Venturepreneur

Venture Financing

 

How VC Investors Evaluate Your Venture Proposal

 

Meir Liraz

 VC Guide

 

 

Passing the First Gate

The typical venture capital firm receives over 400 proposals a year.

Probably 90% of these will be rejected quickly because they don't fit the established geographical, technical or market area policies of the firm or because they have been poorly prepared.

The remaining 10% are carefully investigated.

   

 

These investigations are expensive. Firms may hire consultants to evaluate the product, particularly when it is the result of innovation or is technologically complex. The market size and competitive position of the company are analyzed by contacts with present and potential customers, suppliers, and others. Production costs are reviewed. The financial condition of the company is confirmed by an auditor. The legal form and registration of the business are checked. Most importantly, the character and competence of the management are evaluated by the venture capital firm, normally via a thorough background check.

These preliminary investigations may cost a venture firm several $K per company investigated. They result in perhaps ten to fifteen proposals of interest.

Then, second investigations, more thorough and more expensive than the first, reduce the number of proposals under consideration to only three or four.

Eventually, the firm invests in one or two of these.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evaluating Your Track Record and Potential

Most venture capital firms' investment interest is limited to projects proposed by companies with some operating history, even though they may not yet have shown a profit. Companies that can expand into a new product line or a new market with additional funds are particularly interesting.

The venture capital firm can provide funds to enable such companies to grow in a spurt rather than gradually as they would on retained earnings.

Companies that are just starting or that have serious financial difficulties may interest some venture capitalists, if the potential for significant gain over the long run can be identified and assessed. If the venture firm has already extended its portfolio to a large risk concentration, they may be reluctant to invest in these areas because of increased risk of loss.

Although most venture capital firms will not consider a great many proposals from start-up companies, there are a small number of venture firms that will do "start-up" financing. The small firm that has a well thought-out plan and can demonstrate that its management group has an outstanding record (even if it is with other companies) has a decided edge in acquiring this kind of seed capital.

Evaluating Your Management Team

Most venture capital firms concentrate primarily on the competence and character of the Management. They feel that even mediocre products can be successfully manufactured, promoted, and distributed by an experienced, energetic management group.

They look for a group that is able to work together easily and productively, especially under conditions of stress from temporary reversals and competition problems. Obviously, analysis of managerial skill is difficult. A partner or senior executive of a venture capital firm normally spends at least a week at the offices of a company being considered, talking with and observing the management to estimate their competence and character.

Entrepreneur Download PowerPoint presentation, pdf e-book

6+6 Drivers for Entrepreneurship

8 Key Entrepreneurial Questions

Venture capital firms usually require that the company under consideration have a complete management group. Each of the important functional areas product design, marketing, production, finance, and control - must be under the direction of a trained, experienced member of the group. Responsibilities must be clearly assigned. And, in addition to a thorough understanding of the industry, each member of the management team must be firmly committed to the company and its future.

Evaluating Your Competitive Advantage

Next in importance to the excellence of the management group, most venture capital firms seek a distinctive element in the strategy or product/market/process position of the company. This distinctive element may be a new feature of the product or process or a particular skill or technical competence of the management. But it must exist. It must provide a Sustainable Competitive Advantage Download PowerPoint presentation, pdf e-book.

  

 

 

What happens when, after the exhaustive investigation and analysis, the venture capital firms decides to invest in a company? Most venture firms prepare an equity financing proposal that details the amount of money to be provided, the percentage of common stock to be surrendered in exchange for these funds, the interim financing method to be used and the protective covenants to be included.

This proposal will be discussed with the management of the company. The final financing agreement will be negotiated and generally represents a compromise between the management of the company and the partners or senior executives of the venture capital firm. The important elements of this compromise are: ownership, control, annual charges, and final objectives.