Month: January 2019

All You Need to Know About Capitalization Tables

All You Need to Know About Capitalization Tables

What is a Cap Table?

Capitalization Table

Cap Table is a spreadsheet for an early-stage venture or a start-up that lists all the company’s securities, their holders and the price paid by the investors to hold these securities. It shows each stakeholder’s percentage of ownership and how it can be diluted over time. In short, your Cap Table is a standing summary of who owns what in your company. It is a crucial part of your data room file for early stage investment. For the full package, check out our previous article: What to Include in an Investment Package.

Why is a Cap Table Important?

I wouldn’t be writing this article if it isn’t. Most important to investors, they will want to look at your Cap Table. How you have raised money and who owns the company. In fact, this might be the only thing investors would care about, aside from your ideas. It is also interesting for them to know who else has already invested. They may be interested because the other investors have a strong reputation and are very hands on or they are competitor investors.

Shareholders want to keep track how much of the company they own; founders and investors would like to know how much of the shares they are giving away if the company issues more shares.

So, founders, do not screw up your Cap Tables! Because screwing-up your Cap Table is like getting a face tattoo when you’re drunk!

How to Use a Cap Table?

Spreadsheet

Understanding Your Equity

One of the uses of the Cap Table is to make decisions on should you raise funding for another round. Cap Table also shows how certain decisions can affect the company’s ownership structure and by how much.

Managing Stock Options for Employees

When the company expands, and more employees are hired, you would want to introduce incentive plans such as incentivizing them by giving them stock options. By offering some degree of company ownership to employees, it gives them the incentive to contribute more so their contribution can be monetized as the company’s stock price rises.

Cap Table then come in handy in situations as such. Cap Table can easily calculate out by adding in an extra stakeholder, by how much would current stakeholders’ share change. Also, by showing you how many shares are available to be issued with an addition stakeholder.

How to Make a Basic Cap Table?

Excel

I was looking around the net and realized most cap tables are more complicated than it should be. There should be a basic Cap Table template out there but seriously, it seems to me that every template seems to overcomplicate things. Cap Table can be quite tricky sometimes if you have never worked with one before. Hence, for those entrepreneurs out there who are looking for a basic Cap Table, fret not! This article is for you.

I have quickly put together a basic Cap Table template using Excel for you to reference on. Please remember with every additional round of funding, you must update your Cap Table. For example, and not limited to — changing stock options for stakeholders, issuing new shares and transfer of shares. Without further ado, I present to you the basic fits all Cap Table.

Capitalization Table Example

A basic cap table should be divided into two sections: ownership and valuation. Using the example above, highlighted fields are variables for you to fill in whereas the rest are automated using formulas. In the ownership section, enter each investor’s name and the dollar value each of them contributed and the rest of the fields will be automatically generated for you!

Same goes to the valuation section, enter the current company value, the current number of shares and new equity raised. The screenshot should be an easy way for you to follow and generate your own basic cap table template.

I personally do prefer a simplified and transparent cap table as I certainly do not think you need a complicated cap table at an early stage in order to run a startup. I strongly encourage to try it out yourself. The template can be found here! Modify, if you have to in order to create a cap table that a story about your company!

Remember, there is no “right” way to format your cap table, but to keep it organized and simple. The right cap table for a founder might look entirely different than the right cap table for another founder.

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About VenturX

VenturX is a web platform that helps entrepreneurs through their journey from idea to launch and beyond. VenturX uses data-driven analytics to score and connect startups and investors at Seed and Series A financing.

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How to Get on the Radar of an Investor

How to Get on the Radar of an Investor

“Before you walk in the room to pitch, I should have heard about you 10 times already!” — Investor, Montreal, CA

1. Personal Connections

Just like in other industries, getting a personal recommendation from a trusted source is ideal to meet people. Historically, word of mouth is still the oldest form of marketing because there is an element of trust.

People

What can I do?

There are a few steps that you can take today to plant that seed:

  1. Let people in your network (ie. brother, colleagues, startup friends, strangers you met at networking events, etc..) know that you are working on your business and currently seeking funding. People do not know you have a need unless you let them in on what’s going on. Depending on your relationship with the other person, you are not necessarily asking for something, you are just telling them what’s going on and where you are at.
  2. Show passion for your idea. Passion is contagious and it can motivate people to help you get to that next milestone
  3. Don’t assume. You never really know who people in your network know and don’t know. During my time working with hundreds of startups, we found that many unsuccessful ones make a lot of pessimistic assumptions. They assume they don’t know anyone who can help with funding. They assume the answer to any question will be no. Just remember that if you live to 80 years old, the average person will meet 80,000 people in their lifetime.

2. Pitch Competitions

If you live in a startup-friendly place like Montreal, then you are aware of the same startups who pitch at every competition hoping to win. They may not necessarily win any competition but they are marketing themselves to the room. The mere-exposure effect is a psychological phenomenon by which people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them. To get on the radar and have them like you, you have to first exist in the investor’s minds.

pitch competition

What can I do?

  1. Brand new 2019 kickoff, enter at least 2–5 competitions. The business will likely change over that time but if you sign up, you are more likely to force yourself to be marketed to the investors who don’t know you.
  2. The other benefit is that you likely get asked questions from judges so investors will see how you are answering them during the Q+A portion of the pitch. It can really help you stand out.

3. Meet at Networking Events

When you go to events with speakers, booth exhibitions or casual meet and greet events, sometimes you will see who the sponsors or speakers are directly in the event description. You can see beforehand who the investors are. See the example below.

Sample Eventbrite Ticket

What can I do?

What I trained my interns to do last summer was add every single person on LinkedIn 24–48 hours before. (You don’t want to do it too early in case both parties forget.) Then, take note of the most relevant people who we should meet. Because some events might be hard to navigate with lots of activities and presentations, you want to target only 5–8 key people who are most relevant for you.

3. Execute Good Content

Online presence is also relevant. Showing yourself as a thought leader and innovator in the space will trigger the interest of the investors you are trying to attract because it shows you know your stuff.

Content

What can I do?

  1. Find out who your favorite investors are following. Find out the topics they engage with and why that is relevant for your business/space.
  2. Imitation is the highest form of flattery. Upon completing the first tip above, you will find yourself researching more and more about what interests these investors and imitate those influencers or innovators they also respect in order to get inspiration for content.
  3. Find out how they wish to consume content so you are using the right vehicles too. For example, is it written on Word, Medium or LinkedIn? Is it a video on Youtube?

4. PR / Podcasts

A great way to get some exposure to investors, partners, and clients alike is podcasts, publications, etc.. It does depend on how comfortable you are at writing, being on video, doing podcasts, etc.. VenturX has all these channels and you can see on our Youtube and Twitter/ Facebook that every single podcast we guest star in, we also repurpose the content and repost to keep engagement high. The other thing is that the more you put your brand out there, the more opportunities will come knocking on your door. In 2018, we got a call from Brahm, who was following my content and had an interest in our innovative technology. In no time, VenturX is now going to be featured in the book “Innovate Montreal.” This book will be published in 2019 and it highlights the top innovators in the major cities around the world.

Podcast

What can I do?

  1. What are the top publications and podcasters that are relevant to your industry? Reach out to them and ask how you can get on their podcast? After doing a great podcast, you may get a positive recommendation to another…and then another…

2. Create a media kit in order to save all content in one place. You can share the link to publications who ask for it, you can also use it to collect past publications you have been featured in.

3. Create a newsletter for your potential investors and partners to keep them updated about the momentum you are building and whose show you will be featured next.

5. Engage with Investors on Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool to connect with people who may not be directly in your network. You can find out which investors engaged with your posts and why. When I posted my most powerful post yet, I was surprised by the amount of positive support and engagement from investors who I met at events. The post was called “The Time I Was Threatened By a Client.” It was authentic, honest and it reached people on a human level.

Social Media

What can I do?

  1. Find out who is following you and on which mediums? (ie. Product Hunt followers, Twitter followers, Medium claps, LinkedIn comments, etc.) Then if they are an investor who you want to engage with but do not know them, add them on LinkedIn and thank them for following. Start a conversation…
  2. This method only works if you are both putting out content and engaging on social media in the first place.

6. Ask for Referrals When Rejection

Turn those “not a good fit for us” into warm introductions. Of course, this depends on the investors you are talking to.

Referrals

What can I do?

If you get an answer to your unsuccessful pitch, you can ask for feedback and if they can refer you to someone who would invest in that space or industry where it could be a better fit. If it helps, you can have an “introduction template” to send them so it makes to easier for them to introduce your company that is most representative.

7. Awards, Grants, Recognition

Investors are always looking for signs that a startup will be successful. Some startup founders may not know which things are signs of success/ momentum and how to present them.

Winners

What can I do?

  1. Advertise the awards, grants, and recognition on your website. You can create a News Page like this. This will help attract traffic to your site as well if you won a major award that others may be searching for.
  2. Keep them updated by mentioning it in your newsletter. You can also link back to the same New Page so they can see more information.
  3. Write this at your email signature that you are an award or notable grant recipient. Not enough people utilize their email signatures but you should see it as your business card.
  4. If you were a speaker at an event, it should be your LinkedIn profile cover page/facebook cover page. It should show you on stage with a microphone and the name of the conference in the background. The same goes for any pitch competition won.

8. Key Advisors on Your Board

Some startups have certain key advisors on their board in order to get attention from their specialized industries. These names hold weight and get attention. If these advisors are very invested in the startups and hold advisory shares, they have the incentive to mention them to their network/ when they go on stage for speaking engagements, etc.

Advisor

What can I do?

  1. List key advisors who would be your dream advisors to be on your board
  2. Find out which boards they currently serve on and what motivates them
  3. Reach out to them and see if some will want to work with you and bring on industry expertise and networking opportunities

9. Associate with Communities

If your startup went through an accelerator or incubator that has a strong community such as Y-Combinator and Techstar, then these communities are also good sourcing of referrals for funding. From the past years, there are also investors we have met who explained that they limit their scouting pool to only certain incubators and fund graduates from those directly for the past years. They believe in those communities or have graduated from them in the past.

techstars, y-combinator, 500 startups

What can I do?

  1. Join those accelerators if you have time and accessibility (some might require you to travel)
  2. If you do not have time, they sometimes have short 1-week boot camps or online programs you can join to also get better acquainted with their communities and offerings
  3. Find out where they hold public open events to network with those funded founders and mentors and start making connections and seeing where you fit

10. Rinse and Repeat!

Staying stuck behind a screen will not get you better acquainted with investors you are trying to familiarize yourself with. Keep repeating these steps at every opportunity and get yourself out there to set up meetings and coffees. Take advice and feedback and really listen to what they are expecting from you. Be sure to have your data room files ready (see an example HERE!)

Investors Package

We keep reminding our startup clients it is very hard to be heard through all this noise. They do not have to worry about being overly flamboyant when marketing. Startups do not have the budget to market themselves to any extreme. Even when you think you are over-doing it, that person may believe to only have heard of you once. It takes more to be remembered in someone’s mind.

Good luck!

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About VenturX

VenturX is a web platform that helps entrepreneurs through their journey from idea to launch and beyond. VenturX uses data-driven analytics to score and connect startups and investors at Seed and Series A financing.

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