Étiquette : Venture Capital

Simple Fundraising Ideas? One Woman’s Crazy, Adventurous Quest in Search of Ideas For Fundraisers

When I began my parenting journey several years ago, I didn’t realize that I was also embarking on a never-ending search for simple fundraising ideas. Truly, I had no idea that one of the primary responsibilities as a parent would be continually drumming up ideas for fundraisers.

Even after I had resigned myself to the fact that fundraising would be a regular part of my life, I still had no idea that it would be such an adventure.

You see I’ve got three kids in school selling everything from pies to pizza. We’re involved in drama, soccer, basketball AND I sit on a hockey board that is solely self-funded by–you guessed it–fundraisers.

I’m trading commodities with friends, « I’ll take that pie and trade you cookie dough…good we’re even. » My family members won’t even answer their phone anymore, afraid they’ll be buying more things they don’t need.

We’ve done ’em all!

Let’s see, there are the gift-wrap/specialty item/trinket sales. If you ask me, these types of fundraisers are overused and overpriced. Every time I turn around my child has yet another catalog! In this economy when I can buy wrapping paper for $1.00 at the local dollar store, why would I want a roll of wrapping paper that costs me $9.00? (So what if it is better quality, it just gets ripped off the gift anyway.) I would actually rather write the school a check then try to sell this stuff.

Of course, we’re so tired of selling stuff anyway, so half the time, I just place a good sized order for my own family (reluctantly, of course).

Case in point: My daughter recently came home and mentioned that the « The Cookie Dough Guy » said that if they wanted enough money for their field trip to the Boston Museum, they were « encouraged » to sell at least two tubs of cookie dough (for $14.00 each!). I spent $28.00 on two itty bitty tubs of cookie dough. I could have gone to BJ’s, bought a BIG tub of Tollhouse Cookie dough for $6.99 AND bought my daughter’s admission into the museum for less than that! Why didn’t they just ask for the money for the field trip? It’s absurd!

And, how about those booths at craft fairs or festivals?

Okay, so if you’re ever asked to « man a booth for a couple of hours » be very wary. Our organization signed up for a booth at our community’s Summerfest in June. I signed on for the early shift (I’d get my shift over with and enjoy a fun filled afternoon with my family). Yeh, first mistake. Funny how your « replacements » never seem to show up to actually replace you. So, there I was, 6 hours later « manning the booth ». If that wasn’t annoying enough, suddenly, the skies grew dark, the wind kicked up and we were in the middle of one of those horrific thunder and lightning storms. Everything was blowing wildly; the canopy was about to take flight. And the rain was coming down in droves. Needless to say, we earned very little money that day. (Even putting the

« severe thunderstorm factor » aside, the event was not very profitable because even though there was a lot of traffic, there was also a lot of competition.)

Oh and let’s not forget one of my favorite « simple » fundraising ideas, pizza kits and pies.

Okay, yes they are pretty decent sellers, but the logistics of the whole thing are crazy. First of all, you need to arrange an EXACT delivery time with the company because they need to keep the goods frozen. Then, you need to let everyone know when that EXACT delivery date is and pray that they actually come to pick up their products. And, when they don’t . . .well, let’s just say, it was a darn good thing I had a spare freezer in my basement to store some of those overly large boxes! And, don’t get me started on how I had to make a bazillion phone calls to those people who failed to show up at our EXACT delivery time.

But, my all time favorite adventure was « The Bottle Drive ». The most basic of simple fundraising ideas. You collect, basically, people’s trash and exchange it for money. Piece of cake.

That’s what we thought too. The conversation went something like this: « We’ll have a bottle drive! » « Yes! » « On New Year’s Day. » « Great idea! » « All those New Year’s Eve parties! We’ll make a ton of money! »

It became an obsession. I’m in the grocery store and I run into Mike. He says, « Hey, we’re having a New Year’s Eve party, you and John should stop by. » Great, I’m thinking. Give his address to one of the drivers to pick up their bottles in the morning. I get so swept up in it, that I actually find myself eavesdropping to find out where everyone is going to celebrate.

So it’s New Year’s Day and with maps in hand and addresses of all those parties that happened the night before, we jumped into our trucks and headed out. Did I mention we live in Maine? We had been hit with several December storms and today we were in for a Nor’easter, as they are so endearingly called. (In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, this basically means that the snow falls in unassuming small crystals at a moderate but relentless pace until you suddenly realize that you are completely socked in.) That wasn’t going to deter us though . . . no worries, just bundle up and get an early start.

Here’s a curious concept…an early start on New Year’s Day. Okay, so not everyone spent New Year’s Eve like me — in their pj’s, snuggled up next to the woodstove, going to bed early so we could get an early start in the morning for the bottle drive. At 9:00 a.m., if you had a party, you are NOT likely to be moving around, much less cleaning your house. So, many doors went unanswered.

Finally, one neighborhood proved to be promising until we saw…the Boy Scouts. We couldn’t believe it. They were having a bottle drive as well! (It’s amazing how fast a bunch of not-so-thrilled-to-be-up-this-early-on-a-weekend teenage hockey players can actually move when they are trying to outrun the Boy Scouts.)

My friend and I decided, enough of this door-to-door stuff, we’ll hit up the local restaurants and pubs. We hit the mother load at our local Thatcher’s. We rock! Our hopes were high. Then, we hear, « Sorry, you need to talk to the manager and they aren’t working on New Year’s Day » or « We have lots of bottles in our shed out back but unfortunately the plow guy hasn’t plowed us out from the last storm. Come see us in the spring. »

Okay, this was getting discouraging. We traded cell phone calls and met at regular intervals at the local redemption center. The snow was coming down faster than the plows could get the roads clear and we realized that it was getting too dangerous to have vehicles on the road. With an army of twelve trucks, we headed back to the redemption center only to discover it had closed due to the weather!

Now what do we do?

« Bring them to my garage » (What, who said that? Me? Note to self: you are far too accommodating.) Of course everyone thinks that is a great idea!

Before I know it, my garage is full of stale smelling beer bottles, my hands are sticky and cold, I’m exhausted, my husband is ready to divorce me AND my car is now outside covered by 18 inches of heavy, wet snow because there isn’t enough room in my garage!

Over the course of the next week, my husband and I bagged up the bottles and made several trips to the redemption center. Woo Hoo! We made $350 for 15 people, spending a cold, snowy day, driving all over town. There has got to be a simpler way to fundraise!



Source by Tracey DuBois

Startup Law 101 Series – Why Founders Should Use Cheap Stock in Capitalizing Their Startups

Founders will normally want to use so-called cheap stock when they capitalize their startups.

When you form a startup, you contribute cash or other assets to it in exchange for stock. You can also loan money to the entity. The ratio of debt to equity should be modest — normally not more than 3 to 1 (check with your business lawyer or CPA). While capitalizing with debt is common for small corporations, it is less so for startups, where straight equity capitalization is the norm. That capitalization normally involves cheap stock.

Why use cheap stock?

Cheap stock is important because founders will often earn their equity over time as they perform services for the company. The IRS may treat the value of that stock as taxable compensation. If you want to minimize tax, keep the value of the stock low.

The idea is to value your IP as low as possible and to assign it to the company along with modest cash contributions while pricing the shares themselves at a nominal price. If a company has modestly valued IP and nominal cash, it is not worth much and neither is its stock.

Founders may chafe at the idea of placing a low value on their IP. Not to worry. At the time of funding, investors will see this strictly as a positioning move.

A common model for startups is therefore to authorize millions of shares of low-priced common stock, with some percentage allocated to founders, some reserved for an equity-incentive pool, and some reserved for future investors. For example, 10 million shares might be authorized, of which 4 million could be issued to founders, 2 million reserved for an incentive pool, and 4 million reserved for investors. In this example, the founders might price the stock at a tenth of a penny ($.001) per share and thus contribute a total of $4,000 for the 4 million shares issued to them.

Large share numbers can give startups a psychological edge in recruiting. The more shares, the larger the option grants. Which would you rather get, 1,000 or 100,000 options? Each might represent an identical interest in a company but the psychological question answers itself on which sounds better. Startups set up their structures accordingly.

How does a cheap-stock strategy play out when it comes time for funding? In our example above, let’s say that our startup with 10 million authorized shares does a Series A preferred stock round at its first funding. Assume that this startup amends its articles to authorize 4 million shares of preferred stock and that it raises $4 million, with:

(1) the investors getting 4 million shares of preferred stock at $1.00 per share (convertible one-for-one into the 4 million shares of common reserved for investors);

(2) the founders continuing to hold their original 4 million shares purchased at $.001 per share; and

(3) the remaining 2 million shares either issued or reserved under an equity incentive plan for key service contributors.

The startup now has a post-money valuation of $10 million (10 million shares times $1.00 per share). Factoring in the dilution that will result once all 10 million shares are issued, the founders now own 4 million out of 10 million shares, or 40% of the company. If the company as a whole is valued at $10 million, that 40% interest has a paper value of $4 million. The founders paid only $4,000 to acquire that interest, say, 12 months earlier. Yet if all other formation issues were handled properly (including the filing of timely 83(b) elections), the founders will not normally risk incurring tax liabilities from the paper gain they have already realized.

Was their interest worth $4 million at the time of company formation? Who knows? At that stage, all numbers are nebulous. This is generally safe territory for using low valuations.

What do founders accomplish by using cheap stock? If the startup fails, they lose nothing more than the value of their labor. If it succeeds, they can ride through its ups and downs on the strength of capital investments made by others via outside funding. They pay no tax along the way. Any gain realized from the ultimate sale of their stock will be taxable only when they get tangible value in return and then most likely at favorable long term capital gain rates.

Thus, cheap stock lets founders position themselves optimally from a tax and economic perspective to benefit from any ultimate success they may have.

Cheap stock also benefits other key people besides founders. Options may not be issued at founder pricing but normally are issued at a significant discount from what investors ultimately pay. As long as the startup is careful to avoid steps that cause a large upward valuation on the stock price during the early stages, the discount model can be maintained and significant equity incentives offered to key service contributors who come in after the founders.

As a startup matures, the use of cheap stock is normally neither feasible nor desirable. At that time, its use may be unfair to existing shareholders and may also run afoul of a special Internal Revenue Code provision (409A) that imposes penalties if stock used for deferred compensation is not valued correctly.

In the early stages, though, the cardinal rule is to use cheap stock. It pays dividends for all concerned. Don’t neglect this fundamental aspect of setting up your startup.

One caveat: a corporation that is under-capitalized for the business it conducts can be at risk for having its « corporate veil » pierced. Work with your business lawyer to ensure that you do your startup capitalization properly.



Source by George Grellas

Venture Capital Negotiating Issues

When companies enter into negotiations with venture capital firms, there are several issues which need to be defined and agreed upon. This article describes the key issues.

Valuation. Valuation is the most prominent negotiating issues. Valuation is the price of the company in which the venture capitalist invests. Valuation determines what percent of the company the investor is buying for their capital.

Timing of the Investment. Many investors will commit a large amount of capital, but will contribute that capital to the companies in installments. Often, these installments are only made when pre-designated milestones are met.

Vesting of Founders' Stock. Like capital, investors often prefer that stock is given to company founders and key employees in installments. This is known as vesting.

Modifying the Management Team. Some investors insist that additional or substitute management employees be hired subsequent to their investment. This gives investors additional security that the company will execute on its business model. An important issue to negotiate with regards to modifying the management team is the amount of stock or options that will be issued to new management team members, as this will dilute the holdings of the founders.

Employment Agreements with Key Founders. Venture capitalists typically do not want companies to have employment agreements that limit the circumstances under which employees can be fired and / or set compensation and benefits levels that are too high. Other key employment agreement issues to be negotiated with venture capitalists include restrictions on post-employment activities and employee severance payments on termination.

Company Proprietary Rights. If the company has an important product with intellectual property (IP), investors will want to ensure that the company, and not a company employee, owns the IP. In addition, investors will want to ensure that new inventions are assigned to the company. To this end, investors may negotiate that all employees must sign Confidentiality and Inventions Assignment Agreements.

Exit Strategy. Investors are very focused on how they will "cash out" of their investment. In this regard, they will negotiate regarding registration rights (both demand and piggyback); rights to participate in any sale of stock by the founders (co-sale rights); and possibly a right to force the company to redeem their stock under certain conditions.

Lock-Up Rights. Venture capitalists may require a lock-up period at the term sheet stage. The "lock-up period" is typically a 30-60 day period where the investors have the exclusive right, but not the obligation, to make the investment. Investors typically conduct due diligence during this time without fear that other investors will pre-empt their opportunity to invest in the company.

Each of these issues are critical when raising venture capital, since the outcome can significantly impact the success of the venture and the wealth potential of the company founders and management team. Because venture capitalists are very knowledgeable regarding these issues, and have great skill in negotiating on them, companies who are raising venture capital should seek advisors who also have this experience and expertise.



Source by PR Kennedy

Cultivating SMART Fundraising Goals

SMART is an acronym gaining remarkable popularity in the world of business which represents key features specialists generally agree must be incorporated into your goals to align yourself on a route to success. This system was introduced in 1981 when an article by George Doran (there’s a S.M.A.R.T way to write management’s goals) highlighted the need to methodically set out what you will work towards to optimize your chances of success.

This gave birth to the five part model of cultivating the best goals for projects in many industries. Although many variations have emerged explaining the SMART goals phenomenon, the ideal model for fundraising would comprise of;

S – SPECIFIC

M – MEASURABLE

A – AMBITIOUS/ ATTAINABLE

R – RELEVANT

T – TIME-BASED

Making use of this SMART model to cultivate and set goals for fundraisers and other projects facilitates the creation of effective action plans for them and also makes it easy to later evaluate success levels. Appropriate counsel and advice on the activities of fundraising especially for Non-profits, charity organizations and social business can be gotten from proper Non-profit and Fundraising Consulting.

The specifics of the SMART model for fundraising can be explained as follows;

S – SPECIFIC

It’s first of all very important when setting goals to clearly determine what exactly the ultimate result is to be. In the milieu of fundraising, being specific simply implies being crystal clear on financial targets and the impact that will be made on your organization when these targets are met.

Going further to answer questions of  »what » needs to be done to realize set goals? And  »who » is to benefit from the meeting of these goals? Together with  »where » and  »why » increase specificity. Clearly outlining and writing these specific goals help in avoiding distractions. Examples of specific goals for fundraising could be:

  • Gain 200 new donors
  • And raise 25% on last year’s total donations to provide food, shelter, and education for homeless exploited teens.

M – MEASURABLE

This feature of the SMART goal model for fundraising provides some clarification to the specific set goals answering questions of  »how much » and  »how many » so as to make them easily quantifiable. In other words, measurability can be achieved by establishing defined methods of how to know if goals are met or not such as outlining:

  • How much is to be raised
  • Who will be responsible for tracking progress
  • How to know when goals are met or not.

A – AMBITIOUS/ ATTAINABLE

It’s very beneficial when fundraising goals are both ambitious and attainable. There is significant difficulty in the use of comprehension of available skill and resources to strike the ideal point between realistic and ambitious goals. It’s important to note that difficult targets most often encourage greater performances. However, always take into consideration that unrealistic and unattainable goals could lead to frustration and damage to morale which is key especially for fundraising.

Providing answers to the following questions will help any organization in the setting of attainable goals in fundraising:

  • Average donation size?
  • Funds raised in past online campaigns and events?
  • Number of donors in previous campaign?
  • Organizational resources (skill, time and money) committed to the fundraising campaign?

R – RELEVANT

Succeeding to set specific, measurable and attainable goals without relevance scream incomplete and sham. It’s indisputably necessary for fundraising goals to be relevant. In this SMART goal feature, you are required to clearly establish how raising the funds and meeting set targets work for your organization’s cause. Here the main question to be responded to is  »why »?

To thoroughly check for the relevance of fund raising goals to be set, it’s vital to investigate direct relations to the missions of the organization. This can be done by stating:

  • What reaching the set goals will particularly do for your organization and its mission?
  • What direct or indirect impact will be felt highlighting the lives to be improved or even saved?
  • Does your target population directly benefit from this goal?
  • Clear connections and relationship between current organization activities and those after the realization of goals?

Clearly outlining who is benefiting from funds raised in relation to organization original missions highlight and express relevance.

T – TIME BASED

Though the last of the five SMART features, it is equally as important as the others because, deadlines play a major role in making goals specific and measurable. A goal which is not time-based can be indefinitely suspended. Objectives and fundraising goals require steady start and end dates as they provide visible reference points and powerful motivation for both the fundraisers and their donors. Deadlines also should be ambitious but attainable because they are very important to the budget of organizations. Possessing campaign timelines facilitate regular checking of progress level towards goals. SMART fundraising goals should clearly outline:

  • Start date of campaign
  • End date of campaign
  • Campaign timeline with stated locations at certain important points during campaign
  • Present steps and tasks to be executed with suggestions to deal with challenges and unforeseen.

Setting, cultivating and executing SMART goals during the management of fundraising events and campaigns increase the probability of success, implying success at raising the funds needed by the organization. This five feature SMART model can be very beneficial in the guarantee of success in the management of social business fund raising and other projects as they give focus and orientation to your campaigns.



Source by Chris Bouchard

Join Hands With QuickBooks Hosting To Accelerate Your Startup Business

Almost each & every business runs on a particular set of strategies which is decided before heading in the market. The marketing strategies are often set by the business persons who know the ups & downs of the competitive market. In order to continue with pre-planned terms, businesses must need to be in sync with accounts. As accounts are one of the most critical business function that demands to be solidly accurate.

Accurate financial data with on-time reports can be taken as the major pillar of any newly started business. For business start-ups, QuickBooks cloud hosting is an essential tool and is majorly recommended by financial advisors & accountants.Normally startups suffer from lapses in accounts which directly affects the overall management of the company and result in failure of the startup business. The same can be seen in the recent « 3 out of 4 Start-Ups fails » publication made by academia of Harvard Business School which stated that most of the startups in the US fail unexpectedly due to lack of good business approaches.

One of the most preferred ways to accelerate your newly launched business is to find out right sources which can address your business needs. The young generation business persons are majorly looking for sources which offer them strict data security, sustainable mobility & various tools that can beautify their business requirements. With ample features along with various operational and financial benefits, QuickBooks hosting services are what offer utmost data security while helping you stand strong even after having a ‘fresher’ tag. If you are searching for superior technology & robust platform for your business then nothing can beat QuickBooks accounting software.

Minimize Upfront IT Expenses Of Your Business

The threshold of your startup is as active and energetic as your needs. But the low availability of funds for investments is what lowers down your zeal. We all know that having a reliable hosting provider will help us to grow in the market and somehow also completes all our needs. 90% of startups fail in infrastructure in-house IT departments and thus faces many consequences. Whereas big well-established businesses find it easy to build their own In-house IT infrastructure which always stays for technical guidance. So it is beneficial for a startup business to join hands with QuickBooks hosting providers in order to avoid unnecessary IT costs.

Say Hello To Substantial Cloud Technology For Your Business

It is essential for small-scale startups to stay active with newly emerged technologies of the market- cloud technology is one of the most advanced business facilitating medium of today’s scenario. QuickBooks cloud hosting not only facilitates ease of accessibility but also expands security measures for any business. By allowing your business data on the cloud server of QuickBooks, you are simply opening a new path of flexibility, scalability & security for your business. You can access your important data from anywhere without wait hours for managing a team to join. Cloud technology gives control of your business in your hands and only asks you to play cards that will convert your ideas into long-term business.

Stay Updated With Your Cashflow Records

Many times startup businesses try to seek capital investments for their smooth going of business but often fails due to incomplete records of their expenses. While investing in your business model, many investors ask for your detailed cash flow records and at that time it is quite hard for you to make the stuff ready. QuickBooks hosting helps you to manage your business records & other accounts up-to-date and thus make it easy for investors to trust you. One will only invest in your business if they meet transparency goals while dealing with your business type. The accounting software tracks your business-related financial activities in real-time and helps you to find each report on time.

Enjoy All Kind Of Accounting Related Perks Within Your Business

As a newly started business, anyone looks for a software that will complete all their accounting related needs as well as maintain their records & reports for an instant check. QuickBooks accounting software offers a variety of features including ease of report checking, Payroll management, support for tax returns, all-in-one dashboard access & complete bookkeeping facilities. The accounting software is also stuffed with cloud-based services which provide better connectivity and accessibility to your business. For most of QuickBooks hosting users, it is hard to believe that a single software is able to fulfill small to small requirements of a newly started business. But that’s the truth that can be easily fit your business and make it a long-term success mantra.

If you are the head of a newly started business or looking forward to being your own boss then you must integrate your business with cloud hosting based accounting software. In case, you get stuck in any kind of problematic issue while trying to join QuickBooks hosting then a simple QuickBooks Online Backup User Guide will prove to be a good support solution.



Source by Tina S Smith

Venture Capital and Angel Investors

Despite the fact that Venture Capital funding fell during the 2008-2009 fiscal year, venture funding also picked up along with mergers and acquisitions. There is no question that there have been some tough times for both entrepreneurs and venture capitalists alike. There are signs that VC funding will be back in the norm at the beginning of 2012. There is no question that in most cases, when entrepreneurs are looking to raise capital from angel investors or venture capitalists, the odds are almost always against the entrepreneur.

In most cases, the entrepreneur ends up dealing with conservatives who invest in start-ups, which involves a rather high risk to the investor. In any case, for an entrepreneur to have any chance in raising venture capital he has to do quite of bit of work and research to make sure that everything is right and that the investor agrees with the research. The most important thing to look at here is that you need to make wise decisions in your business plan and all your research when going to propose your company to an investor.

As far as different industries are concerned, venture capital firms usually invest in the industries and sectors that their partners have experience in. In most cases this primarily depends on the firm itself and the expertise of the partners in that firm. Through services you can get online you can gain access to many investors with a wide range of different industry expertise. There are thousands of investors with all kinds of different industry, geographic and stage preferences. All of these preferences are very important in choosing investors.

The difference between angel investors and venture capitalists is that, on one hand angel investors invest their own money, whereas venture capitalists invest money from funds that they manage. Furthermore, angel investors are not professional investors, whereas venture capitalists and other institutional investors are professional investors. What does this mean? Well, it is quite simple. Angel investors usually invest their own money and since it is their own money, they have a wide range of different reasons for investing it. On the other hand, venture capitalists and equity investors invest on a professional basis and do not invest their own money. Institutional investors usually work for a private equity firm or, in the case of venture capitalists, a venture capital firm. These firms manage equity and the money invested usually comes from different firms. These funds can come from pension funds, endowments or the private funds from wealthy families.



Source by Don Sandoval

Using Facebook To Amplify Your Year-End Fundraising

Let’s find out what are the main reasons giving on social media works and how you can use them to your advantage.

Reinventing social image

People who are actively involved in social media have reinvented the notion of social media. Now you can re-create your whole life and persona on Facebook. Supporting a cause is one of the noble acts and people on social media want others to see them getting involved with charities. Especially using Facebook to host/promote your own fundraiser is seen both as positive and trendy.

If you have your audience engaged in social media your promotion will translate at light speed and spread across the internet. People will want to be seen promoting you they want to be part of your story. And they want their family and friends to know about it.

Setting up Example

One of the reasons why Facebook is the best platform to initiate your campaign is that they themselves actively get involved in fundraising and supporting various causes. Facebook has been responsible for paving the path of social fundraising. They promote and host their own fundraising also to make it the most desired environment for fundraising.

A Recent study by Artez Interactive found out that peer-to-peer campaigns which depend heavily on people’s interaction were able to generate quite a huge amount of donation support from Facebook itself.

It is best to understand the advantages of marketing that Facebook can provide. It is cost-effective and impactful at the same time. Research on how other organizations of utilized the social platform to get the best out of it.

Increasing acceptability of online transactions

With secure online transactions provided online people are finding it both comfortable and appealing to donate online. Not only does it provide ease of accessibility but also much less paperwork for the charities. As online commerce is increasing non-profits are gaining a better chance of getting people to donate. From marketing to collecting donation, all can be managed online.

How to use Facebook for your non-profit:

·Advertising

With the realization of the power of peer-to-peer marketing, lots of non-profits understand why Facebook is a great platform for such kind of promotion. Try utilizing Facebook advertising by spending a little amount to boost your post.

·Locating audience

You can create a custom audience list on Facebook for your campaign. So try excluding email list of your current supporters and then go ahead and invert it and exclude everyone on that list. Also what you can do is upload your email list and use Facebook’s lookalike audience targeting to create a lookalike audience from it.

·Optimization for other devices

With an already optimized interface for mobile devices and people accessing Facebook many times a day on their phone you need your content

·Online posts

Post as often as you can on Facebook to increase your visibility. Timing is the key as there are lots of other contents you will have to compete against. To maximize your reach try putting up more versions of your call-to-action.



Source by Juhi Sharma

Managing A Fundraising Company

Your online fundraiser store needs to bring in a constant stream of latest customers to be successful. Maintaining a stylish and updated fundraising help website is essential if you want to attract new clients. Site analytic tools are an outstanding way to track and report on your customer activity. Whether you use the right tools or not will have a great impact on your business decisions.

Always be open to upcoming innovative processes for advertising. Search engine marketing relies on carefully picked search phrases to bolster targeted traffic. In case you have some money in your budget, purchasing discount card fundraisers from search engines like Bing or Google is a simple way to guide new customers to your fundraising help website. If you would prefer to generate your web traffic through search engines, try looking into a marketing company that specializes in search engine optimization.

Understanding the patterns of your sales is important. Your clients might be wanting a newer, fresher sport teams discount card if you notice a decline in sales. If you notice a decrease in sales, waste no time in seeking out new technologies and trends in your field. One way to understand new trends in your field is to go to a product-related trade show.

A lot of people do not like using the online payment process. Many clients wonder if their payment info is safe and secure, so you should reassure them that all possible steps have been taken to protect their transactions. Check out these discount card fundraiser methods for a professional and secure financial system from an e-commerce professional and find out how to implement them into your business strategy. A simple and secure payment process is essential for maximizing sales.

By refreshing your goals every so often, you keep your youth fundraising on the path to success. Becoming a star in your industry is inevitable if you have complete faith in your ability to make it happen. When you accomplish a goal, set your heights higher so you could get more. If you are unwilling to put forth effort and are looking for only small milestones, you are likely better off not owning a Xtraman Fundraising.

New personnel members can have a big impact on the way your discount fundraising cards consulting company works, so be certain to select the very best candidates when working with. Ensure that new workers are able to perform their duties and have all certifications required. Don't forget that as the owner of the high school fundraising company, you are required to provide full and thorough training to all new workers to ensure they become productive team players. At the heart of each prosperous youth fundraising is a team of highly motivated, well trained and satisfied workers.



Source by Brandon Call

Startup Law 101 Series – Ten Essential Legal Tips For Startups at Formation

Here are ten essential legal tips for startup founders.

1. Set up your legal structure early and use cheap stock to avoid tax problems.

No small venture wants to invest too heavily in legal infrastructure at an early stage. If you are a solo founder working out of the garage, save your dollars and focus on development.

If you are a team of founders, though, setting up a legal structure early is important.

First, if members of your team are developing IP, the lack of a structure means that every participant will have individual rights to the IP he develops. A key founder can guard against this by getting everyone to sign "work-for-hire" agreements assigning such rights to that founder, who in turn will assign them over to the corporation once formed. How many founding teams do this. Almost none. Get the entity in place to capture the IP for the company as it is being developed.

Second, how do you get a founding team together without a structure? You can, of course, but it is awkward and you wind up with having to make promises that must be taken on faith about what will or will not be given to members of the team. On the flip side, many a startup has been sued by a founder who claimed that he was promised much more than was granted to him when the company was finally formed. As a team, don't set yourselves up for this kind of lawsuit. Set the structure early and get things in writing.

If you wait too long to set your structure up, you run into tax traps. Founders normally work for sweat equity and sweat equity is a taxable commodity. If you wait until your first funding event before setting up the structure, you give the IRS a measure by which to put a comparatively large number on the value of your sweat equity and you subject the founders to needless tax risks. Avoid this by setting up early and using cheap stock to position things for the founding team.

Finally, get a competent startup business lawyer to help with or at least review your proposed setup. Do this early on to help flush out problems before they become serious. For example, many founders will moonlight while holding on to full-time jobs through the early startup phase. This often poses no special problems. Sometimes it does, however, and especially if the IP being developed overlaps with IP held by an employer of the moonlighting founder. Use a lawyer to identify and address such problems early on. It is much more costly to sort them out later.

2. Normally, go with a corporation instead of an LLC.

The LLC is a magnificent modern legal invention with a wild popularity that stems from its having become, for sole-member entities (including husband-wife), the modern equivalent of the sole proprietorship with a limited liability cap on it.

When you move beyond sole member LLCs, however, you essentially have a partnership-style structure with a limited liability cap on it.

The partnership-style structure does not lend itself well to common features of a startup. It is a clumsy vehicle for restricted stock and for preferred stock. It does not support the use of incentive stock options. It cannot be used as an investment vehicle for VCs. There are special cases where an LLC makes sense for a startup but these are comparatively few in number (eg, where special tax allocations make sense, where a profits-only interest is important, where tax pass-through adds value). Work with a lawyer to see if special case applies. If not, go with a corporation.

3. Be cautious about Delaware.

Delaware offers few, if any advantages, for an early-stage startup. The many praises sung for Delaware by business lawyers are justified for large, public companies. For startups, Delaware offers mostly administrative inconvenience.

Some Delaware advantages from the standpoint of an insider group: (1) You can have a sole director constituted the entire board of directors no matter how large and complex the corporate setup, giving a dominant founder a vehicle for keeping everything close the vest (if this is deemed desirable); (2) you can dispense with cumulative voting, giving leverage to insiders who want to keep minority shareholders from having board representation; (3) you can stagger the election of directors if desired.

Delaware also is an efficient state for doing corporate filings, as anyone who has been frustrated by the delays and screw-ups of certain other state agencies can attest.

On the down side – and this is major – Delaware permits preferred shareholders who control the majority of the company voting stock to sell or merge the company without requiring the consent of the common stock holders. This can easily lead to downstream founder "wipe outs" via liquidation preferences held by such controlling shareholders.

Also on the down side, early-stage startups incur administrative hassles and extra costs with a Delaware setup. They still have to pay taxes on income derived from their home states. They have to qualify their Delaware corporation as a "foreign corporation" in their home states and pay the extra franchise fees associated with that process. They get franchise tax bills in the tens of thousands of dollars and have to apply for relief under Delaware's alternative valuation method. None of these items constitutes a crushing problem. Every one is an administrative hassle.

My advice from years of experience working with founders: keep it simple and skip delaware unless there is some compelling reason to choose it; if there is a good reason, go with Delaware but don't fool yourself into believing that you have gotten yourself special prize for your early-stage startup.

4. Use restricted stock for founders in most cases.

If a founder gets stock without strings on it, and then walks away from the company, that founder will get a windfall equity grant. There are special exceptions, but the rule for most founders should be to grant them restricted stock, ie, stock that can be repurchased by the company at cost in the event the founder leaves the company. Restricted stock lies at the heart of the concept of sweat equity for founders. Use it to make sure founders earn their keep.

5. Make timely 83 (b) elections.

When restricted stock grants are made, they should almost always be accompanied by 83 (b) elections to prevent potentially horrific tax problems from arising downstream for the founders. This special tax election applies to cases where stock is owned but can be forfeited. It must be made within 30 days of the date of grant, signed by the stock recipient and spouse, and filed with the recipient's tax return for that year.

6. Get technology assignments from everyone who helped develop IP.

When the startup is formed, stock grants should not be made just for cash contributions from founders but also for technology assignments, as applicable to any founder who worked on IP-related matters prior to formation. Don't leave these hangning loose or allow stock to be issued to founders without capturing all IP rights for the company.

Founders sometimes think they can keep IP in their own hands and license it to the startup. This does not work. At least the company will not normally be fundable in such cases. Exceptions to this are rare.

The IP roundup should include not only founders but all consultants who worked on IP-related matters prior to company formation. Modern startups will sometimes use development companies in places like India to help speed product development prior to company formation. If such companies were paid for this work, and if they did it under work-for-hire contracts, then whoever had the contract with them can assign to the startup the rights already captured under the work-for-hire contracts. If no work-for-hire arrangements were in place, a stock, stock option, or warrant grant should be made, or other legal consideration paid, to the outside company in exchange for the IP rights it holds.

The same is true for every contractor or friend who helped with development locally. Small option grants will ensure that IP rights are rounded up from all relevant parties. These grants should be vested in whole or in part to ensure that proper consideration exists for the IP assignment made by the consultants.

7. Protect the IP going forward.

When the startup is formed, all employees and contractors who continue to work for it should sign confidentiality and invention assignment agreements or work-for-hire contracts as appropriate to ensure that all IP remains with the company.

Such persons should also be paid valid consideration for their efforts. If this is in the form of equity compensation, it should be accompanied by some form of cash compensation as well to avoid tax problems arising from the IRS placing a high value on the stock by using the reasonable value of services as a measure of its value . If cash is a problem, salaries may be deferred as appropriate until first funding.

8. Consider provisional patent filings.

Many startups have IP whose value will largely be lost or compromised once it is disclosed to the others. In such cases, see a good patent lawyer to determine a patent strategy for protecting such IP. If appropriate, file provisional patents. Do this before making key disclosures to investors, etc.

If early disclosures must be made, do this incrementally and only under the terms of non-disclosure agreements. In cases where investors refuse to sign an nda (eg, with VC firms), don't reveal your core confidential items until you have the provisional patents on file.

9. Set up equity incentives.

With any true startup, equity incentives are the fuel that keeps a team going. At formation, adopt an equity incentive plan. These plans will give the board of directors a range of incentives, unsually including restricted stock, incentive stock options (ISOs), and non-qualified options (NQOs).

Restricted stock is usually used for founders and very key people. ISOs are used for employees only. NQOs can be used with any employee, consultant, board member, advisory director, or other key person. Each of these tools has differing tax treatment. Use a good professional to advise you on this.

Of course, with all forms of stock and options, federal and state securities laws must be satisfied. Use a good lawyer to do this.

10. Fund the company incrementally.

Resourceful startups will use funding strategies by which they don't necessarily go for large VC funding right out the gate. Of course, some of the very best startups have needed major VC funding at inception and have achieved tremendous success. Most, however, will get into trouble if they need massive capital infusions right up front and thus find themselves with a few options if such funding is not available or if it is available only on oppressive terms.

The best results for founders come when they have built significant value in the startup before needing to seek major funding. The dilutive hit is much less and they often get much better general terms for their funding.

Conclusion

These tips suggest important legal elements that founders should factor into their broader strategic planning.

As a founder, you should work closely with a good startup business lawyer to implement the steps correctly. Self-help has its place in small companies, but it almost invariably falls short when it comes to the complex setup issues associated with a startup. In this area, get a good startup business lawyer and do it right.



Source by George Grellas

Venture Leasing: Startup Financing On the Rise

According to Pricewaterhouse Coopers, investment by institutional venture capitalists in startups grew from less than $ 3.0 billion at the beginning of the 1990's to over $ 106 billion in 2000. Although venture capital volume has retreated significantly since the economic "bubble" years of the late 1990's, the present volume of around $ 19 billion per year still represents a substantial rate of growth. Venture capitalists will fund more than 2,500 high growth startups in the US this year.

The growth in venture capital investing has given rise to a relatively new and expanding area of ​​equipment leasing known as 'venture leasing'. Exactly what is venture leasing and what has fueled its growth since the early 1990's? Why has venture leasing become so attractive to venture capital-backed startups? To find answers, one must look at several important developments that have bolstered the growth of this important equipment leasing segment.

The term venture leasing describes equipment financing provided by equipment leasing firms to pre-profit, early stage companies funded by venture capital investors. These startups, like most growing businesses, need computers, networking equipment, furniture, telephone equipment, and equipment for production and R&D. They rely on outside investor support until they prove their business models or achieve profitability. Fueling the growth in venture leasing is a combination of several factors, including: renewed economic expansion, improvement in the IPO market, abundant entrepreneurial talent, promising new technologies, and government policies favoring venture capital formation.

In this environment, venture investors have formed a sizeable pool of venture capital to launch and support the development of many new technologies and business concepts. Additionally, an array of services is now available to support the development of startups and to promote their growth. CPA firms, banks, attorneys, investment banks, consultants, lessors, and even search firms have committed significant resources to this emerging market segment.

Where does equipment leasing fit into the venture financing mix? The relatively high cost of venture capital versus venture leasing tells the story. Financing new ventures is a high risk proposition. To compensate venture capitalists for this risk, they generally require a sizeable equity stake in the companies they finance. They typically seek investment returns of at least 35% on their investments over five to seven years. Their return is achieved via an IPO or other sale of their equity stake. In comparison, venture lessors seek a return in the 15% – 22% range. These transactions amortize in two to four years and are secured by the underlying equipment.

Although the risk to venture lessors is also high, venture lessors mitigate the risk by having a security interest in the leased equipment and structuring transactions that amortize. Appreciating the obvious cost advantage of venture leasing over venture capital, startup companies have turned to venture leasing as a significant source of funding to support their growth. Additional advantages to the startup of venture leasing include the traditional leasing strong points — conservation of cash for working capital, management of cash flow, flexibility, and serving as a supplement to other available capital.

What makes a 'good' venture lease transaction? Venture lessors look at several factors. Two of the main ingredients of a successful new venture are the caliber of its management team and the quality of its venture capital sponsors. In many cases the two groups seem to find one another. A good management team has usually demonstrated prior successes in the field in which the new venture is active. Additionally, they must have experience in the key business functions – sales, marketing, R&D, production, engineering, and finance. Although there are many venture capitalists financing new ventures, there can be a significant difference in their abilities, staying power, and resources. The better venture capitalists have successful track records and direct experience with the type of companies they financed.

The best VCs have industry specialization and many are staffed by individuals with direct operating experience within the industries they finance. The amount of capital a venture capitalist allocates to the startup for future rounds is also important. An otherwise good VC group that has exhausted its allocated funding can be problematic.

After determining that the caliber of the management team and venture capitalists is high, a venture lessor looks at the startup's business model and market potential. It is unrealistic to expect expert evaluation of the technology, market, business model and competitive climate by equipment leasing firms. Many leasing firms rely on experienced and reputable venture capitalists who have evaluated these factors during their 'due diligence' process. However, the lessor must still undertake significant independent evaluation. During this evaluation he considers questions such as: Does the business plan make sense? Is the product / service necessary, who is the targeted customer and how large is the potential market? How are products and services priced and what are the projected revenues? What are the production costs and what are the other projected expenses? Do these projections seem reasonable? How much cash is on hand and how long will it last the startup according to the projections? When will the startup need the next equity round? These, and questions like these, help the lessor determine whether the business plan and model are reasonable

The most basic credit question facing the leasing company considering leasing equipment to a startup is whether there is sufficient cash on hand to support the startup through a significant part of the lease term. If no more venture capital is raised and the venture runs out of cash, the lessor is not likely to collect lease payments. To mitigate this risk, most experienced venture lessors require that the startup have at least nine months or more of cash on hand before proceeding. Usually, startups approved by venture lessors have raised $ 5 million or more in venture capital and have not yet exhausted a healthy portion of this amount.

Where do startups turn to get their leases funded? Part of the infrastructure supporting venture startups is a handful of national leasing companies that specialize in venture lease transactions. These firms have experience in structuring, pricing and documenting transactions, performing due diligence, and working with startup companies through their ups and downs. The better venture lessors respond quickly to lease proposal requests, expedite the credit review process, and work closely with startups to get documents executed and the equipment ordered. Most venture lessors provide leases to startups under lines of credit so that the lessee can schedule multiple takedowns during the year. These lease typically range from as little as $ 200,000 to over $ 5,000,000, depending on the start-up's need, projected growth and the level of venture capital support.

The better venture lease providers also assist customers, directly or indirectly, in identifying other resources to support their growth. They help the startup acquire equipment at better prices, arrange takeouts of existing equipment, find additional working capital funding, locate temporary CFO's, and provide introductions to potential strategic partners — these are all value-added services the best venture lessors bring to the table.

What is the outlook for venture leasing? Venture leasing has really come into its own since the early 1990s. With venture investors pouring tens of a billion of dollars into startups annually, this market segment has evolved into an attractive one for the equipment leasing industry. The most attractive industries for venture leasing include life sciences, software, telecommunications, information services, medical services and devices, and the Internet. As long as the factors supporting the formation of startups remain favorable, the outlook for venture leasing continues to look promising.



Source by George Parker

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