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A highly successful angel investor and entrepreneur identifies and puts to the test a valuation calculator tool. He finds that it works very well, thank you. By answering twenty-five questions, entrepreneurs and investors arrive at valuations that can reasonably be used as a practical guide to investing.
An important voice in the angel investing world, Luis Villalobos has contributed a practical new term--"valuation divergence"--that focuses on a little understood fact of angel investing: Returns on investments in a company do not increase in direct proportion to the company's market valuation. Entrepreneurs and investors alike will benefit from a better understanding of this concept.
Numerous factors affect how angels value a company. Primary are the strength of the management team and the size of the opportunity, or a company's potential to scale. Accompanying this article is a valuation worksheet that entrepreneurs can use to better understand what investors look for and to identify factors that can justify higher pre-money valuations. Investors will find it useful to compare companies and determine whether valuation should be higher or lower.
Investing in seed and startup companies is extremely risky: Angel investors typically realize about 85 percent of their total portfolio returns from 15 percent of their portfolio companies. Consequently, angels look only for companies that can grow rapidly. Entrepreneurs who pursue less aggressive growth are unlikely to attract angel investors.
This informative piece explains a well-known method that venture capitalists use to determine "post-money valuation," which is a company's valuation at the time of investment. Perhaps more important, it provides valuable insights into why the returns expected by investors are often perceived as "too high" by entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs struggle with how much to pay themselves and the need to use financial resources to ignite growth versus reaping cash rewards for their own labors. Once outside equity investors are involved, the struggle and decision passes to board members. This founding entrepreneur, minority shareholder in his own company, shares what has worked for his company.
As an entrepreneur you're probably looking for ways to increase executives' perks as a method of attraction and retention. One program you might consider is a medical reimbursement plan. Another is a key-man insurance policy--especially if you have business partners.
Your company's unique characteristics guide your choices regarding executive compensation. Consider the current stage of company development, plans for future growth, intended liquidity path for company equity, and overall management philosophy around sharing financial information and rewards to help you determine what makes sense for your situation.
Valuation negotiations between entrepreneurs and investors are often contentious. Such valuations rarely stray from the $1 million to $3 million range for seed/startup companies that angels expect to grow to $50 million to $100 million over five to eight years. Angels are most concerned about the management team's ability to rapidly grow the company and about helping the entrepreneur achieve these growth objectives.
This entrepreneur and strategic coach presents two case studies, from her entrepreneur client base, which approach compensating "A" players in very different ways. Both had the same goal though--keep them on the team.
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