Start at the End Your Exit Strategy

Start at the End – Your Exit Strategy – presented at the 2009 New Ventures BC Seminar Series

Why every company needs a clear exit strategy right from the beginning

This was the final seminar in the 2009 New Ventures BC Seminar Series.

PowerPoint PDF here

Highlights of Start at the End – Your Exit Strategy – Part 1:

Start at the End - Your Exit Strategy - Part 1

  • Your exit is the culmination of all the hard work you do as an entrepreneur.
  • Investors are easy to understand – we think of your company as a simple black box.
  • The truth about investors – we are a pain in the a__s!
  • The big new story is the large number of smaller M&A transactions.
  • How big companies grow. Why this is exceptionally good news for entrepreneurs.
  • M&A exits are happening earlier than ever before.
  • You don’t need to grow your company to any specific size before you sell it – it doesn’t even have to be profitable.
  • All you need to do before you can sell is to ‘prove the model’.
  • The best time to sell is probably earlier than you think.
  • Please don’t make the mistake I did – don’t “ride it over the top” and wait too long.

Highlights of Start at the End – Your Exit Strategy – Part 2:

Start at the End - Your Exit Strategy - Part 2

  • Do you even need investors to make it big today?
  • Why this is a golden era for entrepreneurs.
  • The whole game for entrepreneurs has changed – very valuable companies are being built for $tens of thousands.
  • Why your first choice should be to bootstrap if you possibly can.
  • If you really do need capital, what are your options?
  • The classic view of the venture capital industry and what it looks like today.
  • The new phenomena of angel funds.
  • Angel group syndication – angel groups are now investing as much as $5 to 10 million in some companies.
  • Angels finance 27 times more startups than traditional Venture Capital funds.
  • Angel investors invest about the same amount as traditional Venture Capital funds – about $20 billion in the US.
  • Friends and Family investors invest much more than angels or VC funds.
  • There is no shortage of capital today – despite what you might have heard.

Highlights of Start at the End – Your Exit Strategy – Part 3:

Start at the End - Your Exit Strategy - Part 3

  • Why you need an exit strategy right from the beginning – and certainly before you contact your first prospective investor.
  • Why entrepreneurs should “start at the end” when they build their companies.
  • How a mistake with DNA compatibility can be fatal and how I almost lost my first company to the VCs.
  • Developing an exit strategy – the most important element in your business plan.
  • The exit is just another business process – like a sales plan, financing plan or product development plan.
  • Exit strategies can be very simple – often just a few sentences.
  • The important thing is to formally check the alignment – at least annually.
  • New understandings on the differences between angel investors and traditional Venture Capital funds.
  • The most important differences are all related to the exit.
  • Accepting money from a traditional Venture Capital fund adds about a decade to the exit timeline.
  • The unwritten contract between entrepreneurs and traditional Venture Capital investors.

Highlights of Start at the End – Your Exit Strategy – Part 4:

Start at the End - Your Exit Strategy - Part 4

  • The Unintentional Moonshot – 92% of exits don’t work for traditional Venture Capital funds.
  • In the 1990s the time from VC investment to exit was only 2 or 3 years.
  • Today, the median time from when a VC invests to an exit is about 7 years.
  • But that actually means, that on average, you will be stuck in your company for about 12 years after the VCs invest.
  • This means entrepreneurs and angel investors have two choices:
    – angel investors and an exit in 3 to 5 years, or
    traditional Venture Capital funds and an exit in 10 to 14 years
  • Why angel investors are much better aligned with entrepreneurs than traditional (big) Venture Capital funds.
  • New research shows that when Angels and VCs invest together it doesn’t work out as well.
  • Companies backed by angels alone are just as likely to have successful exits as VC backed firms.
  • Statistically, entrepreneurs should pick angels or VCs – but not both.
  • Checklist to determine whether your company would be better off financed by angels or VCs.
  • Conclusions for entrepreneurs and your optimum strategy for success.

Many of these lessons are described in my new book on selling businesses for entrepreneurs and angel investors –

If you enjoyed this video, you might also like Don’t Blow the Biggest Deal of Your Life, Early Exits – Your Golden Opportunity, or Start at the End – Your Exit Strategy.

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