Raising Capital From Friends And Family

By Hanah Cho
The Dallas Morning News.

A weekly report on small business owners and entrepreneurs in North Texas in which a local expert provides five recommendations on a useful topic.

This week, attorney Kevin Vela talked to staff writer Hanah Cho about five tips for raising capital from friends and family.

Vela is a founding partner at Dallas-based law firm Vela/Keller. He was named a 2014 Texas Super Lawyers Rising Star. He focuses his practice on startups and small businesses.

1. Be professional
Treat any pitches to friends and family just like you would if you were pitching in front of an angel group or venture capital firm. Practice. Have handouts and slides prepared.

2. Tell them everything
Investors have a right to know everything about the company they are investing in. Don’t just sell them on the upside. Also explain the risks and who your competition is. Use this as an opportunity to explain how you will mitigate the risks and differentiate from the competition. Make sure you let them ask questions.

3. Think through your next round
Early investments are easiest to do as convertible notes. Not only does this limit the legal work necessary, but also it sets you up nicely for your next financing round. Most startups go through two to three rounds of financing, so think through what will happen to your friends and family investors when you raise money again.

4. Paper it up
Sure, it is not always cost-efficient to get a lawyer involved for a small $20,000 investment. But remember that you are accepting someone else’s money. Consider using an attorney no matter how small the investment. An attorney who focuses on startups should be able to help for a reasonable price. There is also an abundance of great resources for entrepreneurs and founders on the Web.

5. Keep them informed
After the investment, it’s good practice to send weekly updates to your investors. It sets a good tone and will get you ready to deal with angel and venture capital investors down the road.

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