Quantic Alum, Dr. Lisa Bélanger is a keynote speaker, author and behavior change expert. She teaches professionals about healthy habits, mindfulness, productivity. Besides her accomplishments of running the Paris marathon, climbing Kilimanjaro, and being the mom of two wonderful children, she is also the founder of ConsciousWorks, an industry-leading consulting firm that integrates proactive mental health and performance strategies by applying cutting-edge science to strategically improve behaviors, engage leadership influence, and shift cultures.
What ultimately inspired her to take the leap and launch her company and what advice does she have for new business founders? Dr. Bélanger gives us her top tips to create a successful startup.
What inspired you to create ConsciousWorks?
While I was consulting and researching corporate wellness, I realized that most programs lacked strategy, behaviour change support, and well-defined metrics of success. For the most part, there is little to no science behind how we work. There was an opportunity to leverage science to the mainstream to unveil ways to work better. I knew the potential that lives within a company to not only impact personal behaviors, but also leverage social support through a well-designed program, and create long term, sustainable change.
Your company’s core values are important for your mission. How did you build these and how can someone determine their own for their startup or new business?
Our core values were determined a few months after the business started, and it was an activity with the whole team. For our team, we were very aligned in terms of individual values and where we saw the company. The company values can really be what you want to be known for, and would be represented in potential employees and future partners.
What advice would you give to someone just starting to draft a business plan?
Be ready to pivot! My business plan was finished just weeks before the pandemic and then we went into a complete shutdown. The plan was placed directly in the garbage and re-imagined. In the past year we had to respond to the changing world and try to plan through the uncertainty. An agile business plan became a requirement.
What resources did you need to launch your business?
My primary and more important resources are the incredible team I work with and a solid wifi connection.
Where did you find it most important to invest your time and energy?
In relationships: with my team, with partners and with clients. I believe this is always a large part of business, but during the pandemic it has involved creativity and a conscious effort to collaborate remotely.
What advice would you give to someone for setting their future company goals?
Connect your goals to your purpose. Know how they intersect with the big picture, then, create a system to achieve them. Move towards that goal every single day. Even if it is just 1% – after a year you are 365% closer. Your goals are as strong as the systems you create.
What mental health advice would you give to someone dealing with the stresses of setting up a new business?
In a new company there is always something on fire, deadlines, and inevitable pressure. There are more ups and downs than you can imagine – so create a system to rest every single day! Rest is not a reward for when the work is done, it is a strategic behavior for longevity.
Also, get a mentor! Someone further along in the entrepreneurship process. I realized quickly, that entrepreneurs are often the only people who ‘get it’ and are great sources of connection. They can provide support for both the emotional and tangible starts to a budding business.
Want to hear more proactive mental health techniques to become your best self and reach your highest potential? We recently worked with Dr. Bélanger to launch a podcast called The Science of Work, which examines top business leaders’ advice, research, and current trends that are shaping today’s workforce. Tune in to learn more!
It’s a well-known archetype: the business idea so brilliant, so innovative, the sort that comes but once in a lifetime. A business idea that’s so actionable, it can scrabble its way up from a fledgling startup and blossom into a sizable business.
Most aspiring entrepreneurs believe that if they can carry themselves safely through and past the first fiscal hurdle of initiating a startup, it’s smooth sailing from then on out.
Indeed, it’s not atypical for some to entertain expectations that their business can spontaneously grow itself into a big enough scale by merely maintaining a firm foothold on the market.
Time will see us through.
We’ll be honest: It can happen, but it rarely ever does. Especially not in the current startup market. Such a growth model only ever happens to startups that involve the innovation (and often, indeed, invention) of a truly revolutionary product. Something Zuckerbergian, if you will.
The truth is, most successful startups today are a result of meticulous funding from external entities done in well-planned, recurrent stages. This leads us to our first point of departure into what we’ll elaborate on today.
Funding rounds for startups.
So, What Are Funding Rounds?
Perhaps you’ve heard someone say, “We’re setting our books for our second funding round,” or something similar.
Funding rounds are the most surefire way to see your startup through its inception stage into the actual business. It involves consolidating money from angel investors at intervals, depending on what stage your business is at.
Of course, the upside for you is that you get to inject decent capital into your business while simultaneously growing it. Meanwhile, your investors gain the opportunity to put their funds into a worthwhile and promising fledgling venture.
For a big enough investment, the angel investor will earn some equity in your startup or an actual cut of your proprietorship pie.
If you’ve heard people talk about angel donors or “seed” funding, these are usually startup proprietors at the very start of the funding process.
However, as the startup grows, both in market share and investment potential, they gain access to different (and often higher) tiers of funding.
Series A funding, Series B, C, and even D — you will likely deem multiple rounds of funding appropriate should you feel that your startup has grown into its own.
Today we’ll take an in-depth look past the startup jargon and into these funding tiers: see what sets them apart and investigate the differences in timelines across different fields.
Depending on your startup field or how actionable it is in today’s market, it might take eons to get any decent funding. Or you might skip easily through the rounds and into IPO-level revenues.
Call it the ABCs of startup funding.
Pre-Seed Funding for Startups
To get a good grasp of what seed funding is, we first need to understand how you work up to it.
Before any external investment can be accrued, a startup will have to do some initiatory branding. Something that validates itself as an entity, a work-in-progress.
Any money raised by the startup proprietors will usually not be included in the rounds themselves and will typically fall in the pre-seed funding stage.
It typically covers the costs needed to get the business started.
Other than the business owners, other qualifying pre-seeders might include close friends, family, and other acquaintances close to the proprietors.
Again, the speed at which a startup can successfully propel through this stage will very much depend on your startup’s field of trade as well as its initial costs (think: branding, initial capital, et al.). Monies given at this stage are generally motivated more by well-wishing and gratuity rather than genuine investment intentions.
By this stage, you as the startup proprietor ought to have a clear and detailed business plan and were likely already required to register the company.
And that’s not all. Your name and identity should be ready and well-defined, as with your company’s human resource structure; your intellectual property is legally protected, and your licensing all done and valid.
Depending on your circumstances (more accurately, the circumstances of those you hope will make initial contributions to your business), you stand to inject an average of anywhere between $10,000 to $200,000 into your startup during this round of funding. For this sum, you will generally expect a 2% to 10% exchange for equity.
How to Prudently Fill up Your Pre-Seed Chest
Make sure to spend a good portion of your pitch elaborating on your “anti-fragility” plan.
Come up with a compelling reach-out boilerplate message.
Be patient, but also persistent. Progressing successfully into the next level round will require some tenacity.
Seed Funding Round
What Is the Seed Round?
While the pre-seed funding round helps fund the business idea, the seed funding round helps raise working capital for the already founded business.
This is usually the very first and most crucial round of startup funding. The intention is to use the investment made here frugally and prudently enough to grow the startup and gain the necessary traction to level up into bigger investment influxes.
For many startups, this also usually marks the end of the road for seeding. Why? Either the startup stagnates, slowly faltering until it somehow manages to gain further investment — or the startup proprietor decides to let the business sustain from its current level of revenue.
Investment & Valuation in the Seed Funding Round
The process of investment here is alluded to in the very name of the round.
As long as your “seed” is well cultivated and the surrounding conditions are suitable for its germination, then a startup at this stage stands at a pretty promising vantage — if it can earn enough money to get itself off the ground.
The first step here is usually an official valuation of the company’s worth. Different aspects of the company are fiscally assessed: its accrued revenues, its risk quotient, the market size, human resource scale, its management track record, and its price-to-earnings ratio.
After this is done, the startup can open itself up for investment from incubators, friends, family, professional acquaintances, venture capitalists, and other angel investors.
Again, the amount of accruable capital here varies hugely across companies, but a range of $50,000 to $2 million is apt.
Differences Between the Series A and the Seed Funding Round
Series A funding comes after a product has been launched and generated a reasonable amount of traction.
Seed funding goes to product development and market research, while money invested in Series A is converted into actual working expenditure.
Series A Funding Round
The Series A funding round represents the beginning of an upward trajectory for startups that can graduate from the seed funding stage into larger, more consolidated investments.
Financing & Valuation in the Series A Round
In this round, investment isn’t made only based on an idea’s brilliance or a business plan’s future potential.
No, the numbers at the Series A round of funding demand that the proprietor demonstrates first, the product’s scalability across different markets; and second, a well-thought-out strategy for capturing and maintaining a healthy market share for the long term.
During this startup funding round, it’s not unusual for interested angel investors to engage in some pitching of their own. Attracting the right angel investors might earn your budding venture access to even larger equity investors.
This can result from nothing other than the association’s credibility, but it can also come from active lobbying by the institutional investors.
Investors in this stage will more often than not tend to be old-style venture capital firms and private equity investors. They will typically be on the hunt for startups that value in the millions to the tens of millions of dollars.
Money raised in the Series A round typically varies between $1 million to $20 million.
Differences Between Series A and Series B Round
While the Series A funding round might, in some instances, be held for startups that are still in their inceptive stages, Series B funding is always used to scale up production.
The equity to which angel investors might feel entitled is higher in Series A than in Series B. This is because the company is generally at a way better fiscal vantage by the next-level funding.
Series B Funding Round
The benchmark based on the demarcation between Series A and B can be summarized by the phrase: “aggressive expansion.”
In this round, funding is gathered to move the company past its budding stage. Startups that make it to the third main funding round have most likely accumulated a decent customer market share and have indicated to their investors an ability to scale extant market demands.
This is usually several years in — maybe five. Talent gathering, development of a solid marketing scheme, and consolidation of the right technology will primarily occur in this round.
Investment & Valuation in Series B Round
The average value of a business that’s well into the Series B round ranges between $20 million to $50 million. The capital raised during this round of funding averages out at slightly over $30 million.
That said, with the tech bubble being what it’s been in the past decade, these numbers are bound to rise, most especially the average value of a company seeking to attract Series B-level investments.
Differences Between Series B and Series C Round
Unlike Series B, workforce expansion, technical outsourcing, mergers, and acquisitions tend to take place in Series C as does expansion to international markets.
Unlike Series B and all of the initial funding rounds, there is no limit to the amount of capital influx that’s investable in the Series C round.
Series C Funding Round
By the Series C funding round, the venture is no longer a startup. It’s a well-established company with many years of service under its belt.
For most stage companies, even the largest firms with billings in the hundreds of millions, this is usually the final round of financing.
In this round, funding is sought to help complete scaling into international markets, manufacture and release new products en masse, and even buy up emerging competitors.
At this round, the investors will generally be large corporate entities: private equity stage companies, financial investment firms, and private hedge funds.
The average value of companies that tend to run a Series C funding round is $118 million, but the current valuations as they stand today are usually higher.
This is because, unlike in the preceding stages, investor funding is based not only on the brilliance backing the company but also on actual hard data.
The preponderance of a company’s successful financial track record: consistent revenue growth streams, strong consumer & market share base, accounting reports; all these go a long way to gaining access to Series C-level funding.
Series D Funding Round… and Beyond
Financing in Series D Round
The motivations for running a Series D funding round are usually to prepare the venture to go public. Specifically, to make one final push to boost the company’s valuation as far as possible before the IPO date. This is the most typical reason a company will opt for this round.
Alternatively, a company might press on with the funding acquisition because they have failed to reach their intended financial targets in the initial rounds but still wish to ready themselves for a public offering.
In this case, the company will delay opening and opt to stay private while doing their best to try and achieve their investor valuation targets.
To do this, though, they will often have to continue with the funding rounds — into Series E, F, and G even, as well as the private equity funding rounds — until they reach an appropriate vantage to go public.
If this occurs, this round is referred to as a “down round” since the startup will usually have their work cut out for restoring investor trust.
That said, numerous companies have seen themselves through down rounds and into public success, despite initial setbacks.
A notable example is Couchbase, an interactive database software service, which saw itself raise more than $100 million in its final stages of funding, despite many disruptions that were out of its control.
How Quantic Will Help You Master Your Startup’s Funding Rounds
Unlike the creative and riskier aspects of startup proprietorship, funding your business efficiently is more a science that requires evaluative skills as well as the analytical mind to attract investors. While still being able to draw up a decent enough contract that won’t leave you without the startup in the first place.
Here at Quantic, we offer consummate programs practically tailored for the aspiring business owner looking to acquire just these skills.
For starters, Quantic’s online MBA program has proven to be a game-changer in many of our alums’ business careers, and we’re not the only ones saying it. Our premier 13-month degree program is designed for mid-career professionals.
It integrates collaborative group projects with our rigorous MBA curriculum and is enhanced with specializations in management, leadership, and advanced strategy.
And you don’t have to take it from us. Vay Cao, an alumnus of Quantic Business School and founder of Free the PhD (an advocacy and career development platform for PhDs) has promising things to say about her time at our campus. Check out this case study we conducted on her work and startup.
Common folklore surrounding what it takes to start a business is awash with one familiar motif: the dropout-turned-billionaire entrepreneur.
Indeed, when enterprising individuals come of age and start contemplating business ideas, their dreams often adopt this narrative.
For a long time now, a contrast has been cast between two groups of people. In one corner, those who spend a significant part of their lives furnishing their educational backgrounds. And in the other, those who choose to act on their entrepreneurial dreams.
Still, many aspiring business owners have pursued a Master of Business Administration. They’ve done this to better equip themselves in their role as startup runners.
The evidence supporting this trend goes beyond the anecdotal.
For this reason, we think it’s important to understand what use an MBA could be to those in the startup world — whether well established or still aspiring.
Is an MBA Worth it?
What’s the Remuneration Like as an MBA Holder?
First off, is getting an MBA worthwhile to your earnings?
QS World Rankings conducted a survey to assess the revenues earned by entrepreneurs holding an MBA. The pay averaged $106,000 per annum, without aggregation across regions.
Here’s a more specific lowdown of the yearly revenue across countries:
USA: US$ 102,100 per annum
Italy: US$ 86,400 per annum
France: US$ 98,500 per annum
Germany: US$ 77,200 per annum
Switzerland: US$ 123,500 per annum
The UK: US$ 92,400 per annum
Singapore: US$ 82,700 per annum
Australia: US$ 98,400 per annum
Canada: US$ 99,800 per annum
Promising, no? It even makes the prospect of repaying your tuition loan a little more plausible.
But here’s the rub: Pursuing an MBA is quite an investment. The fees can get pretty steep.
Especially if you opt for an ivy league school — most of which offer a curriculum no different than any other university.
That said, the investment of pursuing an MBA is worth it. And to prove this, we’ll look at five of the world’s most renowned MBA holders.
Four of The World’s Most Renowned MBAs
An American philanthropist, former politician, and business magnate, Michael Rubens Bloomberg is well known within entrepreneurial circles.
He’s the sole owner and founder of Bloomberg LP, a company that supplies financial data to investment companies and other entities.
He currently has a net worth of $40 billion and earned his MBA in 1966.
Are you filled with gratitude for your Nikes and have perhaps wondered in the past who to thank?
This is the guy.
To say that Phil Knight’s shoe brand has been successful is quite an understatement. It started as a small shoe retail outlet in 1964. And under his long stewardship, it has grown into a billion-dollar conglomerate.
As an individual, Phil Knight is worth well over $45 billion. He owes his business acumen at least partly to his MBA, which he acquired in 1966.
Perhaps one of the world’s most well-known philanthropists, Melinda Gates has carved out her niche within the business management world.
She graduated with an MBA in 1987. Since then, she has worked with Microsoft and the charitable startups she co-chairs, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. There’s a long list of entities to which she has dedicated her entrepreneurial expertise.
Tim Cook took up the role of Apple CEO following founder Steve Jobs in 2011. Those were some pretty big shoes to fill, to say the least.
Since then, he’s not only made good on Jobs’ vision for the largest tech conglomerate in the world — he has also steered Apple away from ethically grey manufacturing practices.
He’s been featured multiple times on the list of Fortune 500 CEOs. And is well known as a torchbearer for equality and civil and LGBT rights within the mainstream tech world.
Important Things to Consider Before Enrolling in Business Schools
How Long Is the Program?
The length of your program determines how quickly you will resume your entrepreneurial work. It also determines the density of your course requirements.
In colleges with shorter entrepreneurship MBA programs, students will typically spend six hours per day studying in class. While in programs of standard length students will typically spend half that: approximately three hours.
Though it varies between colleges, an MBA program runs for an average of between 11 and 16 months.
Where Is the Business School Located?
Your location determines the availability of your chosen specialization and the quality of education you have access to.
Indeed, a UK citizen residing in the capital will enjoy access to top business courses. Just as a Californian seeking to do a tech MBA will benefit immensely exactly where they live.
That said, there is still a lot to reap from living in a more rural environment.
Does the Tuition Cost to Return-on-Investment Look Favorable?
When assessing the return on investment of such an important financial decision, it’s vital to think beyond the prospect of revenue.
Sure, it’s important to choose an MBA in entrepreneurship program with a sustainable tuition tag. But the applications of an entrepreneurship MBA towards running your business are, in large part, analytical. And therefore individual.
Unlike MBA students looking to enter the job market, your goals are directed towards starting a business. And eventually, making everyday entrepreneurial decisions.
What Are Your Strengths and Interests?
There are numerous MBA specialization areas.
Think of it like this: If you can start a business in a subject, it can be studied and mastered. Finance. Tech. Textile design and manufacturing. Financial accounting and consultancy. Legal management; you name it.
It’s essential to have some idea of what your interests are. Which, of course, will almost always be wholly determined by your specific field of business.
Best MBA Programs
In addition to an MBA for entrepreneurship, there are several other specialized fields to choose from:
IT (Information Technology)
Jobs for Entrepreneurs with MBAs
The jobs most suited and most accessible by MBA graduates include:
Financial Consultant/Analyst – manages the firm’s accounting department and advises proprietors
Marketing Manager – oversees advertisement development and product marketing strategies
Research Manager – helps in budgeting, business plan formulation, and overseeing research projects
Non-Profit Manager – organizes events to raise funds for various causes
IT Department Head – managees developer teams; delegates and supervises business tasks
Human Resource Manager — coordinates staff issues for startups, both internal and contracted
MBA for Entrepreneurship vs Actual Entrepreneurship: Myths Dispelled
Myth #1: You Must Pick One Path: School or Entrepreneurship
Ah yes. So the fallacy goes. While the rest of the world trudges on with actual entrepreneurial work, MBA students extricate themselves. For two years, they’re fed all there is to know about starting and running a new business.
But on closer inspection, this contrast of school vs. experience is not entirely valid. The theory comes tainted from the source.
For one, the first most important requirement for an entrepreneur is, and will always be, an appetite for prudent, calculated risk.
A decent case can be made that you’d be in a sufficient fiscal position after finishing your degree to start and run a new business.
About this question of time and value, Seth Godin says,
Myth #2: Traditional MBA Programs Trump Online MBA Programs
Not so. Truth is, many graduate business students set their sights only on a traditional, on-campus MBA at a brick-and-mortar school.
If we allow for a grander comparison, there are over 1,000 MBA programs in the United States.
Some are full-time, while others are part-time, often offering classes on nights and weekends.
But, just like the world of business itself, MBA programs are changing rapidly. There are now over 330 online MBAs offered in the U.S — of which Quantic is a top contributor.
With two accredited, highly selective business degree programs — the free MBA and radically affordable Executive MBA — Quantic’s MBA programs are reliably well-reviewed and readily available online.
Online MBA Pros
The biggest reason that many entrepreneurs choose an online MBA is for the flexibility. Unlike traditional MBA programs, most online graduate business degrees allow you to work on your own time from anywhere.
Online MBA Cons
One disadvantage of an online MBA program is a lack of in-person community and connection.
MBA students often benefit from in-person conversations with peers and instructors. And that’s both in terms of academic collaboration and socializing. Fortunately, the Executive MBA also offers multiple weekend-long conferences held in cities around the world.
Traditional MBA Pros
In traditional business schools, MBA programs often appeal to students who want a little more hands-on guidance.
Fresh undergraduates from top business schools might prefer the additional in-person attention. At least that which is offered by a brick-and-mortar school, as well as the familiar daily routine of face-to-face classes.
Traditional MBA Cons
Of course, the most significant disadvantage of on-campus MBA programs is the lack of flexibility.
Say you have a family at home, existing business obligations, or a burgeoning career. For these students, it can be difficult to justify starting a full-time MBA program.
Traditional business schools offering MBAs also tend to host younger students on average and there aren’t as many international students at any given on-campus program.
Benefits of an MBA
At its most efficacious, an MBA will equip its holder with an exhaustive, well-rounded set of entrepreneurial tools.
Here’s what you can expect to gain from an MBA:
Firm Conceptual Foundation to Start & Run Your Business
MBAs are meant for aspiring corporate climbers just as much as aspiring entrepreneurs. And its core units are designed with either end in mind.
An MBA is as credible a tag as you can earn to validate your ability to steer businesses in any (and more) of these fields. And that’s regardless of your eventual course of trade. Whether mechanical operations, marketing and branding, financial services, communications, corporate law, even IT.
A recent study that profiled nearly 40 new businesses reliably found that, of those started within the past decade or so, at least 33% had an MBA-holding founder.
Essential Skills and Insights for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
The world is awash with people hiding truly innovative ideas. The trouble is that most people lack the basic knowledge needed to be competitive in the real world.
An MBA will serve the crucial role of equipping you with the right know-how to see your ideas to fruition. Specifically, that which is needed to manipulate the market, find a niche and make it sustainably profitable.
Indeed, like most other fields, entrepreneurial knowledge is a priori — the concepts are testable, predictable, and hence actionable. And an MBA will go a long way in giving you the innate ability to pattern out your businesses’ course in just this way.
Practical Communication, Leadership, and Problem Solving Skills
There’s no other way to make something meaningful out of your new businesses — you need the ability to communicate efficiently.
Regardless of your line of trade, if you do indeed want to accrue enough venture capital to bring your business ideas into fruition, you need to learn how to convince investors of the soundness of your product, service, or business plan.
Additionally, as a startup founder, you will need to learn how to manage teams of workers. And just as well, you’ll need the conceptual tools needed to understand the scale of a problem, scope out its dimensions, and determine how best to tackle it.
With an MBA from Quantic, you will gain the skills of interpersonal communication, teamwork and collaboration, adaptive thinking — and that’s just some of the tools in the MBA’s holster.
Extra Academic Credentials and International Experience to Appeal to Potential Investors and Partners
If you opt to enroll in either one of Quantic’s two MBA programs, it’s an excellent step towards making a credible case for your worth in the international business market.
An MBA is not only universally recognized as a valuable credential by investors you will eventually pitch to. But it’s also a mark of global exposure and evidence of compatibility with most business environments worldwide.
Get Started With Your MBA at Quantic
While an MBA is impactful, it’s essential to recognize that it is not a replacement to a business’s uniquely crucial requirements: the confidence to take necessary risks. Nor will it furnish you with the passion needed to see an idea through the inevitable successes and pitfalls.
What it will do, however, is take your leadership skills to the next level. All while building connections in a global community of high-achieving classmates and alumni.
Our premier 13-month degree program is designed for mid-career professionals. It integrates collaborative group projects with our rigorous MBA curriculum and is enhanced with specializations in management, leadership, and advanced strategy.
And you don’t have to take it from us. Vay Cao, alumni of Quantic Business School and founder of Free the PhD, an advocacy and career development platform for PhDs, has very interesting things to say about her time at our campus. Check out this case study we conducted on her work and startup.
Executive MBA Student, Catherine Johns, has always shot for the moon, even when she was a little girl. “I think most people have a moment from childhood that is etched in their memory,” says Catherine. “For me, it was watching the launch of the very first space shuttle, seeing this beautiful white bird soar into the air and escape the Earth’s pull. It just felt as though the whole world was watching. We were united in celebrating the next step on this extraordinary journey of exploration, a journey that is fundamental to who we are. Space exploration and astronomy remind us all of the best of ourselves.”
It’s safe to say that Catherine’s passion for space was written in the stars. After an accomplished career path in the space industry, Catherine is now the CEO of Kielder Observatory, a public astronomical observatory located on nearly 580 square miles, their dark sky zone, known as Northumberland and Kielder Water and Forest International Dark Sky Park. It is the second largest area of protected night sky in Europe and is said to be one of the “most remarkable places to visit in the U.K.”
“There is something extraordinary about Kielder,” says Catherine. “There are many observatories in the world, all of them special, all of them unique, but there is something about our landscape, our location, the quality of the dark skies, that truly opens up the soul of the universe for people. We sit in the largest Gold Tier dark sky park in Europe, as certified by the International Dark Sky Association, in the largest man-made forest in Northern Europe and next to the largest man-made lake in England. It’s a wild, rugged landscape but it was actively created by humans, thinking in the long term, for the good of the planet.”
One of Catherine’s favorite aspects about the observatory is seeing visitors experience their Kielder moment for the first time. “The Kielder moment is very special, it’s the moment that visitors look up at the glittering skies and realize they are completely connected to this vast cosmos, yet utterly unique within it. My favorite part of the job is seeing the team at work, helping that moment of realization dawn on so many faces.”
But when the COVID-19 pandemic quickly brought public restrictions and quarantines, Catherine and her team knew they would need to get creative in order to maintain these Kielder moments remotely. “My priority was to try and convey that special Kielder moment to more people than could visit us on site. So, Kielder Constellations was born. It was a new approach to delivering our purpose: to create opportunities for people of all backgrounds and abilities to experience moments of inspiration, revelation, wonder and hope through observing the cosmos. In the works we also have an augmented reality app, a new digital learning platform, new arts programs and of course, our new radio telescope. Everyone needs that moment of inspiration and have that lightbulb moment.”
Keeping that lightbulb moment alive and igniting STEM excitement in the next generation is also a major goal for Catherine. Kielder has now launched its “STEM to Stars” program. Through this, young students can learn about STEM careers, help restore a William Herschel telescope, and discover the mechanics of observation. “We have a team of mentors from the industry to help and inspire the children,” says Catherine. “This makes it very real to children that the space industry isn’t something that happens in the United States or Russia, it happens right around the corner from them.”
This type of combination of academic research and community-based citizen science has given Kielder deserved recognition in the space industry. Most recently, the observatory was funded by the Tanlaw Foundation to install a Spider 500 radio telescope. A radio telescope scans the sky for radio waves from space and, unlike optical telescopes, is not weather dependent. It can also be remotely observed and controlled at any time.
“Radio telescopes see the universe differently to our eyes and to optical telescopes. They detect radio waves from things like nebulae, planets, stars, etc. So, there are many projects that we will be commissioning the telescope to do, such as a comparison of optical and radio images of the Sun or the Moon; the search for radio anomalies (asteroids, comets, etc.) around the Kuiper Belt; the study of the Aurora Borealis and connections with Solar Wind and Earth’s Magnetic Field, and the study of time itself or astrochronometry.”
Seeing education in a new light and expanding on innovative ways to learn is why Catherine knew Quantic would be the perfect fit to pursue her MBA. “I loved the whole ethos of it. I’d wanted to do an MBA for some time, but I wanted something fresh and innovative. I tried out some of the courses as part of the application and they were just so much fun. Learning was scaffolded and challenging in just the right way. You can see that from the cohort; an amazing network of people, all ambitious, all collaborative, all talented.”
Catherine is excited to see the continued advancements in the space industry and believes that “looking up” can do us all a little good. “In my experience, most people think it’s the coolest industry to be in, aside maybe from the arts. Of course, we have ongoing developments with SpaceX, missions to Mars. That is all very exciting, but I think we have to be careful not to forget that we are all naturally part of the space industry – no matter where we are, we can all look up, we can all see a few stars, a reminder of our unique place in this universe.”
Does that word send shivers of fear or excitement down your spine?
Does the thought of working with a shiny and new business concept appeal or appall?
As children, we were afraid of the dark, the monster under the bed, the neighbor’s big scary dog. It’s the unknowns that frighten us.
However, once we realize there are no monsters, that nothing lurks in the shadows, and the dog is a big softy with a loud bark, we’re more or less okay.
As adults, we try to have fun with fear by watching horror films. If it isn’t real, it can’t be that frightening, can it?
Our current fears — loss, failure — have to do with the unknown, too.
Startups are one of these unknowns, but they do have a positive side to contrast the uncharted waters. Today, we’re going to look at both the good and the bad, the frights and delights — so when the interviewer at your dream startup asks, “Why do you want to work for us?” you’ll be well informed and prepared to answer.
Is typically self-funded or seeking venture capital from investors or banks
Has 1 to 3 founders
Has fewer than 50 employees
Is focused on growth
Has identified a problem and is working towards a unique solution
Is trying to do what no one has done before and aims to change the world by doing so
Startup Company Culture
Startup company culture tends to lean to the creative, innovative side of things.
A startup’s culture may stem from the founder’s personality, but even the corner office types know that creativity fuels growth. And growth is what it takes to move any company forward.
Therefore, many startups aim for a fun, creative, imagination-sparking environment in the early development stage.
You also have to remember that a true startup has a vision — that desire to change the world somehow.
Visionaries tend to foster a culture of “let’s try it and see” if there’s even the slightest shred of evidence or hope of success.
Startups often have a philosophy that encourages asking questions. In fact, employees at a startup may find themselves being asked questions, usually by the founder or CEO, as everyone searches for the best ways to find the solutions they seek.
For example, a founder without an MBA might approach a team member with an MBA and ask questions about a business-related topic that the founder is uneducated on.
Work/Life Balance, or Lack Thereof
Most startups are filled with people committed to the mission that the company has embarked on.
That type of commitment can mean working long or weird hours or even changing your role over time. Growth can place even more demands on your time and talents as the startup expands, but not enough to hire more people.
Startups are learning, however, and many now offer creative ways to help counterbalance these demands. As with finances, it largely depends on the founder’s mindset.
Working at a Startup — the Day to Day Stuff
Your Work Will Be Valued, But Not Well Paid
In place of the “brick in a wall” feeling lots of people have as an employee of more extensive, established companies — startup team members are offered an opportunity to make a difference in both the company and the world. And that difference is both measurable and visible.
Your work will matter, as teams are small and everyone must pull their weight. That means the work will look different across startups, but it typically means that each individual will have well-defined tasks and measurable goals to meet.
Unfortunately, most startups are strapped for cash. That means your salary and benefits will likely be far less than if you worked in the same position for an established firm. You’ll be highly valued but not well compensated. At least not in the beginning.
Your Workplace May Be Weird
You most likely will not work 9 to 5. You may not work in an office. You may not even have a company headquarters to report to, other than the owner or founder’s home.
An early-stage startup can be headquartered in a garage (Apple), an apartment (TOMS Shoes), or even a kitchen (Clif Bar & Company).
You may even be asked to work from home. With today’s plethora of available technology, you may find yourself in a different time zone or even on a different continent than your fellow teammates and founders.
Some startups are now composed entirely of these remote teams, bringing a unique set of demands and requirements.
You’ll need self-discipline and self-starter tendencies, as there’s no boss looking over your shoulder. You’ll also need to be comfortable working by yourself, without direct and immediate colleague interaction.
Remote teams are not always ideal for the extroverted, outgoing types, as it can get lonely working all by yourself with just the ficus for company.
Your Teammates Will Be Supportive
Since everyone at every startup is working towards that world-changing solution, the atmosphere is entirely different from many other businesses.
Instead of looking out for #1, it’s more like the Three Musketeers — all for one and one for all.
Therefore, you’ll find your teammates less competitive and more cooperative and supportive of everyone’s efforts. You may find it hard to adjust to this at first.
Your Future May Be Uncertain
Your role may shift, too, as the company grows. At some point, you will undoubtedly be asked to take on either more or less responsibility than you had in the beginning. More if you’re moved into a supervisory position. Less when more teammates are brought on board.
Your work/life balance may wax and wane, too, depending on your role within the company. You may find yourself in demand at one stage and sitting on your thumbs in the next, as goals are met and needs alter to meet them.
As the company’s finances and funding rise and fall, yours may do the same. You may never get rich working for a startup, but unless your startup fails, you may never have to worry about a paycheck again (and getting rich is always a possibility, however slim).
Many find these challenges hard to deal with and thus choose not to work for startups. Others see them as challenges to be met and surpassed. It’s not hard to see that appeal, either.
Why a Startup May Be Right for You
Working at a startup may be right up your alley if you meet certain personality and business-related criteria.
It Takes the Right Kind of Person
Here are some personality traits that may make you the perfect fit for a position with a startup:
Reliable — a lot of responsibility will be placed on your shoulders
Self-starter — you may be faced with finding your own solutions
Cooperative — you’re a team player, not the star of the show
Creative — innovation requires imagination and thinking outside the box
Flexible — growth demands adaptation, exploration, and experimentation
Genuine — it’s hard to fake it in such a small, intimate setting
It Takes the Right Kind of Skills
In addition to the right type of personality, specific skills are in demand regardless of the product or service a startup is developing. These include:
Sales — all startups are trying to sell something; in the beginning, it’s their idea and their potential for growth in hopes of securing funding. In the end (hopefully), it’s their product or service.
Technical skills — from developers and designers to back-end tech skilled in Photoshop, HTML, and Facebook’s ad platform, those with both specific tech skills and broad, general tech skills are always in demand.
Data analysis — remember those goals we mentioned? The company needs to be able to tell how close they are to achieving them. Knowing what to measure, how to measure it, and how to interpret those numbers is vital.
Growth skills — Startups generally market with little to no budget. They often rely on social media and word of mouth and thus need marketing staff who can think creatively on their feet.
Doers — Whether you call yourself a self-starter or a polymath, startups need people who can, and do, get things done. Those with an active hobby life, a side hustle, or who just hate getting bored are highly valued.
Multiple skillsets — Those who are good in one area and somewhat useful in another are often chosen over the experts in just one field.
While Quantic’s MBA programs can’t significantly alter your personality or your ability to “do” things, we can already see that you have at least some of the skills that will make you attractive to startups. And we can hone the necessary hard skills to make you extremely hireable.
Who wouldn’t want to hire a candidate with an education on par with Harvard Business School?
Why Working at a Startup May Not Be a Good Choice
As we’ve seen, there are a few reasons why you may not find startups to be the best choice for you and your career. Here are some reasons not to make that decision, in order of importance:
Startups fail. You may want a more secure, reliable future.
Startups are demanding. You may not want to risk your work/life balance for uncertain gains.
Startups are all about innovation and creativity. You’re not signing up for the 9 to 5, suit and tie, cubicle, and commute business world.
Startups require traits and skills you may not possess. As exciting as the world-altering solution may seem, if you can’t be true to both your abilities and your work — it will most likely prove a huge disappointment to all involved.
A startup may not be the best thing for your resume. We’ve not yet discussed life after a startup, but your role at a startup, and the ultimate fate of that startup, may affect your future prospects.
If, for example, you were involved in securing funding and the venture failed for a lack of funding, you may have difficulty finding another firm willing to take you on.
However, if your startup is still thriving (or at least surviving) and you’ve simply outgrown your role there, you may find yourself welcomed with open arms. You were, after all, responsible for that growth in some capacity.
No one will blame you if you don’t choose the startup route for your career.
How to Decide if a Startup Is Right for You
Ultimately, the choice to work at a startup is yours to make. There are a few things to consider that will help you decide.
The first consideration is your future. Can you afford to potentially lose your job in a few months? Are you willing to go through another job search in a year or two? Startups fail, as we’ve said, and you’re assuming a risk-taking position by working with a startup.
The second thing to consider is your life. Can you afford the time working at a startup will demand? Are you in a place where the sacrifices of evenings, weekends, long hours every day will not be asking too much of you, your partner, your family, and friends?
Next, take a good long look at yourself. Do you have the personality and skills to make working at a startup rewarding, or will you find yourself too challenged? Too out of your comfort zone? Too out of your depth?
If you decide to try working at a startup, you may find plenty of opportunities on our job search engine. Companies large and small, new and old, access it to find their next executive, MBA grad, or candidate.
We even count our very own Quantic startup founder among our graduates. You can read her story in a case study we’ve prepared.
Quantic’s Weekly Roundup is a satisfying mix of the latest breaking news, business, STEM and social science stories. Here are your headlines for this week:
What women want: The proportion of women in tech remains far too low, despite concerted efforts to rectify things. Studies show that this regression is largely due to poor culture in many tech workplaces that aren’t inclusive enough to support female workers. In cultures where discrimination was more prevalent, women would advance to managerial roles just 28% of the time, versus 40% for men. Some of the top inclusive culture aspects that women wish to see in a company include supporting parents and parents-to-be, genuine mentors, and diversity in senior positions.
High hopes: Jay-Z has created a $10 million fund for startups to boost minority-owned cannabis businesses. The rapper and entrepreneur says he is motivated by an imbalance in the marijuana business: People of color, who have been disproportionately punished for involvement in the drug, where it is illegal, comprise only a small number of those making money from the multibillion-dollar market in legalized pot. Mr. Carter, who started the $10 million in seed money received as part of a merger, joins a broader push for equitable, economic opportunity across the cannabis sector.
Born to be wild (and safe): New fashion technology fromAirbag Inside Sweden AB designed airbag jeans and high-tech vests to make motorbikes safer. The wearer tethers the jeans to their bike and if they fall from the motorcycle, the airbags are triggered, filling with compressed air and lessening the impact on the lower body. The airbag can then be deflated, refilled with gas and reassembled into the jeans to use again. This is part of a larger effort to make innovative safety options more attainable to motorcyclists around the globe.
Food for thought: Executives at Kellogg Co. and Unilever are calling on startups to help tackle food industry issues. The companies partnered with the organizers of the Future Food-Tech Summit to launch the Innovation Challenge, which will culminate in a pitch at the live-streamed virtual event on March 11-12. Innovative food solutions can include improving taste, plant-based alternatives, gut wellness, and waste management.
Quantic’s Weekly Roundup is a satisfying mix of the latest breaking news, business, STEM and social science stories. Here are your headlines for this week:
Try your mother’s maiden name? Bitcoin owners are getting rich because the cryptocurrency’s value has soared. But what happens when you can’t tap that wealth because you forgot the password to your digital wallet? Stefan Thomas, a German-born programmer living in San Francisco, has two guesses left to figure out a password that is worth, as of this week, about $220 million.
When in doubt, Zoom it out: Companies have had to figure out remote work on the fly. Everything from outdated technology to a lack of in-person social time with colleagues has presented new challenges for employees used to an office environment. However, businesses are finding that with a little flexibility, the right technology, and more employee training, they can increase employee productivity well into 2021 and beyond.
Word of Advice: At 34 years old, Nikhil Kamath is one of India’s youngest billionaires after co-founding India’s largest trading brokerage, Zerodha. The company has seen its number of registered users double under the pandemic and reportedly has a daily turnover of an estimated $10 billion. Nikhil explains his best advice for other entrepreneurs’ success, including observing industry trends and tapping into growing industries.
Good genes: Gene-editing technology can tackle some of life’s most pressing problems, from disease to malnutrition. In the past decade or so, genetic engineering has undergone its own transformation, thanks to companies like CRISPR Therapeutics, which allows its users to snip a stretch of DNA and then either disable the affected sequence or replace it with a new one. Funding has risen from larger pharma companies, considering that the treatments could be lucrative and the broader technologies may be highly scalable. Because of this, gene-editing stocks have now returned about 230% over the past 2 years, compared to the broader S&P 500, which is up by about 52% over the same period.
Countless aspiring tech entrepreneurs launch and fail within their first year.
They fail after overlooking one key step they need to take before spending a single dime or contacting a potential investor.
Before starting a tech company, every entrepreneur needs to establish a mission that solves a business problem. Put another way, a “brilliant” technical idea is worthless if potential customers don’t already need it.
We’re about to dive into the basics of how to start a tech company and explain what you need to maximize your potential for success.
In an exclusive interview with Quantic’s founder, Tom Adams, you’ll learn how Tom built Quantic into a multi-million dollar tech startup. Now, he teaches other tech entrepreneurs to leverage the same recipe for success.
What Is a Tech Startup?
Put simply, a tech startup is a fledgling company that brings technology-based products and services to market.
In the current technology landscape, a tech startup can be launched very quickly — sometimes in just a matter of a few weeks — if the collaborators and resources are in alignment.
With the advent of the cloud and integration companies, it’s more accurate to say that a business is assembled rather than built from scratch. Multiple service providers supply resources, including online computing power, programming teams, project management, and security services.
In the technology industry, an entrepreneur with the right mission and the ability to seek out the right providers can start a business within days — depending on the complexity of the service or product.
Starting a Technology Business
Starting a tech company is no different than starting any other business. Right?
In short, wrong.
There are some major differences between starting a tech business and a traditional brick & mortar business.
The traditional business is dependent on location to function, with factors to consider like:
Local foot traffic or commuter traffic for visibility and access
Office space leasing
Availability of qualified staff within close distance
Storage and warehouse needs
The tech business lives in a virtual landscape. Every member of the team, from the founder and CEO to the administrative assistant, can work remotely from anywhere in the world. The Internet is their office; their laptop is their factory.
Ease of access to your company and your means of production makes the logistics of starting a company very fast. But the virtual business arena comes with its own unique challenges, such as:
Reduction in collaboration if teams aren’t disciplined about staying connected
Constant security obstacles from hackers, spammers, and other online threats
Business shutdowns when service providers (e.g. AWS, PayPal) have an outage
While tech companies and physical businesses have fundamental differences, they will always share the same business principles of success. You can see those principles at work in the most recent list of Bloomberg 2020 billionaires, the types of businesses they run, and the education they pursued to become successful.
For example, former US presidential candidate and founder of Bloomberg LP, Michael Bloomberg, earned his MBA from Harvard Business School. Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike, earned an MBA from Stanford University. And Lee Kun-Hee, the chairman of the Samsung Group, earned an MBA from George Washington University.
All billionaires. All leaders of very different types of companies, including tech companies. All basing their business success on consistent principles learned through an MBA.
Quantic’s Founder Tom Adams Explains How to Create a Tech Startup
Tom Adams, Chairman/CEO and Co-founder of Quantic, is an E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year National Winner and former Chairman/CEO of Rosetta Stone. Tom holds an MBA from INSEAD, one of the world’s largest graduate business schools, and a B.A. in history from Bristol University.
It’s fair to say that Tom has spent years acquiring the education, experience, and success to build winning businesses. He’s shared his invaluable insight into what it takes to start a winning technology business in the current landscape.
How to Build a Tech Company From the Ground Up
According to Tom Adams, there are three fundamental elements an entrepreneur needs to incorporate into their strategy right from the very start.
Define the mission, and make sure it’s “crystal clear.”
Define the constraints such as “things you will always do” and “things you will never do.”
Iterate quickly to ensure the “design meets reality” and the product is adjusted to fit the customers’ needs.
How to Start a Tech Company Without a Tech Background
Much of what goes into a company’s success is “product/market fit”, which involves matching the product or service to the customers who want to buy it.
Once the mission and constraints are crystallized as the company’s mantra, the goal is to assemble a team with all the collective strengths necessary to execute that mission.
Starting a Software Company With No Programming Experience
But, doesn’t a software company need every member of the team to be fluent in programming languages?
On the contrary!
In other words, an entrepreneur need not be a programming expert to make the world’s greatest technology solution a reality. But, an entrepreneur does need to know how to assemble a team that brings all the ingredients together, including programming, to make the mission possible.
How to Start a Tech Startup With No Money
There are two primary methods for funding your startup without already having the funds or bootstrapping. Both involve seeking funds from investors who believe in you or obtain “working capital” by accepting advance payment on products/services.
First, you can seek investment from individuals or groups, such as angel investors. The key is to “find people who believe in you.”
This is where having a crystal clear mission comes into play. When an entrepreneur has a mission they believe in, investors will believe in the entrepreneur.
Belief begets belief.
The second avenue is obtaining “working capital”:
Early access, early bird pricing, and limited-time benefits are all methods that could be used to entice customers to buy early and help pay for the launch.
How to Find Tech Startup Ideas That are Viable for Growth
Viable growth begins by “mapping out the existing landscape” for the problem your solution is meant to solve.
When you’re developing a solution in a market already filled with competitive solutions, think about; “what are you going to eliminate, and what are you going to create and elevate in terms of features and benefits for the customer.”
If your solution is similar to others on the market, success will depend on developing a cost advantage. Either through streamlining development to make production cheaper than the competition or by selling at reduced margins to capture significant market share.
Small startups begin at a “scale disadvantage.” To compensate, success comes from innovating “new combinations of features” and benefits “that delight” customers enough to outweigh the loss of features customers would normally get from competitors.
Tips on How to Create Technology
Although the crystal clear mission of a startup describes creating a very specific solution to a very specific problem, technology rarely exists in isolation. A connected world means every new solution created must “co-exist with other applications.”
That means a new solution will need to “interoperate” to fit with what people are already doing today.
For example, if you create a new mobile application that helps customers to stay more organized while at work, you’ll need to design the application to work across mobile devices. Also, organization tools will typically need to integrate with calendars, mail applications, or cloud file storage services.
It all has to work together. As a result, thorough and ubiquitous compatibility is crucial.
The Most Important Key to Growing Your Tech Business
Your solution can’t be the very best and most perfect answer to every aspect of the problem your customer faces.
Focus on being the very best in the world at a “few things” to ensure your team remains concentrated on being the market leader where it counts.
Does an MBA Education Benefit Future Tech Startup Founders?
Everyone starts somewhere. The challenges a tech startup faces are unique when compared to traditional brick & mortar businesses, but the fundamentals of business are still the same.
Entrepreneurs learn entrepreneurship by doing. Programmers learn programming by doing. Nearly every member of the team assembled to execute the mission brings the particular strengths they’ve honed through time and experience. All by doing.
An MBA can’t teach those strengths to a well-assembled team, but an MBAcan teach “strategic leadership so they can scale and direct the organization much more effectively.”
An MBA empowers a fledgling CEO to:
Think in “terms of value creation for a long-term strategy.”
“Position competitively in terms of branding or product placement.”
Quantic, Tom Adams’s company, understands the value of an MBA for new CEOs. Quantic’s MBA program teaches the “fundamentals such as accounting or strategy.” And students get to “build out business plans” and develop a “network of peers” to “accelerate their proficiency in the key terms and the key ways of building business success.”
Quantic has demonstrated a track record of success for their students. Not just in providing a world-class MBA program to give CEOs the tools they need, but also in helping students start their own successful businesses.
Read the case study about a Quantic student whose startup connects with their hearing-impaired audience.
Quantic’s Weekly Roundup is a satisfying mix of the latest breaking news, business, STEM and social science stories. Here are your headlines for this week:
Do what you like, like what you do: This past year brought an explosion of newly launched small businesses and startups. What are their success secrets? One tip is to simply be yourself and be passionate about your work. Embracing your identity and trusting yourself allows for more novel products and opportunities. The pandemic and lockdowns have afforded many of us the time and space to discover who we are, and what we want in life, love, and work. The start of a new year is a great time to pursue these passions and go full entrepreneur.
Purpose over profit: From the importance of authenticity to being grounded in humanity, purpose-driven companies will not only help advance industries, but create meaningful societal impacts. What are some of the top forecasted trends for businesses focused on purpose? One main aspect will be that “storytelling” will evolve into “story-doing.” Companies will increasingly take action before they communicate about it. “We’ll hear stories about real risk-taking, about rolling up sleeves and jumping in to help,” says Laura Ferry, president of Good Company. “We will learn about the people who bravely stood up, helped others, or marched for a cause.”
Creativity is intelligence having fun: Some researchers are finding that while many companies are spending more money on creativity and innovations, their returns are still flatlining. How can they fix this creative slump? Welcome “Augmented Creativity.” This is a term being used when humans use AI to help them understand the deluge of data to create new works and prototypes. This approach utilizes huge datasets that AI mines to look for well-established, yet previously untapped, connections. Augmented Creativity has helped develop everything form new music apps, to delectable cookie-cake hybrids.
Wednesday’s riots in Washington D.C., which included the United States Capitol being breached during the ceremonial counting of the electoral votes, has gained the attention of business leaders from around the globe. Executives and CEOs from some of the world’s biggest tech companies took to platforms to condemn the violence, and even temporarily ban Trump’s accounts, but was it too little too late? The role of social media, and the political, cultural power it can wield, left Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, saying: “there are a lot of hard questions we’re going to have to answer for our children.” In any case, here’s to hoping 2021 has nowhere to go but up from here.
Are you afraid of losing money and looking like a fool for making a bad investment? The answer is almost universally yes for every startup’s potential investors.
Fear causes an investor to second guess a sound opportunity staring them right in the face.
The best way to overcome investor fear is knowledge. The knowledge that the startup is valuable and will yield a solid return.
The first and best piece of knowledge is an accurate startup value. Let’s get familiar with the different methods of value calculations. We’ll define how they work and when you should use each one.
How to Value a Startup
There are many ways to calculate the value, but no magic number will meet every investor’s needs. The calculations break down into two major categories:
Calculations are broken down based on when the payment happens. Usually it’s before and after the current rounds of funding.
With this type of valuation, an investor estimates how much the company is worth right now. It’s an indicator of market confidence in the startup’s potential. It’s not necessary for even a single sale to be made.
This type of assessment can be more difficult to calculate because it depends on where the company is in its stage of development. Such as:
Is it pre-revenue, meaning it hasn’t made a single sale?
At what point does the company plan to move from pre-revenue to generating revenue?
Does the company’s business model contain pre-revenue sales projections?
Or if the company is past the pre-revenue stage, will the initial investments go entirely towards capital purchases?
These are some of the questions that factor into the value calculation.
What Is Pre-Money Valuation?
This calculation is one of the two startup valuation methods used before the investor commits funds. It sounds intuitive. But it’s necessary to make this distinction for accounting purposes. For example:
Let’s say a startup is worth $10 million. An investor decides to invest $1 million in exchange for 100 shares of stock. The company value before the investment is $10 million and the post-money value is $11 million.
To lower risk, investors will put money into a startup over later rounds of investing instead of all at once. This invest-as-you-go model is common. The startup gets the funds to grow and the investor lowers potential loss if the startup fails.
Pre-Money Valuation Formulas
Every startup is different. So, calculating the startup’s value is not a one-size-fits-all process. Financial experts developed different types of startup valuation methods. Each one focuses on a different financial perspective.
A savvy venture capital investor will use many methods to calculate value. Then they decide to invest in an early-stage company based on an averaged amount.
The Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) Valuation Method
The Discounted Cash Flow method measures the future revenue potential of a startup. It generates a value based on a large number of detailed assumptions about the startup’s business model. It then calculates revenue over a set period of years.
DCF works best as a type of “sanity check.” Combine it with other methods to ensure the average value falls within an acceptable range of accuracy.
The Berkus Method
The Berkus Method was developed as a way to calculate the startup valuation without unreliable assumptions. In David Berkus’s own words:
It’s best to use this method if the risk factors are known. Also, it works if the return on investment for the startup is unknowable due to too many assumptions.
Add to Company Value up to:
Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Quality Controls in Place
Partner Agreements Pre-Revenue
Value factors for the Berkus Method
Scorecard Valuation Methodology
This method answers one basic question when it comes to startup valuation methods. “How valuable is this startup compared to similar companies?”
The Risk Factor Summation Method
The Risk Factor Summation Method is a combination of the Berkus Method and the Scorecard Valuation Methodology. It measures startup valuation by comparing the company with other companies. The comparison is used to develop a baseline. It then adjusts the value based on a list of 12 risk factors.
Like the DCF, it’s best to use this method with other methodologies to develop an average score.
Venture Capital Method
The Venture Capital Method takes a finite term approach to the valuation method. The investor assumes an exit term, say 5 or 7 years, from the point of investment. It then back-calculates the return on investment for that period.
This is one of the preferred startup valuation methods. An investor can set the exit strategy on milestones. An example milestone would be reaching a specific dollar amount in sales or percentage of market share.
Like the Scorecard Valuation Methodology, the Comparables Method calculates a value by comparing the startup to similar companies. Unlike the Berkus Method, the baseline is adjusted by a series of ratio values. The ratios include price-to-earnings ratio (P/E), price-to-sales ratio (P/S), and enterprise value-to-earnings before interest, rather than flat dollar adjustments.
The Comparables Method is simpler to calculate. It relies on fewer assumptions than the discounted cash flow method. But accuracy is more dependent on the accuracy of the market value of the peer group used in the baseline.
The Cost-to-Duplicate Method looks at the cost of starting over from scratch in another location or industry. This method can help investors determine soundness very quickly. If the company can be reproduced cheaper or better in another location, it’s not a good investment.
This is a very rough calculation. It doesn’t take mitigating factors into account like tax laws in alternative locations. It’s quick but very prone to error.
Pre-Money Valuation Calculator
The methodologies listed so far are subtly different. But most have strong similarities. This makes the prospect of calculating value confusing.
Post-money valuation is a measure of the startup’s value after the current funding round is complete. This gives investors a view into how much other investors are willing to support the startup. It’s a picture of the willingness of others to financially back its chance of success.
What Is Post-Money Valuation?
Post-Money Valuation is a company’s value after it receives money from the current round of funding. This value is an indicator of how many shares an investor will own as a function of the amount of money invested.
If a startup only has one investor, that investor will receive 100% of the available shares. If there are many investors, there’s strong confidence in the company. But this also reduces the percentage of available shares that can go to a single investor.
Post-Money Valuation Formulas
As with the other value calculations, there are several to calculate post-money. It’s best to base investing decisions on an average of the methods used.
Book Value Method
The Book Value Method looks at all the tangible assets of a startup after a funding round. It then deducts the intangible assets to derive a net value. It’s a strong indicator of the company’s value on a Balance Sheet. This calculation only works once the investments into the company are complete.
It’s best to use this method if a significant part of the company’s value relies on tangible assets. If a startup relies on patents and copyrights, avoid using this method.
Post-Money Valuation Calculator
Again, it can be confusing to sort through the myriad of methodologies – both before and after funding. To help, Quantic has released a free template to assess the post-money value of a company. It’s a useful tool for investors to make informed decisions.
Note; ideally, we want to have an opt-in here in exchange for the formula calculator.
Valuation Cap Calculation
Here’s why it’s so valuable. “It is intended to ensure that an investor does not miss out on significant appreciation of a company between the time of the sale of convertible notes and the qualified financing.”
No investor wants to miss out on the benefits of explosive growth. The valuation cap makes the investment more lucrative when unexpected growth occurs.
Startup Valuation Spreadsheet Templates
In the sections above, we’ve provided a free downloadable template that calculates startup value. It’s specifically based on the most common methods used today. But the template also contains a section for Scenario Analysis. This is useful to help compare the results of multiple methods to calculate the best average.
Note; ideally, we want to have an opt-in here in exchange for the formula calculator.
When it comes to startups, Quantic has helped plenty of students build companies that grow. But its courses on valuation for cash flow and valuation for equity are specifically designed to help startups position themselves to look attractive for investors.