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Investing in seed and startup companies is extremely risky: Angel investors typically realize about 85 percent of their total portfolio returns from 15 percent of their portfolio companies. Consequently, angels look only for companies that can grow rapidly. Entrepreneurs who pursue less aggressive growth are unlikely to attract angel investors.
This informative piece explains a well-known method that venture capitalists use to determine "post-money valuation," which is a company's valuation at the time of investment. Perhaps more important, it provides valuable insights into why the returns expected by investors are often perceived as "too high" by entrepreneurs.
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:
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.
This tool provides a detailed look into the various sections of a cash flow statement. It also describes two methods used to calculate cash flow from operating activities, indirect and direct with examples that will give you an edge when it comes time to preparing a cash flow statement of your own.
This tool examines the process of developing an income statement and explains the meaning of the components of an income statement. When you are finished with this article, your understanding of income statements will give you greater insight into your company's growth and financial health.
When selling your company be sure you understand the offering price might not match the value of your company and the deal is probably more complex than it seems. Pitfalls include nature of a stock deal, stability of the purchasing company, and tax implications. Best advice: Cash is still king!
William Sahlman is the Dimitri V. d'Arbeloff - Class of 1955 Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. The d'Arbeloff Chair was established in 1986 to support teaching and research on the
entrepreneurial process. The Chair honors the late Dimitri d'Arbeloff (HBS '55), whose entrepreneurial skills helped make Millipore Corporation a world leader in its industry. Mr. Sahlman received an A.B. degree in Economics from Princeton
University, an M.B.A. from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in Business Economics, also from Harvard. His research focuses on the investment and financing decisions made in entrepreneurial ventures at all stages in their development. Mr.
Sahlman was co-chair of the Entrepreneurship and Service Management Unit from 1999 to 2002. From 1991 to 1999, he was Senior Associate Dean, Director of Publishing Activities, and chairman of the board for Harvard Business School
Publishing Corporation. From 1990 to 1991, he was chairman of the Harvard University Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility. He is a member of the board of directors of several private companies.
J. Michael Cline is the founding Partner of Accretive LLC. Michael and other Accretive principals founded Exult, Xchanging, Fandango and Accretive Health. Before founding Accretive Michael spent 10 years as General
Partner at General Atlantic Partners helping build General Atlantic into the world's largest private investment firm focused on software and related investments. Prior to General Atlantic, Michael was an associate at McKinsey &
Company. Michael received his MBA from Harvard Business School where he was a Baker Scholar and he received a BS from Cornell University. He serves on the boards of Accretive Commerce, Fandango, Accretive Health and Willow. He is a Trustee
of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) where he chairs the Tigers Forever initiative - the world's largest effort in global tiger conservation and is a Trustee of the Brunswick School. He also serves on the board of the National Fish
and Wildlife Foundation, Endeavor Global and the Harvard Business School Rock Center for Entrepreneurship.
Whether it's to protect against a natural disaster, fire, or theft, backing up a companies electronic files is a necessity. Online backup services provide storage of valuable information at a location separate from the entrepreneur's company.
This tool will help you prepare answers to an investor's due diligence questions.
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