Frequently
Asked
Questions

Demystifying the processes and nuances of funding

The Timing

Not so early that the product-market fit is yet to be proven, and not so late that you’re already on your way to raise your Series B or C. We call it our ‘goldilocks zone’. The right time to reach us is when you’ve proven your proposition and gained some traction in the market, and you’re now figuring out how to create a repeatable, scalable model and grow it. Our experience, knowledge, and network will be most valuable to companies at this critical stage where they’re getting ready to cross the ‘growth chasm’ and go from start-up to scale-up.
Definitely. Our qualifying criteria is a proven product-market fit, the potential to disrupt, and strong fundamentals. This may be the first money you’re raising, or you may have gone through a friends-and-family round, it’s still the right time to talk to us if you’re at an early stage and getting ready to scale.
Pentathlon would not be the right choice for you. We succeed because we specialize, and we specialize in the early-stage technology start-up journey. But, if you’re looking for a recommendation on which VC would be right for you, reach out to one of our partners and they would be happy to point you in the right direction.

The Criteria

We’re industry agnostic. We gravitate towards founders who are building next-gen Enterprise SaaS products or trying to find high-value applications of emerging technologies like AI. We believe our backgrounds and experience allow us to add the most value in these scenarios. However, we’re curious about all applications of technology, and if you’re building something that has the potential to reshape society and bring positive disruption in the world, we’d love to hear from you and see how we could be of help.
The values we look for in founders are the values that Pentathlon is built on. We’re built on the recognition that a founder’s journey to building a scalable enterprise is incredibly hard. We’ve recognized specific traits that suggest a higher probability of success, and we actively look for entrepreneurs who display these traits. Put together, we call this the DNA of Scale .
The measure of an idea is its persuasiveness. How forceful your idea is, and how it stands apart from everyone else’s ideas is very important to us. We want to know where you differ from competitors on a fundamental level, not just in terms of product features. We also evaluate the size of the opportunity, because the rewards at the end of the journey should be as great as the idea.

Of course, Pentathlon does not invest at the idea stage, so we don’t completely go by our gut. We look for indicators that your idea holds water, like early adopters. If you have customer who’re head-over-heels in love with your product, tell us about them. If your numbers show deep and consistent adoption, let us know about it.
Strong fundamentals are the first thing we look at. Structurally, operationally, is the company building itself up to be scalable? We look at the structure of the team and the economics of the operation. How does the information flow, and how are responsibilities shared? We like to get to know the companies we partner with. If you’ve built a process that works, tell us, we know what it takes and we will value it. If you’re struggling with some part of your operations, tell us, we know what it takes and we will help you.

The Process

Write to us, we respond. Like anyone else, something that excites us gets us to respond much faster. So, share something we can look at to begin with, like a corporate deck or a summary. We know innovation can come from anywhere, so you can be sure our partners will respond to every investment opportunity whether it comes through a warm introduction or a cold outreach. We’ve taken the entrepreneurial journeys ourselves, so you can also be sure our partners will show you the respect you deserve and won’t make you jump through any hoops.

There can’t be a rigid process to get to know someone, but all our conversations have some steps in common.

1 – The crash-course – We read through your materials, presentations, pitch-deck, and anything else you’ve shared to understand if you fit our basic criteria. We also ensure you’re in a space where we think we can add value, and there are no conflicts of interest anywhere.

2 – The first meeting – If you fit the basic criteria, the first step is usually a 30 to 45-minute virtual or in-person meeting with one of our partners. This partner will usually remain your point of contact for the first part of the evaluation. We let you do the talking, and look for you to explain your idea, operational model, and business. We usually have only a few pointed questions for any large gaps in data presented to us.

3 – The demonstration – If the first meeting piques our interest, the next step is to dive straight into the deep end of the pool. Before any more ‘talk’, we try the product, see how it works, and look under the hood to see if all the claims hold true.

4 – The deep-dive meeting(s) – Once we’ve seen the inner-workings of the product, we’re usually teeming with questions. The process of getting to know you deeply starts here. We bring all the skepticism we can muster and question every core assumption. We get to know the company, the team, founders, and their values as deeply as we can.

5 – The partner meeting – If things have gone well at this point, it’s time to introduce you to all the partners. You get to answer any new questions that might arise, and get to know all the partners and their respective strengths. After this, the partners get together and discuss your idea, your company, your product, and your market in detail to make their decision.

6 – The hand-shake – We come to an agreement, work out the specifics of the deal, and begin drawing up paper-work to make the agreement official.

This varies greatly from case to case. In some cases we spend weeks getting to know a company, in others we find agreements taking shape in days. But, we understand the importance of pace in the market so we make sure it doesn’t take a moment longer than it should.
We are very flexible. We are just as comfortable being co-investor as we are leading investment rounds. Our investments range from INR 50 lakhs to INR 3 Crore, depending on the ask and potential.

The terms

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Pricing a SaaS Product:

A multi-pronged approach

Saurabh Lahoti, Managing Partner at Pentathlon Ventures, takes a deep dive into what it takes to successfully price a SaaS product.