When it comes to closing a round of investments, how you present your company — specifically, how you present the documents that measure your company’s strengths and performance — is key. The goal, of course, is to present the most accurate and compelling picture of your company to a group of investors who see the value of investing in the business for potential profit.
A data room is the best platform to enable the secure sharing of sensitive data between parties that are in the process of investigating one another. Let’s have a look at the ways to leverage data rooms during the capital raising process, including best practices for setting it up, and what should and should not be shared.
Because the primary purpose of the data room is to present a company’s potential for future profit to a group of investors, the following documents should be considered for inclusion:
- Legal structure and articles of incorporation
- Records of previous capital raises and liquidity events
- Board of Directors’ meeting minutes or previous actions
- Business plans
- Company financials, including profit and loss statements and projections
- Tax returns, audits, financial evaluations and other reports from third-party professional service providers
- IP, including patents and trademarks
- Product and service information, including roadmaps
- Marketing plans, strategies and assets
- Sales strategy and pipeline, including existing customers MRR and ARR
- Information about employees, including compensation and contracts
- Technology investments
- Additional operational liabilities, including capital expenditures, commercial leases and investments in R&D
While the list above details everything that could be applicable to your deal, it’s also important to note that not every business document needs to be included in your investor data room. Here’s why:
- Additional documents require more time for review and analysis and could slow down the due diligence process and the eventual disbursement of funds to the company.
- Irrelevant documents can distract, confuse or leave the investor thinking, “What value does this serve?”
- The more documents included, the higher the risk of potential misuse or compromise.
Remember, additional documents can be saved for the next stage of the investment deal after the investor has expressed initial interest and wants to move forward.
The ability to assemble all of the necessary documents — often in a short amount of time — will impress investors and can serve as a good exercise for any entrepreneur interested in presenting the best picture of his or her company. This is why leveraging a data room that is intuitive and easily navigable for all parties involved.
Here are a few additional considerations when setting up the data room:
Create a base structure that includes all of the documents — but create different views and access rights for the individuals evaluating your documents. In this way, content is tailored and unique for each person. For example, the investor’s legal counsel may not need to see certain sales and marketing documents.
Be sure that no document can be altered, copied, shared or printed without your permission.
The data room should provide a single view as to who has accessed what documents at what time and for how long. If you notice any unusual activity, such as attempts to print or share, you can be alerted and take appropriate measures with that individual. Further, you might notice that certain documents haven’t been accessed at all; you can ask why or consider that document need not be included in future investor data rooms in which you’ll participate.
Ability to Easily Make Updates
The data room should enable you to make painless updates — removing or adding documents without much hassle. You should not have to start from scratch if you need to make a small change.
Short messaging or commenting should be built into the data room. This facilitates the review process and doesn’t force investors to leave the platform in order to send a message or make a comment if needed.
Keep in mind that investors regularly review hundreds of companies’ financials and documents every month. While there are the “usual suspects” regarding documentation, consider presenting your documents in a slightly different way. This could simply be the user interface of your data room. Choose a data room provider that leverages extensive UX capabilities so that your company can really stand out from the crowd.
The Best Solution for an Investor Data Room
While thousands of pages of highly-sensitive documents are handled by dozens or hundreds of people in an investment transaction, security and tracking are needed to ensure that the right access has been granted and has not been compromised.
Organizations should consider an enterprise virtual data room solution, such as CapLinked, that has these needs in mind. Digital rights management capabilities provide encryption and complete control over how a document is used, edited, copied or even printed. Caplinked’s FileProtect feature lets companies share documents while retaining the ability to deny access to anything even after it’s downloaded.
In today’s “anytime, anywhere” environment, documents are most likely accessed via multiple cloud platforms. Caplinked provides cloud integrations with such platforms as Salesforce, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and OneDrive. Start your free trial today!
Jake Wengroff writes about technology and financial services. A former technology reporter for CBS Radio, Jake covers such topics as security, mobility, e-commerce, and IoT.