The Abridged Version of Raising Money from Private Investors
Today I hope to summarize what we’ve reviewed in the past fourteen weeks.
WEEKLY WARNING: I am not an attorney. Some of what I’m about to write could violate securities laws if not done correctly. Make sure your attorney is aware of what you are doing.
There are three requirements for a successful closing on an investment from private investors:
It’s all about reducing the perceived risk.
Consider the amount of money you would like to raise:
Seek advice and feedback from your business associates and mentors. Pick a number.
Compile lists of potential investors, probing down the paths of people who know you and people who know the business.
Refine the list and categorize the potential investors by their level of perceived risk.
Identify that subset of potential investors whose participation in your deal would significantly reduce the perceived risk by others and motivate them to invest as well (anchor investors).
Get access to that subset of potential anchor investors and generate investment desires of at least 15 – 25% of the entire deal from one-to-three individuals.
Considering the universe of potential deal structures, and the investment interests of the potential anchor investors, propose and negotiate a deal structure with the anchor investors. THIS SATISFIES THE FIRST NECESSARY CLOSING CONDITION: YOU HAVE A DEAL!
In parallel, you will have informed other potential investors of the status of your company, all the great things it has done, and all the opportunities that are in front of it. You will now communicate with those whose investment interest can be converted to commitment by virtue of the anchor investor commitments.
Pursue this second tier of potential investors until you have received cumulative commitments of 40 – 60% of the required capital. When you sense positive momentum for the deal, set a closing date for the transaction in about 45 days.
WITH A CLOSING DATE, YOU HAVE NOW SATISFIED THE SECOND CONDITION FOR A SUCCESSFUL INVESTMENT.
You are now in a position to get the next tier of potential investors to commit to your deal. Not only are they aware of the business progress you’ve made, but they are also aware of the momentum building for the deal. You’ve got quality anchor investors validating the investment opportunity. You’ve got additional investors who have also committed. There is a deal that they can look at and evaluate. There is a closing date that forces them to make a decision. And there’s the implied threat of not being allowed into the deal if it gets fully subscribed before they make a commitment.
If you are truly an entrepreneur, your deal will be oversubscribed and you will have to decide whether to take more money than you had intended. [The answer is “YES!” almost without exception, but that’s a topic for another column.]
THE THIRD CONDITION, INVESTMENT COMMITMENTS, IS MET AND YOU’VE CONCLUDED A SUCCESSFUL ROUND OF PRIVATE INVESTMENT! CONGRATULATIONS!
Next week we’ll drill down on some of these topics.
Frank Demmler (email@example.com) is Associate Teaching Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University. (http://web.gsia.cmu.edu/display_faculty.aspx?id=168)