When you are out VC fund-raising, getting a term sheet from a VC firm is the crystallizing moment of your relationship with that firm. If you sign it, you are very close to getting the funding. But before you sign it, you need to negotiate it.
This article is part of a series, you can find the Index of the VC Fund Raising Manual here.
Negotiating a term sheet is difficult, largely because you don’t know what the real market value of your company actually is. How do you establish that? The VCs see lots of deals, they know the market better than you do. How can you equalize that position? There is only one solution to this problem:
Unless you have multiple term sheets on the table at the same time, you have no way of assessing what the real market value of your company is. Also: being able to walk away from a deal will put you in a much stronger negotiating position.
Imagine it like looking for a new job. Ideally, you want multiple job offers at the same time, so you can choose the best one. It is the same with VC funding.
The secret to successfully raising funding is that all communications that you have with VCs must lead to a point in time where all the different people give you a term sheet. In the best scenario, you get them all on the same day. If not, then you get them in the same week. Getting them all in the same month is most likely too far spaced apart. In order to be able to receive multiple term sheets at the same time, you have to start talking to VCs at the same time. Ideally in the same week. Pursue VCs in parallel, not in sequence.
For all other aspects of how to negotiate a term sheet, I suggest you visit Venture Hacks. I think the picture below speaks more than a 1000 words about how useful that site is for ‘hacking’ a term sheet, enjoy: