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Use Creative Fundraising Instead of Equity or Debt

By: Dave Berkus


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First, my story as an example

Let me tell you the story of how I raised $100,000 to fill a gap needed to purchase a new home for my young family years ago.  I had located a beautiful home that would be a stretch to finance and had arranged for a first mortgage from the bank, and a second from the seller. Home values were rising so fast that I knew I had to move quickly.

So, I went to visit several customer CEOs, told them my story, and asked them to advance some amount against their future billing from me.  In return, I said, I would give them more time than originally contracted for, and certainly would treat the relationship as special from that moment on.  Corny?  Every one of the CEOs said “yes.”  And I closed escrow on a home I could not otherwise afford, and which I continue to live in, after its value shot through the roof during the subsequent years.

Out of the box ways to pay the bills

I sometimes counsel CEOs to consider consulting to their prospective customers or in their industry while they are simultaneously developing their product for market. Consulting fees pay the bills, reduce the stress, and give people confidence in the business.

How about your suppliers as partners?

If you are already purchasing raw materials or services such as development or programming, consider asking your supplier to be a paperless partner, showing confidence in you and your future business by granting you deferred payments.  You might be surprised at the positive results, if your needs are real and you treat the relationship well by following through on your promises.

A common way to “eat your meal before its time”

How about offering prepaid licenses to your product or a package of prepaid hours, or a discount for prepayment of purchase?  All of these create special relationships with your customers, who show their faith and trust by advancing money to you before receiving products or services.  Just remember that you must deliver as promised, and you are eating your meal before its time.  You will have later expenses to pay when the revenues have already been received and presumably spent.

How about strategic partnerships?

Strategic partnerships with suppliers, customers and others sometimes are an attractive way to share the risk and fund an operation.  Creating a new company to do this is often a time and money drain, even if it seems easier to do this than to create a relationship within existing organizations.

These are just some of the ways to creatively raise funds without offering equity or taking on new debt.  Since some entrepreneurs are completely averse to sharing equity, and some greatly fear taking on any form of debt, creative fund-raising is certainly worth considering.

Published: February 1, 2021

Source: Reprinted with permission from Berkonomics

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Dave Berkus

Dave Berkus is a noted speaker, author and early stage private equity investor. He is acknowledged as one of the most active angel investors in the country, having made and actively participated in over 87 technology investments during the past decade. He currently manages two angel VC funds (Berkus Technology Ventures, LLC and Kodiak Ventures, L.P.) Dave is past Chairman of the Tech Coast Angels, one of the largest angel networks in the United States. Dave is author of “Basic Berkonomics,” “Berkonomics,” “Advanced Berkonomics,” “Extending the Runway,” and the Small Business Success Collection. Find out more at Berkus.com or contact Dave at dberkus@berkus.com

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