Fundraising at the best of times is a slow process. Founders typically seek a warm introduction from someone who already knows an investor, then they start reaching out to that investor possibly even before they start fundraising.
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Founders have long rosters of investors they are targeting. Unless it is competitive, investors can take their time. For founders, raising funding is time consuming and takes away from their necessary focus on their startup.
NFX, a well-known Silicon Valley seed fund, is looking to change that time line for founders. As part of its FAST Seed initiative, the company is allocating $20 million from its current fund to invest between $1 million and $2 million in a seed round for a 15 percent stake. And it will make that decision in nine days, with initial feedback in three business days.
FAST stands for Founder-friendly, Application-driven, Software-enabled and Transparent.
We spoke with both NFX founders Pete Flint and James Currier, who have been honing their model over the last two years and planning to launch a more streamlined process; this seemed the right time to announce their initiative.
“Many funds are adjusting to this new reality of working remotely,” according to Flint. “We are comfortable making decisions without meeting face to face.”
They have also recently started investing out of their latest fund II of $275 million, so they have money to invest.
“Fundamentally, this is still about the relationship between the investors and the founder,” said Currier. Founders need to upload their deck, answer 12 questions, and record a one minute video of themselves and their team.
NFX says it is not looking to take advantage of a changed funding climate.
“Great companies are started in tough times,” said Flint. “Product market fit is much more binary than at any other time, which adds clarity to the mindset of a founder.”
Better tools for an introduction takes away the need for the first introductory meeting. Follow up will all take place digitally–as this is how business is done today–via Zoom, along with the legal process.
NFX primarily invests in the U.S. and Israel, but will invest in companies outside of those countries as long as they are focused on the U.S. as their core market opportunity. NFX has offices in San Francisco and Palo Alto, California, and Israel.
Sectors that interest the firm are remote work, labor marketplaces, supply chain, education and health care. According to Currier they have seen an uptick in synthetic biology and SMB software. NFX does not, however, invest in semiconductor, pharmaceuticals, hardware and medical devices.
When asked why they landed on nine days for their process, Currier said simply “because it is a lot less than 10.”
This is good for founders.
Startups can apply here.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.