Venture Voice – interviews with entrepreneurs

Entertaining Entrepreneurship

Jay Adelson’s First Time (Raising Money)

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This is part of a new series on Venture Voice where we ask a bunch of past show guests a simple question and post their answers.

How’d you raise your very first round of financing?

Jay Adelson: The first round of financing I ever raised was from angels. I was working with Al Avery, who co-founded Equinix with me in 1998. A good friend of mine, who had founded a company in Silicon Valley in the mid-nineties and sold it to Cisco, was mentoring me to avoid going initially to the VCs.

From his perspective, nothing could be worse; Showing up at VC with a business plan, with no executive team, no execution, amounted to no valuation, and the VC taking way too much of the company for a series A.

Instead, he felt, do everything you can to bootstrap or angel fund it, then go back (even a month, or six months later) to the VCs with something they can’t argue is as risky.

This friend of mine went to two friends of his, and we raised $100,000.00 to start. We followed his instructions to the letter; We hired some executives, we started the process of operating our business, got an office, etc. We made the business real. Most importantly, we found a great corporate law firm to start all the paperwork, who later would help us negotiate and deal with the VCs.

Three months later we gave away roughly 40% of the business for $12 million dollars. The $100k was set up to convert to essentially $200k worth of stock at the close of Series A. I think they did quite well, and we’re all still good friends.

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