Why Software Engineers Should Care About Series Seed Funding When Job Hunting
What’s a Series D-F company?
Now that the holidays are over, and us folks in the states can get back to the deluge of nonsense constantly coming out of D.C. (…like, what?), I am continuing the job hunt journey.
As I constantly reach out to more and more potential employers, and contacts at potential employers, and apply to every job posting that even remotely sounds like a coding opportunity I came across some advice I had yet to receive.
One of the contacts I made this week was Elliot Katz, Director of Engineering (Brands) at Thirty Madison. After I applied for a position with Thirty Madison I found his information on LinkedIn and decided to reach out as a potential contact. Elliot accepted my connection request (success!), but not only that, he offered some advice to help my venture into the tech industry. He said…
My best advice (and I know it’s hard) is to find a company in the Series D-F range where they’ll have enough people that they can get you the mentoring you need to be successful. A company like Thirty Madison is just too small to take on someone without a few years of industry experience. We definitely want to change that and hope to get there soon! But right now we’re just not set up to be able to provide that kind of support.
First off, what a mensch! It can be pretty intimidating to reach out to so many different people cold, and a lot of times you don’t get responses, but Elliot came in clutch. Not only did he accept my connection request, he also responded to my message.
I feel a bromance forming 🥲
Side note: Found out that Elliot and I have a mutual contact during this process. I worked with his brother-in-law’s girlfriend on a show I had been touring with before the pandemic shut down the theatre industry. You never know what people you might share in common with those cold outreaches!
Also, the arts are hurting, please donate here if you feel so inclined :)
What’s a Series D-F company?
As much as I appreciated that advice, what the heck was Elliot talking about? Turns out he was referring to series seed funding, or venture capital financing.
Graphic Provided by Fundz.net
When a company, typically a startup, is embarking on finding funding for their product, they look to venture capital financing. There are many different stages as a startup raises equity funding. First, they will typically look to family, friends and their own pockets to stimulate initial growth. If that isn’t enough, and it rarely is, they will look to external funding. These rounds of funding are referred to as series seed funding, which is just growing a company through outside investment. Investopedia does a great job of breaking down these initial steps of startup funding
So, what happens after Series C Funding? Well, if you guessed Series D-F, then you’re right! But, why would Elliot say, “…I know it’s hard…”, when referring to finding companies in this category?
It’s because, unfortunately, not many startups make it this far. In the graphic you can see that after Series C funding, a company is, on average, valued at $118 million. It takes a lot of cash to get this far! Also, Series C companies are typically in their final stages of preparation for their Initial Public Offering or an acquisition.¹
If a startup is valued at that amount after Series C funding, why would they need to keep fundraising and move on to Series D or late-stage funding?
Hopefully it’s because they’ve discovered a new venture within the company that will help expand the company’s overall value before their IPO. Sometimes, they want to stay private longer or they are contemplating a merger with a competitor. Alternatively, they could not meet the expectations that they had promised after Series C funding has completed. This creates what is called a “down round”. Emma McGowan says,
A down round may help a company push through a tricky time, but it also devalues the stock of the company. After raising a down round, many startups find it difficult to raise again, as trust in their ability to deliver on their promises has eroded. Down rounds also dilute founder stock and can demoralize employees, making it difficult to get back ahead.
After researching this topic I started to see why Elliot said it was hard to find companies with Series D-F funding. The hard truth of it all is that (1) there aren’t that many startups that make it that far and (2) not many companies find a need to go to this stage.
Furthermore, if they do make it that far, they are more focused on getting ready for their IPO and less focused on bringing on new Software Engineers without previous experience into the fold. It’s good advice though! As a new SE you want to find a place that has established itself, but also has the ability to mentor and invest in new talent.
Early Series startups find it harder to justify taking a risk on new grads compared to late-stage funding startups. Elliot emphasizes that funding stages are a good signal to decipher “the size and maturity of the engineering team”.
BUT, the good news is…THEY DO EXIST. I believe, as a SE looking for my first full-time position, it’s a good way to focus my efforts when searching for that first gig. Also, don’t let this advice be the end all be all. Some startups in the early stage of funding may have to resources or want to develop new talent. Hopefully though, with a more focused approach, you can take some of the stress out of the job hunt.
Tech jobs are out there my friends! Check out some resources below to help you in your search. Happy Hunting!
Newly trained Full Stack Web Dev/Software Engineer and ready to bust out into the tech industry! Formerly a Broadway National Touring Actor based out of NYC (and many a side hustle), with all the changes that came with 2020 I've begun transitioning into a new passion, software engineering.