Category Archives: Term Sheets

Angel Investing – Books, Blogs & Bootcamps

IMG_0376Although long past are the days of racing up and down the aisles of Staples, kids in tow, to acquire all the school supplies on the “list” (probably these days best achieved with a one-click of Amazon Prime), the imminent arrival of the crisp weather of fall always turns my attention to “back to school” thoughts. These days, back to school means reviewing resources to help educate angel investors. Having had the privilege over the past six years to provide leadership to the Golden Seeds Knowledge Institute, I am always on the hunt for training resources to assist both new and seasoned angel investors under the assumption that learning is a lifelong process no matter the discipline. I like to segment investor training into three categories:

BOOKS, BLOGS, & BOOTCAMPS

BOOKS:

Although these are many great sources of information on angel investing, a few of the favorites on my bookshelf include:

Feld & Mendelson’s Venture Deals.  Filled with rich content covering topics such as term sheets and how to raise money, this is a fabulous resource for both investors and entrepreneurs.

David Rose’s Angel Investing – The Gust Guide to Making Money & Having Fun Investing in Startups. This book is one of the most comprehensive guides to angel investing I have read incorporating a wealth of knowledge from David’s incredible history of investing in this space.

Brian Cohen’s What Every Angel Investor Wants You To Know. This is a fun read filled with both advice and anecdotes from the Chair of New York Angels for both the investor and the entrepreneur seeking early stage funding.

Alex Wilmerding’s Term Sheets and Valuations. For those of you who want to understand the intricacies of Term Sheets, this a resource and that I recommend to all investors who take my courses at Golden Seeds.

Basil Peter’s Early Exits. This book covers many topics relevant to the exit process such as exit strategy and investor/entrepreneur alignment.

Richard Lambert’s Financial Literacy for Managers. Although geared more towards public company financial analysis, this resource from Wharton Professor Richard Lambert discusses many of the concepts such as benchmarking, DCF analysis and cost analysis which are important to a startup’s financial health.

Clearly, there are many other great publications out there, these are some of my picks.

BLOGS

Subscribing to Blogs from experts in the field is a great way to keep yourself informed as an angel investor. Here is my list of VCs whose blogs I follow and find informative:

Mark Suster’s Both Sides of the Table.

Fred Wilson’s Daily AVC Blog

The First Round Review

Jalak Jobanputra’s The Barefoot VC

Golden Seeds Blog

Ed Zimmerman, Chair of the Tech Group at Lowenstein Sandler, provides great insight into may topics including his recent post in the WSJ regarding SAFEs – LINK

BOOTCAMPS

I am often asked for a recommendation for courses, either online or in-person, that address angel investing topics. Here is my current list:

Golden Seeds Knowledge Institute:  Golden Seeds developed a series of investor training modules to help our members understand the basics of angel investing. Several of these modules are open to guests.

Angel Capital Association: through it’s Knowledge Center provides a variety of seminars and workshops on various topics.

First Round Capital runs a program Angel Track – a Masterclass for Emerging Angels.

Y Combinator  and Stanford also have courses for angel investors

In addition, for women investors  37 Angels Bootcamp and Pipeline Angels  have angel investor training programs.

Please use the comment section to add Books, Blogs or Bootcamps to the list!

Angel Investing – Burn Rate & Cash Runways

Businesswoman presenting her business ideas

One of my favorite First Round Capital Holiday Videos is the the 2014 release – “It’s All About Burn Rate”  set to the tune of Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass”.  I sometimes find myself humming that tune when I am reviewing an investment opportunity from an entrepreneur who does not fully appreciate the importance of understanding how burn rate and cash runway can impact the success/failure of their venture. When analyzing the financial structure of an investment opportunity, I try to evaluate both the amount of time the funding will last as well as the milestones/traction that the funding will enable the company to achieve. Will the proposed funding result in:

  • Achieving cash flow “break-even” which allows the company to have some measure of control over their financial destiny?
  • An inflection point of milestones/traction that will position the company to raise another round of funding at more attractive valuation levels?
  • Landing in the “dead zone” – not enough traction to attract the next round of funding and without further funding in need of cutting expenses.

Break-even:

If the current raise enables the company to generate enough recurring revenue to operate on a break-even basis, then the company can continue as an operating entity without having to lay-off staff, reduce marketing outlays or frankly shut the doors and cease operation. The company needs to have a clear understanding of their variable versus fixed costs – what expenditures are mandatory to allow the company to survive versus those that can be reduced or even eliminated for a period of time. Growth may be slower than desired, but may at least provide the company the time to pivot their strategy or hold out for a more attractive funding environment.

Traction reached for next round:

For most of the companies in which I am investing, there will be multiple rounds of financing required before the company is in a position to exit. It is critical to understand what are the milestones/traction that the next investor will require and how does the company plan to achieve these milestones within the runway provided by the current raise? On the expense side, does the company have a strong grasp of the resources required to execute on the plan? Do the assumptions for revenue recognition take into account a realistic sales cycle for the product/service being offered?

The “dead-zone”:

Unfortunately, many companies end up in this position either because they do not raise sufficient capital or do not have the ability to actually execute on the plan that would position them to be attractive to the next investor. I find this oftentimes with companies that utilize convertible notes and end up within sight of the maturity date without enough demonstrated progress. As an investor, I am usually faced with the decision to extend my note, invest more in the company to provide some life support, or hope that there is at least some asset value to be distributed to note holders in the event of liquidation.

Remember as the music states – “It’s All About Burn Rate” 

 

Angel Investing – Ringing in the New Year 2014

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????Yes, it’s that time of year once again when we  think about resolutions for the New Year. In last year’s New Year’s post, I suggested that you think about the composition of your investment portfolio, taking into consideration the amount you want to commit to this sector overall as well as the diversification goals that make the most sense for you.

Here are my three tips for 2014:

Know your co-investors:

If the three most important criteria in real estate are location, location, location, then the top three for angel investing would be alignment, alignment, alignment. Not only is it important for investors and portfolio company CEOs to have alignment in terms of their vision for the company, it is just as critical for the co-investors to be aligned. When the business needs to shift direction, there is a follow-on round required,  or an exit on the table, having conflicting objectives among your co-investors can be quite problematic. The advent of funding platforms has made knowing who else is in the deal somewhat more challenging. Entrepreneurs will oftentimes do some due diligence on potential angels, I would suggest you do the same on potential co-investors.

Get your investment dox in order:

Whether there is a follow-on round contemplated or a potential exit on the table, it is also very important that you know both your rights and your obligations as an investor. Where did you file those stock certificates? Do you have pre-emptive rights? Know your options and obligations before a follow-on round or a potential exit.

Look at the world through the lens of an entrepreneur:

Whether it’s negotiating a term sheet or evaluating a major strategic shift, it is always helpful to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. When I review a term sheet for a potential investment, first I read it as an investor, then I read it as though I am the CEO receiving the term sheet. I also enjoy reading books and blogs directed at entrepreneurs. Here are a few of my picks:

If you have a great resource, let me know in the comment section below!

Have a very Happy New Year!

Angel Investing – Term Sheet Liquidity Provisions

Gold Guys With MoneyIn previous posts, I have described how certain term sheet provisions impact the Economics, Control, and Value Protection in a proposed investment. In this final post on Term Sheets, I will discuss some provisions that impact the Liquidity of the investment. Continue reading

Angel Investing – Term Sheets and Value Protection

Accountant With Giant Golden CalculatorThis is the fourth post on Term Sheets and how they impact returns to investors. In addition to economics and control, term sheets also contain provisions that impact how as investors we can add some level of protection for the value of our investment. Although there are a number of provisions in the term sheet addressing this, the three most important to me are:

Angel Investing – Term Sheet “Control” Provisions

teamwork rowingIn a recent post I discussed the “economic” aspects of a term sheet. In addition to laying out the economics of a proposed transaction, the term sheet also provides a road map to various issues revolving around “control”.  As angels, although we are not involved in the day to day management of our portfolio companies, we need to have a voice in strategic issues that impact our portfolio companies. Typically this “control” is exercised either through: Continue reading

Angel Investing – Term Sheet Economics

RechenschieberIn my last post, I listed four areas that Term Sheets cover. This week, I thought I would focus on some of the “Economic” terms. The terms below apply to Convertible Preferred Stock, although there are clearly other types of securities used to fund early stage companies.  These “economic” terms outline who gets what and cover such concepts as:

Valuation: For a Preferred Stock Offering, this represents the per-share price that you will be paying for the investment as well as the “pre-money” company valuation that this price implies. In addition, the term sheet will typically indicate the “post-money” valuation which includes in the company valuation the new funds being invested. Continue reading