A Look At Seed Funding Options for Your Startup

Among the earliest decisions you have to make when you’re getting your startup off the ground is how to fund it. Whether you intend to go it alone for as long as possible, or line up funding right away, the earlier you decide on a strategy, the better. Our Seed Funding Your Startup webinar with Kristine di Bacco, Associate Attorney at Fenwick & West and Sirk Roh, EGFS’ Chief Operating Officer, was a dive into the ins and outs of early-stage financing and a look at some of the key vehicles. Bootstrapping While bootstrapping for as long as you can might be the right decision for you, and it offers the benefit of no dilution, if you know you’ll ultimately want/need to raise investor funds, don’t rely on your own resources for too long. It can raise questions in investors’ minds as to whether bootstrapping was really your choice, or …
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How to Choose the Best Advisors For Your Startup

Originally published in Business on Main. While the specific dynamics of each relationship will be different, great startup advisors help entrepreneurs in a myriad of ways: from giving direct advice on tactics to high level business strategy. It’s worth it to be thoughtful in assembling your informal “board” of advisors. The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) posed the following question to members: Q: What’s one quality you should look for in a potential advisory board member? Why? The Ability to Tell the CEO That He’s Wrong It is not only important to have contrasting views, but it’s also important to be able to tell the CEO or management team that he feels the company is headed in the wrong direction or that a decision being made does not fall in line with the core principles the company was established on. I think it is important to have a strong mind that …
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Lean Startup Tools: Building A Growth Engine

Sounds nice, but what exactly is a startup growth engine? In our recent webinar, Chris Bechtel, CMO at BlueDeer, LLC, and Gadiel Morantes, Partner with EGFS, explained how building a growth engine combined with using Eric Ries’ lean startup principles to acquire customers in the most efficient way possible can build successful companies. Chris started with Deloitte & Touche’s description of a startup growth engine as a systematic process that requires organizational infrastructure to consistently find, evaluate, and execute on business opportunities. This is distinct from Sean Ellis’ categorization of growth hacking in that rather than combining marketing, market research, and technical strategies to come up with marketing solutions, building a growth engine focuses on creating a unified strategy to cultivate long term, authentic relationships that create value. In which startup situations might this strategy have the most impact? You have insufficient resources Your team lacks experience and training Your …
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9 Startup Funding Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make

I’m not trying to be an alarmist, but honestly startup fundraising can oftentimes feel like you’re navigating a minefield: one false step and the money blows up! That’s why you need to be clear on what you’re looking for, where to look for it, and what you need to get it. You start the process by targeting the right investors, seeking connections for warm intros, and then doing your research and homework to prepare yourself for investor meetings. For more details on this process, check out my previous post 8 Tips for Making Real VC Connections. Assuming you’ve done all this, you’re on the right track. But at this point, there are still many mistakes you can make that can sabotage your fundraising process. From my perspective as CEO of Early Growth Financial Services, so many of the worst mistakes have to do with the way companies understand, monitor, and …
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10 Ways to Ace Your Startup Mid-Year Tax Review

Reviewing your taxes probably doesn’t rank very highly when it comes to ways to spend a summer day. And if you only recently filed, you’re probably even less interested. But a little smart planning now will make tax time, well, less taxing come year end. What should you be looking for? 1. Get professional advice. Don’t wait until late in the year when everyone’s frantically trying to book and the best ones don’t have availability. 2. Determine whether your business structure still makes sense. It may be time to incorporate or form an LLC. LLCs benefit from “pass-through” taxation, potentially lowering your taxes. Requirements vary from state to state though; so make sure you meet the requirements for the state(s) your business operates in. Or, if you envision raising VC funds soon, consider converting to an S-Corp. You’ll avoid “double taxation (likely not an issue right now, but could make …
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When Should You Consider Using a PEO?

Guest post contributed by Rodney Steele of Dinsmore Steele. Businesses are created every day to fill a void in the marketplace with either a product or a service that hopefully generates revenue for its creators. In theory it sounds exceptionally easy — but it isn’t. However, each and every company starts the exact same way. If you think about it, every company that has ever been created was at one point a startup. Where the company ends up is in large part due to the decisions its founders, executives, and other key stakeholders make. In order to remain in business, profits are imperative. In most cases that will require you to take on employees. The desire to attract and retain the best talent coupled with the various state and federal regulations, means you need systems in place to manage payroll, insurance, and HR support/service. Most companies outsource payroll to ADP …
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Fundraising Tips for Female Founders

      This might be a hard pill to swallow, but less than 1% of entrepreneurs succeed in raising funding. Female founders fare even worse: with new research from HBS, MIT’s Sloan School, and Wharton quantifying “a profound and consistent gender gap in entrepreneurship.” Want to know how to set yourself up to beat the odds? Angela Lee of 37 Angels and Sirk Roh, EGFS’ Chief Operating Officer kicked off our recent webinar on raising capital. It was a great presentation, full of lots of useful advice and tips to help you nail your next raise. Start with your pitch deck — Know who you’re pitching and target accordingly. You wouldn’t send the same version of your resume for every career opportunity you pursue. So why use the same deck? Your presentation should be 8-10 easy to read slides max! Whatever can’t fit into that framework can go in …
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How Startup Founders Can Connect With VCs

“How can I connect with investors?” is one of the most common questions I hear from early-stage entrepreneurs. “Connect” is a good word to use. If you’re looking for funding, you don’t just want to “meet” investors, shake their hands and give them your quick pitch. You want to “connect” with them, to really make a deeper connection. So how do you do this? With our client roster of successfully funded startups and my close relationships with many in the investor community in Silicon Valley, I think I’ve figured out 6 keys for making these kinds of real connections: 1. No cold contact. This is the first rule. Avoid cold contacts. Maybe it could work for someone, but I don’t personally know of any examples in which a young company was able to whip up investor interest through a cold email. To new entrepreneurs, this can seem like one of …
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How to Create a Startup Pitch Deck

One question I get asked often is “how do I craft a pitch deck that will get me funded?” A great deck is obviously only one element in getting startup funding, but it’s a crucial piece in instilling confidence in potential investors. Your deck should be 10-12 pages max, with any supporting documents (financials, management bios, etc.) included in an appendix. Below, I’ll fill in the blanks with a slide-by-slide look at what your deck needs to include. You can follow along with this Pitch Deck Template. Download the template here: Pitch Deck Slides Slides courtesy of Marc Phillips’ fantastic book: Inside Silicon Valley: How the Deals Get Done (if you haven’t read it yet—I highly recommend you order your copy now!!) Mission — Create a brief and cogent one-sentence description of your startup’s reason for being. Problem/Solution — Clearly define the problem your business exists to solve. What is …
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Essential IRS Publications for Startup Employers

This guest post by Robert W. Ditmer was originally published on Justworks. The Internal Revenue Service is truly the best source for reliable payroll information for employers, because of how federal tax law structure works. The IRS: Tax Law Educator Congress passes tax laws that become part of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), often without any clear idea of how they can be implemented on a practical basis. The next step in the process is incorporating the regulations that implement the IRC in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). At this point, it’s up to the IRS to determine how the regulations will to be implemented, and to educate taxpayers. It accomplishes that task by preparing publications that explain the tax law and provide direction on how to apply it in within a business. The IRS’ publications tend to be very clear, and often contain practical examples showing how the …
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