I had the opportunity to speak to the Austin Inventors and Entrepreneur Association. About thirty people turned out to hear my speech on “How to Raise Funding.” There were several entrepreneurs with cleantech inventions and even a few medical device developments. Led by Chris Ritchie the group meets to share ideas and information about how to successfully invent and launch new product ideas. The question of valuations came up as it does in many conversations. The more risk the entrepreneur takes off the table (product, market, IP, etc) then the better the valuation will be. There are some classical models for calculating valuation. If you have a cash-flow stream coming into the company, that can be used to value the company. Likewise, asset-heavy businesses can make a valuation based on the value of the assets. Also, revenue-streams could be used. If there are no cash, revenue, or assets, then comparables can be used. By looking at companies recently purchased one can determine the value of a business by comparing to a recently purchased company. This information is often quoted in the press and with a little digging through a trade or market research organization one can find the particulars about the purchased business and then extrapolate onto your own business.
Often times a valuation is placed on the business by the entrepreneur that is calculated based on the money sought to be raised and how much equity the entrepreneur wants to see at the end of the funding event. Based on these two numbers, the “valuation” is derived. If the entrepreneur is not incentivized then there’s not much of a future for that startup business.
I’m a regular listener of the Frank Peter’s Show podcast which highlights the angel and venture capital world of southern California. Recently, Frank had Luis Villalobos on the show who made the comment, that he has invested in over 60 companies in his angel investing career and every investment required substantial negotiations on the valuation. It’s not an easy question.