Who will benefit from this course?

  • Venture investors

    For experienced venture investors, hone your skills and improve your performace. For newer investors, quickly build your knowledge and skills.

  • Traditional investors

    Venture investments are very different from traditional investments. Learn to avoid the mistakes many new investors make when investing in start-ups.

  • Entrepreneurs

    Lack of understanding about venture capital can result in failed fundraising or in bad deals for start-ups Learn to think about start-ups like a VC.

What will I learn in this course?

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 earn 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.

What will I get from this course?

The course is structured as an experiential learning simulation in which each participant will play the role of a venture capital investor identifying, evaluating and investing in real-world start-up companies. Participants will evaluate investments in new ventures, create a forecasted financial plan and valuation for an early-stage business venture, engage in simulated investment presentations and negotiations between entrepreneurs and investors. Participants will be hands-on and will be equipped with a toolkit that they can immediately apply beyond the course.

  • 6 hours of live interactive sessions with Expara CEO Douglas Abrams

  • 77 videos - 15 hours of viewing and 65 original articles for reading

  • Video presentations and slide decks of real start-ups

  • 4 interactive case-studies with detailed feedback

  • Pro-forma Valuation Excel Model for start-ups

  • Start-up evaluation checklist and term sheet template

  • Expara Academy Certificate of Course Completion

Course curriculum

  • 1

    Welcome to the course!

    • A message from the instructor

    • About the instructor

    • Connecting to my network

    • READ FIRST: How to complete the course

    • Submissions, assignments and downloads

    • About Expara

    • Reading list for investors

  • 2

    Understanding Risk and Return

    • What is the relationship between risk and return?

    • Risk and return

    • Why fear risk?

    • Risk and return - Small versus scalable business

    • Reading: Risk and return

    • Reading - Two types of entrepreneurs

    • Reading - Fear and failure

  • 3

    Welcome to venture capital world

    • Welcome to venture capital world

  • 4

    Why do investors invest in VC?

    • Highest returning asset class

    • VC is the highest returning asset class

    • VC improves portfolio diversification

    • Reading - Why do investors invest in VC funds?

    • Reading - Top VC fund managers can consistently outperform

  • 5

    Why VC now?

    • Why VC now

    • Why venture capital now

    • Reading - Is moores law over?

    • Reading - Amaras law

  • 6

    Why do start-ups raise investment

    • Why should startups raise investment

    • Why do startups raise money?

    • Reading - Why do start-ups raise money?

  • 7

    How do start-ups fund growth

    • How to fund growth

    • How to fund growth?

    • Fund growth with convertible debt and equity

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

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

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

  • 8

    High returns to VC investors

    • This could be you

    • This could be you

  • 9

    Success from failure

    • 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

  • 10

    How do VCs make money?

    • How do VCs make money?

    • What kind of company does VC invest in

  • 11

    Evaluating investments - which companies generate high returns?

    • What kind of companies generate high returns?

    • Which one is more scalable- product or service?

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

    • Reading - What do VCs invest in?

    • Reading - Which scales better?

    • Reading - Good business vs good investment

  • 12

    How do VCs evaluate start-ups?

    • The investor’s decision tree

    • The investor’s decision tree

    • Key elements for success

    • Key elements for success

    • Reading - Product market fit or team

    • Reading - Three most important factors

    • Reading - Key elements of success

    • Download: Business plan outline and checklist

  • 13

    Investor and start up communication

    • Investor and start up communication

    • Communicating with investors

    • Reading - How to connect with investors

  • 14

    Assessing product market fit

    • Defining innovation

    • Innovation and value proposition questions to ask

    • 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)

    • Innovation and value proposition questions to ask

  • 15

    Identifying favorable markets

    • Choose a market favourable to start ups

    • Market life cycles and structures

  • 16

    Market identification and analysis

    • Market identification and analysis

    • Determining who your customers are

  • 17

    Sizing the market

    • Sizing the market

    • Top-down and bottom-up market sizing

    • Reading - Sizing the market for a start-up

    • Market identification and analysis questions to ask

  • 18

    Marketing strategy

    • CLV vs CAC

    • Market positioning

    • 4 Ps

    • Reading - What are unit economics?

    • Product differentiation

    • Marketing strategy questions to ask

  • 19

    Sustainable competitive advantage

    • Creating last mover advantage

    • Sustainable competitive advantage

    • Competing with large companies

    • How startups beat established companies?

    • Sustainable competitive advantage questions to ask

    • 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

    • Sustainable Competitive Advantage (Market Leaders, Dinosaurs, and Small Mammals)

    • Reading - Market leaders dinosaurs small mammals and asteroids

  • 20

    Strategies to create advantage

    • Strategies to create advantage

    • First mover advantage & last mover advantage

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

  • 21

    IP strategy

    • IP strategy

    • IP strategy

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

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

  • 22

    Case study: Opportunity identification

    • Case Study I – Opportunity identification

    • 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

    • Advantir Piitch deck

    • Anrich 3D Pitch Deck

    • EcoWorth Tech Pitch Deck

    • Globish Pitch Deck

    • Let's Plant Meet Pitch Deck

    • Lumani Pitch Deck

    • Perception Pitch Deck

    • Portier Pitch Deck

    • Sharent Pitch Deck

    • System Stone Pitch Deck

    • Voxy Pitch Deck

  • 23

    Evaluating the financial plan

    • In the financial section of the business plan

    • Why do we need a financial plan?

    • Financial projections - financial section of the business plan (2)

    • Valuation - financial section of the business plan (3)

  • 24

    Understanding the business model

    • Business model - how will you make money?

    • Business Model - The financial section of the business plan (1)

    • Key revenue model issues

    • Reading - What is a business model?

  • 25

    Disruptive Business models

    • Business model innovation

    • Business model innovations

    • Reading - What is the Gillette business model

    • Reading - Disruptive business models

  • 26

    Case study II - Business model

    • Case Study II – Business model

    • Case study: Zipcar: refining the business model

  • 27

    Financial models and projections

    • Create financial projections

    • Download: Financial projection and valuation model

    • Why forecast 5 years?

    • Starting with revenue forecast

    • Top-down market sizing example - Plant-based meat

    • Top-down market sizing example - Sesame milk

    • Bottom up market sizing

    • Introduction to Revenue forecast in Excel

    • Why is the top-down forecast different from bottom-up forecast?

    • Mistakes startup CEOs make

    • Reading - Why will financial forecasts always be wrong?

    • Financial model explained 1

    • Financial model explained 2

    • Financial model explained 3

    • Balance sheet

    • Income statement 1

    • Income statements 2

    • Cash flow budget

    • DCF valuation model

    • Financials and DCF Valuation

    • Weighted average cost of capital

    • Valuation in financial modelling

    • Dilution schedule and investor ROI

    • Reading - Why are there so many unprofitable startups?

    • Reading - How is a model different from reality

  • 28


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

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

    • Reading - Why do traditional valuation methods fail?

    • Company valuation methods

    • Comparables

    • Methods of valuation - comparables

    • Discounted cash flow valuation

    • Methods of valuation - discounted cash flow

    • VC method

    • Methods of valuation - VC method

    • VC method valuation explained

    • Where do the numbers in VC method valuation come from?

    • Reading - What drives VC fund returns

    • Key valuation issues

    • Reading - Epidemic of overvaluation

    • Reading - Why don't startups pay dividends?

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

  • 29

    Exit strategy and ROI

    • Exit strategy and ROI

    • Exit strategy and ROI

    • ROI and dilution

    • Calculate investor's ROI including dilution

    • Reading - How do VCs make money

  • 30

    Case Study III: Forecasting and valuation

    • Case Study III – Financial modeling and valuation

  • 31

    Investment process

    • VC investment process

    • Capital and legal structure of the firm

    • Equity issued to whom

    • Key legal agreements

    • Why is the multistep fundraising process so important?

    • The fundraising journey of startups

    • Reading - VC funding process enables innovation

    • Reading - Angel or VC or CVC which is best

    • Reading - Who are venture investors?

    • Reading - What is FF and F?

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

    • Reading - The best and worst times to raise money

    • Capital and legal structure of a firm

    • 5 key agreements in venture capital deals

    • Reading - Key agreements in VC investment

    • Reading - Why not give up the minimum equity

  • 32

    Key deal terms and term sheets

    • Key elements of the deal

    • Economic terms in term sheets: Part I

    • Economic terms in term sheets: Part II

    • An example of how liquidation preference works

    • Reading - Liquidation preference as valuation insurance

    • Control terms in term sheets

    • Reading - Key terms in VC term sheets

    • Cap tables

    • What does a clean cap table look like

    • Reading: The 7 deadly sins of messy cap tables

    • Reading - What is founder vesting?

    • Download: Term sheet template and term sheet alternatives

  • 33

    VC-Start-up negotiations

    • VC-start-up negotiations

    • VC startup negotiations

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