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The Tech Entrepreneur's Survival Guide
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Most technology startups never make it to the fundingstage, and only a small percentage of those that are venture-backed generate a positive return for their investors. An even smaller number of startupfounders enjoy a truly prosperous exit. Bernd Schoner cofounded his tech startup during the dot-com bust, navigated it through market crises and internal turmoil, brought it through the global financial meltdown intact, and eventually sold it to a multibillion-dollar, multinational public technology company. In The Tech Entrepreneur's Survival Guide, Berndshares what he learned and what he wished he knew at the time. He explains the major phases in a technologycompany's life cycle, helping entrepreneurs avoid common pitfalls and survive crises when they strike. He guides readers from the initial bootstrapping process through venture-capital financing and provides valuable advice on how to sell a technology company profitably--even in a challenging economic environment. Every chapter presents solutions to realworld issues that could otherwise have fatal consequences for a tech venture. Aspiring tech entrepreneurs will learn to: Set up shop: build the team, assemble necessary startup assets (including technology and intellectual property), get legal and financial affairs in order Secure capital: ask for money, nail the term sheet, ask for more money Get out: know when to sell, who to sell to, and how to make it a happy exit for all stakeholders, includingthe employees Written with deep insight, refreshing candor, and a dash of humor, this comprehensive guide to the often harsh realities of startup life is indispensable for entrepreneurs at any stage. PRAISE FOR THE TECH ENTREPRENEUR'S SURVIVAL GUIDE: "A genuine narrative from the field, with battle scars and self-reflection. Reading this book will help you avoid many pitfalls." -- Nicholas Negroponte, professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab "There's a lot of great insights and practical advice for the entrepreneur in this book, stuff you normally won't read or hear unless you buy some hard-bitten company founder a few drinks. If you are launching a technology startup, reading this book is the thing you should do first." -- Mark Roberti, founder and editor in chief of RFID Journal "I wish I had read Bernd's book when we founded The Echo Nest. Bernd touches on all the major issues in the initial formation stages of a tech company and many of the problems that come up when the company matures. If you are thinking of founding your own tech startup, read this book first." -- Tristan Jehan, cofounder of The Echo Nest "A visceral, behind-the-scenes guide to technology entrepreneurship. Bernd tells it like it is and presents a universe of solutions to tricky startup situations that can significantly improve the odds of success. Indispensable." -- Larry Begley, cofounder and managing director at .406 Ventures "The best-laid business plans never survive contact with reality. Bernd has provided a comprehensive guide to anticipating the unexpected in the life of a startup." -- Neil Gershenfeld, professor and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Bits and Atoms
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix 1 The Entrepreneurial Dream 1 PART I BOOTSTRAPPING:VENTURE CREATION OUT OF THIN AIR 2 Should I or Should I Not Venture intoEntrepreneurship? 13 Timing 14 Career Planning 17 Money, Uncertainty, and What Really Matters 22 When Is Enough, Enough? 25 Don't Lose Sight of the Big Picture: It's Your Life! 27 3 Startup Assets 29 Ideas 30 Early Customers 32 Patents and Offensive IP Strategies 34 Defensive IP Strategies 41 Copyrights, Trade Secrets, and Know-How 44 What to Pack in Your Bag 49 Cofounders 51 Attitudes 52 Skills and Roles 54 Immigrant Founders 60 Together We Will Prevail 67 5 Early Funding 69 Revenue, the Best Source of Funding There Is 70 Incubators and Accelerators 74 Angels 76 Free Money, Courtesy of Your Government 78 Banks and Loans 84 Crowdfunding 87 Creative Money 90 6 Administration 91 Legal Representation 91 Corporate Form 94 Corporate Compliance 103 Bookkeeping and Taxes 107 Payroll and Mandatory Benefits 108 Insurance 110 Office Space 112 Housekeeping 117 7 Compensation 119 Equity: A Startup's Most Important Currency,but What Is the Exchange Rate? 119 Vesting, Cliff Vesting, and Accelerated Vesting 126 Cash and Benefits 130 Deferred Compensation 135 Compensation Packages 138 Let There Be Justice, if You Can Afford It 147 PART II EQUITY FUNDING:A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD 8 Venture Deals 151 Understanding Private Equity andVenture Capital 152 Which Firms to Seek Out 153 Term Sheets 157 Liquidation Preferences: The BiggestNuisance of Them All 166 Due Diligence and Closing 171 Taking a Bite from the Apple 177 9 Raising a Down-Round 179 Going Back to the Well 180 B, C, D, E, F . . . Rounds 185 Strategic Investors 189 When Things Get Really Desperate 195 10 Right-Sizing 197 Firing for Nonperformance 198 Reduction in Force 199 Showing Executives the Door 205 It's Not Your Fault 209 PART III EXIT:SELLING YOUR BABY 11 Startup Dynamics in Crisis 213 Tired Founders 213 Impatient Investors 216 When to Sell? 220 Never, Ever Give Up! 227 12 Exit Strategies 229 Hiring an Investment Banker 229 Poor (Unprofitable), but Pretty! 232 Financial Valuation 238 Protecting the Team 245 All's Well That Ends Well 251 13 Corporate Life 253 Acquisition Philosophies 253 Living Up to One's Own Promises 257 Before You Start All Over Again 261 Notes 263 Index 265

About the Author

BERND SCHONER worked in the Physics and Media Group and the Things-That-Think research consortium at the MIT Media Lab, where he received his PhD. He cofounded and sold the high-tech startup ThingMagic to Trimble Navigation, a multibillion-dollar public technology company, where he now serves as vice president of business development. He lives with his wife and son in New York City and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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