The Four Key Steps in Startup Fund Raising Processes

Raising capital from venture capitalists at any stage can seem like a very strange, ambiguous and amorphous process. I’ve written about the way Redpoint diligences/researches a startup and its market and what questions we tend to ask at each stage. In this post, I’ll focus on the process from entrepreneur’s point of view. When raising capital, entrepreneurs will see potential investors move through four phases of investment decision-making process: screening, socialization, diligence, and decision.

The Things You Do Often Create the Things You Believe

The process of creating the right culture in a startup has always been mysterious to me. Each company’s culture evolves in its own way. I’ve wondered whether the culture is set by the personalities of the founders, or prominently displayed value statements and mission, or biases purposely imposed in the hiring processes like Google’s googliness filter. Or is understanding the psychological forces at play among employees the most important element?

Evaluating a SaaS Subscription Billing Service

With increasing number of software solutions moving to SaaS, the way to charge, collect the fee for the service Subscription Billingis also changing. License (lump-sum) fee is being replaced by (monthly/annual) subscription fee. If the architecture, data management, service uptime (SLAs) are not challenging enough, SaaS companies now also have to deal with subscription pricing, billing and tiered offerings which is not the core competency of most SaaS businesses. To meet this this challenge, a new category of software offering called Subscription Management (aptly also SaaS) which specialize in providing robust billing, pricing capabilities has emerged.

A  friend who runs a SaaS company, which is growing fast and has outgrown their in-house process/technology of managing subscriptions,  was beginning to evaluate a Billing Service. He asked me to help with characterization of what an ideal service should be capable of and baseline the needs that they need to assess. Thought it might be

Continue reading "Evaluating a SaaS Subscription Billing Service"

Which Acquirer Pays the Most for Startups?

A few days ago, Simply Business published an infographic and data on the acquisition patterns of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Yahoo. Looking at that data, I wondered which acquirers pay the most for startups. Ideally, this data provides some negotiating leverage to founders selling their businesses. I’ve prepared three charts and a table to tell the story. The first compares the average acquisition prices over the life of each of the tech monoliths.

Why the WhatsApp Acquisition Changes Everything

From zero to $19B of business value in five years; WhatsApp’s sale to Facebook is an important moment in the history of the consumer web. The deal proves distribution, reach and large user bases aren’t the competitive moats they once were. Apple’s App Store and Google Play have leveled the playing field to such an extent that a startup can command 10% of the market cap from a $200B company.

What to Look for When Hiring a Head of Marketing for Your Startup

When a startup is confronted with the prospect of hiring a head of marketing, founders heads often spin. What should be the day-to-day tasks for this person? What skill sets are important? Because of the seeming abstract nature of marketing, founders sometimes delay finding a head of marketing until they feel acute pain, at which point they can clearly identify the attributes of the right candidate. But underinvestment in marketing, like underinvestment in infrastructure or software or product, isn’t a good idea.

The Impact of a Startup’s Location on Its Ability to Raise Capital

Great entrepreneurs can come from anywhere. But do the locations of startups affect their ability to raise follow on capital? Do seed stage companies in the Bay Area face lower likelihoods of raising a Series A because of more competition? Or is it that New York based startups, because of a smaller ecosystem, face more difficulty? Using Crunchbase data, I charted the financing follow-on rates across the 12 US cities in which at least 10 seeds, 3 Series As and 3 Series Bs have occured in the Crunchbase data set from 2005-2014.

How to Combat Inaccurate Data and Faulty Statistics When Making Decisions

When presented with figures and numbers and statistics, it’s easy to take the conclusions as fact. Numbers in a spreadsheet carry a finality, a exactitude that belies how inaccurate they can be. In 2005, Stanford professor Johannes Ioannidis turned the world of research and statistics on its head. He published “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.” Ioannidis’ paper cast doubt on decades of research. More than 75% of experimental results published in the world’s best journals couldn’t be replicated.

Why Startups Face Increasing Competition in Raising Series As and Bs

Has it become harder to raise money? is a question I hear all the time. On one hand, the total dollars invested by VCs is relatively flat at just under $30B per year, according to the NVCA. On the other hand, the stories of difficulty raising series As and Bs have become a steady drumbeat. To get some sense of the patterns, I analyzed 917 companies from seed through Series B over the past 14 years, using Crunchbase data.

How Your Startup’s Sector Affects Your Ability to Raise a Series A

The average seed stage startup has a 20% chance of raising a Series A according to Crunchbase data for IT startups who raised seed and Series A rounds between 2006 and 2013. But this figure varies significantly sector by sector. Below is a chart of the different startups’ sectors and their rates of raising Series A capital net of the mean of 20%. To contrast two diametric examples, 40% of seed-stage search startups raised Series As, while on average only 10% of hardware startups raise Series As.