Which valuation model to use?
We have to differenciate between early- and later stage companies. While Pre-Seed companies sometimes do not even have a minimal viable product, their business case is an idea and likely to be changed quite frequently during the first 18 to 24 months. A first product market fit might be already tested by an early stage (growth) startup.
Numbers and financial plans will become truely interesting, when dealing with scaleups, where existing share-classes and terms usually also represent an increased complexity for a deal. We will need to apply the right valuation model, setting the right parameters and need to be transparant on our assumptions. We rely on data, which is very hard to get and collect in order generate fair valuations with any model we use.
There are valuation models, which Business Angels apply for early-stage startups and models which are more likely to be used from professional regulated investors, like venture capital funds.
Standard Valuation Models
Venionaire Capital developed a unique model for early- and later stage startups, called the Startup Rating Method. It takes individual strengths and weaknesses of startups into account and helps investors to get a price tag, for premiums or discounts they should fight for. Compared to other models, it is easy to adapt to diffent stages. The model does not rely purely financial or qualitative factors.
The most prominent method used by Business Angels is the “Payne Scorecard Method”, developed by Bill Payne. This simple top-down approach compares a startup to other typical startups at the same stage (investors benchmark the “standard” value of a pre-seed or early seed company in this case), within a geographic region and startup-sector (regtech, digital health, fintech, SaaS, etc.) – read more about the PAYNE SCORECARD METHOD.
Venture investors seeking a quick estimate of a valuation, with a small amount of inputs, will use a simple model called the VENTURE CAPITAL METHOD.
If you like to dive a little deeper we recommend the FIRST CHICAGO METHOD, as offers a smart approach that combines market-oriented and fundamental analytical methods.