Is it the VC that proposes the amount for the pre-seed startup or it is the CEO that claims what amount is needed?

No good investors would want to invest in a company where the CEO did not have their head around the capital needed. A financial projections and plan is required to even get a meeting with most investors. That said, there can always be some back and forth negotiations. A VC might want to put more money in to scale faster. A CEO wants minimum dilution and to get the valuation up by achieving key milestones like MVP, traction, team building and quantification of customer acquisition costs. All of these reduce risk and hence increase the share and valuation price.

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Pre-seed means smaller amounts and lower valuations because the risks are high. Contrary to popular belie, very few VCs do these stage deals, unless it is a team that has made lots of money for investors before.  Typically, these rounds are $250,000 to $500,000 and done by angel investors. 

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Is crowdfunding on Kickstarter and Indiegogo an effective financial strategy for startups?

Crowdfunding has a place, and I am excited about its growth possibilities in certain areas. The funding raised has been about doubling each year for some time now.

It is generally for consumer-oriented companies where the vote of the consumer matters. This is a test of the product demand as well as a way to raise funding for a production run of an early version.

Recently the amount that could be raised was increased to $20 million via crowdfunding and the amount of fraud has been low. Of course, the average consumer does not have the skills to evaluate a company, team, market opportunity, and strategy well. And this takes real work. So essentially, they are just betting on the product concept. And since the amount of money raised is generally small (~$100K-$250K) it is enough to replace the traditional “Friends and family” money when the founders have no wealthy family or past success to roll their gains into the next business.

Of course, even professional venture...

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How fast must a company grow in its projections to attract interest from venture capital funds?

Typically, no less than fifty percent compound annual growth rates after sales start will be needed to clear the minimums. More often, no less than one-hundred percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) will be required at some point.  Of course, growth rates can vary by year, and these are just the average over a five to eight year investment before a liquidity event to cash out.

Also check out my blog where I have loads of articles on entrepreneurship, scaling and raising capital.

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Bob Norton is a long-time Serial Entrepreneur and CEO with four exits that returned over $1 billion to investors. He has trained, coached and advised over 1,000 CEOs since 2002. And is Founder of The CEO Boot Camp™ and Entrepreneurship University™. Mr. Norton works with companies to triple their chances of success in launching new companies and products. And helps established...

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What Are Some Key Components That Will Make An Angel Investor More Likely To Invest In One’s Startup Company?

One of the good question and very complex too. Here are my top 12:

  1. Strong CEO and Team - This is 50% as a strong team can fix everything else. And a CEO that has built and exited a company before, ideally. Young, new entrepreneurs will need a stronger team, advisers and board.
  2. Large market opportunity. Usually, $1 billion plus in 5 years.
  3. Clear market entry strategy, going after a niche (small market) and expanding into other niches or broader market after 1–2 years to make product and other infrastructure robust.
  4. Creation of barriers to entry, or sustainable competitive advantage. We teach 17 ways to do this beyond just intellectual property at CEO & Entrepreneur Training
  5. Gross margins over 50%
  6. Product sales with some data on cost of customer acquisition, conversion and life-time value (resales)

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  7. Recurring revenue from same customers
  8. A financing strategy that shows the potential step up in stock as new milestones are reached, and...
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What are The Options For A Small Company That Needs To Raise More Capital, But Cannot Dilute Its Present Shareholders Any Further?

Debt if there are assets or cash-flow or a “Play or pay” round. A tactic to force people to ante up a pro rata share because the price is lower than the last one (down round) and so those that do not put in their pro rata share are diluted significantly.

Think about it. If you bought in at $1.00 and the company made little progress, but still has lots of potential, then if the Board/CEO offers new stock at $0.30 you almost have to buy if you still believe in the potential or just the new money will get 3X more stock for their new investment, all effectively taken from the portfolios of the people that did not participate in the round.

Not the friendliest tactic, but sometimes warranted if there are no easy sources. And it will also save the CEO and team months of potential work, but not requiring newer investors - who might force the price down based on the lack of progress anyway. See my blog for many more hints and tips on raising capital.

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What Control Do I Lose Once I Start Taking Money from Outside Investors?

You generally only lose control when outside investors own over 50% of the voting shares. That said, many deals contain “Covenants”. Even a bank will request certain things never be done without their approval. For practical purposes, because the management team is likely to vote together unless there are serious problems, when the outside investors collectively own 50% of the remaining shares is what matters. Because if the management team owns 33% (of voting shares), and the outside investors own 66% they would need a lot of unity to override the founder’s board and share votes.  In this example, the outside investors would have to have ~75% of those outside shares to be voting 50% of all shares.

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These things start to matter if things are not going well for some reason. Rarely is there an attempted coup, or do board votes make critical (split) decisions, when things are going well. And if things are not going well,...

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How Long Does It Take to Raise Venture Capital Typically?

Learning and preparation should start at least a year in advance. Once you are prepared, allow six months. It could be shorter or longer, that will depend on your deal and the market at the time in that industry space. Hot deal areas can get done quickly, most will be several months at least.

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Pitching and corralling investors with interest is not in your control.  I can take three to six months. Often the partners become unavailable (on their yachts and at vacation homes, presumably) for summer and winter holidays.  Nothing you can do because usually a partner meeting and vote is required to finalize any deal. Due diligence can take sixty days. Generating a sense of urgency is always a challenge as they have a hundred deals they can do every month. More capital than quality deals. So you need to stand out with a quality team, big market and significant sustainable competitive advantage (barrier to entry).

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How Does An Outside Investor Determine Pre Money Valuation?

Here is a graph showing the deals reported to Pitch deck, which could easily be skewed very high by all the smaller deals that go unreported

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Bob Norton is a long-time Serial Entrepreneur and CEO with four exits that returned over $1 billion to investors. He has trained, coached and advised over 1,000 CEOs since 2002. And is Founder of The CEO Boot Camp™ and Entrepreneurship University™. Mr. Norton works with companies to triple their chances of success in launching new companies and products. And helps established companies scale faster using the six AirTight Management™ systems. And helps companies successfully raise capital.

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How Do I Find an Approach Angel Investors?

Networking is the key strategy. You need to get out there and meet other CEOs, investors and key referral sources at physical events. LinkedIn can be a way to find them, but cold approaches are difficult. I get invitations to invest every week from people I do not know, and I am certain most are not high-quality deals within seconds from their email, deck or type of approach.  Bad English, missing key data, no team background and a hundred other red flags mean an instant rejection. Too many to even send five minutes looking at them when the CEO cannot hit the key points to sell the deal in a few sentences. That is the only thing that will get me to read a deck, unless I want to sell them the help they need to raise funds because I like their idea and think the CEO/Founder has potential.

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Warm interdiction are best. This is best if it is a CEO that made an investor money, introducing you to their past investors. Lawyer, accountants and...

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How is it Possible that A Startup Company Can Raise A $100 Million Dollars Or More?

The more money that is poured into a deal, the lower the risk and more market share they are likely to garner. And hot deals where growth and financial projections are getting real can create a feeding frenzy among investors. It is also likely that these larger investment can scare off smaller competitors.  It is often assumed there are a limited number of winners in any given market.

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Furthermore, it could be three or ten, but limited. Therefore, more money means lower risk and higher upside. Sometimes these deal with blow up, proving to have false expectations. WeWork was a good example of this, and so was Theranos. Both we run by entrepreneurs with questionable ethics. And that’s why the most good investors will want to see strong integrity in the CEO and management team. No one wants to invest in a company with a dishonest management team.

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