Let’s talk about the reality of taking money from professional investors. It is not the first time we’ve covered this general subject nor the last. But this time, we concentrate upon governance changes.
After friends and family…
Once a company founder has tapped the funds available from his or her resources and from friends and family, if the company needs more cash for growth, the most obvious next step is to look for money from angel investors and venture capitalists, typically in the $300,000 TO $3,000,000 range.
And the restrictions upon your freedom to operate…
This money comes with restrictions a founder may not expect, including restrictions upon the sale of founder stock, clauses that require the investor be allowed to sell an equal proportion of stock upon any other person’s sale of stock, anti-dilution provisions that protect the investor from a subsequent offer of stock at a lower price, and much more.
A seat on your board?
[Email readers, continue here…] Almost always, professional investors, including angel groups and venture capitalists, also require at least one seat on the corporate board. The investor organization is granted the seat if the investment remains, and the documents often name the first representative assigned by the investor group to the position.
Why these restrictions?
In later insights, we will explore the legal and ethical responsibilities of board members. But the intent of these “forced” placements of a representative on the board is obviously to watch over the company’s use of invested funds and to help grow the company in value. The combination of restrictive covenants in the investor documents and the new dynamic of board members with an agenda make for a change in the culture of the corporation, certainly one for the CEO.
However, outside professional investor board members can be a very good asset to the corporation with the skills, experience and broad relationships many bring to the boardroom table.