I’ve fundraised a lot. Tactically, fundraising is a skill like any other. You get better the more you do it. But practicing gets you nowhere if you don’t have a strong foundation in understanding a fundraising round’s core components.
As a founder, you will understand less than investors when it comes to fundraising. For investors, negotiating with founders is their full-time job. For founders, fundraising is just a small part of building a business. Understanding the basics of venture financing can help founders raise on better terms.
- How financing works: SAFEs versus equity rounds.
- How much to raise.
- How to arrive at your valuation.
How financing works: SAFEs versus equity rounds
As a founder, you will understand less than investors when it comes to fundraising.
Venture financing takes place in rounds. The first stage is the pre-seed or seed round, then a Series A, then a Series B, then a Series C and so on. You can continue to raise funding until the company is profitable, gets acquired or goes public.
We will focus here on seed-stage funding — your very first funding round.
Post-money SAFEs are the most common way to raise funding. These documents are used by Y Combinator, angel investors and most early-stage funds. You should raise on post-money SAFEs using standard documents created by YC. Standard documents have consistent terms that have been drafted to be fair to both investors and founders.
By using the standard post-money SAFE, your negotiation can focus on the two terms that matter:
- Principal: The amount you want to raise per investor.
- Valuation cap: The value of your business.