Due Diligence is the process of evaluating an investment opportunity. If you’re the investor, you’re reviewing information about the idea, the company, and the team. If you’re the founder, then it’s your idea, company, and team the investor will be assessing.
Check out our prior post on investment screening here.
Sometimes an investor will give you a list of the information they want to review. But why wait until they ask for the information? Instead, start collecting and organizing your information now.
So, what information will your investor ask for? Start with the following documents and information. You can also download a copy of our Due Diligence Checklist.
Make sure your C-corp or LLC is properly formed. Get all your documents together that shows you’re properly incorporated or organized. Also, you should have proper resolutions, consents, and other documents that show important decisions were all authorized by the shareholders, board, or whoever approves critical decisions for your company.
Also, don’t forget to add a copy of your current capitalization table or cap table. This shows who are owners in your company, and how much each person owns. You should provide a copy of prior investment documents for reference, too.
Take some time to explain how you make money (this is your revenue model) and how your company has done so far financially. Usually, you can provide your financial reports (profit and loss, balance sheet, and cashflow statement) for the last year and this year to date.
If you have financial projections going forward, include those, too. Make sure you provide lots of information about the assumptions you used to create these projections.
Lastly, if you have any significant debt, make sure to include information about the debt. This should include any agreements you have with the bank (or whoever loaned you money).
Provide an overview of the products and services you sell. This should include a clear description and any applicable cost/pricing models. How much do you sell them for, and how much does it cost you to make/provide them?
For products, you can also provide helpful information about your manufacturing and distribution channels. If you have applicable contracts in place, include a copy for reference.
Help investors understand your market. To whom do you sell? How many of them can you effectively sell to? What research have you done to validate your market?
Talk about your market in terms of size and your ability to reach a target customer segment.
Investors want all information that will impact your long-term goals, your team greatly impacts your future steps. Taking the time to thoughtfully present whom you have chosen for each management team role is vital to representing your company properly.
Who creates your management team? What skills do they specifically bring to the table? How will they help bring your vision to life? Create management profiles to showcase each member of your management team.
Who are the other key employees that make up your team? What knowledge do they bring to the table? What is their role and how will their voice impact decisions down the line? Be prepared and gather this information in a uniform way ahead of time.
Gathering all valid information regarding your company’s assets is also imperative. Your team may be one of your largest assets, though what property do you own? Have you registered any Trademarks, Patents, Copyrights, etc.? Do you have any trade secrets that put you ahead of your competitors? Do you have any Strategic License Agreements in place that add value to your company? You do not want to give away your secrets or Intellectual Property rights, though you do want to address what assets you possess and how that can positively impact your market value and presence.
Relationships can be just as valuable as assets. When defining strategic relationships and partnerships you must make sure you are prepared to share the following:
1. Key Customers
2. Critical Vendors
3. Strategic Partnerships
4. Applicable Agreements
Being forthcoming about the above information can help set you apart and show the value that you bring to the table, and the effort you have put into making valuable connections in your applicable market or industry.
Also, do not forget the odds and ends. Take the time to collect other applicable information about your company, your goals, and any other information that is important for your investors to understand before joining you in your business journey.
Be forthcoming about Material Agreements, Legal Issues, and applicable Regulatory Issues. When you take the time to be upfront about every minute detail, it sets the tone for impeccable communication for both parties.
To be successful in the first steps of your startup journey, you must take the time to set a firm foundation. Preparation and due diligence in the early stages can truthfully make or break your eventual success. As a reminder, you can download our Due Diligence Checklist here. Needing more help? Book a call with our team! We look forward to chatting soon.
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