Recently, there have been two interesting blog posts that once again highlight the ambivalence between choosing either a VC or private/business angel investor. One very entertaining rant(!) from Paul Jozefak (Liquid Labs) that focuses on the “more than money” promise each VC makes. He has a very clear opinion what VCs really provide and how their “advertising talk” should be evaluated by future entrepreneurs. (LINK) “Enough with the Kool-Aid though….without your money most entrepreneurs wouldn’t really care much about you. It’s OK, you still have your triathlon, cycling or foodie friends.”!
Protonet on the other hand has chosen to ignore higher valuations and instead go with angel investors. More about their rational here: (LINK). Interestingly enough they left money on the table in order to go with business angels among other reasons due to the easier negotiations and less tight up management time. This is often an overlooked point – VCs are experts when it comes to negotiating deals (given that aside from trying to get a proprietary deal flow that is their only other expertise ;)). If you negotiate with experts you have to take into account that these negotiations will be very drawn out. Your starting point will most likely be documents drafted by a VC who has written many, many preferable treatment clauses in the documents before negotiations have even started. So time and complexity of negotiations is an important consideration beside the price tag.
Does that mean you should leave VC cash on the table and always go with angels? Probably not … this approach will only work for smaller financing rounds – angels will bottom out if you are looking for 1m+ x – or you have to take so many angels on board that it becomes annoying to keep all of them in the loop. They will also have a very limited ability to go for another round or to provide additional capital on short notice.
So chose carefully when you are planning to raise additional funds. Make sure you understand the major pros and cons between investors and try to determine what your long-term strategy looks like. Are you going to raise more funds down the road? Do you need certain individuals in order to grow your business? Will VC connections support your business right now? … … lots of thinks to ask yourself and unfortunately this is highly subjective and there is no clear right or wrong here.