The Fundraising Field Guide Book v2

📚 Get The Book — eBooks and Paperback

Here are the links to get the book:

🎉 Attend the Q&A Launch Event on Jun 1st

Join us on June 1st at 2:00pm BST for a free questions and answers session as we unpack the new ideas and strategies included in this second edition of the book. 👉🏽 Book your tickets here! 👈🏽

Alongside me, our guests will include:

Note on the Second Edition: The first version of The Fundraising Field Guide was written and published via Reedsy in 2015 and has been used by many to help navigate their fund raise. However, a lot has evolved since then, so this updated version 2.0 has been written with new content, ideas, and strategies to help early-stage tech startup founders decipher and navigate the fundraising process.

As a founder, it’s easy to get lost while trekking through the fundraising process. The dynamics of speaking to someone who has the capital you need, while discussing terms you’ve never heard of, can all be quite daunting. This book deciphers the secrets to raising capital from investors for early-stage, high-growth startups. Learn about communicating with investors, shareholders and lawyers. We will go over the materials you will need to prepare, the basics of how to understand your deal, and the mindset you will need to approach this journey successfully. The aim is to provide you, the ambitious early-stage founder, with the right information to take your company to the next level.

This new and updated version provides an overview of the soft and not-so-soft challenges you will need to prepare for as part of your fundraising journey, including things like reaching out to investors, dealing with rejections constructively, preparing materials and financials, understanding valuations and deal terms, how to manage the legal process and a crowdfunding chapter with statistics from crowdfunding platform Seedrs(who kindly helped in providing advice on how to best navigate). I sincerely hope you enjoy the book and get lots of use from it.

Lastly, as part of this second edition, I’d like to shine a light on the work of Resurgo’s Spear Programme (more on that below). If you’d like to support them directly, please consider doing a donation via Donate & Download below.

📚 Get The Book — eBooks and Paperback

Here are the links to get the book:

❤️ Donate & Download — Resurgo Spear

Whilst the focus of the Fundraising Field Guide Book is to help clarify the fundraising challenges and process for high growth early-stage tech startups, there are many other forms of praise-worthy entrepreneurship. Some non-tech startups are doing very amazing things, particularly in the realm of social entrepreneurship and social development. In particular, I’d like to highlight the work of Resurgo’s Spear Programme in empowering youth.

The Resurgo Trust is the creator of the Spear Programme. The Spear Programme helps young people facing barriers getting into work or education. The Resurgo coaching team equip young people with confidence, motivation and the vital skills they need to succeed in long-term employment.

I’ve witnessed, first-hand, the transformative nature of the programme and the empowerment it gives its graduates. I’ve been super impressed by how talented and driven the graduates are and even their ambition to continue on, post-programme, with their development. One particularly exciting case for me was when we partnered with CodeFirstGirls and Silicon Valley Bank for the Founders For Opportunity Initiative in 2018. Check out the video of that experience here.

In an effort to make as much of the proceeds from the book go to Resurgo directly as possible, feel free to donate directly to them (suggested donation of £9.99 or as much more as you’d like) via this JustGiving page. After your donation, you will receive a link from which you will be able to download the book.

💪🏽 Sponsors

The kind sponsors and supporters for versions 1 & 2 of the book are:

Silicon Valley Bank — We are the only bank in the UK focused solely on
the innovation economy.

Seedrs — We are equity crowdfunding done properly.

✍🏽 Version 1.0 — Where it Started

The original version of the book was published by Reedsy (the best online publishing platform)in 2015 thanks to the help of Emmanuel Nataf, Matt Cobb, Ricardo Fayet, and Rebecca Heyman.

The first version was published on a free-but-donate, effectively on the basis that you made a donation to Resurgo Spear if you enjoyed it. In that spirit, it will continue to be freely available (although some of the examples are now dated). Click here to access version 1.0 via slideshare/PDF, and the launch video of the 2015 book event can be found here. If you enjoy it, please do consider making a donation to Resurgo’s Spear Programme.

📚 Get the latest version of the book

If you enjoyed the first version, but want a more updated version with resources, below are the links to get the latest version of the book (just in case you missed them earlier):

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The Fundraising Field Guide (v2.0)

Get The Book — eBooks and Paperback

Here are the links to get the book:

Attend the Free Q&A Launch Event — Jun 1, 2:00PM BST

Join us as we unpack the new ideas and strategies included in this second edition of the book. Alongside me, our guests include:

Grab your copy of the book and come armed with your questions!

Note on the Second Edition: The first version of The Fundraising Field Guide was written and published via Reedsy in 2015 and has been used by many to help navigate their fund raise. However, a lot has evolved since then, so this updated version 2.0 has been written with new content, ideas, and strategies to help early-stage tech startup founders decipher and navigate the fundraising process.

As a founder, It’s easy to get lost while trekking through the fundraising process. The dynamics of speaking to someone who has the capital you need, while discussing terms you’ve never heard of, can all be quite daunting. This book deciphers the secrets to raising capital from investors for early-stage, high-growth startups. Learn about communicating with investors, shareholders and lawyers. We will go over the materials you will need to prepare, the basics of how to understand your deal, and the mindset you will need to approach this journey successfully. The aim is to provide you, the ambitious early-stage founder with the right information to take your company to the next level.

This new and updated version provides an overview of the soft and not-so-soft challenges you will need to prepare for as part of your fundraising journey, including things like reaching out to investors, dealing with rejections constructively, preparing materials and financials, understanding valuations and deal terms, how to manage the legal process and a crowdfunding chapter with statistics from crowdfunding platform Seedrs (who kindly helped in providing advice on how to best navigate). I sincerely hope you enjoy the book and get lots of use from it.

Lastly, as part of this second edition, I’d like to shine a light on the work of Resurgo’s Spear Programme (more on that below). If you’d like to support them directly, please consider doing a donation via Donate & Download below.

Get The Book — eBooks and Paperback

Here are the links to get the book:

Donate & Download — Resurgo Spear

Whilst the focus of the Fundraising Field Guide Book is to help clarify the fundraising challenges and process for high growth early-stage tech startups, there are many other forms of praise-worthy entrepreneurship. Some non-tech startups are doing very amazing things, particularly in the realm of social entrepreneurship and social development. In particular, I’d like to highlight the work of Resurgo’s Spear Programme in empowering youth.

The Resurgo Trust is the creator of the Spear Programme. The Spear Programme helps young people facing barriers getting into work or education. The Resurgo coaching team equip young people with confidence, motivation and the vital skills they need to succeed in long-term employment.

I’ve witnessed, first-hand, the transformative nature of the programme and the empowerment it gives its graduates. I’ve been super impressed by how talented and driven the graduates are and even their ambition to continue on, post-programme, with their development. One particularly exciting case for me was when we partnered with CodeFirstGirls and Silicon Valley Bank for the Founders For Opportunity Initiative in 2018. Check out the video of that experience here.

In an effort to make as much of the proceeds from the book go to Resurgo directly as possible, feel free to donate directly to them (suggested donation of £9.99 or as much more as you’d like) via this JustGiving page. After your donation, you will receive a link from which you will be able to download the book.

Donate via JustGiving

Sponsors

The kind sponsors and supporters for versions 1 & 2 of the book are:

Silicon Valley Bank — We are the only bank in the UK focused solely on
the innovation economy.

Seedrs —We are equity crowdfunding done properly.

Version 1.0 — Where it Started

The original version of the book was published by Reedsy (the best online publishing platform) in 2015 thanks to the help of Emmanuel Nataf, Matt Cobb, Ricardo Fayet, and Rebecca Heyman.

The first version was published on a free-but-donate, effectively on the basis that you made a donation to Resurgo Spear if you enjoyed it. In that spirit, it will continue to be freely available (although some of the examples are now dated). Click here to access version 1.0 via slideshare/PDF, and the launch video of the 2015 book event can be found here. If you enjoy it, please do consider making a donation to Resurgo’s Spear Programme.

Get the latest version of the book

If you enjoyed the first version, but want a more updated version with resources, below are the links to get the latest version of the book (just in case you missed them earlier):

Donate via JustGiving
Continue Reading

From PPP to (p)PPP

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Internal (and external) communication are likely the most critical aspects that a startup leader has to develop to both get alignment and clarity on next steps from their team, as well as assistance from those around them.

To help with that communication process, the Skype team came up with a weekly reporting structure called the PPP, which stands for Plans, Problems, and Progress. In it, team leaders, using this skeleton structure, share updates with those above and below them in the organization for more clear communication. At Seedcamp, we further pioneered it as a way to help us and our founders communicate, and many startups currently use it for both internal and external purposes.

Whilst there is no hard and fast rule on how to format a PPP, or even message/transmit one (some prefer simple emails, whilst others use tools like Google Docs or Notion) to receiving parties.. over the years, I’ve seen one trend that spurred me to write this post.. the lack of prioritization in PPPs. This lack of prioritization sometimes leads to PPPs that are too long, read like train-of-consciousness writings, or read more like an activity log, rather than an actionable set of concrete thoughts. The negative impact of this is that for the reader, be it an investor or a fellow team-member, it can be distracting at best, or overwhelming and confusing at worst. Therefore, the new first ‘p’ I’d like to suggest stand for ‘Prioritized’ PPPs.

A friend of mine, Jase Miller, Product Manager at G2, wrote a post about a modified OODA loop (based on Eric Davis’ work) that can be used for product management, called IAPE. From Jase’s post (reduced), IAPE stands for:

IDENTIFY. What do we know about the situation we’re facing? What are the unknowns? Map them out.

ASSESS. Looking at each part of our “map”, begin turning open questions about the unknown into assumptions or hypotheses we can test.

PRIORITIZE. There are a lot of methods for prioritization. When it comes to ambiguity, and most other things, I agree with Eric Davis that we should “prioritize by power, not importance”. Sometimes I also call this prioritizing for impact. Looking at our “map” and the assessments we’ve made, ask which of these areas of ambiguity would provide the most power/impact when it comes to handling the situation.

EXECUTE. Test your prioritized hypothesis. Write and publish the article. Build a prototype. Talk with a customer. etc.

The key to take away from the above is that through marrying an IAPE approach with the PPP format, you’ll have a more effective use of everyone’s time (and likely feel more clear about your thinking as well). Rather than simply stating a list of actions done or to be done, you take things deeper by assessing them for impact. Let me elaborate with example questions to ask yourself for each part:

Progress:

*What have you identified from last week’s plan that you had perhaps not realized might impact things in the future? Is it a problem or is it a benefit to your stated goals?
*What have you assessed that might need revamping, changing, re-prioritizing?
*What of the progress that’s happened since the last pPPP is ‘worth’ highlighting, in that it had a more material impact on KPIs/OKRs/Goals you’ve previously stated? How will this affect things going forward?

Problems:

*Which of the problems you encountered this week (or interval of pPPP) are worth sharing because they impact the prioritized plan? (every day there are little problems we all encounter, but they don’t all materially impact the bigger picture).
*What is the timeliness of action required for this problem? Is it a problem that will negatively impact you if not actioned this week, this month, this year?
*Is this a problem that is worth sharing with the readers? (will it generate anxiety or lack of clarity with the readers without any tangible action they can take)?
*Is this a problem you are sharing to showcase you have problems or are good at solving them (be careful to not let your ego get involved with what you share to showcase you are ‘busy’).
*Is there clarity in purpose for the problem and its resolution?
*Is there something you can pose as an ‘ask’? Once you have a level of prioritization in the PPPs it is helpful to also ask help from those receiving the PPP. By making sure the ‘ask’ is of maximum prioritized impact, it also increases the likelihood of someone wanting to do it!

Plans:

*After having assessed and reflected on your progress and problems above, what will you prioritize to execute during this interval?
*Of the prioritized problems you will now tackle, how do they alter any previous plans you might have had?
*What are the actionable plans from today’s pPPP, and until the next one, that will materially impact your stated goals (delays, advances, changes in budget)?

There are likely many more questions you could ask yourself to complete each of these sections, and of course, you can divide each section by the functional areas of your company (eg. team, product, finance, etc) but you get the idea…

The key concept is to really think more through what you share. It’s not about over-sharing, it’s not about simply journaling what’s happened in a time-interval, but rather the (p)PPP is a useful tool to help you organize what you’ve identified and assessed as important, and prioritized for maximal impact, and lastly, to keep you (and those around you) honest, on a weekly (or other time interval) basis, on how it’s really coming along.

Additional Resources:

https://weekdone.com/resources/plans-progress-problems
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progress,_plans,_problems
https://jasemiller.medium.com/how-to-lead-teams-and-yourself-through-ambiguity-36e707b12c10

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The Legal Hour Series — All Episodes

The Legal Hour Series — All Episodes

All good box-sets have a start and an end.. and “Legal Hour with Tom and Carlos” was one of the fun series Tom Wilson & I set out to do in 2020.

The idea was simple.. if we could capture all the key questions and points we get asked in a mini-series… what would that look like? … and out came Legal Hour.

For your viewing convenience, I’ve put all the episodes below in order of how we published them (you can also go to Soundcloud to listen to the series in audio). We cover deal terms, deal structures, valuations, round sizes, dilution, and employee option schemes and their impacts. In effect, a mini-MBA on this subject if you’re a founder and want a quick dive onto all the points we typically see at the early stage.

Enjoy!

Legal terms to be aware of when bringing in new investors

Legal structures to be aware of when setting up your next round

What to be aware of when signing ‘standard terms’

The 6 make or break legal issues to consider when starting a company

Incentivising your team through Employee Share Schemes (Part 1)

Incentivising your team through Employee Share Schemes (Part 2)

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The Problem with Partner Deal Attribution.

Photo by Umberto on Unsplash

One of the key lessons you learn in startup life quickly is: you measure what matters and then make decisions from that. OKRs, and KPIs are born from this philosophy.

However, we are all equally well versed in the dark side of this, where one wrong KPI can lead to a worse outcome for all. The classic example of this is incentivising a sales team to sell as much as possible, but not qualifying customers and therefore you end up having runaway costs to acquire customers and churn can sky rocket after. Few companies do that these days, but it’s just to make the point: Wrong metrics can kill.

In an investment fund, there are several metrics you track, the obvious ones are based on ‘return on capital invested’ and similar cash-based metrics. These make sense, but have some ‘lag’ to them as usually companies, for early stage funds in particular, take time to mature. As such, some LPs choose to focus on deal-attribution to gauge how good the fund will be. In effect: Which partner led what deal.

So, basically, the implication is, if you had a team where everyone was a Lionel Messi…. voila, you’d have an amazing team! What likely isn’t appreciated in that logic, is that a team of investment partners where everyone is an Lionel Messi doesn’t quite equate to more successes because partners play many roles in supporting each other, not just shooting for points, so to speak.

I believe the above logic of partner attribution creates several problems that plague our industry and funds. These include:

  1. Inhibits team collaboration — As with most team sports, investment partnerships require good team work to enable wins. People need to ‘pass the ball’ to the best player to help score, whether that’s with helping a founder with an issue or a connection, or dealing with a legal technicality that one partner knows best, collaboration wins in the long run.
  2. Creates deployment budget pressure and quarrels between partners — If you know that a winning bet is what gets you credit, how do you make sure people aren’t over indexing on as many bets as possible? How do you get your partners to think of the fund’s budget as a whole not as a portion that they will make successful?
  3. Inhibits pairing the ideal partner with the founder depending on the founder’s needs — Similar to the first point, people start playing in silos.
  4. Inhibits the ‘evolution’ of the relationship with the founder — Different partners in a fund can be better for the founder at different stages in the founder’s journey. Say one partner was super experienced with growth stage issues because of their previous job.. if you had a partner attribution model, you’d be prevented from this kind of transition.
  5. Creates cults of personality in partners- Success can bring with it a dark side for some, and by not having a way to spread success across your team, you run the risk of creating bottlenecks in your fund’s brand attributable to one person.

So how do you make sure that if you adopt the above you don’t have a team of lacklustre partners then? Well that’s when the partnership needs to be solid enough to be open and frank with each other when a partner isn’t living up to expectations and helping them improve.

Seedcamp has evolved over the years, but one thing we did early on was embark on the path of not attributing deals to individual partners because we work as a team with our founders. It gets tricky to navigate at times, largely in conversations with investors, media and award structures where they are looking for that one person to attribute to or comment on a deal, but that’s not how we operate at seedcamp. It takes a village to support a founder and we are steadfast in our belief that bringing the right people in from across our partnership, team and network not only removes ego of the individual but ensures we work collaboratively to help our founders achieve excellence.

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