盡職調查時,投資人看哪裡?|What are investors looking for during due diligence?

[English version below]

PHOTO CREDIT: Roberto Faccenda via flickr 

PHOTO CREDIT: Roberto Faccenda via flickr 

跟投資人的關係跟約會一樣,關係進展到下一步會需要時間,不可能第一次見面就掏錢給你。募資之前,需要預留一定的時間準備。”
”你們就像是嚮導,要帶著投資人爬上喜馬拉雅山。不可能一步登天,而是循著數個里程碑逐步邁進。
— Arthur Chen, BE Capital

投資人跟創業家,兩者對於時間的感受不太一樣。投資人會願意等待、拉長時間做盡職調查,BE Capital 執行董事 Arthur Chen 承認,其實對創業家來說是相反的,他們希望越少時間花在盡職調查上越好,這意味著能越快拿到資源。然而,如果你有先了解投資人到底想要調查的是什麼,不僅會替你有效縮短時間,也能在過程中建立起最重要的互信關係。

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KK Fund 合夥人 Alan Hsu 解釋,在發行投資條件書之前進行的盡職調查(due diligence)程序,是要縮小在新創團隊本身及投資人期待兩者之間的落差,在這段期間必須抓出危險信號,跟合夥人反應。因此,新創團隊必須要先「清除所有潛藏的問題節點(Clean up any potential skeletons.)」。而整個過程中,新創團隊會跟投資人之間產生拉鋸的面向,主要在於團隊、產品和流量。讓我們就這三大面向進一步了解:
 

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1. 團隊(Team)- 圈內口碑、團隊向心力、耐心學習及隨機應變

「我們很愛 referral。」BE Capital 執行董事 Arthur Chen 提到,尤其是從其他投資人投過的團隊、或是相關專業人士的意見裡物色到好的團隊,投資人之間也會互相推薦。

「通常投資人會先問圈內和這個新創團隊打交道的經驗,了解一下家庭背景(family background)、甚至會觀察社群媒體帳號。也會看你如何找到對的人、員工們,幫助你快速擴張事業。」KK Fund 合夥人 Alan Hsu 說。

我們要看到你的感覺 (Show people your feelings.) 。整個團隊的動力很重要,如果整個團隊組成有越多全職員工,也就表示越多人願意投入把事業做起來。一個好的團隊是可以聆聽投資人意見、願意接受輔導的(coachable)。」43 Ventures 合夥人 Felix Lam 也分享他的觀點。而看一個團隊是否成功,不一定從當下的財務盈利狀況判定,尤其對於種子輪和A輪階段的團隊,如何應變發生災難後的能力、其試過的商業模式,更為重要。

 

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2. 產品(Product)- 產品在地化能力、專利權歸屬、定價與早期客戶

「新創團隊有因應不同的地域市場,塑造出不同產品的能力。要讓創投了解公司的核心服務或技術,哪些是外包製作、哪些才是真正屬於公司的。」Alan Hsu 說。投資人在乎的是一個公司的成功,而不是個人的成功,尤其是從學術研究起家、或是有多位共同創辦人等的團隊,記得要劃清關鍵技術的擁有權歸屬。

另外,Felix Lam 提到產品定價:「成本基礎定價法(cost-based pricing)不是一開始 startup 應該做的事。」他認為新創團隊之所以存在,是因為可以透過「價值基礎定價法(value-based pricing)」 來印證新市場價值。但也不宜將價格設定過高,而沒人願意買單-多走出門外,和你的目標用戶多聊聊、轉換成早期用戶。

 

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3. 流量(Traction)- 明確解釋公司成長、擁有從做中學的精神

「自己要先搞懂最能代表成長的數字,並建立一個清楚的分層漏斗(funnel)。」Alan Hsu 說。處於種子輪階段的團隊,無論點子、產品、團隊等變數仍大的情況,只要能憑藉判斷的邏輯(為什麼不做這個、要改做那個),並清楚描述在轉換過程中學到的經驗,投資人是願意聆聽並接受的。

「當面對投資人時,你要非常非常明確地解釋,為何自己有能力導入目標市場。」 Felix Lam 隨後舉例:「不要跟我說,社群媒體廣告是你唯一搶占市場的方法。」投資人也藉此了解新創團隊是否了解市場上的競爭和自我優勢,例如評估每一個合作或宣傳渠道是否需要花很多時間談,或者總目標渠道數量雖然很少但極富價值。

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以上三點以外,有團隊提到商業計畫是否也很重要,Felix Lam 認為「商業模式圖(business model canvas)不是必須,但可以幫助你清楚衡量你對用戶的價值定位、以及核心競爭力,想清楚要如何執行你的商業計畫。」 而若想在投資人心中營造好形象,重要的一點,就是建立自己實體或虛擬資料室(physical/virtual data room),定期整理更新(一般是季度),並主動提供給投資人,不僅省了調查時間,同時也表示團隊一直都在計畫好的軌道上。


更多續集,請繼續鎖定觀看:
投資條件書中,需要掌控的關鍵權利有哪些?
缺錢就要找創投?如何對投資人進行反向盡職調查?
想知道新創團隊在國際募資成功的經驗甘苦談?

關於 新創大補帖:投資條件書 (Crash Course:Term Sheets) 

早期科技新創團隊的生死存亡關鍵之一-資金!如何撰寫一份完整詳盡的財務計畫和募資策略,成為了重要課題。TSS 和 Spring Drive 於 2016 年 11 月 11 日至 13 日期間,共同邀請國際投資人們、以及財會法務專家、募資成功創業家等共 10 餘位黃金講師陣容,進行密集課程訓練,讓創業家們綜觀了解投資整體流程、投資人類型,並能依照不同團隊組織結構、成長現況及募資需求,進行投資條件書(term sheets)的演練。

本系列文出自 新創大補帖:投資條件書 (Crash Course:Term Sheets) 活動期間之節錄筆記,也敬請期待日後更多課程紀錄分享。歡迎追蹤 TSS 粉絲團 和 推特官方帳號 (或文章標籤 #CCTermSheets)


PHOTO CREDIT: ROBERTO FACCENDA VIA FLICKR

PHOTO CREDIT: ROBERTO FACCENDA VIA FLICKR

Just like in dating, it takes time to develop a relationship with an investor and move to the next step. It’s unlikely we [investors] will make an offer upon the first meeting, so allow for some time to get to know each other when you begin your fundraising efforts.

Think of yourself as a guide leading the investor on a trek into the Himalayas. You wouldn’t take them to the peak immediately, but instead progress gradually by stopping at several milestones along the way.
— Arthur Chen, BE Capital

While investors often prefer a longer due diligence process giving them more time to observe a startup, Arthur Chen of BE Capital acknowledges that this contrasts with the startups’ desire for a shorter due diligence process and quick access to resources. However, if startups have a better understanding of what investors are looking for during due diligence, they may be able to shorten the time it takes and additionally build the trust that is so important between investors and startups.

Alan Hsu of KK Fund emphasizes that before offering startups a term sheet, investors will do their due diligence with the aim of narrowing the knowledge gap between the startup and investor. Any issues will be reported back to the venture partners. Because of this, startups should definitely “clean out any potential skeletons” in their closets.

During due diligence three areas investors tend to focus their attention on are: team, product, and traction. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

 

1. Team - Referrals, Dedication, Coachability & Improvisation

“We love referrals,” says Arthur Chen acknowledging that investors often hear about referrals through existing investments by other investors, by experts in a particular field, or in discussions with other investors.

“Usually we’ll ask around within our circles if there’s been any experience dealing with a specific startup, do check-ups on their family background, and even go as far as checking out their social media accounts,” says Alan Hsu. “We’ll also look into whether you’re hiring the right people for your team to help you grow and expand your business.”

“Show people your feelings,” says Felix Lam of 43 Ventures. “The dynamics in the team matter very much. If there is more full-time staff on the team, it indicates that more people are dedicated to making something happen. ‘Being coachable’ is also a sign of a good team. It’s hard to tell whether a team will succeed based on its financials, especially those in early stage (seed to A rounds). What matters more is how a team deals with crises or adapts to new business models.”

 

2. Product - Adapting to local markets, Intellectual Property & Pricing

“A startup’s capability to adapt their products to local markets is important. And, investors need to know which core service/technology is outsourced and which belongs to the company,” says Alan Hsu. What investors care the most about are achievements of the company rather than the individual. This is especially relevant for startups which originated from academia and/or are made up several co-founders. It’s very important to make sure that the intellectual property rights surrounding the core technology are clean and unencumbered.

“Cost-based pricing is not what startup should be doing at the very beginning,” says Felix Lam. “The reason why startups even exist is to help validate the value of a new market through value-based pricing.“ However, be careful not to price so high that no is willing to pay. Get out there and talk to your early adopters and target users.


3. Traction: Targeted growth & Learning-by-doing

“You have to understand for yourself the numbers that most represent your growth and build a clear funnel,” says Alan Hsu. For startups in seed round (when there may often have been many changes to the idea and product), if you’re able to elaborate on your logic (why we did this, or why we did that) and share what you’ve learned during a pivot, investors will be open-minded and accept it.

“You have to be very, very specific—why you are capable of tackling your target market,” says Felix Lam. “Don’t tell me that your only go-to-market strategy is advertising on social media.” Investors will see if a startup itself knows about its competition and competitive advantage for a particular market. For instance, are they able to assess how long it takes to establish a business partner, or realize when they have insufficient distribution or marketing channels?

Beyond the three areas mentioned above, some startups might wonder if having a business plan matters during due diligence. “Using something like the Business Model Canvas is not a must, but it can help you clarify the value proposition to your customer and your own core competence; therefore, it can allow you to generate a more feasible execution plan,” says Felix Lam. And, if you want to make a good impression in front of investors, then consider building up your own ‘physical/virtual data room,’ update it regularly (usually every quarter), and proactively provide it to them. Not only does it save them time, but it also indicates that a startup is always on a well-planned roadmap.


Stay tuned for more in this series:
What should you fight for in your term sheet negotiations?
When you’re running out of money, is it time to seek VC funding?
Experience sharing from startups already making success in international fundraising?


The content for this article has been primarily taken from Crash Course: Term Sheets, an intensive workshop co-hosted by TSS and Spring Drive. Get the upcoming articles in this series by following the TSS fanpage, TSS Twitter account and Twitter hashtag #CCTermSheets. The content of this article including all direct quotations were originally in Chinese. All translations for the English version have been provided by TSS.