What's your startup's reserve price?


Here's some acquisition and financing advice: know your reserve price. That's the minimum price (easiest to think about cash in your bank account at close after taxes) that you'd be willing to receive in exchange for your company. Corollary: if it isn't cash, then it needs to be heavily discounted--to zero in many cases.

It's a complicated question, which is why I strongly encourage you to think about it ahead of time, and ideally talk it through with some people who've been through acquisitions and are "richer" than you. In the acquire-hire age, your reserve price can be tested a lot and quickly, especially at the early stages. If you are caught off guard, you can get sucked in quickly to something you may regret later.

Additionally, I think you should know your reserve price before seeking investment of any kind. Investors are generally looking for 10x+ returns. Quite frankly, if you have a valuation/reserve-price combination that doesn't yield such, you shouldn't be taking investment.

And there's nothing wrong with that! In fact, I've argued that no or minimal investment may maximize your financial outcome in some cases, and is at least worth considering.
Talking about reserve prices seems to get into fuzzy math really quickly. Would I take $2M but not $1M or $15M and not $10M? But you should really take it seriously because these differences do matter, especially at the lower end of the scale.

Yes, everything feels different when you have an offer in front of you. And that's the point of thinking about it ahead of time. It's hard when you have no real savings in your bank account to turn down $1M. But that can be the right decision, especially if you have any kind of traction.


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