Is there more than one way to reach your funding goal?

You’re sitting at a restaurant having lunch with two friends, Pat and Chris. They’re both entrepreneurs and coincidentally, they both just completed a funding round of $1 million for their businesses.

You ask them to tell you the details of their raises.

Chris says,

I brought on an investor who now owns 50% of my business. The investor has a seat on my board of directors and is there to help me make sure my business grows as fast as possible because our goal is to sell the company within the next 5 to 7 years. The investor has veto power over any big decisions I make. Basically, the investor is my boss. What we’re hoping will happen is that in 5 to 7 years when we sell the business, we’ll all make a huge amount of money. In the meantime, the investor is watching my like a hawk to make sure I work my butt off so that the business will become an attractive target for acquisition.

Pat says,

I brought on some investors who trust me to make good decisions about the business and they’re very busy people so they didn’t want any control or ability to participate in the management. If I ask them for support, they’re usually happy to give it, though. At the end of every fiscal year, we look at our books and determine whether we can afford to pay a dividend to the investors out of our profits. We try to pay a dividend of at least 4% per year (meaning the investors get 4% of the total amount they invested). If an investor wants to exit his or her investment, we have a mechanism that allows us to either bring in a new investor to be able to pay that investor back or to buy the investor out using our own reserves. In either case, the investor can never get back out more than what he or she initially put in.

Which one sounds like the better deal to you? Of course there is no right answer – there are pros and cons to both. But in the world that worships Silicon Valley style investing, Chris would be seen as a success and Pat might be seen as a bit of a loser. This is a bit strange since Pat was able to keep control, has a much lower cost of capital, and does not have to put in 120 hour weeks to make sure the company becomes an acquisition target as quickly as possible.

The take home message? Don’t get caught up in how others define success – do what is best for you and where you want to take your business. There is more than one way to raise capital and the Silicon Valley style is not right for everyone. In fact, less than one percent of business go that route! Who cares whether you’re touted as one of the exclusive club of VC-backed company founders if you raise the money you need and you’re running your company on your own terms?

To learn more about alternatives to the Silicon Valley, funding model, apply for a Capital Raising Strategy Session.

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If Startup Funding is so Plentiful, Why Are Many Women Entrepreneurs Still Struggling?

Reprinted from http://www.locavesting.com/featured/if-startup-funding-is-so-plentiful-why-are-many-women-entrepreneurs-still-struggling/

Women entrepreneurs, do any of the following comments sound familiar?

“I’m having lots of conversations and none of them are going anywhere.”
“I had an investor commit but now he won’t answer my phone calls.”
“I got sexually harassed when I pitched the first time.”
“An investor asked if I was truly committed to the business given my family obligations.”
“I had a couple meetings with funders who really didn’t seem to understand the product, or they wanted the product to be something else.”

If so, you’re not alone. For all the talk that startup funding is plentiful, many entrepreneurs are struggling to find investors. Women, especially, are spinning their wheels in meetings with investors that don’t yield results. This takes time away from running the business, not to mention their other priorities, and can lead to a downward spiral of lost confidence.

But it’s not necessarily about you. In my work with entrepreneurs, I’m seeing the following trends:

1. Yes, it’s getting easier for startups to raise money, but this is only true for a very tiny percentage of startups that fit a very particular profile.

There is more abundant funding than in recent memory for tech start ups with high growth potential. I have met lots of women entrepreneurs whose businesses are not primarily tech-focused, but who are feeling the need to focus on the “tech part” to attract investors. So their dream of making healthy nutrition bars or customized footwear has to take a back seat for them to even get in the door with these investors. This doesn’t lead to good outcomes: either the entrepreneur has to sacrifice her vision to get investment or, more commonly, the investor senses the lack of enthusiasm for the tech part and passes on making an investment.

2. Most professional investors, even those that consider themselves impact investors, are driven by making high financial returns as quickly as possible.

Many women entrepreneurs are strongly committed to fulfilling a mission with their businesses. Almost every woman I talk to cares about more than making as much money as possible in the shortest possible time frame. They are very reluctant to sacrifice their mission in the name of raising funds. This creates a big mismatch between these entrepreneurs and the sources of capital they’re talking to.

3. Mainstream sources of information about raising capital are steering entrepreneurs toward a tiny pool of potential investors that may very well not be a good fit—which leads to a huge amount of wasted time, money, and energy.

Type “startup funding” into your favorite search engine and I can almost guarantee that everything retrieved takes for granted that the Silicon Valley model is the only model for raising capital. What is the Silicon Valley model? This is the fairy tale story that so rarely happens in real life where a start up raises a seed round, then an angel round, then several rounds from venture capital, and then the company is sold and everyone makes millions. Because of the articles and blog posts that make it sound like this is THE way to raise money, tons of entrepreneurs try to march down this path without realizing that this model fits for only a tiny percentage of businesses. I also hear from lots of entrepreneurs who tell me that their lawyers and advisors discourage them from trying more creative capital raising strategies.

How to counter these trends? Here are some solutions:

Broaden your definition of potential investors

Your potential investors could include your customers, suppliers, neighbors, members of organizations that are in alignment with your company’s goals, etc. In my experience, non-professional investors are satisfied with more reasonable terms and are less likely to demand control. Identify investors that love what you are doing, totally get it, and want to be a part of it. You will have a much more pleasant relationship with them than you would with a professional investor that only cares about maximizing financial returns at any cost.

Consider hiring expertise instead of thinking you need it from your investors

A lot of women I talk to, when I ask them what they are looking for in an investor, say they want an investor who not only has money to invest but also has industry expertise, is willing to serve as a mentor, and has a huge rolodex of useful contacts. Trying to find all these qualities in a single person is a recipe for frustration. Why not consider raising money from investors and then using that money to hire consultants to help with the other stuff?

Create a blueprint and follow it faithfully

When I work with entrepreneurs that are looking to raise capital, the often want to jump in headfirst and talk to every investor they can get an appointment with. I recommend taking some time to create a plan first. The few weeks it takes to do that could save you months or years of frustration! I help my clients create a plan that includes

1. Getting clear on why you are raising money
2. Your non-negotiable goals and values
3. How much to raise
4. Who is your ideal investor, where are they, and what are they looking for
5. Addressing the mindset issues that get in your way so you can approach investors with confidence
6. Create financial projections that help you see clearly the best way to bring on investors
7. What to offer investors – equity versus debt; exits; etc.
8. What legal compliance strategy to use to make sure you can reach your ideal investors without breaking the law
9. Designing your communication strategy

Once you feel good about your plan, stick to it!  Don’t listen to those who will tell you that you’re not doing it right. I promise you, many of those who “do it right” end up very unhappy, stressed out, and sometimes even fired from their own company.

Get support!

I am working with groups of women entrepreneurs that are all raising money at the same time and I’m amazed to see how helpful it is to be a part of a supportive group. The participants give feedback, resources, introductions, and pep talks to each other, which leads to better results and makes a process that can be very unpleasant actually enjoyable!

If you’d like to talk about your capital raising strategy, click here to apply to have a one-on-one conversation with me.

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Are profits for losers?

I help entrepreneurs raise capital from investors.  One of the main questions I get from entrepreneurs is “Does my business need to be profitable before I can raise money?”

Then one day I talked to an entrepreneur who told me that she went to talk to a professional investor (venture capitalist) and he seemed to be concerned when he learned that her business is in fact profitable.

How strange!  Wouldn’t you think an investor would be more interested in investing in a profitable business than one that is losing money?

Then I read in the Wall Street Journal yesterday that only 17% of the tech companies that went public this year made a profit in the previous 12 months – the lowest percentage since 2000.  As the article puts it, “Unconventional financial metrics woo investors, spark worry.”

Yes, I understand that profits can come at the expense of growth, but it seems like venture-backed companies are playing by different rules – ones that are exposing our economy to a huge amount of risk.

That may be part of the reason why the average VC fund fails to return investor capital after fees.

So, if your company is profitable, be proud!  There are investors out there who will appreciate it.  And if it’s not yet profitable, keep in mind that most companies that have raised large amounts of capital aren’t either.

Here is a link to the WSJ article: http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-tech-startups-play-the-numbers-game-1433903883

 

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Finding investors for a microbrewery – guest post

The following is an edited version of a cheap mlb jerseys post by Nathan Pierce of MicroBrewr, based on an interview with Jenny.

Listen to the full interview here.

You planned the brewery of your dreams. You researched the market and you know it will be profitable. But you don’t have a million dollars under your pillow to start it. Now how to find investors for a brewery?

Jenny Kassan, an attorney and consultant in Oakland, California, graduated from Yale law and worked for 11 years helping to build really small businesses. For the last 9 years she worked in securities law, “the very highly regulated world of raising money for a business.” Now she does consulting and teaches classes on how to raise funds for businesses.

As soon as you ask someone to invest in your brewery, you’re conducting a “security offering,” which is regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as well as the securities regulators in each state where you offer the investment.

“Even if the regulators don’t catch you and fine you, you have created this liability for your company,” cautions Jenny. “If, for example, one of your investors was unhappy later and wanted their money back because you couldn’t afford to pay them or something, they could complain. And then it would be uncovered that you never did comply with those laws. And they would have a pretty good case against you.”

First, some background info.

There are generally 2 kinds of investments:

  1. Equity – ownership in the company
  2. Debt (aka loan) – must be paid back

There are 2 kinds of investors:

  1. Accredited investor – A person with a net worth of $1 million (excluding his or her primary residence) or annual income of $200,000, or an entity with $5 million in assets.
  2. Unaccredited investor

If you only offer a security to accredited investors, the legal compliance hurdles are generally fewer.  However, there are legal ways to include both kinds of investors in your offering.

Until you have ensured that your offering is legally compliant, don’t solicit investors directly.  Also, don’t advertise your offering publicly unless you have done the legal compliance that allows advertising.

Anything other than one-on-one communication is considered advertising.

“Have some informal conversations with potential investors,” Jenny instructs, “and say, ‘I’m thinking about raising some money—I’m not doing it now, but I’m thinking about it.’”

Then ask general “if scenarios.” For example, “If I were to offer an investment opportunity in my brewery:”

  • Would you be more interested in equity or debt?
  • How would you expect to get paid back?
  • How long would you be willing to have your money tied up?
  • What kind of perks would you want?

The laws are flexible enough that you can design your investment agreement in lots of different ways.

“There’s a lot of kinds of equity that can look a lot like debt,” says Jenny. “There’s also debt that can look more like equity, where the payment that you make to your investor can vary based on the success of the company.”

After both parties come to agreement, they each need to talk with an attorney to make sure their desired agreement is legally compliant.

Most investments require some kinds of securities filing at the state or federal level or both.

After you figure what you’re willing to offer, you might be ready to conduct an offering. Talk to an attorney to help you do any necessary filings.

Direct Public Offerings

If you want to do a Direct Public Offering which allows you to do public advertising and include an unlimited number of both accredited and unaccredited investors, you may need to file a Form D with the SEC and register with your state regulators. The filing requires attachments such as:

  • “Prospectus”
    • Risks
    • Business plan
    • Description of management team and qualifications
    • Anything investors would need to help them make a decision
  • Sample security to be offered
  • Organizational documents for the company
  • Etc.

The filing fee can range from a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars. Legal fees usually range from $15,000 – $30,000. It sounds like a lot, but if you’re opening a million dollar brewery, it’s a worth 3% of the overall budget.

“I think it’s possible to do without an attorney,” speculated Jenny. “It’s certainly not the best strategy. It may take you twice as long and it may be a nightmare, but you should be able to get through the process.”

If you go at it without an attorney, remember that the regulators are there to help. So work with them, respond to all of their questions, and make their Your requested changes.

Once you get approval from the regulators for your Direct Public Offering, now find money!

Advertise your offering:

  • Talk to media
  • Get in the newspaper
  • Put it on your website
  • Send 11g mass emails
  • Host parties and events
  • “Set up a million meetings”

Have your investor packet ready for when people want to know more.

“The best thing to think about,” says Jenny, “is to put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself, ‘What is everything I would want to know if I were them, before making a decision?’”

Include anything to help them make a decision, even the risks.

“If they find out later that you didn’t disclose something that was material to their decision,” cautions Jenny, “they could sue you and Mind say you misrepresented what the opportunity was.”

Vet your investors

Another important thing is to make sure each investor is a good fit.

“You don’t want cheap nba jerseys to accept the first investor that says ‘yes,’” cautions Jenny.

Find investors with whom you get along, and with whom your values and vision for the business align.

“When you are bringing in a fairly large investor,” says Jenny, “they may have a pretty big role that they are playing in your life for the next 10 years.”

And maybe we should saying something like… Of course this is not legal advice. The laws are highly complex and vary from state to state. You need to speak to an attorney about your specific situation.

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Divi’s layout has been designed with mobile devices in mind. No matter how you use it, and no matter how you view it, your website is going to look great.

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Divi is here to stay, and you can rest easy knowing that our team will be updating and improving it for years to come. Build on top of a powerful foundation.

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How to Raise Money from Investors without Losing Your Mind

At a recent conference for mission-driven businesses, I attended a panel on raising capital. One of the panelists was a woman who had started a very unusual business. She had raised capital from investors she loved on her own terms.

How did she do it? She said she spoke to about 400 investors before she found a good fit. It was time-consuming and disheartening at times, but throughout the whole process she did two things:

  1. she refused to pretend to be something that she wasn’t
  2. she refused to compromise on what cheap jerseys free shipping was important to her.

She said that in a few meetings with investors, she tried to follow the advice that she received so often to present a slick pitch deck. But she just didn’t feel comfortable with that kind of presentation. She decided to ignore the advice and follow her gut instinct which told her to just show up and have a conversation. Those meetings were much more successful than the ones in which she tried to force herself into a model that wasn’t authentic to who she was.

Also, if she met an investor that she didn’t feel was a match in terms of values or personality, she moved on and didn’t waste her time.

By staying true to herself, she got through this very challenging process without losing her mind and raised the funds she needed from investors that were a great fit.

The lesson? Be yourself when raising capital. Just like with dating, it’s better to show your authentic self than to pretend you’re something you’re not. Not only will you be more likely to attract investors you’re happy with, the process will be easier and more Wintering enjoyable.

To sign up for a call to determine your best next step for raising capital from your ideal investors on your own terms, click here.

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Divi’s layout has been designed with mobile devices in mind. No matter how you use it, and no matter how you view it, your website is going to look great.

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Divi is here to stay, and you can rest easy knowing that our team will be updating and improving it for years to come. Build on top of a powerful foundation.

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Divi will change the way you build websites forever. The advanced page builder makes it possible to build truly dynamic pages without learning code.

Key Elements

The builder comes packed with tons of great modules, and more are on the way! Combine and arrange them in any order. The possibilities are countless.

Target Audience

Divi’s layout has been designed with mobile devices in mind. No matter how you use it, and no matter how you view it, your website is going to look great.

Strategy

Divi is here to stay, and you can rest easy knowing that our team will be updating and improving it for years to come. Build on top of a powerful foundation.

Advanced Drag & Drop Builder

The Divi Builder was made with user experience at the forefront of its priorities. The way it is broken up into sections, rows, columns and widgets, really allows you to understand and edit the structure of your page. Your editing controls are pulled out of the main content area so that you get a clear and concise representation of how your modules fit into your page layout.

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Creating Your Capital Raising Blueprint

Instructions: Keep an open mind! Try not to have any particular source of capital in mind when answering these questions. Imagine that there are an infinite number of sources of capital out there and that some of them are perfectly aligned with your needs, goals, and values. Create an image of the perfect source of capital before you start seeking investment. If you know exactly what you want, you are much more likely to find it!

  1. Do you really need to raise capital? Raising capital can be time-consuming and expensive. Is there a better way to get the resources you need? Revenues? Barter? Cut back on expenses?
  2. If you decide you do need to raise capital, what do you need to raise it for? Make a detailed list of the things you need to buy over the next year or two that you cannot buy with current cash flow.
  3. How much do you need to raise? Put dollar amounts next to the items you listed in Step 2. Add a 10-20% contingency line.
  4. How will having that Response money affect your business? For example, if you pay for two new sales reps, will that lead to more expenses e.g. will you have to hire a COO because of the growth of the business? If so, add those expenses to the list from Step 3.
  5. What is the long-term plan for the business – grow fast and sell to a larger business? Slow steady growth with no plans for a sale? Leave it to my children? Sell it to my employees in ten years? How does this affect how investors can get paid?
  6. Picture an investor walking up to you and offering a check for $1 million. What conditions would make your refuse the check? Examples could include the investor wanting a majority of the equity, a seat on the board, always choosing the lowest cost supplier regardless of how that supplier treats its workers . . . .
  7. Create financial projections assuming you reach your capital raising goal. Given how raising the money will affect your business’ financials, how much is left over to pay investors? For example, if you had to pay investors a cut of the profits every year, how much could you afford to pay?
  8. Create a profile of one or more ideal investors. What are they like? What kind of return are they looking for? What kind of interaction do you have with them? Do they sit on your board? Do they have the power to fire you? Do you just send them wholesale MLB jerseys an annual check?
  9. Based on your answer to the previous questions, what would you like to offer to potential investors? Equity where the only exit can come from the sale of the company? Debt-like equity with annual dividends and a redemption option? Convertible debt? Straight debt? Revenue-based financing (payments to the investors vary based on the performance of the company)? Perks? Discount cards? A combination?
  10. What will be your compliance strategy for reaching your ideal investors? (raising capital is a heavily regulated activity so you must make sure you have a compliance plan before starting to talk to investors)
  11. What is your plan and timeline to reaching out to your ideal investors?

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Key Elements

The builder comes packed with tons of great modules, and more are on the way! Combine and arrange them in any order. The possibilities are countless.

Target Audience

Divi’s layout has been designed with mobile devices in mind. No matter how you use it, and no matter how you view it, your website is going to look great.

Strategy

Divi is here to stay, and you can rest easy knowing that our team will be updating and improving it for years to come. Build on top of a powerful foundation.

Advanced Drag & Drop Builder

The Divi Builder was made with user experience at the forefront of its priorities. The way it is broken up into sections, rows, columns and widgets, really allows you to understand and edit the structure of your page. Your editing controls are pulled out of the main content area so that you get a clear and concise representation of how your modules fit into your page layout.

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We know that your website needs to be accessible and readable on all devices. We made Divi fully responsive so that your designs look great no matter what. With the builder, you design your desktop website, and we make sure that Divi does the heavy lifting for you.

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Divi Ships with a tone of great premade layouts to get you started with a homepage, a portfolio, an eCommerce Storefront, and much more! Check out the theme demo to preview a few of these premade layouts. We've even realeased layout packs along the way for portfolios and business focused websites.

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Join today and get access to Divi, as well as our other countless themes and plugins.

Product Features

Advanced Page Builder

Divi will change the way you build websites forever. The advanced page builder makes it possible to build truly dynamic pages without learning code.

Key Elements

The builder comes packed with tons of great modules, and more are on the way! Combine and arrange them in any order. The possibilities are countless.

Target Audience

Divi’s layout has been designed with mobile devices in mind. No matter how you use it, and no matter how you view it, your website is going to look great.

Strategy

Divi is here to stay, and you can rest easy knowing that our team will be updating and improving it for years to come. Build on top of a powerful foundation.

Advanced Drag & Drop Builder

The Divi Builder was made with user experience at the forefront of its priorities. The way it is broken up into sections, rows, columns and widgets, really allows you to understand and edit the structure of your page. Your editing controls are pulled out of the main content area so that you get a clear and concise representation of how your modules fit into your page layout.

All The Right Things

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Fully Responsive Layouts

We know that your website needs to be accessible and readable on all devices. We made Divi fully responsive so that your designs look great no matter what. With the builder, you design your desktop website, and we make sure that Divi does the heavy lifting for you.

Product Feature

Divi Ships with a tone of great premade layouts to get you started with a homepage, a portfolio, an eCommerce Storefront, and much more! Check out the theme demo to preview a few of these premade layouts. We've even realeased layout packs along the way for portfolios and business focused websites.

Product Feature

Divi Ships with a tone of great premade layouts to get you started with a homepage, a portfolio, an eCommerce Storefront, and much more! Check out the theme demo to preview a few of these premade layouts. We've even realeased layout packs along the way for portfolios and business focused websites.

Signup Today For Instant Access

Join today and get access to Divi, as well as our other countless themes and plugins.