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The Future of Venture Investment: Exploring Macro Themes and the Growing Need for Liquidity

  • Published August 15, 2023 11:00PM UTC
  • Publisher Wholesale Investor
  • Categories Capital Insights, Trending

Introduction

In a recent Venture & Capital Sydney panel discussion on FY24 venture investment trends, industry experts gathered to share their insights on the current market landscape and its impact on the venture capital ecosystem. The panelists included Isabella Rich from OIF Ventures, Karen Chan from Perennial Private Investments, Amit Verma from ASX, and Rajeev Gupta from Alium Capital. The discussion covered a wide range of topics, including market trends, valuations, fundraising environment, and the importance of liquidity. In this article, we will delve into the key themes discussed during the panel, providing an in-depth analysis of each topic and its potential implications for the future of venture investment.

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Market Trends and Valuations

The panelists acknowledged the positive signs coming from the market, with the US experiencing a potential turnaround in interest rates and inflation. However, they also highlighted the lag between the public and private markets, emphasising the need for investor and consumer confidence to drive activity in the private markets. Isabella Rich noted that the venture capital ecosystem is currently experiencing a normalisation of valuations after a period of high capital deployment and inflated valuations. She emphasised the importance of founders focusing on unit economics and profitability from the early stages of their businesses. Rajeev Gupta added that small-cap technology companies and equity markets are likely to lead the recovery for private investors, with a lag of six to twelve months. Amit Verma discusses positive signs in the market, such as interest rate trends and market indices. This implies that market conditions play a role in shaping investment strategies and decisions.

Fundraising Environment and Availability of Capital

The availability of capital in the market was a key concern for founders and investors alike. Isabella Rich highlighted the significant amount of dry powder in the Australian ecosystem, indicating that there is capital available for investment. However, she noted that the fundraising process is taking longer, and founders need to demonstrate the ability to generate returns that exceed the dilution caused by raising additional capital. Karen Chan emphasised the importance of value creation as a long-term journey, urging founders to focus on survival and sustainable growth rather than solely valuations. She also mentioned the increasing focus on distributions by fund investors, indicating a growing need for liquidity. Amit Verma suggests that founders should focus on building realistic revenue projections and unit economics.

The Growing Need for Liquidity

The panelists recognised the growing need for liquidity in the venture capital ecosystem. Karen Chan mentioned the focus on returning capital to investors and the potential for more secondary transactions as funds aim to provide liquidity to their limited partners. Amit Verma emphasises the growing need for liquidity in the market and the importance of recycling capital into new deals. This indicates that investors are looking for opportunities to exit investments and reinvest in new ventures.

Rajeev Gupta highlighted the importance of strategic sales and secondary transactions as sources of liquidity for investors. He also emphasised the need for companies to consider going public at the right time, as the public markets can provide a significant avenue for liquidity. Isabella Rich added that liquidity can be achieved through secondaries, strategic exits, and IPOs, providing multiple opportunities for founders and investors to realise returns.

Characteristics of Management Teams and Red Flags

When discussing the characteristics of management teams, the panelists emphasised the importance of trust, clear communication, and a strong track record. Karen Chan mentioned the need for CFOs to provide accurate and timely information, as well as articulate the growth drivers of the business. Rajeev Gupta highlighted the importance of technical expertise in founders and CEOs, cautioning against a strong focus on marketing without a solid technical foundation. 

Amit Verma mentions the importance of having strong management characteristics, especially technical expertise in CEOs and founders. This insight emphasises the role of leadership in driving successful ventures.

Isabella Rich emphasised the need for CFOs to be involved in capital management and to have a deep understanding of the company’s financials. She also cautioned founders against overvaluing their companies and advised them to focus on building a good business with sustainable revenue and retention.

Crowdsourced Equity and Co-Investing

The panelists discussed the potential benefits and considerations of crowdsourced equity and co-investing. They agreed that crowdsourcing can be a valuable method for consumer-focused companies to engage their retail customer base and create a sense of ownership. However, they also highlighted the need to manage a large number of shareholders on the cap table. Rajeev Gupta mentioned that co-investing is common among venture capital funds and family offices, as long as the co-investor adds value beyond capital. Isabella Rich noted that convertible notes and safe notes are popular structures for bridging rounds and pre-IPO financing, but cautioned founders against relying solely on these instruments without considering the potential dilution.

Implications and Future Outlook

The panel discussion shed light on several key implications for the future of venture investment. The normalisation of valuations and the focus on profitability indicate a shift towards more sustainable and realistic growth expectations. The growing need for liquidity highlights the importance of providing returns to investors and the potential for increased secondary transactions and IPOs. The emphasis on trust, clear communication, and track record in management teams underscores the importance of building strong and reliable leadership. Overall, the panelists expressed optimism about the future of venture investment, with opportunities for both investors and founders to navigate the evolving market landscape.

In conclusion, the panel discussion provided valuable insights into the macro themes shaping the venture capital ecosystem. The market trends, fundraising environment, need for liquidity, and characteristics of management teams all play a crucial role in determining the success of venture investments. As the market continues to evolve, it is essential for investors and founders to adapt to the changing landscape and focus on building sustainable businesses with strong growth potential. By understanding these themes and their implications, stakeholders can navigate the venture capital landscape with confidence and seize opportunities for growth and success.

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