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1000+ startups have raised media for growth funding to raise brand awareness and increase revenue

1000+ startups have raised media for growth funding to raise brand awareness and increase revenue
  • Media for growth-backed startups raise on average 3x more funding than other start-ups. 
  • Startups backed by both media and VC investors reach the exit round (via IPO) 2 years and 8 months faster than traditional venture-backed start-ups.
  • Amid tech market volatility, founders can preserve cash and extend their startup runway with media for growth funding.

London, 21st October 2022: New global research reveals that over 1000 startups have raised media for growth funding in the last two decades to scale up brand awareness, data on audiences, and professional experience from media companies without having to spend cash. 

Media for growth (also known as “media for equity” or “airtime for equity”) is a financing option that provides startups with advertising such as television, print, radio, and online, in return for equity in a company.

Research by global network of media investors mediaforgrowth, reveals first-time findings about the state of media for growth investments worldwide including the business performance of the startups that have raised media for growth, the biggest players in this space, and the level of investment activity across various regions.

With a global recession forecast, the study shows how media for growth funding emerged during the dot-com bubble as a complementary investment option to traditional venture capital offering startups a life vest till they were able to raise the next round of capital.

“With uncertain times worldwide, it’s understandable that taking risks in a new venture doesn’t appeal to everyone. For startups facing a new reality, a good place to start to reevaluate is their growth rate. The new view of growth is not at all costs, but growth at a reasonable cost. At mediaforgrowth we help ambitious founders tap into complementary funding option to VC funding such as “media for equity”, while preserving cash reserves and reducing dependency on raising new rounds of funding” Diana Florescu, CEO, and Founder at mediaforgrowth

Key Findings

The study analysed the data of 382 unique media for growth investments completed globally during and after 2000. 

  • Despite the preconception that traditional advertising only works for direct-to-consumer startups, 31% of companies who raised this funding type operate on a B2B or a B2B2C business model;
  • Seed-stage and Series A are the most popular stages of growth among startups when they closed their first round of media for growth funding;
  • 65% of companies are active; 31% exited (IPO / M&A); 4% have folded;
  • The sectors most likely to attract media for growth funding are e-commerce (19%), digital health (10%), fintech (9.5%), food, and beverage (6%). Other industries that are coming in strong include EdTech, Gaming, and Creator Economy;
  • Startups backed by both media and VC investors reach the exit round (via IPO) 2 years and 8 months faster than traditional venture-backed startups;
  • Media for growth-backed startups raise on average 3x more funding than other startups.** 

How do regions compare?

  • Leading European countries by no. of investments include Sweden (167), Germany (90), Spain (35), and the UK (30). Media for growth funding was also raised in France (10), Italy (5), and Finland (3).
  • In India, the Times Group completed 900+ investments. 
  • In LATAM, Televisa is one of the most active investors with 11 deals completed to date. There have been 5 investments registered in Brazil. 
  • Australia registers 9 investments whilst in North America there is only data available on 3 investments completed by Arrandale Ventures.

It’s not a time to pay lip service to brand building

Even before the current tech volatility and recession, getting marketing right was a challenge for businesses as the latest Startup Genome research shows.
22% of startups fail because of marketing problems and lack of expertise.***

Cutting marketing budget might seem like a first instinct during an economic crunch. However, high-growth startups who have invested in communication and brand building pre-2022 are realising that any cut in spending will come at the great expense of their revenue and staying “top of mind”. With less capital available in the market and having to prioritise cash flow efficiency, founders should know that media for equity funding is the perfect formula to continue growing their business while preserving cash and reducing dependency on raising new rounds of funding, adds Diana Florescu, CEO and Founder.

But not all businesses are standing still. what3words, a UK-based B2B2C digital mapping startup what3words launched its product in India in 2022 after securing a $10 million media for growth investment from Brand Capital International. A few months later it announced a €60 million media for growth investment from German Media Pool VC (GMPVC). 

After the first TV campaign run in collaboration with Channel4 we realised that TV works well for our businesses and looked to replicate this approach in other markets including India. The partnership with Brand Capital International (The Times of India Group) has accelerated our presence in the region, says Chris Sheldrick, CEO, and Co-Founder.

The industry still faces challenges

Although media for growth investments are increasingly being acknowledged as powerful engines for sustainable growth, the industry faces multiple challenges that impede its growth including lack of transparency and data, a set of industry standards and recognised organisations to educate stakeholders.

The study also identifies seven of the most widely held beliefs holding back the adoption of media for growth, and looks to approve/disapprove them:

  • Myth 1: TV ‘doesn’t work anymore’. 
  • Myth 2: Traditional advertising is hard to measure.
  • Myth 3: TV is too expensive.
  • Myth 4: Media for growth funding only works for “direct-to-consumer” (DTC) brands.
  • Myth 5: European markets are global leaders within media for growth space (by no. of investments).
  • Myth 6: Media for growth uses unsold inventory, therefore low quality.
  • Myth 7: Media for growth doesn’t provide the startup with actual cash, therefore is less valuable than venture capital investment. 

The State of Media for Growth funding white-paper is available to download here.

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*According to Pitchbook the industry average for a traditional investment to exit is about 8.2 years (source: VC investing still strong even as median time to exit reaches 8.2 years | VentureBeat ). Based on our analysis, the average time for media for growth-backed startups to exit is 5 years and 6 months.

**According to CrunchBase data, the average successfully acquired U.S. startup has raised $29.4 million and sold for $155.5 million. Based on our analysis, there are 87 startups that formerly raised media for growth funding and were acquired. On average these companies raised $83 million pre-acquisition.

***According to research carried out in 2019 by Startup Genome, a world-leading startup innovation policy advisory and research firm. 

About mediaforgrowth

mediatorgrowth is the first global network to align the interests of startups, investors, and experienced media professionals. First, they partner with later-stage founders to grow revenue and scale internationally using media for growth investments. Secondly, they connect emerging and established media for growth funds with investors around the world to optimise the startup investment process. mediaforgrowth members include some of the world’s largest media groups such as The Times Group, 30+ media for growth funds, individual investors, early-stage VCs, and equity investment platforms. 

For more information please visit
For information about becoming a member contact
Founders seeking eligibility for media for growth funding, please submit your project at 

Methodology & Data Limitation

The insights shared in this report have been gathered through publicly available data sources and semi-structured interviews with startup founders, investors, and media for growth funds. We aggregated data from media for growth funds formed more than five years ago as well as publicly and privately available datasets. Overall we analysed the data of 382 unique investments completed during or after 2000.

As with the rest of the ecosystem we have also encountered challenges to access available data. As it stands, the best data is to be found with media for growth funds. We foresee better and more data will become available on the performance of media for growth investments as the ecosystem matures. 

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