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Now don’t get me wrong, these investors do not fund these small businesses from the onset. Instead, they target these companies at a stage of idea commercialization, buy a stake in the firm, foster the growth of these companies, and in return, make profits through Return on Investments (ROI). Why the Risk? Why invest in Startups and Small Businesses? Inasmuch as every business is a risk, venture capitalists risk more by investing in new unproven companies because of the enormous ROI they stand to gain should these companies achieve success. Indeed, the bigger the risk in any business, the higher the profit. What do VCs look out for in startups before investment? How do they minimize the risk involved? Venture capitalists don’t go head on to invest in any business. They conduct appropriate research about companies before investment and they look at companies with a secure and efficient management team, a unique product or service with a strong competitive advantage, and a large potential market for the product/service. VCs do not invest in just any company. They try to minimize the chances of investment failure by conducting thorough research on the company. A Venture Capital Firm is run by a chain of command which starts with the Analysts. When we talk about the research gurus who scout for deals within the investment range of the firm, we present the analysts. They could be interns or graduates who attend conferences on behalf of the VC firm and conduct market research about companies and their competitors. Although they are not capable of taking decisions in the firm, they can introduce you to people in the higher chain of command. Next in the chain of command are the Associates. These are individuals with experience in the business or finance world, skilful in building relationships, analyzing business trends, and market opportunities. Just like the analysts, the associates do not make decisions in a firm but can introduce promising startups to higher management.
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Immediately above the associates are the Principals. These are mid-level professionals capable of making investments decisions but do not have the overall power as regards strategy execution in the firm. These individuals are close to making partners in the firm but are not the most superior officers in the chain of command. At the top of the command, chain lie the Partners. Partners could be general partners, limited partners, or venture partners. General partners are responsible for making decisions regarding investments, ensuring that startups achieve their goals, and also having a say in operational decisions. Limited partners are responsible for ensuring the availability of capital needed for the investment. On the other hand, venture partners do not make investments decisions, rather, they refer deals to other partners in the firm.
How The Funding Process WorksIf you are a company looking for funding from venture capital firms, then this should interest you greatly. Here is the process of acquiring funds from a venture capital firm:
- Identify VC firms that might be interested in investing in your company. Venture Deals, Mattermark, CB insights are tools that can help you do this.
- Introduction: To put a foot further to acquiring the funding, look for who you know or someone close, capable of introducing you to partners in the venture capital firm. The better the introduction, the higher the chances of getting the funding. If the VC shows interest, you would be asked to send a presentation/business proposal.
- Business proposal: This is where the company or individual provides/generates ideas explaining the products or services which they would offer with a bid of getting financing bids or securing a contract. Should the VC firm be interested, they would call for face to face presentation. The proposal or plan should contain financial projections, detailed market opportunities and potentials, competitors in the business, and details on company management.
- Face-to-face presentation: Getting to this stage means the partner is impressed with your proposal and would like to know more. The project will be fully discussed and questions would be asked. If the partner is satisfied with the presentation, you would be given a term sheet.
- Due Diligence: Having received a term sheet, the due diligence process begins, and once completed, documents will be signed and funds allocated.
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