What Startup Mentors Say About Raising Money From Friends And Family

So you’re setting out to capitalize (both literally and figuratively) your new venture. Should you seek to raise money from friends and family?

A recent survey from Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business shows that about 13% of small businesses sought capital from friends and family this year.

Here are three points from startup mentors to keep in mind when raising money from friends and family:

  1. ‘No’ is not a rejection – just because you think your idea is great, it may not resonate with everyone.
  2. Use your own cash as long as possible – get to the point where you can clearly articulate you offering, and if possible, achieve concept validation.
  3. A positive signal to other investors – having a “money vote” is good, but when its from family it sends a signal that you’re all in.
  4. Real financial risk – if things don’t work out, family gatherings can be a little stressful.

Read more in the WSJ

Image courtesy of Flickr and Evil Erin

5 Tips For A Successful Crowdfunding Project

There are many ways to fund a new business project. Traditional bank funding, business cash advances from sites like BusinessCashAdvance.com, venture capitalist funding, and private placements, have long been the mainstays of corporate finance. These can be very effective, but there is a modern alternative: crowdfunding. This allows you to gather the donations of a large amount of people to finance your project. The donations can be small, but since you are accessing many people, they can add up to large amounts.

If this sounds like the way charities work, you’re on the right track. There are significant differences between crowdfunding and soliciting charitable donations. Donors, despite the title, get something back in exchange for their money. The return doesn’t have to be monetary. Sites like Kickstarter allow people to set up projects where the payback can come in the form of something as simple as a download or something fairly elaborate. We offer tips on how you can plan, grow, and connect with your new crowdfunding project.

Read more

Investment Funds – Structure and Mechanics Part I

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You want to establish an investment fund when you are seeking capital to pool capital for investments that have yet to be identified.

Your investors will be committing capital to you based on your experience, track record and the investment profile, or investment theme that your Investment Fund will be pursuing. Since the investors are committing capital  to yet-to-be-identified investments, an Investment Fund is also known as a “blind pool.”

Investment Funds are established as Limited Partnerships, with investors coming in as Limited Partners (“LP”). You, as the Sponsor of the fund, are the General Partner (“GP”).

The GP manages all fot he activities and affairs of the Investment Fund/partnership.

Sometimes the General Partner is the Investment Manager, and sometimes the Investment Manager is a separate entity.

I’ve seen three ways that the relationship between the General Partner, Investment Manager, and Fund are set up (and I’m sure there are more).

The simplest, and the structure I’ve seen the most, is one where the GP and the Investment Manager are one and same, with the GP formed as an LLC.

The second structure is one that I’ve only seen a few times, and it’s one where the GP is formed as a Limited Partnership. An Investment Manager is formed as a separate entity, usually an LLC, and is the General Partner of the GP of the Fund.

There is a dotted line from the Investment Manager to the Fund, which represents the contractual relationship between the two, with the Investment Manager providing services to the Fund such as deal sourcing, negotiating, due diligence, closing and post-closing portfolio management.

The third structure is one where the GP is formed as either a Limited Partnership or an LLC. The Investment Manager is typically fomed as an LLC, and again having a dotted line to the Fund for investment management services.

Some people are not clear about the mechanics of an Investment Fund. When you close on your fund, you don’t collect the investments from your investors at Closing and then deploy the proceeds into investments over time. When you Close on your fund, you’re closing on “Commitments” from the investors. At Closing there will be some amount that gets drawn down to fund the first quarter of management fees, pay Fund Closing costs, which are mostly legal expenses, and finally, fund any pending investments. As you source opportunities, you will draw down, or “call” on the Limited Partner’s commitments.

Finally, as a preview of the next video, there is tremendous leverage to the General Partner’s capital with an Investment Fund. Typically the General Partner will invest 1% of the total commitments of the Fund, with the Limited Partners committing the remaining 99%. The profits, on the other hand, are allocated 80% / 20%, with 80% going to the Limited Partners and 20% to the General Partner.