IS IT BETTER TO USE STOCK OR CASH with an important vendor when your business is cash strapped and in it's development stage? This was the subject of a recent discussion with a local medical device developer whose first blockbuster product was ready for clinical testing and regulatory guidance in obtaining required FDA approval.
After seeing the product in development, one of the firms he was vetting to possibly run the nearly $1.0 million testing and application process offered to exchange some of their services for equity in his company. What should he do and how should he think about the process of deciding?
Like most enterpreneurs in his position, the founder/CEO was already deeply involved in fundraising. He had to be. There were limits on his personal funds and the business could generate no product sales until it had an approved product to sell.
He had investors lined up and committed for a first fundraise to keep his business running through the end of the year and a key inflection point in his product development. He was finding success selling promissory notes that converted into equity in his next substantial round, defined by a minimum amount raised within a given period. The factors we discussed included:
After discussing these and other relevant issues, we turned our attention to the convertible note terms being used successfully by the company and how bring potential investors to a decision point. We also talked about when and how you change the terms of those convertible notes as the company's progress de-risks the investment. We discussed some ideas on both topics that might help better rationalize the fundraising process.
In the end we left the discussion open but noted that a structure like the convertible note might be used with the vendor if other criteria were met. Those criteria included removing the debt feature, as some companies do when they use SAFE documents in lieu of convertible notes, and linking both the vesting/grants and the conversion provisions to the timing of services delivery.
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Clinton Richardson, has been writing for decades. His critically acclaimed venture strategy books first appeared in 1987 and are now in their 5th edition. His Ancient Selfies is an International Book Awards Finalist and an eLit Award Gold Medal Winner. Ancient history and capturing photographic moments are among his passions. See his photo galleries at TrekPic.com.