During a round of investment in seed- (start-up) and early stage companies, angel investors typically invest from $25,000 to $100,000 each. The round usually totals between $250,000 and $1 million, and the company valuations run from $1 million to $3 million. Collectively, the angels purchase from 20 to 40 percent of a company’s equity and seek a return of 20-30x over five years.
Since the Internet bubble burst, the pre-money valuations of seed-stage companies by venture capitalists have averaged between $1 million and $3 million. Angel investors tend to participate at earlier investment stages than VCs, so pre-money valuations for angel deals nearly always fall into this admittedly wide range. What factors within this range impact the valuation of a specific company?
The accompanying Valuation Worksheet provides entrepreneurs and investors with an empirical basis for deciding if a start-up company should be valued near the top or bottom of the range. It’s not designed to be used for definitive valuation calculations.
The Valuation Worksheet lists major factors and key issues to consider in judging the value of a seed (start-up) company. Note the following features:
- The major factors are listed roughly in order of importance.
- Each major factor has been assigned a weighted ranking. For example, the “Strength of the Management Team” is worth 30 percent while “Sales Channels” are worth 10 percent. Investors put greater emphasis on the management team and the size of the opportunity than they do other factors.
- Within each major factor, the impact of each issue has been assigned a valuation ranking from +++ (very positive) to - - - (very negative), to assist the investor decide the overall weighted ranking to be assigned to the valuation. Some factors, such as the size of the opportunity (scalability) and coachability of the entrepreneur, can be deal killers.
Entrepreneurs can use the worksheet to gain insights into what investors are looking for in a fundable seed-stage company and to identify factors that justify higher pre-money valuations. The worksheet is also a roadmap on how entrepreneurs can improve the fundability of their enterprises and increase the pre-money valuation.
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