In the high-stakes world of startups, the ultimate goal has always been clear: a successful exit. Whether through an initial public offering (IPO) or an acquisition, exits are the events that turn years of hard work and innovation into substantial returns for founders and investors alike. At Treble, we've long championed this vision, aligning our services to help startups navigate the path to a lucrative exit.

The results speak for themselves: Since 2013, Treble has been a strategic partner in propelling 26 startups to exit, with three IPOs and over 100 funding launches.

Today, this goal is more critical than ever. A recent Wall Street Journal article by Marc Vartabedian highlights the recent ups and downs in the VC landscape. Returns that once approached 35% in mid-2021 recently dropped to 5.8% at the end of September 2023, even though the forecast for the rest of this year looks more promising.

What's behind this dramatic shift? Marc points to a perfect storm in his story: higher interest rates, a near-freeze in IPOs and acquisitions and a massive buildup of assets under management (AUM) in venture firms.

Exits are the lifeblood of the venture industry. They include IPOs and mergers and acquisitions, events that allow venture firms to cash out of their private company shares and ultimately return capital to their investors.

As the Nasdaq dropped and interest rates rose in 2022, companies held off on public listings and M&A stalled as companies reined in spending. Startups that had raised hefty financing could also afford to postpone public listings and stay private, further pushing out investors’ hopes of exits.

To stand out in a crowded market, companies need to find the right strategic communications partner. Here's how Treble tailors our approach at each funding stage to build the visibility, credibility, and momentum that attract acquirers and public market investors.

Early Stage: Seed and Series A

For early-stage startups, the journey to exit begins with getting on the radar. A well-crafted narrative and finding the right reporter or outlet to help boost that story are crucial first steps.

In today's cautious market, where venture capitalists are more selective, your funding news must go beyond numbers. Use your initial funding announcement as a platform to articulate what makes you unique in your market. This is your chance to lay out a visionary yet credible narrative that resonates with future investors and potential acquirers. Focus on macro-level trends and clearly define the problems you're solving. In doing so, you're not just announcing funding; you're presenting your startup as a strategic asset in a larger industry story—one that larger companies might want to be part of.

Middle Stage: Series B and C

At Series B or C, the PR strategy shifts to conveying scale and momentum—key factors for both IPO-bound companies and those seeking acquisition. This is achieved through a steady stream of growth-oriented news: product updates, strategic hires, partnerships, and customer wins.

In today's data-driven PR world, it's not just about clip counts. We help you showcase metrics that matter to exit-minded investors: customer growth rates, expansion into new markets, or improvements in key performance indicators. Securing coverage in business and financial outlets brings you to the attention of new investor audiences.

We also leverage third-party validation at this stage. Partnering with analyst firms for industry reports or collaborating on surveys can substantiate your market position. Meanwhile, briefings with influential journalists about future expansion plans can create anticipation, signaling to potential acquirers that you're a company on the rise.

Late Stage: Series D and Beyond

By Series D, an exit is squarely in focus. With venture firms sitting on record amounts of uninvested capital, they're eager for portfolio companies to provide liquidity. Companies that get acquired often solve a very specific, high-value problem. Our job is to make sure decision-makers at larger organizations see your solution.

PR at this stage centers on high-impact media opportunities: executive profiles in national publications, featured interviews on business news networks, or keynote speeches at major industry events. As your leaders engage with the media, we craft dual narratives: one positions your startup as an attractive acquisition target, showcasing your niche expertise and strategic fit; the other places you at the heart of broader industry conversations, enhancing your authority.

For IPO-bound companies, it’s all about building broad public interest. We use these high-profile platforms to communicate your potential for sustained growth, address any market skepticism, and showcase your readiness for public market scrutiny.

Conclusion: Every Round Counts on the Path to Exit

The Journal story ends on a hopeful note: “At the same time, the industry is showing signs of life after a bruising 18 months. Exits ticked upward in this year’s first quarter. Anecdotally, investors say they are hopeful for more opportunities to return capital to investors in the second half of this year.” That aligns with our outlook as well. We’ve always seen beyond the immediate buzz of a funding announcement.

Our approach is more relevant than ever in today's recalibrated VC landscape. By tailoring PR strategies to each funding stage, we help you build the narrative, credibility and momentum that turn funding news into exit potential. After all, in a world where venture capital's returns have come back to earth, your ultimate success—and your investors'—depends on a well-communicated path to the exit.