs.

Lever#9: Managing to Metrics

Many startups make the mistake of not defining their output targets. Make sure the team knows the benchmark numbers that the board expects to reach and allow the team to decide what projects are going to get them to those benchmarks. Whether you’re measuring ARR, ARR growth, customer cost payback, or any other metric, sharing benchmarks with your team lets them know what they’re aiming to reach.

Lever#10: Keeping Adult Board Relations

For founders, the relationship with the board will start to change after Series A. Rather than being an advisor, the board will start to become more of a supervisor. Founders need to start building trust with board members and form an adult-to-adult relationship with them. This can be accomplished by being upfront with the board about results and meeting with members one-on-one to avoid surprises during board meetings. It’s also helpful to allow your executives to make presentations to the board while you evaluate the results alongside board members.

Bonus Lever

As a bonus lever, it’s critical for founders to avoid reinventing the wheel following their Series A round. Instead, take advice from others who have been in your shoes before. Don’t just rely on board members for guidance. Seek out people from outside the company who have previous startup experience.

If you don’t have anyone who can help, reach out to the Midstage Institute. We have coaches and facilitators with a proven track record of startup success who can help put your business on the path to unicorn status. 

If you want a little more help and guidance after reaching product-market-fit, please reach out. We have experienced coaches and facilitators from around the world who can help guide your startup on its journey to becoming a unicorn.

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