Blog Posts

Pitching

September 14, 2022 in General, Pitching

Win the Game of Fundraising

Written By: Kelly Bryant   It’s officially Bears season again and (speaking as a Chicagoan) that means two things: 1) the battle of Soldier field continues and 2) it’s socially…
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August 25, 2022 in General, Pitching

Read This Before you Pitch a VC

Written By: Marc Halpin   This month I am on track to meet more Founders and hear more pitches than any other month in my entire life. It is, of…
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July 14, 2022 in General, Pitching

Swing and a Miss

Written By: Kelly Bryant    It’s Cubs season and baseball is on my mind. I love a Friday afternoon at Wrigley - the taste of cold beer, waiting for the…
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June 30, 2022 in General, Pitching

Three Pitch Pointers from the (roof)top

Written By: Marc Halpin   Dinners are fine, but I’ve always liked a proper lunch! Maybe it’s the Roger Sterling in me, I’m not sure. There’s nothing better than getting…
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June 16, 2022 in General, Pitching

5 Tips For Your Next Pitch Competition

Written By: Kelly Bryant    The team and I were invited to lead a workshop at a tech conference in NYC last weekend (shoutout to the NextGen family!). Part of…
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October 20, 2021 in General, Pitching

Mother of Dragons

Written by: Janine Kick   I’m rewatching Game of Thrones. Don’t get me started on House of The Dragon...I cannot wait! Jon Snow just died (I knew it was coming…
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March 3, 2021 in General, Pitching

How to be Confident at Cocktail Parties

Written By: Marc Halpin 22 years ago, the venture capitalist John Doerr had the opportunity to make the largest financial investment of his life. The company he was investing in…
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December 8, 2020 in General, Pitching

Over 18?

By: Janine Kick “How long should my actual pitch presentation be if I have an hour long meeting?”  It’s a common question, and one of the most fundamental things we…
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November 3, 2020 in General, Pitching

Video Killed The Radio Star

By: Janine Kick Eight months into COVID-19 and we’ve all had our fair share of Zoom meetings with our teams, clients, and prospects. We’ve mastered the basics (at least I…
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September 22, 2020 in General, Pitching

3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Pitch

Written By: Kelly Bryant I’ve had the privilege of helping over a dozen tech entrepreneurs across numerous industries with different backgrounds navigate the fundraising process and they all have something…
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September 10, 2020 in General, Pitching

Pitch Perfect

Written By: Marc Halpin You get the meeting with the VC you’ve been trying to meet for months. You’ve got 1 hour to make your pitch. You’ve got your deck…
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Pitch Decks

February 23, 2022 in General, Pitch Decks

3 Minutes and 44 Seconds

Written By: Kelly Bryant    A number of years ago, DocSend partnered up with HBS professor Tom Eisenmann to study the fundraising process by analyzing 200 startups. (You can find…
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September 30, 2021 in General, Pitch Decks

Certified Lover Boy vs Donda

Written By: Janine Kick   We’re big fans of Drake and Kanye here at Kerosene. People give Drake a hard time for being ‘in his feels’. You know, emotional. Kanye…
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July 29, 2021 in General, Pitch Decks

Swimming with Sharks

Written By: Kelly Bryant    My colleagues and I were recently asked to prepare a virtual presentation for 50 student founders on my favorite topic: pitching. The university-level attendees are…
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June 29, 2021 in General, Pitch Decks

Go Big or Go Home

Written By: Kelly Bryant    If you’re trying to raise capital and you’ve never heard the name Don Valentine, you’ve got some homework to do. Although he passed away in…
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October 19, 2020 in General, Pitch Decks

Why Give a Damn about TAM?

Written By: Kelly Bryant  Ask any Venture Capitalist what their #1 deal breaker is when it comes to investing in a company and nine times out of ten I bet…
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Founders + Teams

July 8, 2021 in Founders + Teams, General

Sweat Equity?

Written By: Marc Halpin   What’s your startup all about? The people? The idea? The mission? All of those are true and important in their own ways. However, at some…
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June 2, 2021 in Founders + Teams, General

GenCoin

Written By: Kelly Bryant   What do a Haitian gangster, Stanford drop out and a South Beach wannabe have in common? If you’ve watched Netflix’s new series ‘Startup’, you know…
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May 11, 2021 in Founders + Teams, General

Think Different

Written By: Marc Halpin 20 years ago this week Steve Jobs opened the first Apple store at Tysons Corner Mall, Virginia. See him walk you through the store pre-opening here.…
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May 3, 2021 in Founders + Teams, General

The Three Amigos

Written By: Kelly Bryant I recently had dinner with my favorite serial entrepreneur and uncle (hi Mike!) who offered me an observation about building startups. “Kelly” he explained, “It’s so…
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January 26, 2021 in Founders + Teams, General

Eric?

Written By: Marc Halpin It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...it was the…
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December 1, 2020 in Founders + Teams, General

Storytellers

Written By: Marc Halpin We tell stories. This one starts in California. It was always going to be different; I knew that much. I’d first raised capital with my previous…
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November 10, 2020 in Founders + Teams, General

Do I Need to Lose 60lbs?

Written By: Marc Halpin The average jockey in the US weighs somewhere in the region of 115lbs. I’m 172lbs (on a good day). It strikes me as funny that most…
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Fundraising Prep

September 1, 2022 in Fundraising Prep, General

Be Careful What You Ask For

Written By: Janine Kick   One of the most frequently asked questions we get asked is, “how much seed capital should I be raising?”  The answers to this question you’ll…
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August 3, 2022 in Fundraising Prep, General

Are You Ready to Launch?

Written By: Janine Kick   If you’ve been following Kerosene over the last couple of years, you know it’s no secret we are hyper-focused on helping great tech founders raise…
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April 8, 2022 in Fundraising Prep, General

The Most Important Question a VC Will Ever Ask You

Written By: Marc Halpin   Sometimes when you’re juggling ‘all the things’ as a startup Founder it really can be difficult to see the forest for the trees.  You’ve got…
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March 10, 2022 in Fundraising Prep, General

Multiple Choice

Written By: Marc Halpin   Winter is ending, spring has sprung, and you’re ready to go for it! You’ve got a cool startup, it’s a couple of years old, you’ve…
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December 1, 2021 in Fundraising Prep, General

New Year’s Resolutions

Written By: Kelly Bryant   Tis the season of New Year’s Resolutions! In my world, that looks like founders telling me they have a goal to raise capital in 2022…
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June 15, 2021 in Fundraising Prep, General

Listen Carefully

Written By: Janine Kick   It’s no secret that most Founders start out with a lot to prove. At the beginning of your startup journey, the risk of failure is…
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May 18, 2021 in Fundraising Prep, General

Measure Twice, Cut Once

Written By: Janine Kick   You’ve built your deck, you’ve prepared your pitch and now you’re ready to get in front of investors. Let’s go for the big guys: Sequoia,…
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April 7, 2021 in Fundraising Prep, General

Gold Digger?

Written By: Marc Halpin ♫ She take my money when I’m in need, Yeah, she’s a triflin’ friend indeed! ♫ A recent CB Insights survey of 368 start up failures…
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March 17, 2021 in Fundraising Prep, General

Dog Food

Written By: Marc Halpin I liked Brian from the first time I met him. I thought to myself, “this is a guy I want to be in business with.”  It…
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February 2, 2021 in Fundraising Prep, General

What’s Your Number?

By: Janine Kick How much money should a startup seek to raise in a round of funding? The same question comes up often from first time entrepreneurs. Ideally, you’d raise…
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January 5, 2021 in Fundraising Prep, General

Venture Capital – An Idea by Mick Jagger?

By: Marc Halpin If you've been in the startup world for more than a month you've most certainly heard of the concept 'Product Market Fit'. The term was first coined…
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Fundraising Landscape

October 20, 2022 in Fundraising Landscape, General

For Tech Startups, the Party Is Over!

Written by: Marc Halpin   “This is a proper correction. The end of a cycle.” “This is clearly not just a speed bump”. “VC’s are going to pull back massively”.…
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August 12, 2022 in Fundraising Landscape, General

What’s Going on in the Markets?

Written By: Kelly Bryant    “What market trends are you seeing in early-stage funding given the current climate?”  If I had a dollar for every time I was asked this…
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June 2, 2022 in Fundraising Landscape, General

10 Things To Do If You’re Raising Capital Now

Written By: Marc Halpin   Looking back at 22 years of building and supporting startups I sometimes wonder if we, as Founders, are all completely nuts! Let’s face it, it’s…
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January 20, 2022 in Fundraising Landscape, General

Three Types of People

Written By: Marc Halpin   "California presents to people a new model for the American dream-one where the emphasis is on the ability to take risks, the willingness to bet…
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November 10, 2021 in Fundraising Landscape, General

Ageism in Tech?

Written By: Kelly Bryant    I meet all kinds of founders. Old, young, female, male - everything from ivy-league graduates at the top of the corporate ladder to college dropouts…
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September 9, 2021 in Fundraising Landscape, General

Going Down Stream

Written by: Janine Kick  Is it me or are more and more ‘big’ funds coming down stream?  a16z announced last week that they have raised a $400M seed fund, Index…
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September 2, 2021 in Fundraising Landscape, General

Lions and Tigers and… Unicorns? Oh My!

Written By: Kelly Bryant   Chicago’s been on fire this summer and I’m not just talking about the insane heat we've been experiencing.  Unicorns (companies with billion-dollar valuations) are no…
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July 20, 2021 in Fundraising Landscape, General

How Jeff Bezos Got to Space

By: Marc Halpin   NEWS FLASH - Wikipedia skips a really important piece of information!    Under Amazon’s history it reads:    Jeff Bezos founded Amazon in July 1994. He…
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June 10, 2021 in Fundraising Landscape, General

Act Accordingly

Written By: Marc Halpin   “I offered a pre-money valuation of $500M, the deal got done at $1B.” “The fund didn’t make it; the market’s too competitive. He couldn’t get…
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April 20, 2021 in Fundraising Landscape, General

What are you going to do?

Written By: Marc Halpin I loved science-fiction as a kid and really, really loved those movies that centered on time travel. All those paradoxes used to get me geeked out!…
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November 17, 2020 in Fundraising Landscape, General

Why You Should Invest in the Midwest

Written By: Kelly Bryant Nowadays, having the infamous ‘Midwest Charm’ isn’t the only trait people in the upper-middle part of the United States should be known for. While we will…
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October 13, 2020 in Fundraising Landscape, General

A Tough Time to Raise Venture Capital

Written By: Marc Halpin  I ordered pancakes. It never seemed to matter what I ordered; I hardly ate anything when I was pitching investors over breakfast.  It was late 2010…
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Founder Mindset

October 27, 2022 in Founder Mindset, General

Welcome to Separation Season!

Written By: Janine Kick   I was recently reminded of an episode from one of my go-to podcasts, The Ed Mylett Show. Specifically, his episode on the ‘Separation Season’ (take…
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April 20, 2022 in Founder Mindset, General

Love Me Tender

Written By: Kelly Bryant    Hate him or love him, Elon Musk sure has a way of getting on people’s radar.  One of his latest tweets “Love Me Tender” suggested…
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April 14, 2022 in Founder Mindset, General

Seven Deadly Sins

Written By: Janine Kick   Raising capital is not for the faint of heart. Mistakes can be fatal for a startup. Below are the Seven Deadly Sins of Fundraising I…
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March 24, 2022 in Founder Mindset, General

Crucible Moments

Written By: Kelly Bryant    Earlier this week I was listening to an interview with Luciana Lixandru - partner at Sequoia Capital - on the VC20 podcast.  During her interview,…
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November 4, 2021 in Founder Mindset, General

Screw Everything Up and Still Succeed

Written By: Marc Halpin   Google ‘Product Market Fit’ and you are faced with pages of definitions and perspective on the subject, quite often (read: always) by people way smarter…
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September 22, 2021 in Founder Mindset, General

Three Cheers for Sir James Dyson!

Written By: Kelly Bryant Did you know the founder of Dyson is in fact Sir James Dyson - a knighted gentleman who is actually a farmer turned inventor turned British…
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June 24, 2021 in Founder Mindset, General

Maybe you’re wrong too!

Written By: Marc Halpin   Ok Rocketship Captains, it’s multiple choice time...   How much venture capital will your start up raise in total? a) $2.5B b) $50M c) Closer…
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March 24, 2021 in Founder Mindset, General

Do Opposites Attract?

By: Janine Kick Startups exist in a symbiotic relationship with venture capital. Neither can exist without the other.  The difficulty for most founders is understanding how a VC may view…
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March 10, 2021 in Founder Mindset, General

Think Like a Scientist

Written By: Kelly Bryant  I recently finished reading the book Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant. The book has been highly recommended by…
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October 6, 2020 in Founder Mindset, General

The Little Engine That Could

By: Janine Kick Remember reading that book as a kid? Me too. Ironically, it’s mantra, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can” has morphed into…
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September 28, 2020 in Founder Mindset, General

Tequila

Written By: Marc Halpin It was a Friday afternoon in the Summer of 2012. Two things were happening that day: I was getting a term sheet for a $1M investment…
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September 1, 2020 in Founder Mindset, General

Hunger Games?

Written by: Marc Halpin It was my first meeting with a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. I was nervous. I thought I was prepared (I wasn’t), so I thought…
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Fundraising Process

November 6, 2022 in Fundraising Process, General

The Fundraising Dichotomy

Written By: Kelly Bryant   For most of the Founders I meet, fundraising and asking for money is seen as a necessary evil. It involves lots of rejection, spending countless…
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July 29, 2022 in Fundraising Process, General

Pick 2

Written By: Marc Halpin It was 2004 in London.  I was working with KPMG who were channel partners for my first startup’s product. Richard (KPMG) and I were in a…
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May 20, 2022 in Fundraising Process, General

Trust the Process

Written By: Kelly Bryant   Repeat after me: “the purpose of the 1st meeting is to get to the 2nd meeting” We drill this mantra into the heads of our…
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November 17, 2021 in Fundraising Process, General

1 in 101

Written By: Janine Kick   A recent study from Harvard Business Review found that for each deal a VC firm closes, the firm considers on average 101 opportunities. Of those,…
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October 13, 2021 in Fundraising Process, General

Squid Game

Written By: Kelly Bryant   If you haven’t seen Netflix’s latest series Squid Game you’ve probably been living under a rock. It was only released last month and is “poised…
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August 15, 2021 in Fundraising Process, General

What Mike Tyson Can Teach Founders

Written By: Marc Halpin   There's a boxing ring in the gym I go to. Quite often, there’s guys in the ring. They have their hands taped up and they…
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April 13, 2021 in Fundraising Process, General

He’s Just Not That Into You

Written By: Kelly Bryant How many times have you left a VC meeting feeling like you crushed it only to receive radio silence afterwards? Sadly, you’re not alone. Many of…
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February 17, 2021 in Fundraising Process, General

Please See Point One!

Written By: Marc Halpin Raise capital before you need to raise capital. When you are ready to raise capital don’t raise capital. This is the best way to raise capital!…
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Investor Relations + Outreach

September 28, 2022 in General, Investor Relations + Outreach

Gotta Let it Burn

Written By: Janine Kick   “It’s been a long time coming, but we done fell apart. Really wanna work this out, but I don’t think you’re gonna change. I do,…
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July 7, 2022 in General, Investor Relations + Outreach

Brr, It’s Cold in Here

Written By: Janine Kick   I’m often asked what’s the best way to cold email an investor and it goes without saying, it’s simpler than you’d think. That said, it’s…
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March 16, 2022 in General, Investor Relations + Outreach

Red Tape

Written By: Janine Kick   During each raise, we come to a critical point where there are a solid number of investors ‘in the mix’ and a fair number have…
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February 17, 2022 in General, Investor Relations + Outreach

Music to My Ears

Written By: Janine Kick A founder asked me the other day what they can say to an investor to get their attention right away and it got me thinking… What…
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February 3, 2022 in General, Investor Relations + Outreach

LMKHICBH

Written By: Janine Kick “Good luck with the raise and the business, and let me know how I can be helpful.” If you’ve ever raised capital or attempted to raise…
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September 15, 2021 in General, Investor Relations + Outreach

Let’s Fall in Love

Written By: Marc Halpin   Brad Feld is interesting.  He wears very colorful shirts, he’s got a great hairstyle, he writes one of the most painfully open and honest blogs…
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August 25, 2021 in General, Investor Relations + Outreach

My Favorite Question

By: Janine Kick   I talk to VCs every day, lots of VCs. I ask them qualifying questions to make sure they’re a fit for the founders and the startups…
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July 1, 2021 in General, Investor Relations + Outreach

You’re Too Early…

By: Janine Kick   If you haven’t heard that statement from an investor, you haven’t started your fundraising adventure yet.    At the seed stage, you will hear “you’re too…
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April 27, 2021 in General, Investor Relations + Outreach

Panic Room

Written By: Janine Kick There tends to be this pivotal moment in a capital raise for every founder where things are moving ahead quickly, you really like a couple of…
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February 23, 2021 in General, Investor Relations + Outreach

Will You Accept This Rose?

By: Janine Kick I know what you’re thinking, “The Bachelor has nothing to do with venture capital.” And I say, oh but it does! Picture this: You’ve spent tireless hours…
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Term Sheets

January 26, 2022 in General, Term Sheets

Deal or No Deal?

Written By: Kelly Bryant    I was recently chatting with a founder who told me he and his co-founder received a term sheet on the last day of 2021. Initially,…
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February 9, 2021 in General, Term Sheets

Champagne? Not Quite Yet…

Written By: Kelly Bryant You’ve spent the last 4 months fundraising and you finally received a term sheet. Congratulations!  Here are four concrete steps you should take to optimize the…
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