Month: March 2021

venture-capital

The Flora and Fauna of Venture Capital

I have found that many entrepreneurs are confused by the differences between the various flavors of angel and venture capital. This is not surprising since the categories used are overlapping and are often used inconsistently by different investors. However, there are some broad generalizations that can be drawn – typically based on the timing of the proposed investment and the typical purpose of the investment in the company’s lifecycle. Depending on the timing, you can also draw some basic conclusions as to the type of investor that will be involved and, in each category, generalizations can be made as to the type of security the company will sell and the magnitude of return the investor will seek.

venturecapital

The earliest stages of investment are usually characterized as seed rounds, proof of concept investments or angel investments. These investments usually do not occur until after the investor has tapped out his friends and family (in what is often characterized as the “friends and family” round). The money invested is intended to allow the founders of the company to do their initial research, to complete the initial programming or to apply for the initial patent(s). Companies at this stage usually do not have a saleable product and do not have very many employees, other than the founders/inventors. The investors are almost always NOT traditional venture capital funds. Rather, they consist of wealthy individuals or groups of individuals that are willing to invest their own money and take the extreme risk involved in making equity investments into companies that often only have a good idea. Alternatively, the investor may be a government or university funded incubator that was established to help entrepreneurs or scientists get their ideas off of the ground. In this stage, the amount of the investment is typically relatively small – e.g. $100,000 to $500,000, seldom more than $1,000,000 in total. Also, the investor usually takes common stock in the company – the same stock that the founders get. Alternatively, the investor will take a convertible note that allows them to have the protection of debt at the beginning and also allows them to convert at the valuation established by later investors. Investments at this stage are extremely risky and are subject to significant dilution when new investors come in during later stages. Consequently, angel investors look for returns of at least 10x their initial investment, and sometimes as high as 20x or 30x their initial investment. The next stage of investment in a typical company’s life cycle is early stage venture capital. This type of investment usually is not available to a company until it has a proven product and a business plan. However, it is not necessary that a company be profitable or even be producing its product. The funds the company raises will be used to mass manufacture the product, market the product, build a sales force and further develop the product. For this investment, the company will be able to attract early stage venture capitalists. These venture capitalists often have smaller funds which are more suited to making the relatively smaller sized investments found at this stage of a company’s life. In this stage, the amount invested is typically in the $1,000,000 to $5,000,000 range. The early stage venture capitalist will almost always be investing in Series A preferred stock of the Company. This security will be superior to the common stock held by the founders and any angels and will typically come with dividend rights, liquidation preferences, some form of anti-dilution rights and a right of first refusal on stock sales by the founders and angels. Sometimes it may also come with pre-emptive rights, redemption rights and drag along rights and other rights and preferences. The venture capitalists at this stage will look for returns of at least 5x their initial investment and would gladly accept higher returns. There may be multiple additional rounds of equity financing after the Series A round. These types of funding are often called growth capital or mezzanine financing. Usually, the company will either be close to profitability or will have a clear path to profitability and the funds are meant to allow the company to expand its sales force and marketing efforts and ramp up its revenue growth.

venturecapital tip

The money may also be used to develop additional products or to research expansion ideas. These investments are usually made by the larger size venture capital funds and the amount invested can range from $1,000,000 to $25,000,000 or higher – depending on the company and the market opportunity. The investment will typically be made for additional rounds of preferred stock – for example, Series B or Series C preferred stock – and each successive round will generally having superior rights and preferences to the prior rounds. Venture capitalists at this stage of investment may still look for 5x investment returns, but depending on the opportunity and the trajectory of the company, will often settle for 2x or 3x returns. Occasionally, a company in the growth phase of its life cycle, or that is on the cusp of the growth phase, will raise bridge capital. This is typically debt that “bridges” the gap in funding between rounds of venture capital financing. Usually, it takes the form of a convertible note that will automatically convert into the next round of preferred stock, sometimes at a discount. The lender may be an existing investor in the company or it may be a new venture capital fund that is contemplating making the follow on round. Another type of financing that is available to companies in their growth phase is venture debt. This is a loan from a bank that is often securitized by the company’s accounts receivable, inventory or equipment. The venture lender will take warrants in the company to help increase its return on the loan. Typically, these lenders seek combined returns in the 12 to 18% range. The final type of financing that a company may seek can be characterized as acquisition or buyout capital. This type of capital is used to purchase the assets or stock of other businesses that will then be adsorbed into or added onto the company. The investor may be the company’s existing venture capitalists or it may be a private equity fund that is building out a platform in the company’s industry. In the later case, the investment may come with a right to purchase the company outright in the future. This type of financing also occurs when a company’s venture capitalists start planning their exit strategy. By putting together the right pieces it may make the company more attractive as an acquisition candidate or perhaps more eligible for an IPO.

Collectible Coins

The Advantages of Owning or Buying Gold or Silver Graded Collectible Coins

Are there major advantages of owning or buying gold or silver graded collectible coins over that of bullion or bars? Most definitely there is. The following is not an exhaustive list, but does include several things to consider. Coins cannot be beat as an investment opportunity.

Coins are extremely easy to handle and store, in contrast to bars or bullion, which is not. They are manageable in size. They are easy to hide for the sake of security, and they are not heavy, so are easy to carry from place to place. This makes their sale much easier than bullion.

Coins are also very easy to buy. The buyer only has to check the karat and percentage. These should be 24 k and .9999 percent, respectively. When buying or selling bars, they must be assayed. This means involving transport and a third party, all which make for a security problem. This is not true for coins. Collectible gold coins are not only a beautiful acquisition; they have a history behind them. They have been in circulation for some period of time. The following coins are not all that are collectible, but are the major ones.

CollectCoins

American Gold Eagle Coins These coins are beautiful, one of their pluses. They are considered possibly the most beautiful of all coins. A nest of eagles is on the reverse side, and a walking liberty on the obverse side. They were minted and issued as with a face value. They can be bought directly from coin dealers or at auction, such as at Ebay. Of all coins collected and traded, they are the most traded. They consist of 91.67% gold and are 22K. This is below the desired standard, but because of their beauty they are still much desired.

Canadian Gold Maple Coins These coins rival the Gold Eagle coin for beauty, and are even considered the most beautiful in the world by some. They are the most pure, consisting of .9999% 24 karat gold. They are inscribed on the obverse side with a bust of Queen Elizabeth II and the maple leaf on the reverse side. They are legal tender in Canada, and can be purchased from most coin dealers.

Gold Krugerrand Coins The South African president, Stephanus Johannes Paul Kruger is the figure depicted on this coin. Due to several adventure movies featuring the coin, it became very famous. It contains a full ounce of gold, one of the first to do so. It can also be obtained in one-fourth, one-half, and one-tenth ounce sizes. Though they are not beautiful like the Gold Eagle and Maple Leaf, they are nevertheless at a premium due to their popularity. They can be gotten at most coin dealers, but demand a high price.

Silver Collectible Coins These coins have all the advantages of gold coins, except the beauty. Most of the silver coins are not considered nearly as beautiful as the gold coins. Most investors actually collect the junk dime, because it is so cheap, readily available, and result in the best investment. Silver has risen in price much more lately than has gold; making these silver coins the better investment. Still, the beauty of the gold coins can’t be discounted. Collectors tend to collect them for their beauty as well as their investment. In a time of great economic catastrophe, though, beauty might not be such a consideration.

In summary, the advantages of coins are that they are relatively easily obtained and have almost nonexistent buying and selling costs. They can be stored locally and handled with ease. They are readily available to the collector to admire. Coins are also easily recognizable and can be assumed to have certain known traits, though if they have been tampered with, this won’t hold true. Tampering will probably be evident, however.

Venture Capital

The Stages of Venture Capital Investing

The following is Part 2 of my five-part series on the roles of angel investors and venture capital investors in emerging technology sectors with explosive upside potential, such as the nanotech, cleantech, biotech, information technology and new media sectors. In Part 1, I gave a general overview of the playing field. Below, I examine the stages of an emerging growth company’s lifecycle and the types of investment that it hopes to obtain at each relevant stage. Introduction Many investors are confused by the differences between angel and venture capital. This isn’t surprising; the categories are overlapping and are used inconsistently. However, there are some broad generalizations that can be drawn, typically based on the timing of the investment and the purpose of the investment in the company’s lifecycle. Depending upon the timing, you can draw some basic conclusions as to the type of investor that will be involved (e.g. single angel vs. angel consortium vs. venture capitalist). And, in each category, you can glean the form the investment will take (e.g. common stock vs. convertible debt vs. preferred stock) and the size of the return investors can expect. That is, if there’s a return–very few private emerging growth investments are actually a success. More below the fold. Seed Round The earliest investment stages are usually characterized as seed rounds, proof of concept investments or angel investments. These investments usually don’t occur until after the target entrepreneur has tapped out his friends and family in what’s usually called a “friends and family” round. The money you invest is intended to allow the founders of the company to do their initial research, to complete the initial programming or to apply for the initial patent(s). Companies at this stage usually don’t have a saleable product and don’t have very many employees, other than the founders/inventors. Traditional venture capital funds very rarely invest in seed rounds. Rather, seed investors typically consist of angels that is, wealthy individuals or groups of individuals that are willing to invest their own money and take the extreme risk involved in making equity investments into companies that often only have a good idea. Occasionally, a seed investor may be a publicly or privately funded incubator established to help entrepreneurs or scientists get their ideas off of the ground. In the seed round stage, the amount of the investment is typically small, say $100,000 to $500,000, seldom more than $1,000,000. Also, the investor usually takes common stock in the company–the same stock that the founders get. Alternatively, the investor will take a convertible note that allows him to have the protection of debt at the beginning but with the possibility of converting and receiving the upside of equity. Typically, the conversion will occur in concert with the closing of the next round of investment and will be at the same per share price used in the next round. Often, you receive some sort of additional incentive for making a seed round investment such as a conversion discount or grant of warrants. Investments at the seed stage are extremely risky and are subject to significant dilution when new investors come in during later stages. Consequently, angel investors look for returns of at least 10x their initial investment, and sometimes as high as 20x or 30x their initial investment.

Venture-1

Early Stage Venture Round The next stage of investment is early stage venture capital. Investors usually aren’t interested in making this type of investment until the company has a proven product and a business plan. However, it isn’t necessary that the target be profitable or even be producing its product. The funds invested will be used to mass manufacture the product, market the product, build a sales force and further develop the product. Typically, these sorts of investments are made by early stage venture capitalists, larger angels or angel consortiums. Early stage venture capitalists and angel consortiums usually have smaller funds to deploy which makes them more suited to making the relatively smaller sized investments found at this stage of a company’s life. In this stage, the amount invested is typically in the $1,000,000 to $5,000,000 range. The investors will almost always be purchasing Series A preferred stock of the target. This type of stock is superior to the common stock held by the founders and any seed round angel investors and will typically come with dividend rights, liquidation preferences, some form of anti-dilution rights and a right of first refusal on stock sales by the founders and seed round angels. Often, the investors will also receive pre-emptive rights, redemption rights, drag along rights and other rights and preferences. Investors at in early stage investments will typically look for returns of at least 5x their initial investment and would gladly accept higher returns. Growth Stage Venture Round After the Series A round, there may be multiple additional rounds of equity financing. These types of funding are often called growth capital or mezzanine financing. Usually, the company seeking this sort of investment will either be close to profitability or will have a clear path to profitability and the funds are meant to allow the company to expand its sales force and marketing efforts and ramp up its revenue growth. The money may also be used to develop additional products or to research expansion ideas. These investments are usually made by the larger venture capital funds and the amount invested can range from $1,000,000 to $25,000,000 or higher, depending on the company and the market opportunity. The investor typically will receive additional rounds of preferred stock–for example, Series B or Series C preferred stock–and each successive round will generally have superior rights and preferences to the prior rounds. Investors at this stage may still look for 5x investment returns, but depending on the opportunity and the trajectory of the company, may settle for 2x or 3x returns. Bridge Round Occasionally, investors will be willing to invest bridge capital into a company in the growth phase of its life cycle, or one that’s on the cusp of the growth phase. This investment takes the form of debt that “bridges” the gap in funding between rounds of venture capital financing. These investments range in size depending on the company and the market opportunity and they’re made by all types of investors, depending on the size of the investment. The lender may be an existing investor in the company or it may be a new angel or venture capital fund that’s contemplating making the follow on round. Usually, the debt will be represented by a convertible note that will automatically convert into the next round of preferred stock, sometimes at a discount. Also, investors will usually want some sort of warrant coverage to provide equity upside in the deal. Investors at this stage expect a blended return that takes into account the interest rate on the debt and the potential value of the equity. These target returns vary greatly, but often move in the 12 percent to 18 percent range. Buyout Capital Round The final stage is characterized as acquisition or buyout capital. This is used by the company to purchase the assets or stock of other businesses that will then be absorbed into or added onto the target company. The investors may be the company’s existing venture capitalists or it may be a private equity fund that’s building out a platform in the company’s industry. In the latter case, the investment may come with a right to purchase the company outright in the future. This type of financing also occurs when a company’s angels and venture capitalists start planning their exit strategy. By putting together the right pieces it may make the company more attractive as an acquisition candidate or perhaps more eligible for an IPO. In the next three parts of this article, I’ll explore angel investing, angel syndicate investing and venture capital investing, in greater detail and I’ll discuss the important characteristics of each mode, including typical legal and business issues.

gold-bar

Where to Sell Gold

What to Expect When You Sell Your Gold
Selling gold that you have in your possession is usually a pretty straightforward deal. You take or send your gold into a dealer or shop, they test the fineness, and then give you an offer based on the quality, quantity, current spot price, and how much they need to profit to cover their overhead. One of the most important things to keep in mind when you are selling your gold is that you will probably never get spot price for your bullion, and you won’t get anywhere near spot price for scrap gold. This is simply because places won’t be able to resell your gold for much over that price.
For most people selling jewelry, or some other sort of gold that either isn’t in coin or bullion form, the gold dealer might make you an offer from anywhere between 20% and 80% of what they can sell it for. The lower end of this range would be from pawn shops late at night, or from ads you might see on TV where you can mail in your gold for cash. The higher end of the range will come from jewelry shops and specialty gold buyers. If you have a lot of gold to sell you can get a higher premium on it.
If you are selling gold coins, you might be able to get higher than spot price because of the numismatic value of the gold, but that’s unlikely as most gold coins have essentially no numismatic value. The same goes for very fine jewelry, especially if it is very old or has some sort of documented history tied to it.
Places to Sell Gold
One of the first places that come to mind when someone thinks about where to sell gold is a pawn shop. Pawn shops are well-known for buying pretty much anything, but if you go into almost any pawnbroker’s store, you will find an expansive jewelry counter with plenty of gold. Pawn shops are one of the most popular places for selling gold because you can walk out with cash for your gold 20 minutes after you walk in the store. This can be handy in a pinch, or if you are just looking at selling gold jewelry or other pieces of gold you might have around your house.
Most major cities have dedicated gold buyers. These are people who make a living off of buying and selling gold, and they are always in need for more supply. Finding a gold buyer around your area isn’t very hard, most of the time, they advertise pretty heavily because they know there are plenty of people out there who have gold, but they may not be willing to part with it at a certain point in time. Later on down the road, they might think, “Hey, I’m wanting to sell my gold, who should I call?”, and the branding that the gold buyers have done around town would likely pay off. Coin shops are usually good for selling gold, especially if you have gold coins, since they probably already have their own list of gold buyers, allowing them to give you money that day, then turn around and unload the gold on another buyer soon thereafter. It’s possible to sell scrap gold at coin shops, since most of them have the right tools needed to gauge the quality of gold that you have, but there are better places where you can get more money for when you want to sell your old gold.
Jewelry stores will often advertise that they can buy gold, since they do use so much of it anyway, especially the stores that specialize in creating their own jewelry. If you plan on selling gold to a jewelry store, call around to get their current offer prices before driving around town to 5 different places just to hear 5 different answers. Larger jewelry stores will usually tend to give more money for your gold than both smaller stores, and chain stores.
If you have a lot of gold for sale, you might be able to sell it to a gold investor. These investors are looking for physical gold to hedge against inflation and the stock market. Generally, they will not be interested in a couple of gold rings, but they would certainly be interested if you had gold bullion for sale, or a large amount of gold from the Treasury, or just investment grade gold in general. Finding a gold investor can be difficult, but if you talk to your financial advisor, they may be able to point you in the right direction, or they may know someone looking for some gold for sale.

gold-sell

Best Place To Sell Gold
Figuring out the best place for selling your gold can be very tricky, since it does depend on a variety of factors.
• Location – Selling your gold in a large city is a lot easier, and can potentially bring you more money since there are plenty of other people who want to buy gold as well, driving up prices.
• What’s in demand – In a down economy, bullion gold will be in higher demand than treasure gold.
• Supply – If there are a lot of people in a certain area looking to exchange their gold, you will still be able to find someone to buy it off of you, but you might get a lower price than you normally would.
• Season – The closer you get to the holidays, the more people are trying to spend money on gifts and parties instead of scrap gold or investment gold. At the same time, people looking to get extra money will be selling gold and the prices will go down.
• The kind of gold you have – If you have gold that is considered investment grade, sending it into a “mail-in your gold” program makes little sense. The same thing goes for very nice gold coins, taking them into a pawn shop when you can sell them to a coin dealer isn’t the best way of going about things.
• Who you sell it to – Jewelry stores may not be able to handle a large amount of gold, or may shoot you a lower price than normal if they think they can’t use it right away. The individuals you sell your gold to are all in their own unique markets and situations.
If you have gold bullion or proof gold coins, you can easily get 90% of the spot value, most of the times closer to 98%+ of spot value from people looking to buy gold as an investment. These people realize are buying not to turn around and sell it right away, but they are going to hold onto it. Since historic rates for gold have been trending higher, investors can afford to pay near spot price for your gold now, then sell it years down the road, hopefully for a profit.
The best place to sell your gold if you have jewelry or other small items could very well be a nice pawn shop. Pawn shops that cater to people looking to spend a decent amount of money can afford to give you more money for your gold than you might be able to get elsewhere. If they have their own gold smelting operation, or can sub-contract it out, they stand to be able to make more money the more gold they get, so they offer a higher price hoping to outbid their competition.
Selling gold coins to a coin shop is usually your best option when it comes to how much money you’ll get from selling, how easy the people are to deal with in regards to knowing what the coins is worth, and the ability to possible consign your gold for a certain percentage if the dealer would rather go that route.
How to Get the Best Price For Your Gold
Getting the best price for your gold depends a lot on who you sell it to. Besides the obvious differences in the people who buy gold as an investment as opposed to pawn shops and online gold companies, and what they can offer you, there are a few tricks you can use to make sure that you get the highest amount for your gold.
1. Call around – This is probably the best tip that can help you get the most money out of trading in your gold. Call around to jewelry stores, pawn shops, coin dealers, and gold buyers in your area to see what kind of price they can offer you for your gold. This works well when you try to sell your scrap gold, when you have a gold coin or a piece of gold jewelry, you may actually have to take it in so they can put a solid price on it depending on the condition.
2. Check online – There are plenty of places online that can help you find the best place to market your gold. Online gold buyers may enable you to send your gold in by insured mail, send you an offer, and if you accept it, send you a check. These mail-in programs are probably the most convenient way of selling gold online.
3. Take in your gold for an appraisal – If you have a lot of gold and you aren’t sure whether it’s 14k or 24, or if you have gold coins and you aren’t sure of their value, take it to someone who can give you an honest assessment of what the gold is worth. By having a firm number in your hand, you will at least know if someone is making you a fair offer, or if they are trying to lowball you when you sell your gold.
4. Always negotiate the price – When you sell, you’ll usually be able to talk to someone with the authority to make a deal with you. They do have to make a profit, but their first offer will always be their bottom price, with a little bit of negotiation, you can get them to raise their offer. You’ll win because you get more money, and they’ll win because they will still be able to sell your gold for a profit.
Selling Gold Online
If you decide that selling your gold online is the best way to go, you are going to have to choose among many different gold buying websites. These can be divided into two basic categories: scrap gold sites, and bullion gold sites.
Scrap gold sites will buy just about anything. If you have old jewelry, medallions, coins, even bullion – they’ll buy it. The down side is they are also likely to give you a really low price. Their typical customers aren’t investors – they are people who happened to have gold and now need cash, and are usually desperate. Hopefully you’ve taken our advice on buying investment-grade bullion and aren’t in that boat! Worse yet, you really have to read the fine print with these operations. Some of these placed let you ship the gold to them for free, but essentially hold the gold hostage if you don’t accept their (low) offer, charging you a high shipping fee to get it back. Especially if you’re dealing with small amounts of scrap gold this can devastate your returns and you’re almost stuck selling to them.
While the number of “mail-in your gold” ads have gone down over the past year, there are still plenty of TV spots that run which promise a lot of money for your spare gold. These services usually give you the least amount of money out of any buyer, mainly because they have to pay a lot of money for every TV commercial that they run.
Selling your gold at a scrap site is probably not the best idea for most people, especially if you live near a pawn shop or any of the other places listed above, since you will get quite a bit more money from those places. If you do decide to exchange your gold at one of these locations, be sure to check around for some customer reviews before you send anything in. People tend to talk about how much they were offered from online gold buyers, which means you can get a basic idea how much they are giving per ounce of gold.
The other kind of site is the bullion gold site. Most often, these are the exact same sites that you purchased your bullion from in the first place. In fact, some will even store it for you between purchasing and selling back to them (for a fee, of course). Almost invariably these guys only accept identifiable investment-grade bullion, including the common bullion coins and marked bars from well-known mints suck as Perth and Credit-Suisse. The good news is they pay top-dollar for this gold, often at or barely under the spot price. This is why you bought investment gold in the first place.

gold-selling

Pros and Cons of Places to Sell Your Gold
• Jewelry Stores – Pros: Plenty of jewelry stores to choose from, helpful staff in a professional environment, usually you’ll get a fair price for your gold. Cons: Some stores may not be interested in buying, you will get below spot price.
• Pawn Shops – Pros: You will get money for your gold immediately, you can negotiate the price, they will take about any kind of gold. Cons: Most pawn shops will give you below spot price, there may not be a lot in your area.
• Gold Investors – Pros: Usually will give near spot price for gold. Cons: Most of the time they are only interested in investment grade bullion or coins, may be very hard to find an investor in some areas.
• Coin Shops – Pros: They will offer a decent price for most gold coins, you might be able to consign instead of sell outright. Cons: Only interested in coins made of gold for the most part, there may not be too many in your area.
• Online Gold Buyers – Pros: Very convenient, usually don’t even have to leave your house to get your money, great prices from investment gold sites. Cons: Offer you the least amount of money for your gold (from scrap gold sites), it can take a couple of weeks from the time you wish to sell until you have your money.
So Where Should I Sell My Gold?
If you have investment grade gold bullion, the best bet would be to find a gold investor and sell your gold to them, or to sell directly to a large bullion dealer/mint. You’re going to get pretty close to spot price, and they will be interested in any good gold that you have. For scrap gold, if you can find a jewelry shop buying gold at a decent price, they would probably be your best bet, you’re not going to get spot price, but you’ll get more than at most other places. If you can’t, pawn shops in large cities that deal with a lot of gold or similar specialty gold buyers are your best bet. Avoid anything that starts with shipping scrap gold so your gold can’t be held hostage with shipping costs.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén