What you will get

Participants will proceed through a 14-week structured program in which they will develop their business plan, financial model, and investor pitch deck. Topics covered in the structured workshop program include product/market fit, value proposition, market identification and analysis, marketing strategy, sustainable competitive advantage, business model, financing and fundraising strategy, and understanding venture capital. Modes of learning include on-line videos and articles, interactive assignments and exercises, and live mentorship sessions. Graduates of the program will have a chance to pitch to a panel of investors and to be introduced to Expara's global investor network, will be reviewed for investment by Expara's accelerator fund. Not just an online course - you will get the same acceleration experience as the thousands of entrepreneurs who have completed both our on-line and off-line acceleration programs since 2007. You will receive personalized feedback on your business plan, pitch deck and financial model, mentorship, a complete on-line course, a downloadable start-up toolkit, access to our global network of investors and start-ups, and more. Our program is based on our real-world experience as an active VC investor in 90 early-stage start-ups in Southeast Asia over the last 20 years. Join the 60% of the graduates of our accelerator programs have raised venture funding within 6 months of graduation from the program. All students who complete the course and earn their Expara Academy Certificate of Course completion will have the chance to do a live investment pitch to a panel of VCs at the next monthly Expara Venture Accelerator Demo Day

  • 14-week structured training, online and live

  • Live 2-hour on-line weekly meetings with Expara founder and CEO Douglas Abrams

  • Pitch to a panel of VCs - all graduates will have the chance to do a live investment pitch at Demo Day

  • 94 videos - 17.5 hours of viewing and 74 original articles for reading covering every aspect of start-up fundraising

  • Business plan development and written feedback - 2 rounds

  • Valuation development and feedback, investor pitch deck development and feedback - 1 round

  • Access to Expara's network of more than 2,000 venture investors

  • Pro-forma Valuation Excel Model for start-ups, Start-up evaluation checklist and term sheet template

  • Expara Academy Certificate of Course Completion

  • Unlimited lifetime access, 12-month 100% satisfaction guarantee

Watch Intro Video

Sample course video

Why every start-up needs an exit strategy

Course summary - Table of contents

Here are a list of the modules and sections in the course

  • 1

    Welcome to the course!

    • A message from the instructor

    • About the instructor

    • READ FIRST: How to complete the course

    • Course schedule

    • Course submissions and milestones

    • Reading list for entrepreneurs

    • Before we begin...

    • View introduction slides

    • Download introduction slides

  • 2

    Course downloads

    • Expara Venture Accelerator Download

  • 3

    Questions & Answers

    • Ask the instructor

  • 4

    Module 1 - Risk and Return

    • View module slides

    • Download module slides

  • 5

    Understanding risk and return

    • Risk and return

    • Reading: Risk and return

  • 6

    Module 2 - Welcome to startup world

    • View module slides

    • Download module slides

  • 7

    Why entrepreneurship

    • What is an entreprenur?

    • Why become an entrepreneur?

    • Reading - Why entrepreneurship

    • Reading - What makes a successful entrepreneur?

    • Reading - Should I work first of just start a company?

    • Reading - How important is luck in entrepreneurial success?

    • Reading: Is an economic crisis a good time to start or pivot a business?

    • Reading: Can entrepreneurship be taught?

  • 8

    Small vs Scalable Business

    • What is a scalable business?

    • Risk and return - small versus scalable business

    • How to build a scalable business

    • Reading - Two types of entrepreneurs

  • 9

    This could be you

    • This could be you

  • 10

    Let's fail - the importance of failure for innovation

    • Overcoming the fear of failure

    • Reading - Fear and failure

    • Reading - Why is failing good for entrepreneurs

    • Reading - Innovation from failure at 3M

  • 11

    Success from failure

    • Success from failure

    • Reading - Success from failure

    • Reading - What percentage of start-ups really fail?

    • Reading - Why do so many start-ups fail?

    • Reading - Why is it good that so many start-ups fail

    • Reading - Do difficult things

  • 12

    Module 3 - Why investments for startup?

    • View module slides

    • Download module slides

  • 13

    Why should company raise investment?

    • Why should start-ups raise money?

    • Reading - Why do start-ups raise money?

  • 14

    How do start-ups fund growth?

    • How to fund growth?

    • Which form of funding is best?

    • Reading - What is the best form of funding for a start up

    • Reading - Only a moron starts a business with a loan

    • Reading - What is the difference between debt and equity?

  • 15

    Why do investors invest in VC?

    • VC is the highest returning asset class

    • VC improves portfolio diversification

    • Top quartile VC managers outperform even more

    • Reading - Why do investors invest in VC funds?

    • Reading - Top VC fund managers can consistently outperform

  • 16

    Why VC now?

    • Why venture capital now?

    • Reading - Is moores law over?

    • Reading - Amaras law

  • 17

    How do VCs make money?

    • How do VCs make money?

    • VC return distribution - Power law

    • A few investment generates returns

    • Reading - How do VCs make money

    • Reading: - What drives VC fund returns

  • 18

    What kind of companies generate high return?

    • What kind of company do VCs invest in?

    • What sectors do VCs invest in?

    • Which one is more scalable- product or service?

    • Reading - What do VCs invest in?

    • Reading - Good business vs good investment

    • Reading - Which scales better?

    • Reading - What is the optimal time to enter a market?

  • 19

    Module 4 - How do VCs evaluate start-up?

    • View module slides

    • Download module slides

  • 20

    Investors' Decision Tree

    • The investor’s decision tree

    • Key elements for success

    • Reading - Three most important factors

    • Reading - Product market fit or team

    • Reading - Key elements of success

  • 21

    Communicating with investors

    • Getting to investors

    • Communicating with investors

    • Reading - How to connect with investors

  • 22

    Innovation and value proposition

    • Innovation and value proposition

    • Defining innovation

    • Why invest in innovators

    • Reading - Innovation and value proposition

    • Reading - Innovators, imitators and idiots

    • Reading - Is Grab an innovator or an imitator?

    • Reading - Pain and demand (How does pain drive demand)

  • 23

    Check Point: Innovation and Value Proposition

    • Innovation and value proposition questions

  • 24

    Identifying favorable markets

    • Choose a market favorable to start-ups

    • Market life cycles and structures

    • Determining who your customers are

  • 25

    Sizing the market

    • Top-down market sizing example: Sesame milk

    • Top-down and bottom-up market sizing

    • Bottom up market sizing

    • Reading - Sizing the market for a start-up

  • 26

    Market identification and analysis

    • Market identification and analysis

  • 27

    Check Point: Market Identification and Analysis

    • Market identification and analysis questions

  • 28

    Marketing strategy

    • Product differentiation

    • Market positioning

    • 4 Ps

  • 29

    Check point: Marketing Strategy

    • Questions to ask: Marketing strategy

  • 30

    Value Innovation

    • Value Innovation & four factors model

    • Blue ocean strategy - Example

  • 31

    Customer Segmentation and Analysis

    • Customer segmentation analysis

  • 32

    Sales & Distribution

    • Sales and distribution

    • Reading - What are unit economics?

  • 33

    Check Point: Customer, Sales & Distribution

    • Customer, sales and distribution questions

  • 34

    Submission: Business Plan Draft 1

    • Business plan draft 1 submission

  • 35

    Sustainable Competitive Advantage

    • Sustainable competitive advantage

    • First mover advantage?

    • Creating last mover advantage - Part 1

    • Creating last mover advantage - Part 2

    • Competing with large companies

    • How startups beat established companies?

    • Reading - First mover disadvantage last mover advantage

    • Reading - Why are you using Whatsapp?

    • Reading - Market leaders dinosaurs small mammals and asteroids

    • Reading - Why are there only two ride sharing companies in each market?

    • Reading - Market leaders dinosaurs small mammals and asteroids

    • Reading - SCA case study: who was the first mover in personal computers

  • 36

    Checkpoint: Sustainable Competitive Advantage

    • Assessing the sustainable competitive advantage of your startup

  • 37

    IP Strategy

    • IP strategy

    • Reading - What are the elements of an IP strategy for start-ups?

    • Reading - What are the elements of an IP strategy for start-ups?

  • 38

    Legal Issues

    • Capital and legal structure of a firm

    • Reading - Key agreements in VC investment

  • 39

    Submission: Business Plan Draft 2

    • Business plan draft 2 submission

  • 40

    Module 5 - Financial Plan

    • View module slides

    • Download module slides

  • 41

    Why do startup need a financial plan?

    • Why does every start-up need a financial plan?

  • 42

    The financial section of a business plan

    • Business model

    • Financial Projection Overview - 1

    • Financial Projection Overview - 2

    • Valuation Overview

    • Funding required and equity offered

    • Use of proceeds, exit strategy and ROI

    • Reading: What is a business model?

  • 43

    Innovative revenue & Pricing Models

    • Business model innovations

    • Innovative Pricing Models

    • Gillette + Starbucks = SAAS business model

    • Reading - Disruptive business models

    • Reading - What is the Gillette business model

  • 44

    Module 6 - Financial Model Walkthrough

    • View module slides

    • Download module slides

  • 45

    Financial Model & Projection

    • What is the difference between a model of something and the thing being modelled?

    • Is it a waste of time to do financial forecasts for start-ups?

    • Why forecast 5 years? - The modelling dilemma

    • Why forecast 5 years? - average time to exit

    • Reading - How is a model different from reality

    • Reading - Why will financial forecasts always be wrong?

  • 46

    How to use the model

    • Financial model walkthrough - how to use the model

    • Financial model walkthrough: adding additional revenue streams

    • Financial model walkthrough: inputting expenses

    • Financial model walkthrough: inputs tab - understanding financial statements

  • 47

    Revenue forecasting

    • Financial model walkthrough - revenue forecast

    • Financial model walkthrough - top down revenue forecast

    • Financial model walkthrough - bottom-up revenue forecast

    • Financial model walkthrough - top down vs bottom-up revenue forecast

    • Financial model walkthrough - analysing and iterating top-down and bottom-up revenue forecasts

    • Financial model walkthrough - aligning our financial model with our business strategy

  • 48

    Balance sheet

    • Financial model walkthrough - balance sheet

    • Financial model walkthrough - accounts receivable

    • Financial model walkthrough - funding required and shareholder's equity

    • Financial model walkthrough - what is necessary to finance

    • Financial model walkthrough - balancing the balance sheet

  • 49

    Income Statement

    • Financial model walkthrough - income statement

    • Financial model walkthrough - understanding margins

    • Financial model walkthrough - analyzing margins

    • Financial model walkthrough - what expense is always underestimated?

    • Financial model walkthrough -using comparable data

    • Financial model walkthrough - adjusting impact of changes throughout the model

  • 50

    Cashflow budget

    • Financial model walkthrough - cash flow budget

  • 51

    Financials and DCF valuation

    • Financial model walkthrough -the financials sheet

    • Financial model walkthrough - technical vs fundamental value

    • Financial model walkthrough - what are free cash flows?

    • Financial model walkthrough - how is a company like a perpetual annuity?

    • Financial model walkthrough - what is the time value of money?

    • Financial model walkthrough - what is the relationship between discount rate and valuation?

    • Financial model walkthrough: is this valuation correct?

    • Financial model walkthrough: how much money to raise?

    • Financial model walkthrough: how much equity to give up?

  • 52


    • Financial model walkthrough - what is weighted average cost of capital?

    • Financial model walkthrough - how to calculate cost of capital?

    • Financial model walkthrough - what is a start-up's cost of capital?

    • Financial model walkthrough - terminal growth of free cash flows

  • 53

    Submission: Draft Financial Plan

    • Financial plan draft submission

    • Submit summary of your financial plan (word or PDF file)

  • 54

    Module 7 - Valuation

    • View module slides

    • Download module slides

  • 55

    Why do traditional valuation methods fail for start-ups?

    • Why do most valuation methods fail for start-ups?

    • Pre-money and post-money valuation

    • Reading - Why do traditional valuation methods fail?

    • Reading: Pre-money and post-money valuation

    • Reading - Why are there so many unprofitable startups?

    • Reading - Why don't startups pay dividends?

  • 56

    Valuation using the comparables method

    • Valuation with the comparables method

    • Comparable by stage

  • 57

    Valuation using the DCF method

    • Valuation with the DCF method

    • Why is discount rate the key to the DCF method?

    • Reading - What is cost of capital and why is it important?

  • 58

    Valuation using the VC method

    • Valuation with the VC method

    • VC fund returns are not normally distributed

    • Most VC investment fail to return capital

    • Where does 30X come from?

    • Numbers in the VC method: Impact of dilution

    • Numbers in the VC method - fund investors set the cost of capital

    • Pre-money and post-money valuation

    • Projecting exit valuation

  • 59

    Exit Strategy and ROI

    • Exit strategy and ROI

    • ROI and dilution

    • Reading: What is an exit strategy

    • Reading - Is dilution a good thing or a bad thing?

    • What two numbers do investors need to calculate their ROI

  • 60

    Module 8 - Fundraising and investment process

    • View module slides

    • Download module slides

  • 61

    Who are the players?

    • Who are the players in venture capital world?

    • What roles do they play?

    • Reading: Who are venture investors?

  • 62

    VC Investment Process

    • The VC investment process

    • Reading: What is OM and how much of it do you need?

    • Reading: What is FF and F?

    • Reading - Angel or VC or CVC which is best

    • Reading - The best and worst times to raise money

    • Reading: How much to raise

    • Reading - How much equity to give up?

  • 63

    Module 9 - Key deal terms and term sheets

    • View module slides

    • Download module slides

  • 64

    Key agreements and terms

    • 5 key agreements in venture capital deals

    • Reading - Key agreements in VC investment

    • Reading - Key terms in VC term sheets

  • 65

    Economic terms

    • Economic terms in term sheets: Part I

    • Economic terms in term sheets: Part II

    • An example of how liquidation preference works

    • Reading: MFN and Pay to Play

    • Reading: What is anti-dilution protection

    • Reading: What is redemption

  • 66

    Control terms

    • Control terms in term sheets

    • Reading: How do VCs control startups after investment

    • Reading: Reserve matters and protective provisions

    • Reading: Retaining BOD control

    • Reading: What is a drag-along clause?

    • Reading: What are reps and warranties?

    • Reading: What are ROFRs and ROFOs and when are they bad?

  • 67

    Module 10 - Investor Presentations

    • View module slides

    • Download module slides

  • 68

    Investor Presentation Materials

    • Investor pitch deck

  • 69

    Investor Presentations

    • How long does it take to make first impression?

    • You can’t judge a book by its cover, can you?

    • You can't judge a book by its cover: Part II (Susan Boyle singing)

    • How to get past gatekeepers?

    • How to stand out?

    • What causes presentation choking?

    • Which one is more likely to be the CEO?

  • 70

    Submission: Presentation slides draft

    • Presentation slide draft submission

  • 71

    Handling Q&A

    • A sample VC pitch (a lot like love video)

    • Handling Q&A

    • Responding to difficult questions

  • 72

    Module 11 - VC Startup Negotiation

    • View module slides

    • Download module slides

  • 73

    VC- Start-up negotiations

    • VC startup negotiations

  • 74

    Final Submission

    • Business plan final submission

    • Financial plan final submission

    • Presentation slide final submission

Expara's unique qualifications

As an active VC investor in SEA since 2003, our programs and courses are all based on our real-world experience. We are better educators because we are active investors. And we are better investors because we are active educators.

Our partcipants' experiences speak for themselves

Start-up CEOs and Founders share their experiences

Manna Foods

by Lucas Daniel Wright, CEO

"Expara gave us a startup bootcamp, teaching us how to succeed in the VC world of raising money. Douglas is an excellent teacher and seasoned VC. His class involves no nonsense or buzzwords, just straightforward fact and practical theory. Each session we attended was super useful in our own fundraising journey. In fact, we raised a round ourselves thanks to the education we received from Douglas."


by Jeremy Tan, Founder and CEO

"Our experience with Expara has been invaluable. Douglas has been instrumental in the refinement of our business model, focus on customer segments as well as fund raising opportunities. We highly recommend the program to any startup"

Sesamilk Foods Co., Ltd.

by Siripen Suntornmonkongsri, CEO and co-founder

“It was a great pleasure to be part of Expara mentorship program. Every session though out the program, I got knowledge from real expert in investment. It opened my world in raising fund. I come to the right hen. You are such a great incubator.”

Let's Plant Meat

By Smith Taweelerdniti, CEO

“Expara had helped us so much in polishing our strategy and suggesting the important actions to maximize our startup potential. Having Douglas as our mentor is the best thing I got from the whole experience."

More Meat

by Kanwra Tanachotevorapong (Minnie), Co-Founder

“ Expara team did a wonderful job in leading the program. The team are professional, yet are fun and easy to talk to. During the program we had many opportunities to meet exciting people thanks to Expara’s great network of guest speakers, mentors, and consultants. Douglas, Krista, and Peach are valuable members who have gave us encouragement, guidance, and support, for this we are confident to overcome any challenges our business may face. We have learned so much and this has been a valuable experience for us.”


by Anirudh Agarwal, Founder and CEO

"A very helpful and supportive environment to learn about the startup world and grow. Unlike other accelerator programs and entrepreneurship courses, we learn real term sheet clauses and conditions that are the most useful to an actual startup. Most other courses/programs focused only on making the pitch or business model canvas and what to “show”. With the detailed financial model analysis and several classes explaining the formulae and terms, actually teaches how we get the stuff that we need to show in the first place."

Eden Agritech Co., Ltd

by Norapat Phaonimmongkol, Co-Founder

"Although Eden went to many other accelerator or incubator programs before, but we never found ones who gave us golden tips like Doug and his team of experts. Their comments were direct and straight to the key point, which helped improving our current market and fund raising strategy to the next level. Truly honored to join and learn a lot from them."


by Fabian Reusch, Managing Director

"In my opinion, the biggest differentiator to many startup-focused trainings is Expara’s strong focus on fundraising. With his vast experience as a Venture Capitalist, Douglas makes you understand how this very special industry works, how VCs tick and what is important for you as a startup to consider. He is able to cover it from A to Z and exemplifies the learnings with real life examples."

SENSE Software

by Michal Cyrankiewicz, Co-Founder

"Expara is a great platform for startups to be involved into. From the start, we all got all the support from the accelerator team, great mentoring opportunities. Demanding and instructive online courses not only helped us learn about perfecting the pitch deck and other formalities, but also gave us top quality throughout knowledge about building a successful startup. Weekly meetings were a great opportunity to meet fellow entrepreneurs, share and listen to other great business ideas. I can highly recommend the online academy!"


by Louise Metcalf, Founder

"Expara was an amazing opportunity to hear from some of the best in business and meet some of the most talented startup founders in the world. The program covered all aspects of starting and scaling a startup, including financial modelling which is something we really needed at the time. Douglas Abrams and all the people that teach in the program are seriously brilliant. As far as accelerators go this program was exceptional."

Receive an Accelerator Certificate of Completion

All participants who complete the program will receive an unique, numbered Certificate of Completion. This certificate verifies your membership in the Expara Alumni network of more than 10,000 entrepreneurs and investors who have completed one of our programs.

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Our proven program helps you accelerate your fundraising without diluting your equity

Other accelerator programs charge cash fees plus equity or warrants; some charge only equity, only Expara charges a single, flat fee, with no hidden equity or options – with the same benefits. Assuming a $2MM valuation for your start-up and a typical 4% equity take by the accelerator, your actual cost for acceleration can easily be $80K or more.ion.

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Satisfaction or your money back

You can withdraw from the accelerator program for any reason before the third session and receive a full refund. If you are not satisfied with the program, the first two sessions are on us.