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In Part I of this article we gave an overview of capitalization tables and the key terms used in cap table analysis that every investor must understand: Valuations, Security Types and Share Counts. In Part II we'll take a closer look at how cap tables evolve over time, which deal terms can have the biggest affect, and the purpose of a waterfall analysis for early stage investors.

Investors supporting startups in difficult economic times are frequently called on to give advice to CEOs trying to cope. Financial issues like the cash-out date and how to raise money are always central questions, but reducing financial burn for a pre- or early-revenue startup is not the only challenge. Difficult times add an additional layer of stress to a job that is already extraordinarily stressful, and that can lead to major burnout.
Wanting to be a supportive investor does not mean you will always know what to say or have creative ideas to share. So when we recently gathered 35 of Launchpad’s portfolio CEOs for a Summit that happened to coincide with the start of a downturn, we took the opportunity to ask them all for ways they have been managing both “burn” and “burn out.”  Here are the ideas they shared with us.

Like, oh, just about every single kid to ever grow up in the great state of Nebraska, I spent a lot of my childhood scheming to get out.  By my mid-20s, I had pulled it off. I was in a big(ish) city with opportunities coming left and right. And wouldn’t you know it, I found…

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AIM launches into 2023 leading the tech training field for Nebraska and Iowa serving nearly 6,000 participants. The Midwest region’s tech community is full of opportunity, with many exciting and growing companies. But like most tech communities in the United States, the Silicon Prairie suffers from a scarcity of talent, lacks diversity, and has a…

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In Part I of this article we discussed several key concepts of fund investment strategy and how funds are categorized, whether it be by industry, geography, stage, specialty (e.g. social impact, corporate, etc.) or some other criteria. Now let's take a closer look at capital allocation strategy and the life cycle of a venture fund.

As a leading voice for professionalism in the early-stage investing community, Seraf provides extensive materials on all aspects of early stage investing. In keeping with our company philosophy, we believe investors in early stage companies should have access to best practices and professional tools to support the entrepreneurial community worldwide and achieve superior outcomes. So, we’ve consolidated our investment knowledge and best practices into the Seraf Compass, a well-organized and easily searchable collection of articles, courses, toolkits, ebooks and books to help early stage investors make better investing decisions, minimize risk and improve returns. 
In the spirit of year-end top playlists and top photo shares, and to help you kickstart your investing in the new year on as informed a footing as possible, we’ve summarized our most highly-viewed pieces from 2022. If you haven’t seen these pieces yet, we know you will enjoy checking them out! 

The Women’s Center for Advancement (WCA) requests help identifying the next round of honorees for the 36th Annual Tribute to Women Luncheon that will take place Thursday, June 23, at the Marriott Omaha Downtown Capitol District, with Dr. Katie Weitz, Ph.D., serving as honorary chair. The purpose of this award is to pay tribute to…

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In a previous post, we discuss ways in which a board can help make a CEO successful. One of the best ways to facilitate the CEO’s future growth and success is by providing her with an annual review detailing how she is doing in the job. It is the responsibility of the board to conduct this review since the board is responsible for hiring and firing the CEO. In this article, we outline some of the best practices for undertaking a CEO performance review.

Several years ago, I was speaking to a colleague of mine. He was trying to decide between two great job offers, and was having a difficult time making a final decision. I started asking about his compensation package. For salary and bonus, the two companies were equivalent. However, when it came to stock, there seemed to be a big difference. I tell this story as one simple example of the importance of actually understanding a company’s Capitalization Table (“cap table”) before transacting in their shares. Shareholders who don’t have a good grasp of this important investment concept are at a significant handicap when it comes to investing.

Every early stage investor knows that deal flow is a critical component of driving successful returns. Without a flow of potential deals, you cannot invest, and without good deal flow management, you may miss important investment opportunities. We’re offering up a perspective on the benefits of using professional tools to simplify your pipeline management, enabling you to spend more time on value-creating activities.

Solis Agrosciences, created to provide R&D crop development services to agtech companies, today announced that it closed on major growth capital financing led by Hermann Companies, Jim McKelvey and BioGenerator Ventures. This funding will allow Solis to add additional talent and infrastructure to meet the needs of a growing customer base.   “Hermann has known…

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Superstar, cult-like CEOs make for great press. How many times have you read an article about Steve Jobs, Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg that makes it sound like their companies’ success rested entirely on their shoulders? It makes for a compelling human story, but these are myths. That is not how the world works. Without a great supporting team, these CEOs could never deliver on their promised vision.

The Heartland Climate Tech Partnership today announced that they’ve officially launched a new resource database for innovative climate tech and clean energy businesses across the Greater Midwest Region. The database provides entrepreneurs with the tools they need to identify relevant programming and educational resources, attend networking and educational events and access critical design and prototyping resources. Using…

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This profile is the seventh in a series of interviews highlighting the work of interesting impact investors. Juan Thurman is the Co-Founder and Managing General Partner of the SWAN Impact Fund, an early stage fund focused on health tech and clean tech startups.

As a newly minted manager of a venture fund, your initial response to the question “what are we busy about?” might be, “finding great companies, investing in them and waiting for big financial returns.” And, while your response would be directionally correct, it would be woefully incomplete. There is so much more to running a fund than leaping in, chasing companies and slinging cash around. Putting in place a well-thought-out investment strategy is a crucial component when building a high- performing portfolio of early stage companies, especially if that portfolio is going to generate acceptable returns.

This profile is the sixth in a series of interviews highlighting the work of interesting impact investors. Melissa Bradley is the Founder and Managing Partner of 1863 Ventures, an investment fund that accelerates New Majority entrepreneurs from high potential to high growth by bridging entrepreneurship and racial equity.

Being CEO is one of the loneliest jobs in the world. As CEO, you are ultimately held accountable for the success or failure of the company. Your employees and their families depend on you for their income. Customers depend on you to solve important problems for them. Shareholders depend on you to deliver the promised return on investment.  When times are good and the company is growing and profitable, it’s a great job to have. Unfortunately, times are not always good.

This profile is the fifth in a series of interviews highlighting the work of interesting impact investors. Marcia Hooper currently serves as a Partner of Branch Venture Group, LLC, an angel investing group focused on food startups, targeting food products, food technology, business services for food-related companies, ag-tech, and sustainability. 

Many years ago I joined the board of a company after my angel group became the lead investor in the company’s seed financing round. As part of my compensation for being a board member, the company issued me restricted stock. Since I was new to the early stage investing world, I didn’t understand what the tax implications were with restricted stock. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t get good tax planning advice at the time, because if I had, it would have saved me a significant amount on my tax bill when the company was acquired for a very significant price!

The UNeTech Institute—an entrepreneurial support organization and startup incubator affiliated with the University of Nebraska Omaha and the University of Nebraska Medical Center—has won the 2022 Economic Development Agency’s Build to Scale Competition. UNeTech joins recipients from across the country, part of a $47 million investment to fuel innovation and tech-based development. The $300,000 award,…

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The 2022 AIM Tech Awards ceremony, presented by Cox Business, will once again honor the changemakers and visionaries of the Silicon Prairie with an awards show and dinner at Founders One | Nine, located at 1915 Jackson St. in downtown Omaha, on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 5:30 p.m.  Awards will be presented to winners in…

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This profile is the eighth in a series of interviews highlighting the work of interesting female investors. 
Alicia Castillo Holley is an active angel investor in Silicon Valley and the Founder and CEO of The Wealthing VC Club, a boutique investment group of accredited investors that fills rounds led by VCs.

TechAccel LLC, a Kansas City-based technology and venture development company investing in scientific breakthroughs for healthier agriculture, today announced that Steven Meyer has joined subsidiary RNAissance Ag LLC as chief executive officer.   Meyer most recently was chief operating officer at Lucy Scientific Discovery Inc., British  Columbia, a cGMP manufacturer of psychotropic compounds for therapeutic uses. Prior…

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The customer council is one of the best kept secrets of product management and company strategy. Unlike an advisory board, with specialists who often have a closer relationship with the company or even a personal relationship to the CEO, a customer council consists of ordinary users who can give their unvarnished feedback on the product directly to the company. Many startups fail to take advantage of this powerful tool because of a simple lack of familiarity, so here is an overview of what a customer council is and why to suggest your portfolio companies consider using them.

The 2022 Global Leadership Africa Summit Week will launch Monday with a week of activities organized around a range of issues facing Africans and people of African descent. A full calendar of events is included at the end of this article. Designed to gather global young professional African leaders, entrepreneurs, and people who cherish Africa…

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