Introduction to Fund Raising Process
Our firm Magistral Consulting has helped in raising funds for more than a hundred companies, start-ups, Private Equity, Venture Capital, and Real Estate funds in the past. We have done it for firms based out of the US, UK, Europe, and Australia. In the process of doing so, we have acquired immense knowledge about the process of fund-raising.
This article will focus on the process that we follow for Start-ups and established companies looking to raise funds primarily through selling equity. Options of debt financing are also explored during the fund-raising negotiations with investors. Although each firm’s situation is unique, here are the common steps that all firms follow in their journey of fund-raising. We undertake this process end-to-end for the firms looking to raise money
Steps to Raise Funds for Startups and Other Firms
Step 1: Deal Documentation for Fund Raising
Before the fund-raising process could kick-off, all deal documents need to be prepared. There are three documents that we find an absolute must for a smooth process. Confidential Investment Memo could be made closer to the fundraising process. These documents are:
Teaser Document: It is also known as 1 pager. It’s a brief introduction about the opportunity and usually the first document that is sent across to the investors. For a firm, it will carry an introduction to its products or services, past financial performance, future projections of revenue and profitability, returns that an investor could make in a 3 to 5-year period, and some information on the founding team. It’s ideal to have this information presented in a concise manner with almost overuse of infographics to convey the message. In no case, this document goes over 1 page in length
Pitch Deck: This document is sent after the teaser document if the investor shows interest in the opportunity. This is typically a 5 to 10 pager document carrying all the details about the firm. The details are on similar lines as in the teaser document but more detailed. Major sections include, about the firm, about business, competition, business model, financials, valuations, plans, strategy, team, usage of funds, patents, etc. not necessarily in that order.
Financial Model: Models also vary in terms of details that they capture. A start-up with just an idea can have a very basic valuation model, whereas a firm with multiple lines of established businesses may have a detailed model running into multiple sheets. The purpose of the model is to value the company and show returns to investors which are adjusted for the risk. This is the document usually required in fundraising negotiations.
Investment Memorandum: This is prepared closer to the fund-raising process. While pitch deck maybe a Marketing document, Investment Memo can be seen more as a factual document that highlights the risks clearly in the investment. This may have legal, compliance, and regulatory consequences.
The documents are customized a great deal depending on the nature of the deal like raising a seed round, Series A, Series B, Series C or further growth capital
Once all the documents are in ship-shape and all stakeholders buy into the content in these documents, it is decided to proceed with investors’ reach out.
Step 2: Target and List Generation
This step could take place in parallel with Step 1. It is about finding the investors who may be interested in the investment opportunity that the firm presents.
Here are the ways to find out the investment firms that may be interested in the opportunity:
Funds required: For smaller fund sizes say lower than $ 5 million, a Venture Capital firm or smaller Private Equity firms will be more suitable. For larger amounts, Private Equity or Family Offices will be more appropriate
Competitive Intelligence: These are the firms that invested in a similar opportunity with the competition. For example, if you are an app that supplies drivers on-demand, which are the investors, that invested in similar apps in the recent past. The way to find that out is either through industry databases or through extensive research in news and events portals
Industry Specialization: These are the firms that specialize in the given space. If the firm is in SaaS space, it makes sense to look for investors who socializes in SaaS and has made investments in the industry
Geographical Specialization: These are the firms that specialize in investing in a specific country or region. There are global investors as well.
ESG and other considerations: Some investors specifically look for sustainable investments like Green technology etc. Other specializations are around companies founded by say women or other minorities and disadvantaged groups. Impact investing is another important category under which a company could fall.
Once the firms are identified, we proceed with the identification of individuals within those firms, who may be in a decision-making capacity to invest in your firm
The information required here is the name of the individual in each firm, their profile, email IDs, phone numbers, and office address.
Step 3: Reach-out and Meetings Set-up
A reach out is performed by mailing to all suitable investors. The email is suitably customized to the needs of each investor and conveys the salient features of the deal. Reach-out over the phone is done for investors, which is very relevant. After the initial communique, a reasonable number of follow-ups are done to make sure there are no stone unturned
On every 100 firms’ reach-out, it is expected to have 5 good quality meetings related to fund-raise. Meetings are coordinated between investors and the entrepreneur.
Step 4: Negotiations
Negotiations go in all sorts of complications on valuations. Here the Financial Model is tested out with all its assumptions. Finally, if everything is fine, a term sheet is issued by the investor. Term sheets need to be studied closely for all sorts of caveats, liabilities, and terms
Why it makes sense to Outsource the Fund-Raising Support?
Running and growing a company in itself is a challenging job. Making all arrangements to raise funds on top of that is cumbersome and takes the focus of the entrepreneur off growing his enterprise. The whole process of fund-raising could be really confusing for a first-timer. It may take a long time for someone to learn the process on his own. It might take anywhere between a couple of months to a year for a company to raise funds depending on its specific situation. This job requires specialization, network, and focus. An outsourcing firm like Magistral provides that and still gives the control back to you at the most crucial stage of fundraising like negotiations.
Our pricing is a mix of upfront retainer fees plus a success-fee that is a percentage of the overall fund raised due to our efforts. This is paid out to us as a consulting or a finder fee. Here Magistral is not a dealer broker and needs no license to operate in international markets. For certain situations where broker-dealer licenses or any other similar licenses are required in any geography, we have pacts with our representatives in the US, UK, and Australia.
There is a huge discussion on the upfront retainer fee for our services with prospective clients. The firms suggest all fees be variable and absolutely no upfront retainer. One discussion I remember where a person suggested that everyone asking for upfront fees for fund-raising is a scam. These are the same people who are paying upfront fees to their lawyers, accountants, and everyone else for their services. If they think it is not a good idea to spend even a few thousand dollars behind their venture to raise funds, why on earth will we spend our efforts behind his fund-raising efforts. It talks to us loud and clear. They are not confident about their venture and may not have resources to even survive for the period that goes into raising funds. As you see, in earlier steps, we spend a considerable effort towards fund-raising, we would not do it for anyone who is just playing around and does not mind giving a higher share of success fees at the expense of the future investors. At some level, this whole exercise needs to be seen as the effort and related pay. That is where an upfront retainer comes into play.
Negotiations are complicated. What if an investor quashes your valuations and proposes something that cuts your valuation to half? Will you take the deal? If not, how is it our fault in facilitating the deal? It’s not fair to expect from us to keep coming up with a pipeline of meetings that are suitable to all your requirements, just because our payments are tied up with the raising funds. That is another case for having some portion of payment tied to the effort and not all of it to the success. If you think your start-up has funds to hire a specialist who will look into fund-raising support full time, drop an inquiry here
Reaching out to 100 investors should yield a small round of financing for a business that has some sort of presence on the ground and has made some money in the past. Things get difficult for mere ideas a bit if they don’t come from someone who has not founded or run any company before. If reaching out to 1000 investors does not yield any meaningful conversations, it is possibly the end of the road for the firm looking to raise money. Growth capital in the form of Series B and beyond see a warmer response than a seed round. One should take into consideration a period of at least a couple of months on the lower side to a year on the higher side for closing the next round. If you are a venture-backed start-up it makes sense to keep working on populating the pipeline all the time for the next round.
Fund-Raising for Private Equity, Venture Capital and Real Estate Funds
Although the process of fund-raising for General Partners follows the same process, the people looking to raise funds here are more sophisticated. Also, larger amounts of fund-raise are involved here. The United States requires a broker-dealer license to arrange funds on a brokerage fee basis. We deal with funds looking to raise money by helping them reach-out to Limited Partners, purely on fixed cost and fixed effort basis. Our ideal client is one who is looking to hire an analyst for reaching out to Limited Partners and not the one who is looking to hire a Private Placement player. If that makes sense to you please drop an inquiry here
If you are in any stage of your fund-raising journey and are looking for some direction, we can get in touch for a free consulting session, drop an inquiry with all details at www.magistralconsulting.com/contact
Magistral is an outsourcing firm that has helped multiple start-ups and companies in raising funds. It has also helped multiple General Partners like Private Equity, Venture Capital, and Real Estate funds in raising money. For more details please visit www.magistralconsulting.com
About the Author
The author, Prabhash Choudhary is the CEO of Magistral Consulting and can be reached at Prabhash.firstname.lastname@example.org for any queries of business inquiries.