VCs Understand How Series A Works. Founders Don't

Let’s not forget that VCs are doing this for living. They are engaged with founders on a daily basis and have extensive experience on how to steer the wheel for series A.

VCs Understand How Series A Works. Founders Don't

Raising capital through a Series A funding round can be a pivotal moment for a startup. However, the dynamics of such funding are often well understood by venture capitalists (VCs) but not always by founders. This knowledge gap can lead to misunderstandings and missed opportunities. In this blog, we'll dive into the critical aspects of Series A funding, including equity distribution, how VCs evaluate founders, the power dynamics involved, and why venture capital funding is considered a higher cost of capital for startups.

three men laughing while looking in the laptop inside room
VCs Understand How Series A Works. Founders Don't

How Much Equity Do Founders Have at Series A?

Equity distribution is a crucial consideration during a Series A funding round. At this stage, founders typically have already given up some equity during seed funding, and they will give up more to attract Series A investors. On average, founders might retain between 50% to 70% of the company post-Series A.

This percentage can vary widely depending on several factors, including:

  • Initial Valuation: A higher pre-money valuation can help founders retain more equity.
  • Amount Raised: The more capital a startup needs to raise, the more equity they might need to give up.
  • Negotiation Skills: The terms of the deal can significantly impact the final equity split.

Maintaining a significant equity stake is essential for founders, not only to retain control but also to stay motivated and aligned with the company's long-term success.

How Do VCs Evaluate Founders?

Venture capitalists use a variety of criteria to evaluate founders before investing. Understanding these criteria can help founders prepare for the fundraising process more effectively. Some key factors VCs consider include:

Team and Leadership

VCs look for a strong, cohesive team with a clear vision and the ability to execute. They assess the founders' backgrounds, experience, and how well the team works together. Leadership qualities such as resilience, adaptability, and the ability to inspire others are highly valued.

Market Potential

The potential size of the market and the scalability of the business model are critical factors. VCs want to invest in startups that have the potential to grow significantly and capture a substantial market share.

Traction and Performance

Demonstrating traction through metrics such as revenue growth, user adoption, and customer retention can significantly bolster a startup's attractiveness. VCs look for evidence that the business model is viable and that there is demand for the product or service.

Competitive Advantage

Having a unique value proposition or a competitive edge is crucial. VCs seek startups that can differentiate themselves from competitors and maintain that advantage over time.

Financial Health

A solid financial plan and prudent use of funds are important indicators of a startup's potential for success. VCs review financial statements, projections, and how previous funds have been utilized to gauge financial health and foresight.

Can a VC Fire a Founder?

The possibility of a VC firing a founder is a sensitive topic but a real one. Typically, when VCs invest in a startup, they receive a significant amount of control, which often includes seats on the board of directors. This control can give them the authority to influence key decisions, including the removal of a founder.

Conditions Leading to Removal

A founder might be removed under several circumstances, such as:

  • Poor Performance: If the company is not meeting its targets or the founder is not executing the business plan effectively.
  • Mismanagement: Issues such as financial mismanagement, ethical breaches, or inability to lead the team can lead to removal.
  • Strategic Misalignment: Differences in vision or strategy between the founder and the VCs can also be a cause for removal.

Protecting Against Removal

Founders can protect themselves by negotiating terms that limit the VCs' control over such decisions. This might include specific clauses in the term sheet or shareholders' agreement that protect their role within the company.

Why is Venture Capital Funding Considered a Higher Cost of Capital for Series A Funding of a Startup?

Venture capital funding is often seen as a higher cost of capital for several reasons:

Dilution of Equity

One of the primary reasons is the significant dilution of equity that occurs. Founders must give up a considerable percentage of their ownership to receive the funding. This means that although the company receives much-needed capital, the founders' share of future profits is reduced.

Control and Decision-Making

Taking VC money often means giving up a degree of control. VCs typically want board seats and a say in major company decisions. This can limit the founders' ability to steer the company independently.

Pressure for High Growth

VCs expect high returns on their investments, which translates to pressure on the startup to grow rapidly. This can sometimes lead to strategic decisions that prioritize short-term gains over long-term stability.

Exit Expectations

VCs invest with the expectation of a lucrative exit, typically through a sale or IPO. This can push the company towards an exit strategy that aligns with the investors' timelines, which might not always be in the best interest of the founders or the company's long-term vision.

Financial and Operational Constraints

The terms of VC funding often include financial covenants and operational constraints that can limit a startup's flexibility. These terms are designed to protect the investors' interests but can be restrictive for the founders.


Understanding the dynamics of Series A funding is crucial for founders looking to raise capital effectively. From equity considerations to how VCs evaluate founders and the implications of venture capital funding, being well-informed can help founders navigate this critical stage with confidence.

Call to Action

Subscribe to and raise capital with more confidence. Equip yourself with the knowledge and tools needed to successfully navigate the complexities of Series A funding and beyond.