What you will get

Venture capital investing is hard. Even top VCs have failure rates of more than 50% across their portfolios. The difference between success and failure can come down to the performance of 1 or 2 investments out of 30. Venture investors must know how to identify potentially successful ventures, how to structure deals with entrepreneurs and how to generate the high returns that characterize successful venture capital investing. In this course you will learn the key skills for successful VC investment: evaluating high-potential investment opportunities, using financial projections to arrive at proper valuation for start-ups, and structuring and negotiating good investment deals. The course is hands-on, interactive and experiential and the learning can be applied immediately beyond the online classroom.

  • 1 hour live interactive session with Expara Founder and CEO Douglas Abrams (For participants with coupon code)

  • 158 videos - 17 hours of viewing and 78 original articles for reading

  • Video presentations and slide decks of real start-ups

  • 5 Interactive deal screening, forecasting and valuation exercises with detailed feedback

  • Detailed financial model video walk-throughs

  • 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 curriculum

  • 1

    Welcome to the course!

    • A message from the instructor

    • Connecting to my network

    • About the instructor

    • READ FIRST: How to complete the course

    • Course schedule - 6 weeks

    • Reading list for entrepreneurs and investors

    • View introduction slides

    • Download introduction slides

  • 2

    Course downloads

    • VC Masterclass downloads

  • 3

    Question and Answer

    • VC Question and Answer

  • 4

    Risk and return - Module 1

    • View Module 1 slides

    • Download Module 1 slides

  • 5

    Understanding risk and return

    • Risk and return

    • Reading: Risk and return

  • 6

    Welcome to venture capital world - Module 2

    • View Module 2 slides

    • Download Module 2 slides

  • 7

    Welcome to venture capital world

    • Who are the players in venture capital world?

    • What is an entrepreneur?

    • Why become an entrepreneur?

    • What roles do they play?

    • Small vs Scalable Business

    • How to build a scalable business

    • Reading: Who are venture investors?

  • 8

    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: Top VC fund managers can consistently outperform

    • Reading: Why do investors invest in VC funds?

  • 9

    Why VC now?

    • Why venture capital now?

    • Reading: Is Moore's law over?

    • Reading: Amara's law

  • 10

    Why do start-ups raise investment?

    • Scalable or lifestyle business?

    • Reading: Why do start-ups raise money?

  • 11

    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

  • 12

    What kind of start-ups generate high returns?

    • What kind of company do VCs invest in?

    • What sectors do VCs invest in?

    • Which is more scalable - product or service?

    • Market timing: too early or too late?

    • Reading: What do VCs invest in?

    • Reading: Which scales better?

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

  • 13

    Assessing product-market fit - Module 3

    • View Module 3 slides

    • Download Module 3 slides

  • 14

    Key elements for success

    • The investor’s decision tree

    • Key elements for success

    • Reading - Key elements of success

    • Reading - Product market fit or team

    • Reading - Three most important factors

  • 15

    Innovation and value proposition

    • Innovation and value proposition

    • Defining innovation

    • Why invest in innovators?

    • Questions to ask: Innovation and value proposition

    • 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)

  • 16

    Market identification and analysis

    • Market identification and analysis

    • Market life cycles and structures

    • Determining who your customers are

    • Questions to ask: Market identification and analysis

  • 17

    Marketing strategy

    • Product differentiation

    • Market positioning

    • 4 Ps

    • Reading - What are unit economics?

    • Questions to ask: Marketing strategy

  • 18

    Sustainable competitive advantage

    • Sustainable competitive advantage

    • First mover advantage & last mover advantage

    • Creating last mover advantage part 1

    • Creating last mover advantage part 2

    • Competing with large companies

    • How startups beat established companies

    • Opportunities that favor new firms

    • Reading - Why are you using Whatsapp?

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

    • Reading - First mover disadvantage last mover advantage

    • Reading - Market leaders dinosaurs small mammals and asteroids

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

    • Questions to ask: Sustainable competitive advantage

  • 19

    IP strategy

    • IP strategy

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

    • Reading - Is it possible for someone to steal your start-up idea?

  • 20

    Assignment 1: Assessing product/market fit

    • Assignment 1: Assessing product/market fit

    • List of presenting start-ups

    • Advantir Pitch

    • Anrich3D Pitch

    • EcoWorth Tech pitch

    • Globish Pitch

    • Let's Plant Meat Pitch

    • Lumani Pitch

    • Perception Pitch

    • Portier Technologies Pitch

    • Sharent Pitch

    • System Stone Pitch

    • Voxy Pitch

    • Start-up pitch decks

  • 21

    Analyzing start-up financial plans - Module 4

    • View Module 4 slides

    • Download Module 4 slides

  • 22

    Evaluating the financial plan

    • In the financial section of the business plan

    • Reading:- Good business vs good investment

  • 23

    What should be included in a start-up financial plan?

    • Business model

    • Overview of financial projection

    • Overview of financial projection - 2

    • Overview of Valuation

    • Use of proceeds, exit strategy and ROI

    • Funding required and equity offered

    • Reading: What is a business model?

    • Reading: Why not give up the minimum equity?

  • 24

    Innovative business models

    • Business model innovations

    • Reading - Disruptive business models

    • Reading - What is the Gillette business model

  • 25

    In the financial section of the business plan

    • How much funding to raise?

    • How much equity to give up?

    • How to use fund raised?

    • Reading: How much to raise

    • Reading: How much equity to give up

    • Reading: Use of funds - do founders salaries drive growth?

  • 26

    Financial projections and modelling - Module 5

    • View Module 5 slides

    • Download Module 5 slides

  • 27

    About financial modelling

    • 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?

    • Financial projections will always be wrong but we need to do them anyway

    • What to do when your model doesn't match reality

    • 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?

  • 28

    Why start-ups need to own their financial model

    • Why start-up founders need to own their financial model

  • 29

    Sizing the market

    • Top-down and bottom-up market sizing

    • Building the revenue forecast starting with top-down

    • Top-down market sizing example: Sesame milk

    • Top-down market sizing example: Plant-based meat - Total addressable market

    • Top-down market sizing example: Plant-based meat - Target market, segment and share

    • Bottom up market sizing

    • Market sizing - anchoring, iterating and converging

    • Reading - Sizing the market for a start-up

  • 30

    Valuing start-ups- Module 6

    • View Module 6 slides

    • Download Module 6 slides

  • 31

    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 - Valuation methods

    • Reading: Pre-money and post-money valuation

    • Reading - Why are there so many unprofitable startups?

    • Reading - Why don't startups pay dividends?

  • 32

    Valuation using the comparables method

    • Valuation with the comparables method

    • Comparable by stage

  • 33

    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?

  • 34

    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

  • 35

    Avoiding common valuation mistakes

    • Avoiding common valuation mistakes

    • Why care about too high valuation?

    • Reading: Epidemic of overvaluation

    • Reading: Liquidation preference as valuation insurance

  • 36

    Assignment 2: Connecting financial projections to valuation and use of funds

    • Assignment 2: Connecting financial projections to valuation and the use of funds

  • 37

    Financial model walkthrough - Module 7

    • View Module 7 slides

    • Download Module 7 slides

  • 38

    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

  • 39

    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

  • 40

    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

  • 41

    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

  • 42

    Cash flow budget

    • Financial model walkthrough - cash flow budget

  • 43

    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?

  • 44


    • 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

  • 45

    ROI and dilution

    • Financial model walkthrough - investor ROI and dilution

    • Financial model walkthrough - follow-on funding

    • Financial model walkthrough - calculating investor ROI

  • 46

    Assignment 3: Aligning to investors’ interest

    • Assignment 3: Aligning to investors’ interest

  • 47

    Exit strategies - Module 8

    • View Module 8 slides

    • Download Module 8 slides

  • 48

    Why is exit strategy so important?

    • Why every start-up needs an exit strategy

    • Reading: What two numbers do investors need to calculate their ROI?

  • 49

    Projecting exit valuation

    • Projecting exit valuation

    • Reading: Calculating exit valuation

  • 50

    ROI and dilution

    • Calculating ROI with dilution - example

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

  • 51

    Exit strategy - which is best?

    • Which exit strategy is best?

    • Exit strategy - myth vs reality

    • Reality - 90% of VC funded exits are trade sales

    • IPO vs Trade Sales in 2020

    • IPO Regional vs Major Exchange

    • Trade Sales vs IPO - Pros & Cons

  • 52

    Assignment 4: How a funding strategy can affect the valuation of a company

    • Assignment 4: How a funding strategy can impact the valuation of a company

  • 53

    Fundraising and investment process - Module 9

    • View Module 9 slides

    • Download Module 9 slides

  • 54

    Fundraising process

    • Stage of fund raising & investment process

    • Why is the multi-stage fundraising process so important?

    • Reading - VC funding process enables innovation

    • 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

  • 55

    Start-up - VC communication

    • Getting to investors

    • Communicating with investors

    • Reading - How start-ups connect with investors

  • 56

    Forms of funding

    • How to fund growth?

    • Convertible debt vs equity

    • SAFE notes

    • Reading: What forms of funding are used by VCs

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

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

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

    • Reading: What are convertible and SAFE notes and should we use them

  • 57

    Structuring issues

    • Capital and legal structure of a firm

    • Reading: Corporate structuring issues for VC investors

  • 58

    Cap table issues

    • Cap Table Overview

    • Messy Cap Table

    • What is founder vesting?

    • Reading: The 7 deadly sins of messy cap tables

    • Reading - What is founder vesting?

    • Reading: How should founders split equity?

  • 59

    Key deal terms and term sheets - Module 10

    • View Module 10 slides

    • Download Module 10 slides

  • 60

    Key agreements and terms

    • 5 key agreements in venture capital deals

    • Reading - Key agreements in VC investment

    • Reading - Key terms in VC term sheets

  • 61

    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

  • 62

    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?

  • 63

    Assignment 5: DCF vs VC method of valuation

    • Assignment 5: DCF vs VC method of valuation

  • 64

    VC-start-up negotiations - Module 11

    • View Module 11 slides

    • Download Module 11 slides

  • 65

    Negotiating valuation

    • Why is valuation so difficult to negotiate?

    • What really determines startup valuation?

  • 66

    Good deals vs bad deals

    • Good deals vs bad deals

    • Why you should never sell more than 50% of your company

    • Deal red flag - Get more information

    • Deal red flag - Never do; Run Away

    • Reading: Why you should never sell less than 100% in an M&A

  • 67

    Understanding VC psychology

    • Understanding VC psychology

    • It's not what you know; It's not who you know

    • What are investors buying?

    • This is the only slide you need to raise.

    • The best fund raising pitch ever

    • The check is in the mail

    • Three key takeaways - Understanding VC Psychology

  • 68

    Corporate venture capital - Module 12

    • View Module 12 slides

    • Download Module 12 slides

  • 69

    Why CVC and why now?

    • Why CVC and why now

    • VC is hard, but CVC is harder

    • Alignment of interest makes CVC even harder

    • What do you need to succeed?

  • 70

    CVC strategy

    • CVC strategy

  • 71

    CVC goals

    • CVC goals

  • 72

    CVC challenges

    • Challenges in CVC

    • Negative perceptions of CVC

    • Divergence of interests

    • Adverse selection

    • Big corporate versus small start-up

    • The best VC funds may not want CVC investors

    • Aligning team interests

    • CVCs are the Devil - Fred Wilson

  • 73

    CVC approaches

    • Approaches to CVC

    • CVC approaches - Adding value for startups

  • 74

    CVC best practices

    • CVC best practices - investment strategy

    • CVC best practices - key recommendations

    • CVC best practices - team

  • 75

    Assignment 6: Corporate Venture Capital case study

    • Case Study – Corporate Venture Capital

    • Case study - Saudi Aramco and Corporate Venture Capital

  • 76

    Course final download

    • Download all slides

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 a VC Masterclass 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.

What is the ROI on your investment?

What you get Value
VC Masterclass course $500
Live advisory and mentorship $850
Exercises and detailed feedback $1500
Total value $2,850

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If, for whatever reason, you are not satisfied with the VC Masterclass, just send us an email and we will refund 100% of your program fee. For 12 months after you complete the program. Satisfaction guaranteed or the program is on us.

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