I saw some interesting numbers at Josh Kopelman’s Redeye VC blog that I’d like to share with you.
He compared his portfolio companies in different vintage on how long they took to get to $250K range revenue. To simplify the analysis, he’s set the time frame for 18 month. The result is;
just three of the fourteen companies in our 2005 fund (21% of the portfolio) generated revenues in excess of $250,000 during the 18 month period.
19 of the 32 companies in our most recent 2010 fund (around 60% of the portfolio) have already generated over $250K in revenues.
He says that investment strategy and initial amount haven’t changed, although the fund size and investment team size has increased. Further, he points out potential direct reasons that may have impacted this drastic change, such as the natures of portfolio mix (recent vintage has more e-commerce companies) and possibility that the team has gotten better at investment selection. As well as indirect ones, such as growth in monetization platforms and shorter time to market due to the decreased cost and technical complexity to start a company.
Yes, these are very small sample numbers and may be highly skewed due to the reasons like above. Yet, I think this is very interesting and somewhat in line with what I have been feeling. (I am no investor, but I do hear about various actual and read about other startup cases.) And I just noticed that Dave McClure jumps in comment saying “this was my intuition as well”. My guess is that a lot more anecdotes like this is out there.
I think this is a real trend. And I believe that one of the contributing reasons is the rise of more scientific approaches to make real progress, such as Lean Startup. Whether they identify themselves “lean” or not, I certainly see that more startups are employing techniques like MVP, metrics, and iteration with live users. Such approaches make sense and I think somewhat lower the hurdle for success. Because, you don’t need to be a genius or super star team to make it. You just have to be good at learning and be disciplined. Pretty encouraging, isn’t it?