Raising venture capital at any stage of company growth requires tremendous effort from entrepreneurs. Admittedly, our industry tends to celebrate these financings a bit too much — it’s gasoline for the car and not the destination, after all — but it’s still a difficult, sometimes lengthy process for which founders deserve some recognition. But because of that time-intensiveness and difficulty, entrepreneurs can often feel they’ve been pulled too far away from growing their businesses — i.e., the real work — and wish to completely switch off the fundraise process once the check clears. That drive to focus on helping customers and growing their companies is even more commendable than the ability to raise capital.
However, no matter how badly a founder wants to be done with their investor-facing process, it’s simply not over as soon as the round closes. There are several tactical consequences of successfully raising venture capital that every founder MUST complete which, unfortunately, are often overlooked or pushed off until they create more work and stress for both entrepreneurs and their new investors.
So rather than making a binary switch from Fundraise Mode to Build Mode, a founder who chooses to bring in outside investors needs to pause momentarily and account for two things as soon as a round closes:
- Tying up loose ends from the fundraise
- Laying the groundwork for a good relationship with your new investors.
But because every entrepreneur juggles so much every day and feels that tug back towards building a business (which, again, is a good one to heed), completing these tasks can be easier said than done.
To make things easier and help you stay organized, we created a short, tactical checklist for founders as part of our Growth Guides series of resources.
(As a reminder, you can find all our startup resources here.)
The checklist below is full of critical to-dos you simply can’t overlook, whether you’re setting a schedule for your board meeting, finding the necessary insurance plans, or communicating with your lawyer about your regulatory filings and how they align with your PR strategy.
Note that this list was created specifically with seed-stage startups in mind. While it may be somewhat useful for later-stage companies, seed is our entire focus here at NextView Ventures and, predictably, on The View From Seed.
We hope this helps you stay on-task and efficient!
Post-Seed Checklist for Founders:
- Send a personalized thank you note to the people outside the company who helped you during the fundraise process.
- Schedule a company happy hour. There’s plenty of work ahead of you (and fundraising isn’t the actual goal), but it’s important to celebrate milestones, build team camaraderie, and keep people inspired to tackle upcoming challenges.
- Obtain Directors & Officers insurance. You and your fellow Board Directors will want it, and your documents may necessitate it.
- Find an accounting firm. It’s worth upgrading from a bookkeeper or QuickBooks-type product now to avoid future issues. Note that hiring a FO may be overkill however.
- Determine your PR strategy. Get on the same page with your team and board ASAP regarding the best time to announce to maximize its impact. Some founders believe the best bet is to announce right away to recruit future hires and investors; others combine the announcement with a product launch. There is no one right way, so discuss your strategy now.
- Speak with your legal counsel about the timing of your actual filing. Keep in mind that reporters can scan Form D filings for fundraises that include notable venture firms in order to scoop the stories. This reality should inform your discussions.
Board & Investor Communications:
- Ensure all of your investors have all legal documentation of the round, including an electronic version of the final cap table.
- Set a Board of Directors meeting schedule and cadence acceptable to everyone joining in person. (You should schedule 9 months’ worth of meetings up front to avoid needing to wrangle multiple busy schedules every month or two.)
- Solicit input to create a board deck template and metrics dashboard to present at the first Board Meeting so that you’re able to set a strong, in-control tone. (We created a Board Deck Template to make this easier for seed-stage startups.)
- Formulate compensation bands (salary + equity) for new employees and share with the Board. This is expected and helps set expectations early, allowing you to move swiftly on hiring and only review exec-level additions with the Board.
- Hire a firm to conduct a 409A valuation to set a strike price for your employee stock options, which needs to be at or above “fair market” value.
- Explore HR, healthcare, and payroll options. (In many cases, perhaps including yours, founding teams hold off until their first fundraise. These are now necessary to build your team.)