Are you starting a business for the first time? Are you unsure of the terrain and which path will be the right one for you? No need to fret — The Art of Startup Fundraising: Pitching Investors, Negotiating the Deal, and Everything Else Entrepreneurs Need to Know by Alejandro Cremades can guide you on your journey.
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there,” wrote Lewis Carroll. But if you have a destination, you need to choose the right road. The Art of Startup Fundraising helps you think through your options so you can decide where you want to go. Then it helps you choose the right road to get you there. If you change your mind about your goal or your road — which is not uncommon for a startup — you can always choose an alternative route.
Getting to where you’re going:
First, you need to pack for the journey. Make sure your suitcase includes:
- Elevator pitch: A quick introduction to your business that sparks interest and response. It’s clear, authoritative, and highlights your value and the problem you are solving.
- Pitch deck: A brief overview of your business plan, often created using PowerPoint, Keynote or Prezi.
- One Pager: Summarizes your pitch deck in one page. It makes it easy for you and others to introduce your company to potential funders, partners, advisors, etc.
- Business plan: A thoroughly-researched map of the road to success to convince investors that you know the best route to get there. These days, funders know that your startup’s plan will change, so it is no longer necessary to do an in-depth plan with all the ‘i’s’ dotted and ‘t’s’ crossed. That said, Cremades advises that you have one.
- Due diligence: Enables investors to verify the potential of the business, the integrity of the founders and ensures that all legal documents are in place.
- FAQs: Develop answers to commonly asked questions by investors. The Art of Startup Fundraising provides a list of commonly asked questions for which you should have answers ready.
One last tip for preparing for your journey. Learn the language. Art of Startup Fundraising provides a dictionary so you’ll understand what’s being said in term sheets and the difference between ‘founder valuation’ and ‘market valuation.’
How you’re getting there
You also need to understand your financing options. Options are listed in order of the least likely to the most likely way entrepreneurs would fund their businesses.
- The media loves to write about the handful of companies raising rewards-based crowdfunding through sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The truth is that the amount currently raised by startups and small businesses is tiny (less than a billion dollars, according to Break New Ground: The Americas Alternative Finance Benchmark Report). However, rewards-based crowd is a promising way to raise equity and debt free financing.
- While venture capital may grab the headlines, in actuality, it’s only 1% of all the money businesses raise, and only a small portion of VC goes to startups. According to MoneyTree’s 2015 Report, only 3% of investment funds and 5% of deals went to startups.
- The truth is, accredited angel investors are much more likely to fund your deal. In 2014, 25% of angel investments were in the seed and start-up stage. Equity-based crowdfunding platforms like AngelList, CircleUp, Crowdfunder, Onevest (Cremades is a cofounder), and OurCrowd, among others, centralize, streamline, simplify and speed up the process of finding these investors. To find out more about this and other financing options that were enabled via the JOBS Act, read how to get your startup financing online.
- Debt is also an option, but it will typically require putting your house on the line as collateral or having other collateral.
- Friends and family are even more likely to fund startups.
- Personal savings can be used to fund your project, too.
Should you go the route of angel or VC, in The Art of Startup Fundraising, Cremades provides a list of the types of people who may be potential funders or who may lead you to them, including customers, advisors and fans. You can also use databases like CrunchBase and LinkedIn to find investors. When determining if a potential investor is a fit for you, evaluate his or her domain expertise, connections and financial strength.
The book also provides a list of common mistakes and how to avoid them, which is as valuable as the list of options. After all, that’s one of the best ways to learn. If you are thinking of starting or growing your business, Cremades has given you a good tool for finding your way.