The Seraf Compass

Seraf Toolbox: Exit Planning for CEOs and the Board of Directors

The Seraf Compass

As a director on an early stage company board, how do you deliver on your main responsibility as a board member - maximizing shareholder value? And, what do you do to make sure the CEO is doing her job in increasing the value of your investment in the company?

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Why Early Exits Are So Critical to an Angel Portfolio

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It all comes down to making money… Early exits are an important part of the financial reward needed to turn a very risky portfolio of angel investments into an asset that provides an excellent risk/reward profile for you, the investor.

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Timing Is Everything: Angel Investing Success

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Stones Unturned: An Investor’s Guide to Due Diligence in Early Stage Companies

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Some investors will tell you after spending 60 minutes with an entrepreneur they know in their gut whether to make an investment. They rely on their instincts and sometimes their ability to “pattern match” with successful opportunities and entrepreneurs they worked with in their past.

The Best Sales Forecasting Models for Weathering Your Goals

Every sales forecasting model has a different strength and predictability method. It’s recommended to test out which one is best for your team. This way, you’ll be able to further enhance – and optimize – your newly-developed pipeline. Your future sales forecast? Sunny skies (and success) are just ahead!

Leaders Wanted - Assessing Leadership Teams

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Great ideas are a dime a dozen. For example, living in the Boston/Cambridge area, we are surrounded by some of the most innovative researchers in the world working at institutions like MIT and Harvard.

Knife to a Gunfight - Startup Technology & IP

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We all love toys, new ideas, shiny new baubles. Part of the fun of investing in early stage companies relates to the joy we get in trying out new products or imagining how the world will be a better place when a new medical device comes to market. But you have to look beyond the prototype, ignore the flashy product demo, and really dig into the technology before you write that check

7 Key Risks in Early Stage Due Diligence

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Risk is impossible to avoid in business - it is an inherent part, and necessary ingredient, in all successful undertakings. You shouldn’t be afraid of risk and allow it to turn you away from great investment opportunities. Instead, you should focus on understanding what critical risks are involved with an early stage company and the degree to which they have been mitigated with resources, smart planning and preparation

Seraf Toolbox: Impact Investing Due Diligence Checklist

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We have written quite a bit about the importance of a thorough, professional due diligence process. These best practices apply equally to both traditional early stage investing and impact-oriented investment opportunities.

Seraf Toolbox: What You Need and Where You Will Find Key Data to Track Your Early Stage Investments

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As active early stage investors and directors of Launchpad Venture Group, we are asked frequently about how we track our portfolio of investments and how we stay on top of the financial performance of each company.

B2B Pocket Playbook: End-to-End Guide to Sales Enablement

Sales enablement is the strategic process of providing sales teams with the content, guidance, and mentorship needed to engage targeted buyers. It’s all about equipping sales professionals with the tools they need to put their best-selling foot forward. And if sales teams want to continuously sell better -- and faster -- their sales enablement process must have a game-winning strategy. It's time for you to start selling smarter - and hitting your sales number - with the best B2B database in the market. Get started today.

Early Stage Investment Syndication: Key Issues

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A very common practice in the investment world is syndication. Syndication allows multiple investors -- whether they be individuals, angel groups, VC funds, etc. -- to join together and provide the funding resources needed by one company. Syndication has been a common practice amongst VC firms for decades

Rule #1 in Angel Investing - It’s All About the Team

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Great ideas are a dime a dozen. Living in the Boston/Cambridge area, we are surrounded by some of the most innovative researchers in the world working at institutions like MIT and Harvard. I’m pretty confident when I say, in Boston, hardly a day goes by when some graduate student or professor doesn’t invent a new product, discover a new molecule or create a cool app. Unfortunately, without a great team behind that new product, it’s doubtful that a great company will result

Lead, Follow Or Get Out Of the Way - The Art and Science of Deal Leadership

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Active deal leadership is one of the essential elements of success in early stage investing. As legendary investor Fred Wilson observed, every round needs a lead investor. Being a great deal lead takes experience, or the guidance of a great process.

Seraf Toolbox: Impact Investing Due Diligence Report Template

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We’ve published a fair amount about due diligence and being a deal lead. In those articles we talk a lot about the importance of having a good diligence report template to ensure the final report is useful to the reader. Here, for your reference, is our Impact Investing Due Diligence Report Template.

Pressure Points: How to Ensure Your B2B Pipeline Passes Inspection

This eBook highlights best practices for developing a pipeline management process that helps sales leaders and their team C.L.O.S.E (you’ll see what we mean in this eBook) more revenue through data-driven prospecting, stage analysis, and subsequent sales enablement.

Convertible Notes: Good or Evil?

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One of the most controversial topics in the startup community relates to the issue of investing through convertible notes vs. investing through preferred stock. Much has been written about this topic for the past decade, and the debate continues to rage in the blogosphere even today. Even though this topic has been covered by others, we felt it was important to give our perspective

Stock Warrants: Sweetening the Deal for Angel Investors

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? One of the less understood and seldom used instruments in angel investing is the stock warrant. Warrants are essentially the same as the more familiar stock option. Both are a contractual right to buy a certain amount of stock at some point in the future, at a price agreed upon now

What's Your Core Investing Philosophy?

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Seraf Co-Founder Christopher Mirabile interviews several experienced angel investors from around the country to ask: What's Your Core Investing Philosophy? Learn what these influential angels have to say about why they invest in early stage companies, how they determine which sectors to invest in, and how they ultimately find great companies. . . Video Transcript. Mirabile: What's your core investing philosophy? 00:00:06

Searching for Product-Market Fit

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My favorite time of year in New England is early Fall. The heat and humidity of summer are gone, and the air is crisp and clear. Separating the cities of Boston and Cambridge, the Charles River is alive with sailors from several local universities and the Community Boating center.

Marketing-Led Post-COVID-19 Growth Strategies

Businesses are laying off workers, shutting their doors (some permanently), and struggling to react to the radical destruction that coronavirus (COVID-19) is doing to our society and communities. However, there’s no team better suited to lead that charge than the marketing department.

Angel Investing in Challenging Times

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It’s amazing how the world economic situation changed seemingly overnight with Covid-19. One moment we were enjoying a healthy economy with a robust outlook on the future. Suddenly, a pandemic crisis sweeps over the globe creating uncertainty in all aspects of our lives. We’ve been through economic downturns before, yet this time it feels different. Being forced to live in a world of “social distancing” has changed people’s psychology because it has altered everything about our day-to-day world

Staging Capital: Angel Follow-on Theory

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Most startup companies have a continuous need for funds to help grow the business. You will hear the term “Follow-on” as a frequent catchphrase for this type of investing. For example, it’s common to hear one investor say to another, are you planning on “following-on” in this round? Simply put, the investor is asking if you will invest additional funds in the company.

How to Apply the 3 P's to Selecting Angel Investments

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The first approach we recommend for selecting investable companies is to screen each company by examining the Team, Market Opportunity and Product. That’s a great way to sift through hundreds of companies to find the few diamonds in the rough. But for serious angels with more solid prospects than they can possibly invest in, a second filter is needed

When Money is Not Enough: Angel Roles & Human Capital

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? When entrepreneurs seek out angel investors, the majority are looking for financial capital. Very few entrepreneurs understand the importance of finding smart investors who will invest both Financial and Human Capital. Read on for a look at what roles angel investors can perform for a startup company

How ZoomInfo Helps Overcome the Top Pain Points of Inside Sales

Recent digital transformation has shifted the B2B landscape by ushering in the era of buyer empowerment. With more access to user reviews, analyst opinion, and industry research, decision-makers are more informed than ever while navigating what is now known as the “buyer’s journey.”

Look Before You Leap - The Importance of Due Diligence In Angel Investing

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? There are as many different approaches to angel investing as there are investors. Some investors will tell you they invest based on their gut. After a 30 minute meeting with the entrepreneur, they are either in or out. They like to invest in people and that initial meeting guides their decision-making process

Key US Federal Tax Issues for Angel Investors

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As we all know, the United States IRS tax code is extremely complex. Because the code includes some provisions directly affecting angel investing, understanding the tax rules is important for US-based angel investors. There are significant tax savings for angel investors who understand the rules

Not My Cup of Tea - Some Business Types Are A Better Fit for Angels

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Why do web and software businesses seem to get investment traction while real, down-to-earth business and manufacturing-intensive companies flounder to raise capital? It has to do with the type of investor model involved. The investor model has to match the type of company

A Letter to CEOs: Encouragement and Advice

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As a follow-up to our message on Angel Investing in Challenging Times, Christopher and I tasked Raza with putting together an update and perspective piece for the CEOs of our portfolio companies. The letter outlines our thoughts on some of the challenges they will face in the near term. In addition, Raza talks about steps each CEO should take right away to bolster their company. And finally, he touches on some of the resources they should reach out to within our local and national communities

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Marketing Ops: The New Revenue Hero

As data continues to play a starring role in today’s B2B organizations, both marketing and sales operations professionals are poised to solidify their place as critical revenue drivers. In particular, the evolution of the Marketing Operations (Ops) role has created a new standard in marketing and has become a vital component of an organization’s success.

Impact Investing: Best Reads and Podcasts

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Whether you are an experienced impact investor or just starting to explore the space, reading and listening to experts' perspectives can help expand your knowledge and provide new insights. Based on conversations with leading impact investors, we compiled a list of books and podcasts that will further inform and keep you up to date on the impact investing world

Spade Work: How Early Stage Board Directors Add Value

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Over the past few years, there has been much talk about the importance of investing both financial and human capital into the rapidly expanding entrepreneurial ecosystem. From our perspective, human capital is as important as financial capital in driving the long term success of startup companies. So how do we go about the job of applying human capital to foster this success

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Preparing for the Inevitable: Angel Investors, Death & Taxes

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Things don’t always go exactly as planned in life or in angel investing. And just as in life, with angel investing, it pays to be prepared. So here are some thoughts on planning for the inevitable, and how to prevent catastrophes by fitting your angel investments into your estate plan from the beginning

Read This First - An Entrepreneur’s Library

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Investing in early-stage companies is investing in entrepreneurs. Understanding how they measure up is partly a function of understanding how they think, or should think. Entrepreneurship has come a long way toward being a better-understood and accessible way of life. But it will never be completely mainstream, because it’s not for everyone

What We Learned From Our Own Data-Driven ABM Strategy

ZoomInfo has created the following eBook to help other B2B organizations gain insights on how to launch their own data-driven ABM strategy. In this eBook, we will reveal the good and the bad from our own campaign and highlight some key takeaways on how to improve your ABM strategies moving forward.

Fine Print: Understanding Key Deal Terms and How They Can Affect Your Returns

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It’s exciting news! The CEO of one of your investments tells you that a buyer expressed serious interest in acquiring her company for $30M. Since the company has struggled to find huge growth, you are relieved and do a quick mental “back of the envelope” calculation and you figure you’ve bagged a 5x return in a couple of years. Not too bad for one of your first angel deals