Raising money is serious business and competing for capital takes being on top of your fundraising and business game. Active in both Silicon Valley and New York startup communities, I have co-founded startups, raised money, scaled companies and built out several programs around software design and contracts. From large corporations to small first time angel investors, I know what it takes to get the job done technically and financially. While it's easy to get stressed and spread thin, here are seven steps I've learned to maximizing your time and efforts while raising capital.
1. Have Your Cap Table Ready
Amateur entrepreneurs think that the cut of what an investor will take is "negotiable" and will "depend," but the truth is that most investors already know how much of a cut (%) of a business they need to get to make the investment worthwhile. As such, preparing your own updated cap table-aka "capitalization table"-or something which details the equity breakout between shareholders or employees is essential. Since a potential investor will soon become part of this group as well, transparency is very important. No updated cap table or list of shareholders? Likely no investment will follow.
2. Know How to Spend Money
No, not just monthly burn or stretching out capital, but show how exactly new capital will be used, and not simply for debt or buying out other investors . Most business industries already have formulas for this, so look around. Either way, whatever amount of money you are asking for should be planned for and put to good use.
3. Memorize Metrics and Track Records
What have you sold to date? What did you last say you were going to do with capital or revenues and what did you do? Are you always on track? Since all investment is a risk, investors are professional risk takers. They will be looking at previous track record, but also your ability to gauge and estimate in general. Are you always 10% off? That might be considered. Do you underestimate? Know how well you have done in the past to know how well you could do in the future.
4. Answers Around IP / Code / Technology
Since you want investors to feel like their money is going to be somewhat protected in that the capital is going to good use, you must also be prepared to talk about how your business is special. Some call this "secret sauce," but really it's about intellectual property and whatever "thing" the business might have as an asset. Be prepared to know if there are patents, trademarks and who owns what. Understanding what and how you have reached product-market-fit is helpful too.
5. Know Your Competition and Not Just Businesses
Knowing who your business competitors are is one thing, but knowing who you are competing against for capital is another. Know what other companies are raising and placing valuations on to give yourself an idea of the options for capital. Understand and find out what metrics those companies are using for making money or raising money, even if their business model is different. You should be able to look at things from the investor's point of view and be able to talk about why capital is better spent in your company and not elsewhere.
6. User Costs
It does not matter the market or space, or if you are selling a product or selling software. If you are running a retail store or subscription, you have to know your user costs and how much money it takes to get new money. CAC, or "customer acquisition costs," is the most commonly used term for this. You should know what your CAC is and have an idea of what this equates to, but in the short term or long term, otherwise known as "LTV."
7. Be Ready for a Check
Yes it's going to happen. Are your investment documents ready? Are all your banking and corporate business licenses are active, are you legally able and ready to accept investment? Sometimes the boring paperwork stuff can kill a deal if it's not ready. Some other things to think about while in this process and running your business:not everyone is going to get along. At some point yourinvestors may want something different than your customers, so try to find theright investor, and also keep in mindnot all VCs or investors are going to get your business and that's okay. And, if all else fails, brush up on investor relation skills and try to tackle as much preparation as possible for fundraising. Any flourishing business will be consistently going through learning pains so any skills learned in fundraising will become handy later on.
Ellie Cachette is a seasoned entrepreneur and mobile app designer based in New York City. Springboard Enterprises alumna of 11' Ellie is a technical project manager by trade and partner at Koombea. For more information on Ellie visit her website elliecachette.com