By Dave Berkus, Chairman Emeritus, Tech Coast Angels
I cannot tell you how many times I have seen executive summaries of business plans in which the entrepreneur seeks $5,000,000 to build the business.
Four reasons you should reconsider.
First, few startups can use that much money today with all the virtual services available and increasingly inexpensive methods of development, prototyping and marketing. Second, almost no professional investor will consider putting that much into a startup until there is proof of market demand, product viability or some other mitigation of failure.
Third (if you’re keeping score), it is not wise to dilute the founder’s ownership greatly in the first round of financing. The investors want a motivated entrepreneur, and it is certainly more difficult to motivate a twenty percent owner than a sixty percent owner.
Fourth, there is the matter of control. Entrepreneurs have a vision for what and how to create and build a great business. Giving control over that vision to others early on often dilutes the vision and is a disincentive to the entrepreneur.
How does this comport with “skin in the game?”[Professional investors love to see companies where the first round of financing came from the entrepreneur, showing “skin in the game” and more motivation to succeed because of money invested as well as time and creativity.
There are so many resources for early money to validate an idea, turn it into a product and increase the value of the company before professional investors come into the picture.
A much more rational approach to starting up.
Starting with credit card debt or a personal loan and working through money from friends or family, or simply consulting to earn money for investment, entrepreneurs should consider early resources for capital to produce a prototype, do market research or start to build a team. Once there is progress in any of these critical areas, raising professional investment is easier and the likelihood of a higher valuation makes for retention of more equity during the first important professional round.