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SaaS Playbook: How to Outline Important Milestones for a Series A Round

LL
Lily Lyman
|
CG
Chris Gardner
|
JP
John Pearce
|
If you’re thinking about fundraising, you’re probably thinking through many different questions. When should you raise? How much should you raise? What Series A milestones should you target? What matters most at each stage? Etc.

We created this SaaS Playbook, and an accompanying blog post on
to help you navigate your Series A raise. Our hope is that you’ll copy it and modify it to be able to track and monitor your own progress against these milestones. Let us know what you think!

Note:
Green highlighted areas
are especially important at their respective stage.
SaaS Playbook
0
Category
Subcategory
Pre Seed (Accelerator / Incubator)
Seed (Early Revenue)
Series A (Product Market Fit)
Series B (Growth)
Series C ++ (Scaling)
Timing
2
Time in stage
~ 6 months
~ 12 - 18 months
~ 12 months
~ 12 months ++
18 months ++
Time elapsed since founding
0.5 years
1.5 - 2 years
2.5 years
3.5 years ++
5 years ++
Revenue
3
ARR Entering Stage
$0.00
$0.1M
$1-1.5M
$3-5M
~$20M+
ARR Growth
-
Pre-Revenue = NA Otherwise 3x
3x
2.5-3x
2x
Gross Margin
-
Positive in aggregate
GM 50% +
GM 70% +
GM 75% +
Milestones
4
Team
Uniquely qualified team (problem/domain)
7As - Ability, Attitude, Aptitude, Athlete, Attractor, Aware, Authentic
Visionary leadership
Can attract strong team
Deep view on market
Visionary Leadership
Can get people on their side
Deep understanding of all competitors
Customer capacity growing
Mastery of pricing and packaging
Building whole team


Growing leadership and VPs
Recruiting machine established
Capacity building for 10x volume
Durable culture
Diverse and capable team
Build management bench (including mid managers)

Market
Large, growing market
Understanding of market pace and dynamics
Belief in $100M+ ARR
Problem / opportunity validation
Conviction in $100M ARR
Increasing conviction in a $1B market opportunity
Timing / market pace
Increasing conviction in a $1B+ market opportunity
$300M in ARR
Category definition → leadership
Product
Clear problem definition, one that is:
Unworkable, Unavoidable, Underserved, Urgent
MVP in first customers hands
Customers are engaged
Roadmap to further capture customer $
Product is SLIPPERY:
(
S
imple,
L
ow initial cost,
I
nstalls easily,
P
roves value quickly,
P
lays well with others,
E
asy to use,
R
OI is obvious,
Y
our customers can't live without it)
Evidence of product-market fit:
High usage, no churn
Customers would be disappointed if the product was taken away
Validated by:
B2B: customer references
B2C: user engagement
Scaling product-market fit:
B2B: sales / distribution model is scalable
B2C: virality

Multi-part product
Multi product line development
GTM
Potential early customer leads
Early indications of repeatability (organic traction)
B2C: Customer acquisition cost
B2B: Early customers prepay
Repeatability in sales motion
Shortening sales cycle
Increasing dollar-retention rate (DRR)
Customer acquisition cost (CAC) payback < 12 months
Unit economics for repeatability
Churn < 1%
Gross margin > 70%
DRR > 110%
Repeatability in sales motion
Shortening sales cycle
LTV/CAC >= 3:1
Channels for leverage
Strategic partners for growth
Red Flags
1
Note: Many of these are cumulative.
Lack of team chemistry
"Wantrepreneur" founder
Lack of problem validation
Tech and GTM balance in team
A “like” vs. “must have” product
Outlier customers (a sign of no repeatability)

Poor unit economics
Customer cohorts
Low NPS
Business model scalability
Management is looking ahead to next level of scale
Strong independent board
Financing
3
Financing $
< ~ $1M
$1-4M
$5-12M
$10-25M
$20-50M
Financing Instrument
Note, 20% discount, cap
Capped note or priced round
Priced round
Priced round
Priced round
Pre-Money Valuation
Defer - 20% discount
$4-11M
$15-30M (+)
$40-100M
$200-$300M
Right to Win
1
Team knowledge
Product velocity
Early view to market edge
Clear view to market edge (defensibility)
First signs of brand success
Realization of market edge
Market analysts point to the company as leading
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