Tag Archives: business skills

Venture Capital V Private Equity – A Guide for the Entrepreneur.

hold everything overseas clients

As a leading London business base  for entrepreneurs, we are often asked “what is the difference between venture capital and private equity?”  An interesting question that many may not readily appreciate if you haven’t been to Harvard Business School or LSE.  One of the clearest discussions on this topic was recently published in Forbes magazine with an excellent article by  Alejandro Cremades.  Here is what he says.

Startup Fundraising

Whether you are still juggling a startup idea or already have data and revenues and are ready to scale, it’s vital to understand who the investors are that will take you to the next level, and what your following milestone or exit is likely to be.

Fundraising and navigating potential exits can be incredibly time consuming and stressful. It can be confusing. The lines have certainly blurred. Far more so in the last couple of years. Different capital sources are playing a larger role in the startup ecosystem. Various players are stretching how and at what stage they will participate.

So, what are the differences between between VCs and PE firms? Who else is providing capital to this space? Who are the leaders that startup founders should be focusing on?

Private Equity

This space has become a little cloudier, with private equity firms diving into all types of new channels like single family rental homes and mortgage lending through conduits. Yet, in their most traditional forms, private equity firms are consider those who buy or get involve with more mature companies.

This means they are looking for established companies that already have established revenues. In some cases these are companies that may have even peaked and need new management to be optimized. Think classical music, farms and assembly lines in contrast with the typical jazz, disruption, or street art style of fast growth startups. They prefer predictability and lower risk. Even if that means lower returns.

This space is also differentiated by leveraged buyouts, in which PE firms utilize debt to complement their equity to acquire more corporate ‘real estate’. These firms are best known for taking majority stakes, if not full buyouts.

According to rankings from Private Equity International top private equity firms include:

Private equity is more likely to be your end game, or at least a large part of your exit as a startup founder, rather than an early investor. Though these firms may flow down debt that can be used for some ventures.

Venture Capital Firms

In contrast, venture capital firms are equity investors at an earlier stage in the lifecycle of a startup. Just not as early as most think.

For the most part VCs are funding startups at their latest stages in their businesses. This is changing some. More are participating in earlier funding rounds as they gain experience and competition grows for returns and opportunities. You may find them involved at Series A through D fundraising rounds. Or perhaps even at the seed stage.

VC firms will typically take much smaller portions of companies than their private equity counterparts. They are still investing at a much riskier stage and mostly try to spread their bets as wide as possible.

This demonstrates more crossover between traditional private equity and the VC world. Though before you go waltzing into one of these firms in your pajamas, know that they still expect a good amount of solid data and due diligence to make a decision on. They aren’t going to be your first investors on day one.

VCs are also typically looking for a shorter term exit. They have deadlines on their funds, and need to get results quickly. They are often going to push you hard to deliver on their promises to their own investors.

PE is more about numbers while VCs are more about people. However, with both PE and VCs everything starts with a solid pitch deck where the story of the company is told in 15 to 20 slides. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash. Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400 million .

Angel Investors

Angel investors are a much more likely funding partner for most startup founders. Angels are getting better funded, are grouping together, and are making more investments.

Angels are willing to participate in the earliest rounds of fundraising. They are typically basing their investment as you the entrepreneur and the idea, versus any data or profits. Expect to be raising from angels for a round or two before you even approach any VCs. PEs are probably four or five rounds of financing away at this point.

Other Startup Investors

Startup accelerators and incubators are another rising form of early funding. They may invest anywhere from $10,000 to over $100,000 and offer an array of intensive programs, resources and training opportunities. These include names like The Founder Institute, Angel Pad, Y Combinator and 500 Startups. They can get you going if it is a good fit and you can get in. Then help you show off your startup to other investors.

Family offices are increasingly investing in startups as well. They don’t want to miss out on the game that VCs and big private equity firms are enjoying. Though they often like the advantage of investing directly, rather than losing returns to middlemen.

Family offices can be quite different when it comes to what they want and their future expectations though. They may be more likely to offer patient capital or to seek cashflow than other types of investors.

Corporate investors are playing a bigger role in the startup ecosystem today too. They are setting up their own accelerators and are making more strategic investments in startups that can propel their growth and extend their reach.

Despite the confusion and ambiguity out there, there can be distinct differences between private equity and venture capital when it comes to raising money and exiting a startup. There are many more options for fundraising and exiting than there used to be too.

I hope that this clarifies some key points in the whole topic of business fundraising – problems you might face when building your London business empire at Hold Everything Virtual office.

Squatters

At Hold Everything, the virtual office company based on London’s prestigious Regent Street we covered the almost a year old GPDR rules and how as an industry we take our KYC checks extremely seriously by requesting and obtaining certain documents on our clients to ensure we help to prevent any fraudulent movements. ALL customers of a virtual office are subject to rigorous security checks when opening a service at a virtual office- these are similar to opening a bank account. This may sound quite dramatic but as discussed in last week’s blog it is to protect you as a client and you as a consumer.

‘‘The most important thing is to know who you’re working with and who’s using yours services’’- Simon Cowie, Chairman of Mail Boxes Etc

This week we are addressing another industry issue.

Squatting

Squatting is the action of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied area of land or a building, usually residential,[1] that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have lawful permission to use.

In the virtual office industry the term squatting is used when either a person or companies or in fact any organisations displays or uses our address without having paid for the service, or sometimes after their services have expired.

So where is our address showing?

Our address is used on a number of different mediums, such as Google, Companies House, HMRC registers, and local directories as well as displayed on their correspondence materials such as websites, business cards, and letterheads etc.

How do we establish their squatting?

We only establish whether a company or person is squatting at our address after normally receipt of mail. We cross check the name using our CRM System to check they are an active account.

Occasionally we receive a visitor at the office enquiring about a company and after checking the relevant website can then investigate if we don’t know of their existence.

What do we do about it?

At Hold Everything one of London’s leading virtual office providers we are determined to prevent fraudsters and squatters who use our services for illegal purposes or without our consent. We take a number of procedures and steps to attain the companies who are ‘squatting’ at our address and have all details of theirs documented to ensure we follow and chase leads on their movements.

We regularly communicate with Companies House advising them of the situation and they in turn have systems in place to assist with the industry situation. Furthermore we search the internet for connections to any individuals whom we can connect to the company using search systems such as 192.com, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and any other social network.

Consequences of squatting

If a person or company is displaying our address to squatter at, obviously we will not to able to forward to them the relevant communication from any source including government letters from HMRC or Companies House. After a lengthy period of usage and due to nonattendance to those time sensitive letters from organisations such as Companies House systems are instigated by the Registrar of Companies for England & Wales which will eventually result in Companies House ordering a compulsory strike off.

The strike off request is then published in The Gazette; this is then recorded on the company register as a First Gazette notice. Once published anyone can object to the application or else the company will be eventually struck off the register, assuming no one objects the company will go into dissolution which takes at least three months to officially dissolve – depending on the size of the company.

So if you think you will use our or any other virtual office address to squat at – think again, the industry talks to one another and names are circulated around.

First Impressions Count

At Hold Everything, the virtual office company based on London’s prestigious Regent Street, we are very much aware of what first impressions can do for your business from various marketing mediums such as websites, magazine advertising, social media sites and you as person.

We live in a world where people use search engines to lookup  any relevant information they need, because of this, you want your first impression to be the best it can be, starting with your website –  Your ‘shop window’.

It is quoted that you only have 7 seconds to make an impression and some online accounts even less than a second. 

In the pre Internet days, yes there was days before the Internet your physical shop window was one of the keys to a successful business, you would ensure your shop front had an impressive display to attract your consumers and with this you were a step closer to converting lookers into customers. This rule is exactly the same for your ‘virtual’ shop window- your website.

Today many businesses work predominantly and even entirely online – hence the need for a Virtual Office because regardless a website should display an address where the company is located. But the concept of the ‘shop front’ is still extremely important. Whatever industry category your business comes under, your website needs to attract enough traffic on the relevant search engines, otherwise you will be missing out on perspective customers/clients as your competitors also appear, so the ‘shop window’ has to be well presented.

To ensure you start off on a good foot attracting customers the website needs to be ‘on brand’ and conveys the right image for what your company stands for and represents, one way this this can be done is through the use of colour. There is a very small time window to capture your visitors attention so you need to make sure your website knows what it needs to say and delivers that message clearly showcasing the information about what you do and why you can attend to your customers’ needs and solve their problems the better than any other company.

Whether it is yourself who comes up with the design or you hire a website designer, your site needs innovation and imagination; after all you, want your website to stand out from the crowd.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization. The importance of this vital ingredient for your business to do well is the success of the website. Behind this word lays the tools and strategies that you need to help boost your ratings in the search engine results. Once the visitor is on your website a ‘call to action’ response which is simply converting your visitor into a customer by the visitor clicking a trigger or button that allows them to purchase your service or product or a click through to another page.

Either way it is highly essential that you make this move as simple and obvious for them as possible, Do not forget, when it comes to your website, first impressions count.

Lunch at the Desk and Onboarding Strategy.

Over the past 2 weeks we have been looking at various aspects of office life in our weekly news report on our YouTube channel.  It led me to thinking about how the results of different surveys could in some way be connected in the way human resources function in small businesses today.   In a video report the other week we looked at poor practices in ‘Onboarding’ for new employees.   Onboarding is the process of getting new hires adjusted to the social and performance aspects of their new jobs quickly and smoothly. It is the process through which new hires learn the attitudes, knowledge, skills, and behaviours required to function effectively within an organisation.

Studies have indicated that many companies fail at the very first step in onboarding process by not following up after the job offer has been made and accepted.   The jobs market is quite competitive at the moment so if a company does manage to find the talent they need and spend time and money doing so they should make the new sign up feel a part of the company culture as quickly as possible.  Often this does not happen and HR departments sit hopefully waiting for the new employee to turn up on the day specified without any problems at all.  Then they are shocked to find that he/she has been pilfered away by a competitor before they even arrive for their first morning.    Even if the employee does turn up, many companies make a hash of the whole integration procedure leaving the employee feeling unwanted/neglected or just downright confused over their role in the organisation.  This can waste a lot of money and put the HR department back to square one.

This brings me to my second point which we outline in our latest news report.   Here we look at a survey where more than half UK employees remain stuck at their desks through the lunch hour.  Some of them, certainly, are enjoying social media or reading the news but the majority are simply working when they should be stretching their legs and getting nourishing food to activate their brains for the second half of the day.

You only have to contrast this with way companies such as Google or Facebook treat their employees.   You can see the sorts of companies that top the list in Glassdoors list of best companies to work for.  Google, Facebook, Anglian Water etc.. you can be certain that thesae companies are absolutely brilliant at onboarding new recruits and making them feel at home from the moment the job offer is accepted.  Google is famous for its great catering and recreation facilities – this is a business strategy designed to entice and retain worthwhile talent.  Whilst it is not always possible for a small company to provide ‘Google’ style facilities I am certain that a small move in this direction could pay enormous dividends in staff loyalty and efficiency.

Upgrading Business Technology is an Ongoing Process.

supporting a virtual office

Many companies hesitate to make major changes to their existing business infrastructure.  I know of many otherwise astute organisations who procrastinate about changing methods that are time-honoured and familiar.  It must be remembered, however, that the world is moving forward at a startling pace and systems that worked well and felt cutting edge back in 2008 are no longer so effective or agile in 2018.

The most important change in office tech during the last decade has been the development of ‘Cloud software’ that moves the software from your own hard drive into a shared server in cyber space.  This has been driven by moves forwards by two important acronyms – ERP and saas, namely ‘enterprise resource software’ and ‘software as a service’.    Both of these systems are normal based in the cloud and are therefore updated on a continual basis and provide the level of enterprise redundancy that would have been unattainable 15 years ago.   This factor, combined with economies of scale  have driven many companies to move onto a cloud platform for all their regular business tasks.

We have accompanied this post with a video showing how these upgrades can work to enhance your business and link in smoothly with remote workforces and virtual offices.   We will shortly produce a video on how you can upgrade your CRM to better serve your customer base.