Thinking beyond VC funding can significantly expand the options and possibilities for an entrepreneur

The word ‘startups’ is currently used to describe technology companies or technology enabled companies that have the potential to get funding from angel investors or VCs. However, using that definition for a startup narrows the possibilities that the entrepreneur can pursue as a business because the kind of companies that VCs can invest in is a very small subset of the many kinds of businesses that entrepreneurs can pursue.

While many ventures can be good businesses for the entrepreneurs, they need not necessarily be a good investment for VCs. And to understand why that is so, it is important to understand the business model of angel investors and VCs. Continue reading “Thinking beyond VC funding can significantly expand the options and possibilities for an entrepreneur”

Are angel investors and VCs greedy? Why do they seek 10x – 20x returns on their investments.

Angel investors and early-stage VCs invest in companies at a stage when the assumptions around the business and the entrepreneur’s execution capabilities are yet to be proven.

While investors review shortlisted companies very, very diligently based on their perspective of the opportunity, their assessment of the business case, and their perception of the entrepreneur’s capabilities, quite a few of the companies that they invest in will fail for a variety of reasons. Some of their portfolio companies may do well, but the investors may not get an exit i.e. they may not get a buyer for the equity they hold in some reasonably successful ones.

Not only will the investors not get any returns on these investments in ventures that don’t succeed or where they do not get an exit, they will most likely lose their capital as well. Only a few of the companies that they invest in will be successful to the extent that they had assumed they would (or much more than that in rare cases).

And therefore, to cover these losses and to make money on their portfolio as a whole, they need at least a few multi-baggers in their portfolio i.e. companies that will be sold for 10 – 20 times the capital they had invested in. Continue reading “Are angel investors and VCs greedy? Why do they seek 10x – 20x returns on their investments.”

Why it is important for startups raising capital to clearly communicate what you do.

I often come across business pitch decks, or even company websites that have fancy set of words that don’t really communicate what the company does. For example, a tagline like “Redefining Healthcare” feels grand, but does not give the reader any clues on what your company does. 

Instead, if the tagline were to be specific saying “Your neighborhood childcare clinic’, there is specificity in communicating what you are offering. If your tag line can also communicate your value proposition, it is ideal. E.g. “Affordable cardiac care”.

VCs and angel investor networks get 100s of business plans every month. And a few individuals in VC firms have the task of sifting though these pitch decks to shortlist those that they think are worthy of more time. Because it is impossible for anyone to go through 100s of pitch decks very, very diligently, it is often the first impressions and the clarity of communication  of the first couple of slides that will decide whether the deck makes it to the ‘shortlisted for further review’ bucket. 

new-clarity-1-1618x858 Continue reading “Why it is important for startups raising capital to clearly communicate what you do.”

Why I wrote the book: Starting up and Fund Raising

There are now more ways than ever for startups to find and connect with investors, through in-person events and online deal-closure platforms, but this also means that investors are seeing more companies than ever before – it is important for entrepreneurs to catch their attention as they may only have one chance to make a good first impression.

prajakt-raut-book-launch-starting-up-fund-raising

Many startups start reaching out to investors before they know how to make a sound and compelling investment case for their business – and how to articulate that. 

Often even strong entrepreneurs with good ideas never get a foot in the door, or catch an investor’s attention because they have not been able to present a compelling case to investors.

Investors want to see a well thought out plan for your business. And how well your pitch deck or intro video communicates a well-thought-out plan is what can get investor attention. Continue reading “Why I wrote the book: Starting up and Fund Raising”

What are the pros and cons of pursuing entrepreneurship at 23?

(This was my answer to a question on Quora)

I am a passionate supporter of entrepreneurship as a career option. Yet I advise individuals that their decision to become an entrepreneur must be a cautiously considered one.

Entrepreneurship is exciting. It is a creative process. It gives you the freedom to create new products or services. And create new value propositions. It gives you an opportunity to create wealth, and/or positively impact the quality of life. It allows you to chart a new path for yourself, and those who believe enough in you and your vision to join you in the journey. Most importantly, as an entrepreneur you create jobs.

For someone who is 23-year-old, I see no downsides of pursuing an entrepreneurial dream. Even if the venture fails, and it could, all you would have lost is a year or two of salary that you may have got in a job. But, even if the venture fails and you have to go back to a job, the entrepreneurial experience will make you far more suitable candidate than someone with similar qualifications but with no entrepreneurial experience. (Ask any HR person, and they will concur.). Continue reading “What are the pros and cons of pursuing entrepreneurship at 23?”

What do you do when someone who was helping you in your startup in an advisory role asks for 10% in equity as compensation?

Entrepreneurs should define the model of engagement with an advisor very carefully BEFORE starting the engagement, so that expectations are set right at the beginning.

10% equity for an advisor role is simply excessive. Not just in the generally accepted model of ‘advisors’ (i.e. where an experienced individual guides the company with his/her perspectives and insights), but it is excessive even if the individual was providing advisor services as a commercial model, with clearly defined outcomes. Continue reading “What do you do when someone who was helping you in your startup in an advisory role asks for 10% in equity as compensation?”

Does it matter who invests in the seed stage of a startup?

As with many aspects about business and entrepreneurship, there is no clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to this question.

It depends on a number of factors. Ideally at the seed stage entrepreneurs should seek investors who will help them in the formative stages of the venture. Individuals who can provide an experienced perspective, or who can provide an experienced opinion to help make choices, or who can make introductions to potential customers, etc. are ideal investors in a startup stage.

Continue reading “Does it matter who invests in the seed stage of a startup?”