I presented my startup idea to a well connected millionaire and he wants in on the startup. How should I structure the equity deal?

Whatever do you — don’t give up control.  Price is what it is.  The market sets the price.

The “problem” with non-professional venture investors is they often have control expectations you can’t, or at least, shouldn’t meet:

  • They want to control the board.
  • They want to control how much more money you raise (to minimize their own dilution).
  • They want a LOT of say in how you run the company — too much relative to the $$$ invested.
  • They want a lot of say on an exit / sale.

You do want to meet your fiduciary responsibility.  Say, one board seat for now.  Your job is to make all your investors good money, with 100% effort, in an ethical fashion.  But the rest — you don’t want any of that.

So take the money if you need it.  It’s green.  Strike a fair deal.  Just don’t give up control.

VCs and professional angels have their downsides, too.  But they make enough bets, in a formulaic fashion, that the above issues don’t come up as much.

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Published on February 21, 2016

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