Founders’ Edition: What VCs Won’t Tell You About Raising Seed

No one understands the world of fundraising better than a founder who has done it before. We invited a group of experienced leaders to share their stories, experience and insider tips with us about how to raise a seed round. 

W share advice from Andrew Lau (CEO, Jellyfish), Janet Comenos (CEO, Spotted), Dave Balter (CEO, Flipside Crypto), and Helen Adeosun (CEO, Care Academy). Learn from their biggest mistakes, understand whether to optimize for valuation, and discover how to build relationships with VCs.

How To: Raise a Seed Full Guide

Do you have a high-potential idea for starting a major new company? Would having additional capital make the difference between winning big and going home? If the answer is yes, raising a Seed Round might be for you. Read this A-Z guide on how to raise a Seed Round, from the inception of your idea to closing the round.

Top 10 Questions to Expect from VCs

Preparing for your first pitch meeting? Here are a few questions you will get often, and how best to answer.

How to: Reach Out to VCs

Raising a Seed Round? Then this may be your first time approaching a VC.

To avoid wasting your precious time and energy, invest 10-20  hours of research to create a list of targets who lead seed stage investments in your city

Narrow it down rigorously before you ask for introductions, and be cautious about accepting well-meaning but unfiltered introductions. Protect your own resilience in the future by screening every target carefully now.

When reaching out, referrals are critical. Consult your advisers and angels to figure out how you can get a warm referral. 

How to: Protect Your Profits

Imagine you launch a great product and start to grow quickly. What happens next? Life gets TOUGHER, because you will attract hostile attention from the incumbents who are losing business, and at the same time, a host of fast followers emerge to steal a piece of your success. What stops someone else from eating your lunch? In other words, how do you protect your profits?

VC 1.01

VC1.01 covers the following topics: The Business of VC – How Venture Firms Work; Stock and VC Investment Structures; and Key Considerations for Founders & Employees.

Advice for Founders During Uncertain Times

During economic downturns, every company faces a different situation, and what’s right for yours could depend on stage, funding history, cash balance, and space. What to do falls into three buckets: fundraising, operational focus, and reducing burn rate.

How VCs Really Evaluate Potential Seed Investments

The VC’s decision to invest comes down to four core elements: scope, chemistry, unicorn potential and financial match.

How to: Protect Yourself in a Fire Sale

Innovation is hard, and not all startups succeed. Get your carve-out in writing.

How to: Pitch a VC Successfully (Even Over Zoom)

Your pitch deck should be aligned with your audience. Here’s how you can do that, even over Zoom.

Term Sheet Grader

We developed the term-sheet grader, a simple way to compare different term sheets or help characterize whether a term sheet is good or evil.

How To Navigate a Term Sheet in the COVID-19 Era

Winners in the new world—as well as smaller startups or those leveraging existing relationships—will still close deals during this period. But be wary of investors who use this environment to propose term sheets full of red flags.

Part 5: The Final Pieces

In this final part, we close out the remaining terms you are likely to see -Voting Controls, Mandatory conversions, and dividends.

Part 4: Board of Directors

There are many venture backed startups that have a VC representative from every round — seed, A, B, C, D, etc. It is often said that the performance of a company is inversely proportional to the number of VCs on the Board. A better Board would be one that has a mix of VC representatives and industry experts. But how to get there?

Part 3: Anti-Dilution

The standard VC term sheet has the concept of anti-dilution, meaning if the next round is priced lower than the previous round, the VC will  be entitled to more shares (retroactively) to make up for this unfortunate circumstance. We don’t like the sound of that at all.

Part 2: Preference / Preferred Stock

A Preference or Preferred Stock is where an investor buys a security that gives them the right to choose whether to get their money back or convert into common stock.

Part 1: Increase to the Option Pool

In a typical term sheet, the investor will specify an option pool — a bucket of stock options for future employees. Having an agreed on pool makes life easier for everyone — you don’t have to get shareholder consent every time you want to make a new hire and the VC doesn’t see their ownership get diluted by every hire either.

2019 US Micro-VC Firms

Samir Kaji from First Republic created an Airtable of over 900 micro-VCs (funds less than $100M) across the country.

Women Angel Investors in the US

Lolita Taub pulled together an Airtable of 500+ women angel investors in the US.

How To: Negotiate a Term Sheet

Just got a term sheet from a VC firm? Congratulations — that’s no small feat. Now we’ll help you navigate how to negotiate your term sheet.

How To: Manage Series A Termsheets

All of your hard work has paid off, you’ve received a term sheet! Now it’s time to manage the investors around the table to make sure you get the best deal possible.

How To: Develop a Series A Pitch

Writing a terrific pitch deck is hard, just like writing a hit song is hard. Don’t shoot for average. Seed was about whether you can get in the game. Series A is about showing how you can win the game, and why this is a game worth winning. Read on for tips on creating the perfect pitch deck.

How To: Build an Investor List

If your company is ready for Series A, your biggest limiting factor will be finding investors. The greatest factor that can reduce the effort required to run the Series A process is to invest heavily in researching your targets well before you’re ready to raise. Read this article to learn how to create the perfect investor list.

How To: Build a Series A Budget

So, you’ve raised your Seed. Congratulations! While it may seem like you’re swimming in cash now, if you’re building a venture scale business, at some point, likely within the next 12-18 months, you will need more money. Read this article for advice on creating a Series A budget.

How To: Raise a Series A Full Guide

80 page guides don’t scare you? Of course not! Follow this A-Z guide to help you raise your Series A seamlessly.

10 Steps to Raising a Series A

Raising seed was a grueling process, and you feel eager now to leave behind all thoughts of fundraising and finally get back to building your business. But, you know Series A is just around the corner. How can you successfully raise your Series A? Read these 10 steps, and apply their lessons.

Read This First

So you are ready to raise a Series A? Check out this quick overview to help navigate our How to Raise a Series A Guide.

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Carta was founded in 2012 to help private companies manage their cap table by eliminating spreadsheets and paper certificates. They've since expanded to valuations, compliance, investors services, and tools and services for public companies. See here for one pager.



Shoobx is a legal operating system for your company, providing the foundation for your growth. They give you a single place to take care of everything from executing your fundraise, to granting equity, to getting board approvals, to hiring employees. The Shoobx platform has over 50 workflows that handle common legal actions with standard documents and legal collaboration. They save valuable time for busy founders like you so that you can focus on what matters: growing your business. Founder's Guide companies receive 20% off their 1st year of Shoobx subscription fees. Learn more here
IDEO: Storytelling for Influence

IDEO: Storytelling for Influence

IDEO: Storytelling for Influence

This online storytelling course teaches IDEO methods that will inspire your team, superiors, or investors to get them excited about following your lead.
Visions in Focus

Visions in Focus

Contact: Beth Susanne

Visions in Focus

Contact: Beth Susanne

Pitch Coach Beth Susanne has helped her clients raise over $10B in funding to date, working with global leaders such as Singularity University, Oxford Foundry, Barclays, BMW, Disney, and over 3000 international tech startups from 60 countries, across all technologies. Founders have raised an average of $4M each, following her 2-day pitch intensive. Her online and in-person workshops focus on how to craft and deliver a compelling pitch so that you achieve your funding goals quickly, and your value is immediately recognised in the market. Beth came highly recommended to Pillar by one of our portfolio startups, based in Madrid, and will begin coaching our portfolio teams in 2020.

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