Thought Waves

Market Conditions: June 2022

Use your microscope and your telescope simultaneously in times of market uncertainty! In this blog, I share insights from both Australian and US markets, and how founders can best prepare for the upcoming period.

Grant McCarthy

6 Jun 2022 · 3 min read

Market sentiment has officially changed.

Use your microscope and your telescope simultaneously in times of market uncertainty!

This will be the fourth 'tech cycle' for the Partner team at Tidal. We have invested during the Dotcom era, the Global Financial Crisis, and the short downturn in 2012. This cycle will no doubt be different for a variety of reasons including Covid, the great talent reshuffle, global supply chain issues, and a US inflation rate at a forty-year high.

The underlying message from the various investor notes issued to founders in the past few weeks is clear: for a time, capital has been abundant and cheap. Now it will become expensive, and harder to get.

It is important to note that for Australian start-ups looking to raise a Seed to Series A round in the current market, there is still an abundance of capital that has been committed from LPs to Venture Capital funds in the past twelve months. However, we expect that these funds will be deployed more slowly and carefully than the past three years.

This is a good thing, for founders and for investors. Founders that take the time to get to know their investors will benefit in the long term. It will also focus the funds across Australia into pragmatic and visionary founders that build products for true customer problems, in sectors ripe for disruption.

Insights from the US market

I have just returned from a two week US trip, where I visited both the East and West Coast, meeting with founders and investors. Here are my expectations and insights from the trip:

  • The current revaluing of multi billion dollar technology assets will flow down from public markets and later stage startups to the Seed-Stage investment space. This will impact valuations and capital allocation across the venture capital sector at some point during this next cycle
  • Entry valuations for Seed investments will likely be revised downwards. Founders may need to adjust the amount of capital they raise in order to retain acceptable levels of dilution for their Seed round
  • Companies may need to raise their Seed capital over a series of investment rounds in order to prove product market fit, reach solid levels of revenue traction and demonstrate unit economic profitability before raising a Series A.

Leadership and culture is always important, but in times of market uncertainty it gets put under the microscope.

Takeaways for Seed Stage founders

  • Live your values. Leadership and culture is always important, but in times of market uncertainty it gets put under the microscope. Your team is the lifeblood of your business. Lead with authenticity and empathy, hear the voice of your organisation and communicate effectively with your team. The mission and ethos of your product-building organisation lives on regardless of the ‘noise’ in the market.
  • Get scrappy to fund growth. You can fund your business growth with capital or you can fund it with revenue. The cost of capital is going up, so act accordingly. In times like these, over-index on the growth drivers that generate cash in your business (pricing, packaging, growth hacks, product features).
  • Unit Economics are key. One day, the value that your company creates for shareholders and your ability to fund further innovation will depend on your profit margin. The choices that you make today in the way you build your team, your product and your customer acquisition methods, will shape this future. Profitability is not a can to be kicked down the road, it is a key driver for startup success and now is the time to nail it. Hint: this is not about pinching costs, it’s about stealing market share from your competitors by building the best product and then cracking a low cost path to customer acquisition.
  • Build the best product. Talk to your customers. They will tell you what they will or won’t spend money on. Make sure your product is a must-have for their business to thrive in a downturn. Make it easy for them to try your product, to integrate it into their daily usage, to share it with their colleagues. Create the feature that they can’t live without and entice them to upgrade. Stay true to your core and build with empathy for the user.
  • Know your investors. Whether you are a venture backed startup already or are seeking your first round of funding - the quality of the relationship you have with your investors during this current market, and the collaboration you can share both ways - is critical. Don’t assume the next round of funding is just around the corner, be master of your own destiny.

Tidal looks through the lens of a telescope

Tidal is a Seed-Stage venture fund with long investment horizons. We remain excited about the opportunity to back founders that are in the earliest stages of building their product for global markets, with a view to profitable, sustainable growth.

We can’t profess to have a crystal ball and know what the next cycle will entail, but we do know that the greatest companies in history were created during a market downturn. Capital-constrained environments can produce the most innovative and transformative companies. Our investment team is actively seeking Australia’s best founders and we have ready capital to deploy from our Seed Fund II to support your Seed Phase.

If you're a visionary founder who is ready to make waves, please reach out via our website.

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