What are the most important KPIs for startups to track?

In today’s fast-paced and competitive business landscape, startups face numerous challenges when measuring their progress and success. Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, provide startups with valuable insights into their performance, growth, and overall health. KPIs are quantifiable metrics that allow entrepreneurs and business leaders to track specific aspects of their operations, identify areas of improvement, and make data-driven decisions.

For startups, tracking the right KPIs is crucial for several reasons.

  • Firstly, KPIs serve as benchmarks to evaluate the effectiveness of strategies, initiatives, and business models. By setting measurable goals and monitoring the corresponding KPIs, startups can gauge their progress towards achieving those objectives.
  • Secondly, KPIs provide startups with a clear understanding of their financial health. By tracking revenue-related KPIs, such as Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) and Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), startups can assess their profitability, identify revenue streams, and optimize cost structures.
  • Thirdly, KPIs enable startups to measure and manage their growth effectively. Growth-related KPIs, such as conversion rates and user engagement metrics, provide insights into customer acquisition, retention, and overall satisfaction. Startups can use this data to refine their marketing strategies, enhance their product offerings, and drive sustainable growth.
  • Lastly, KPIs assist startups in attracting investors and securing funding. Investors often scrutinize a startup’s performance through various financial and fundraising-related KPIs, such as pre-money valuation and capital efficiency ratio. By demonstrating strong and consistent performance in these areas, startups can increase their chances of securing investment and scaling their operations.

In summary, tracking KPIs is fundamental for startups to monitor their progress, assess their financial health, drive growth, and attract investors. By focusing on the right KPIs, startups can gain valuable insights and make informed decisions contributing to long-term success.

Revenue-related KPIs

A. Monthly recurring revenue (MRR)

Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) is a critical KPI for startups that offer subscription-based products or services. It measures the predictable and recurring revenue generated from monthly subscriptions. By tracking MRR, startups can assess the growth and stability of their customer base and revenue stream. Increasing MRR over time indicates customer retention and expansion, while a decline may indicate churn or pricing issues.

B. Customer acquisition cost (CAC)

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) is the money a startup spends to acquire a new customer. It includes marketing and sales expenses divided by the number of customers acquired within a specific period. Tracking CAC helps startups evaluate the effectiveness of their customer acquisition strategies and optimize their marketing budgets. Lowering CAC while maintaining customer quality is crucial for achieving sustainable growth.

C. Customer lifetime value (CLTV)

Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) is the total revenue a startup can expect to generate from a single customer over their entire relationship. It takes into account factors like average transaction value, purchase frequency, and customer retention rate. CLTV helps startups assess the long-term value of their customer base, identify high-value customers, and allocate resources effectively to retain and upsell them.

D. Gross margin

Gross margin represents the difference between a startup’s total revenue and the cost of goods sold (COGS), divided by total revenue, expressed as a percentage. It reflects the profitability of each unit sold and provides insight into the startup’s pricing strategy, cost structure, and production efficiency. Maintaining a healthy gross margin is crucial for sustainable operations and funding future growth.

E. Churn rate

The churn rate measures the percentage of customers who discontinue their subscription or stop using a startup’s product or service within a specific period. It indicates customer retention and loyalty. High churn rates can be detrimental to a startup’s growth and revenue. By tracking churn rate and identifying the reasons for customer attrition, startups can implement retention strategies, enhance their product offering, and improve customer satisfaction.

Tracking and analyzing these revenue-related KPIs enables startups to understand their financial performance, identify areas of improvement, and make data-driven decisions. By optimizing these KPIs, startups can enhance their revenue generation, improve profitability, and establish a strong foundation for sustainable growth.

Growth-related KPIs

A. Conversion rate

Conversion rate measures the percentage of website or app visitors who take a desired action, such as purchasing, signing up for a newsletter, or requesting a demo. It reflects the effectiveness of a startup’s marketing and sales efforts in turning potential customers into actual customers. Monitoring conversion rates at different customer journey stages helps identify bottlenecks and optimize the conversion funnel for higher conversion rates.

B. User engagement metrics

User engagement metrics, such as average session duration, Number of sessions per user, and active users, provide insights into how actively users interact with a startup’s product or service. High user engagement indicates a strong product-market fit and satisfied customers. By tracking these metrics, startups can identify areas where users may be disengaged and take actions to enhance the user experience, increase retention, and drive growth.

C. Customer satisfaction (CSAT) score

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) score measures customers’ satisfaction with a startup’s product, service, or support. It is usually determined through surveys or feedback mechanisms. A high CSAT score indicates happy and loyal customers, while a low score signals potential issues or areas for improvement. Tracking CSAT scores helps startups gauge customer sentiment, identify pain points, and prioritize efforts to enhance customer satisfaction.

D. Net promoter score (NPS)

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a metric that measures customer loyalty and advocacy. It assesses the likelihood of customers recommending a startup’s product or service to others. NPS is obtained by asking customers a simple question: “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our product/service to a friend or colleague?” NPS categorizes customers into promoters (score 9-10), passives (score 7-8), and detractors (score 0-6). Startups can use NPS to identify brand advocates, address detractor feedback, and foster customer loyalty.

E. Viral coefficient

The viral coefficient measures the rate at which existing users bring in new users through referrals or sharing. It quantifies the organic growth potential of a startup’s product or service. A viral coefficient greater than 1 indicates exponential growth, while a coefficient below 1 indicates linear or stagnant growth. By optimizing viral coefficients through referral programs, social sharing features, or viral loops, startups can harness the power of word-of-mouth and drive rapid user acquisition.

By monitoring and analyzing these growth-related KPIs, startups can gain valuable insights into their market traction, user engagement, and customer satisfaction. These metrics enable startups to identify growth opportunities, refine their strategies, and create products/services that resonate with their target audience, leading to sustainable and scalable growth.

Financial KPIs

A. Burn rate

The burn rate represents the rate at which a startup consumes its available cash or capital over a specific period. It helps measure the startup’s spending efficiency and the runway (the estimated time until it runs out of funds). Monitoring the burn rate is crucial for financial planning, budgeting, and ensuring the startup has sufficient resources to sustain its operations and reach key milestones.

B. Runway

Runway refers to the length of time a startup can operate before running out of funds based on its current burn rate and available cash. It provides insights into the financial sustainability of the startup and its ability to secure additional funding or generate positive cash flow. Startups must manage their runway effectively to ensure enough time to achieve growth and profitability or secure new investments.

C. Cash flow

Cash flow is the movement of money into and out of a startup’s accounts. It measures the inflow and outflow of cash from operations, investments, and financing activities. Monitoring cash flow is crucial for startups to ensure they have enough liquidity to cover expenses, meet financial obligations, and seize growth opportunities. Positive cash flow indicates healthy financial management, while negative cash flow may require adjustments to improve the startup’s financial position.

D. Return on investment (ROI)

Return on Investment (ROI) measures the profitability of an investment made by a startup. It helps assess the effectiveness and efficiency of allocating resources, whether investing in marketing campaigns, new technologies, or product development. By calculating ROI, startups can evaluate the returns generated from their investments and make informed decisions about where to allocate resources for the best financial outcomes.

E. Profit margin

Profit margin represents the percentage of revenue that remains as profit after deducting all expenses, including the cost of goods sold, operating expenses, and taxes. It indicates the startup’s ability to generate profit from its operations. Monitoring profit margins is crucial for startups to ensure their business model is financially viable, sustainable, and capable of delivering long-term profitability.

By tracking these KPIs, startups can assess their financial health, make informed decisions, and demonstrate their profitability and potential to investors. Effective financial management and monitoring of these metrics contribute to the long-term success and sustainability of the startup’s operations.

Operational KPIs

A. Time to market

Time to market measures the duration it takes for a startup to develop and launch a new product or feature. It reflects the startup’s ability to innovate quickly and respond to market demands. Monitoring time to market helps startups identify bottlenecks in their development processes, improve efficiency, and stay ahead of competitors by delivering products or features to customers in a timely manner.

B. Customer support response time

Customer support response time measures the average time a startup’s customer support team takes to respond to customer inquiries or issues. It reflects the startup’s commitment to providing timely and effective customer support. Monitoring response time helps identify areas where customer support can be improved, ensures customer satisfaction, and maintains a positive brand image.

C. Employee productivity

Employee productivity assesses the efficiency and output of the startup’s workforce. It measures metrics such as revenue generated per employee, tasks completed, or project milestones achieved within a specific period. Monitoring employee productivity helps identify areas where processes can be streamlined, training can be provided, or resources can be better allocated to maximize the output and contribution of each team member.

D. Inventory turnover

Inventory turnover measures how quickly a startup’s inventory is sold and replaced within a specific period. It indicates the efficiency of inventory management and the demand for the startup’s products. High inventory turnover suggests effective sales and distribution processes, while low turnover may indicate excess inventory or poor demand forecasting. Monitoring inventory turnover helps optimize inventory levels, reduce carrying costs, and balance supply and demand.

E. Website/app performance metrics

Website or app performance metrics include load times, page views, bounce, and conversion rates. These metrics measure the user experience and technical performance of the startup’s online presence. Monitoring website or app performance helps identify issues impacting user satisfaction, engagement, or conversion rates. By optimizing these metrics, startups can enhance user experience, increase customer engagement, and drive desired actions.

Tracking and optimizing these operational KPIs enables startups to streamline processes, improve customer satisfaction, and drive operational efficiency. By ensuring smooth operations and delivering exceptional customer experiences, startups can position themselves for success in a competitive market.

Product-related KPIs

A. Number of active users

The Number of active users is a key product-related KPI that measures the total number of users who engage with a startup’s product or service within a specific period. Tracking active users helps gauge the product’s popularity and adoption rate. Increasing the Number of active users over time indicates a growing user base and potential for revenue growth.

B. Conversion funnel metrics

Conversion funnel metrics track the progression of users through various stages of the customer journey, from initial awareness to final conversion. Key metrics include the Number of leads generated, conversion rates at each stage, and the average time it takes for a user to convert. By analyzing conversion funnel metrics, startups can identify areas where users drop off and optimize their marketing and sales strategies to improve conversion rates.

C. Average revenue per user (ARPU)

Average Revenue per User (ARPU) measures the average revenue generated by each user or customer within a specific period. It provides insights into the monetization potential of the startup’s customer base. Increasing ARPU can be achieved through upselling, cross-selling, or introducing premium features or pricing tiers. Tracking ARPU helps startups identify opportunities to increase revenue and enhance their business model.

D. Retention rate

Retention rate measures the percentage of customers who continue using a startup’s product or service over a specified period. It indicates customer loyalty and the product’s effectiveness in meeting customer needs. Monitoring retention rates helps identify factors contributing to customer churn and implement strategies to improve customer satisfaction, engagement, and long-term retention.

E. Feature adoption rate

Feature adoption rate measures the rate at which users adopt and use specific features or functionalities within a startup’s product or service. It helps assess the value and relevance of new features and informs product development decisions. Monitoring feature adoption rate enables startups to understand user preferences, prioritize feature enhancements, and ensure that new functionalities align with customer needs.

By tracking and analyzing these product-related KPIs, startups can gain insights into user engagement, product-market fit, and revenue generation. These metrics guide product development decisions, drive user adoption and enable startups to deliver a compelling and valuable product or service to their target audience.

Fundraising-related KPIs

A. Pre-money valuation

Pre-money valuation is a startup’s estimated value before receiving any external funding. It represents the startup’s business’s perceived worth and growth potential. Pre-money valuation is a crucial KPI for startups seeking investment. It sets the foundation for negotiations and determines the ownership stake investors will receive in exchange for their investment.

B. Investor conversion rate

Investor conversion rate measures the percentage of potential investors who convert into actual investors and provide funding to the startup. It reflects the effectiveness of the startup’s pitch, business plan, and overall attractiveness to investors. Monitoring investor conversion rates helps startups assess their fundraising efforts, refine their pitch, and identify areas for improvement to increase investor interest and secure funding.

C. Capital efficiency ratio

The capital efficiency ratio assesses how effectively a startup utilizes capital to generate revenue or achieve key milestones. It is calculated by dividing revenue or milestones by the total capital invested. A high capital efficiency ratio indicates efficient resource allocation and effective utilization of funds. Startups with a high capital efficiency ratio are likelier to attract investors as it demonstrates their ability to generate significant outcomes with limited resources.

D. Ratio of investment to revenue

The ratio of investment to revenue compares the amount of investment a startup has raised to its revenue generated within a specific period. It helps evaluate the startup’s ability to leverage investment capital and generate returns. A higher ratio indicates efficient utilization of investment and the potential for scalable revenue growth. Monitoring this ratio allows startups to assess their financial performance relative to the investments received and track progress over time.

Fundraising-related KPIs are essential for startups seeking external funding to fuel their growth. These metrics provide insights into the startup’s valuation, investor interest, and financial efficiency. By monitoring and optimizing these KPIs, startups can enhance their attractiveness to investors, secure funding, and accelerate their expansion plans.


Tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is vital for startups as it allows them to measure their progress, identify areas of improvement, and make data-driven decisions. However, not all KPIs are equally relevant to every startup. It is essential for startups to carefully select KPIs that align with their business goals, industry, and growth stage. By focusing on the right KPIs, startups can gain actionable insights that drive success and sustainability.

Each startup has unique goals and characteristics, and the choice of KPIs should reflect these factors. When selecting KPIs, startups should consider their business model, target market, revenue streams, and growth strategies. For instance, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) startup may prioritize metrics such as MRR, churn rate, and customer acquisition cost. In contrast, a hardware startup may focus on metrics like inventory turnover and time to market. Tailoring KPIs to the startup’s specific needs ensures relevance and meaningful insights.

Startups should not consider KPI selection as a one-time task. As the business evolves, market conditions change, and goals shift, startups must regularly review and adjust their KPIs. This allows them to stay aligned with their current priorities and track the metrics impacting their success. Regular monitoring of KPIs enables startups to identify trends, spot potential issues early on, and take corrective actions to optimize performance.

In conclusion, tracking the most important KPIs is crucial for startups to measure their performance, drive growth, attract investors, and make informed decisions. By carefully selecting and monitoring the right KPIs that align with their goals and nature, startups can navigate the path to success, achieve financial sustainability, and position themselves for long-term growth in their respective industries.