Lessons from a Fundraise Story Worth $33B

Helen Chong

Billion-dollar funding rounds hinge on more than just a great product. They require a vision that truly captivates investors. Steve McLaughlin, CEO of FT Partners and the dealmaker behind Revolut's $33 billion valuation and Worldcoin's $100 million+ raise, shares his insights into the world of capital raising.

The Power of a Compelling Narrative

Fundraising is storytelling with high stakes. One of the key elements in securing substantial investment is building a robust narrative around the company’s future.

McLaughlin emphasizes that most founders underestimate this critical skill. “The process of telling your story is really important. And you'd be shocked how few entrepreneurs actually take the time to share it.

The Revolut Case Study: From $5 Billion to $33 Billion

When FT Partners took on Revolut, the fintech's valuation stood at $5 billion. Within a year, McLaughlin's team orchestrated a raise of $1.25 billion at a staggering $33 billion valuation.

This wasn’t just about numbers; it was about showing the potential and the vision behind Revolut’s growth. FT Partners only takes on companies with strong business models and visionary teams. “We only work with very good companies. If we don't believe in a company's business model, we won't take it on.

Strategies for Success

McLaughlin highlights several key strategies they implemented in this case:

  1. Uncovering Hidden Strengths: FT Partners dug deep into Revolut's potential, highlighting the company's rapidly expanding product suite. They showed how the company was integrating diverse offerings into a singular, intuitive app, with plans to scale across 60 countries.

  2. Product-Led Growth Philosophy: What set Revolut apart was their focus on product excellence. "The product has to be so good that everyone uses it and talks about it." This approach allowed Revolut to minimize marketing spend while achieving remarkable adoption rates.

  3. Long-Term Vision: Whether it’s a three-year plan or a 20-year outlook, having a detailed vision is crucial. For Revolut, FT Partners built a model extending to 2041, demonstrating potential growth across multiple dimensions.

  4. Transforming Investor Perception: The long-term vision changed how investors saw the company. As McLaughlin puts it, "Investors got really excited. They agreed that this team is truly building unique technology that matters, at a rapid scale."
  5. Finding the Right Investors: It’s not just about the highest valuation. Finding investors who understand and support the vision is crucial. McLaughlin spent significant time identifying and engaging with the right investors globally.

The fundraising effort dramatically exceeded initial expectations.

Fundraising: The Art of Vision, Planning, and Partnerships

Strategic capital raises can redefine a company's trajectory. 

Fundraising is about crafting a narrative that aligns with a company's long-term vision and potential. Investors demand more than just a good idea or a promising product. Founders need to master the delicate balance of showcasing current strengths while painting a compelling picture of future potential. This means diving deep into product roadmaps, market analysis, and financial projections.

McLaughlin's success stems from a meticulous approach to storytelling, backed by data and grounded in reality. The lesson is clear: preparation is key, partnerships matter, and the right narrative can turn a good raise into a game-changing one.

Learning from Failures and Red Flags

Transparency is non-negotiable when seeking funding, especially in the fintech sector. McLaughlin flags founders unwilling to provide detailed information or who expect blind trust as a major red flag. Data-driven storytelling isn't just preferred—it's essential.

Real-Time Insights as an Advantage in Fundraising

Puzzle gives you real-time insight into your startup metrics - burn rate, cash flow, runway, and revenue. This constant access to up-to-date data means you're always fundraise-ready, eliminating the average 6+ months of preparation typically required.

Our system generates both cash and accrual reports simultaneously, providing real-time cash flow insights for daily operations alongside accrual data for investor reports and compliance. This dual capability is crucial during fundraising, as investors demand both cash and accrual views.

These insights aren't just helpful—they're critical for any founder looking to secure the capital needed to turn their vision into reality.

McLaughlin's playbook centers on crafting narratives that resonate with long-term potential. It demands founders dive deep: robust product roadmaps, thorough market analysis, and solid financial projections. This isn't just impressing investors; it's building a foundation of confidence in your company's future.

For more insights from top founders and finance leaders, check out the Turpentine Finance podcast!

Share this post
Helen Chong
Growth @ Puzzle

Related posts