Thursday, May 29, 2014

Entrepreneurs Talk about Raising Money

Here are more of their experiences and insights on getting startups funded.

Lower Infrastructure Costs 
With the growing availability of cloud-based computing and services, fewer startups need to spend their money on hardware. “In the early days of Spotify (2006-07),” recalls Enh, “we spent weeks looking at data centers and negotiating with hardware vendors, then finally co-locating. When we started Wrapp five years later, we didn’t need to buy any infrastructure. Higher and higher layers of business service are available in the cloud, so you get more and more stuff without having to buy or do it yourself.”

This has changed seed funding in particular, since startups can lower their initial costs and get products out faster. And for later rounds, notes Reddy, cloud resources make it easier to put up a prototype to show investors.

Changing the VC-entrepreneur balance
Those lower costs can affect the VC-entrepreneur balance, Enh believes. “Large, traditional VCs with hundreds of millions of dollars need a portfolio of about 200 companies to do angel investment properly. Anything that lowers the cost of starting a business may present VCs with the problem of keeping their money active.”

Besides VCs, it’s helpful for the ecosystem to have angels and accelerators willing to invest, says Fears, especially in Latin America where there are fewer institutional investors. “There’s also a growing community of 25- to 30-year-olds,” he adds, “who have had a couple of successful exits and want to invest $50-75,000 in first-time entrepreneurs. Those investors add a lot of value because they are willing to coach and mentor.”

Terms vs. valuation
In the offer, what’s more important for the entrepreneur to examine: terms or valuation?

Of course, the press will focus more on the valuation, but the terms are your agreement with the investors and you’ll have to live with it (and them) a long time.