Funding is the fuel you need to scale your company and to exit at a time and on terms of your choosing. So how do you get funded? Fundraising is both an art and a science. You weave strands of traction and the swatches of opportunity into a beautiful tapestry — your "epic story". That's the art. But surrounding that art is a lot of science. Here, you will learn how to time your fundraise, how to execute it, and eventually, how to sell your company at maximum valuation. All three of these things are important. Your family, your employees and your previous investors count on you to do them well.
What makes you, as CEO, investable? What progress must you prove and what potential must you show? How do you target the right investors, given your progress? What preparatory steps must you complete before you start working on the pitch? How exactly do you prepare your story so that the elevator pitch, the executive summary, the pitch deck, the demo, and the Q&A talking points are all fully aligned? What alternative funding sources are available to you? What motivates each of these investor types? The answers to all these questions are in this book.
Successful fundraising requires smart timing. It's critical to plan thoughtfully, so that you reach an investment-worthy value inflection point well in advance of each funding event. The journey from first preparatory steps to final close and cash in the bank can take months. As CEO, it's on you to ensure you close each funding event with cash to spare.
There is an investor class for every stage of company growth. The investment thesis, risk profile and expected return vary for each. In Funding & Exits, you'll learn about each investor class. Armed with this knowledge, you can match your company's progress to the right investor class. Nothing wastes more time than chasing investors who have zero chance of investing in you. Your investor search must be efficient and effective. Remember, time is not your friend. Every day, cash burns.
Investors buy stories. The fundable story wins on two dimensions: opportunity and traction. Opportunity — the investor's judgment about your future performance — is demonstrated through your product vision and road map, your competitive advantage thesis, your market opportunity thesis, your business model, your go to market strategy, and (perhaps most important of all) your team. Traction is proven by the achievement of value inflection points, specifically in the domains of product, revenue engine, systems, people, and cash position.
Value inflection points are the milestones a company must achieve in order to be fundable. These are the points in the journey where a company's investment value jumps due to a newly achieved proof of traction. The initial product release is a value inflection point. So is Minimum Viable Product, Minimum Viable Traction, Minimum Viable Scaling, and — at the later stage of a company — the IPO. Your investment story is anchored by the value inflection point you have most recently achieved. Funding follows milestones. Are you clear on the milestone you have achieved? Do you understand which investor class is most relevant, given that milestone? Have you leveraged that knowledge to choose the right investor class, create the list of appropriate target investors, and prepare your "opportunity and traction" story?
Funding happens when both company and investor decide they are the best fit for each other, compared to all other alternatives.