Here you can find answers to frequently asked questions about business angels, CRANE, and about investing in early-stages operations in general. We receive all questions exclusively through a contact form, and, depending on the specific question, we will answer directly or post the answer on this page.
Answers to specific questions about CRANE’s operations
How does the registration and project evaluation process look like?
The process of registering projects to business angels in CRANE is done in several steps:
- Entrepreneur registers the projects on our web pages
- CRANE’s team of experts periodically analyses the submitted projects, and sorts them according to several criteria, among which the most important is completeness of registration (in other words, it is preferable to fill out as much information as possible in the registration form, including the financial plan, team and competition details), and general feasibility of the project.
- All projects receive response, and those that pass primary analysis go for inspection to network members, who give their personal conclusions and evaluations of every individual project. Every member is expected to give a general evaluation of the project (1-10), then a brief commentary, and a personal level of interest ranging from “not interested” to “I will invest”
- In this phase members can already directly contact the entrepreneurs if they are very interested in the project, but in most cases, the most interesting projects (according to the members’ evaluation and interest) will be invited to a showcase event where they will have the opportunity to hold a presentation for the members.
- Projects that manage to find an interested investor and establish communication with them, then start the investment process, which at this point no longer has a direct connection with CRANE.
Answers to general questions about business angels
What are business angels? How do they invest in projects?
Business angel is a general term for a kind of investor who invests primarily in business projects in their earliest phases, the so called seed capital. Generally, angels are individual investors (although sometimes they join forces investing together in the so called syndication deal), most often with their own entrepreneurial and/or managerial experience, and their investment, besides money, usually includes a great amount of practical advice and guidelines for the entrepreneur.
The most common way of business angels’ investing is the so called equity deal, i.e. in exchange for investing, business angel gets (usually minority) ownership stake in the company. It means that the investor shares the risk of the project with the entrepreneur, and very often takes part in running the operations of the company, generally with no special compensation, but as a “free employee.” Sometimes the investment is in the form of a “convertible loan,” which means that the business angel gives a loan that doesn’t have to be returned but becomes a majority stake if certain conditions aren’t met.
Apart from the financial investment, there is also the investment of their own work and knowledge, generally when it’s about companies and projects in their earliest stages, when the entrepreneur has nothing but an idea. Business angel then, without financial compensation, helps the entrepreneur develop a business plan and strategy, work out the product, organize the development of the prototype and the like, and in return they get an ownership stake in the company. Most often the same business angel participates in the second phase with the financial investment.
How do business angels make a profit from the projects they invest in?
When it comes to investing in an ownership structure, the only way for a business angel to make a profit is to sell their stake in the company, to exit. Generally, there are two ways to exit: first is to sell the stake to another investor (acquisition), and the second is for the company to go to public stock exchange (IPO – initial public offering).
In the case of acquisition, the investor can sell only their stake, or it is possible that a company or a fund buys the whole company, taking over the entirety of ownership stakes.
How much stake in the company do business angels usually take for their investment?
It depends on the phase the project is in. Generally, the earlier the phase in which the investor enters the company, the bigger their stake, and when more work is done in advance, the investment stake in the ownership will, of course, be smaller.
How can I estimate the real value of my startup, and whether the percentage the investor is asking for in a certain amount is real or overrated?
When it comes to very early startups, that do not yet have a significant income or even an active business model, it is very hard to estimate the total value of the company based on some objective parameters. This applies especially if the startup is on the level of an idea, i.e. there’s not even a prototype of the product developed, because it is impossible to estimate the successfulness of the realization.
So the simplest way, at least for an entrepreneur, is to ask themselves: “What would be the lowest amount for which I would be willing to give up on this project and never work on it again?” Of course that everybody would be willing to do it for a billion euros, so that’s why the key word is “lowest.” Start with a high amount and slowly go down from it, and when you come to an amount below which you automatically say “no way, that would be too low” you have come to your personal project evaluation.
Of course, it is a subjective evaluation, but in this phase no other evaluation is possible. Potential investor may have a different evaluation, but it’s up to the entrepreneur to except theirs or insist on his own.
Is it possible to register a project if there is no existing company or trade?
Of course, an existing company is not a prerequisite for project registration.
I have an excellent idea for a job but haven’t yet done anything to realize it. How much is my idea worth?
Nothing. The rule is that every idea is worth exactly as much as its realization.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for investment, but the investment will be based on evaluation of how much the project will be worth once it’s realized. And that depends on the quality of the team which is supposed to realize it, therefore by investing in projects that exist only on the level of an idea, the investor is actually investing in team quality.
Is it necessary to write and hand in a business plan?
A business plan is desirable but not obligatory if you have filled out in detail all the fields in the registration. But with additional documents such as business plan, project presentation, demo project and the like, the project gains more credibility with investors.
Why did you introduce fees for project registration? How does buying registration fee work?
A great number of received registrations is incomplete and registered almost without any information about the project. Our members evaluate those registrations as well. To avoid incomplete registrations, we have decided to introduce charging the registration process, just like American business angels networks do. The amount is symbolic – 30.00kn. We hope this will encourage you to fill out the registration form in more detail with all the information.
Payment is done through Entrio, which is one of our invested projects. The process is very simple:
- Buy the registration fee on the following link
- ou will receive the ticket, i.e. the unique code, on your email.
- Enter the code when registering and hand in your project.
If you have any questions, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org. Charging was introduced on January 24 2014 by a unanimous decision of the Assembly.
Answers to questions received through the contact form
I am interested in the information about the profile of investments in projects valued at 1,000,000 EUR or more. Are these projects also included in these investments and in what way? By additional capital through finding a strategic partner or in some other way?
Generally, business angels invest amounts ranging from 20,000-100,000 Euros, and although in some cases, through joint investments, the amount can be even bigger, a million Euros is greatly above the usual amount of angels’ investments and enters the area of venture capital.
However, in a small number of cases, the company needs the investment in a single one-time payment – most often the investment is done in the so called “rounds” which grow as the company develops and the investors grow more and more confident in the project’s success.
I am looking for your phone number and contact. I would like to get an interview through a meeting or by phone?
The function of CRANE is to connect entrepreneurs and business angels which it does by forwarding business projects to its members who then individually evaluate the projects. After that, investors can individually contact the entrepreneur or make contact with the entrepreneur at the project presentation. Our network has more than 15 members and some of them might like the projects, some not because it is not from their area. This means that you would have to have a meeting with all the members of CRANE, and a meeting with members before they express interest in the project is, unfortunately, not possible due to their time limitations. We recommend you register the project in our system so it could be visible to all our members.
Can I register several projects (ideas)?
Yes, of course – the number of projects is in no way limited.
Is there a possibility to work out the business documentation (business plan, development, presentation) in collaboration with you?
At the moment CRANE does not offer any services with regard to that, but we are planning to organize educational workshops on the subject in question, as well as cooperation with consulting companies and associations that can offer that kind of service. Also, some of our business angels can show interest in investing in the form of their own work, if they are interested in the concept of the project.
Once the documentation is sent, how can I be sure that the idea (in case it is rejected) won’t be used by a third party?
Unfortunately, there is no legally binding mechanism (in some cases patents can play a certain role, however they generally don’t cover the whole business project but only a part of it), for the simple reason that there is no monopoly on ideas and it is very likely that several people have the same business idea. However, there are some mechanisms: above all, CRANE Statute obliges all its members to abide by certain ethical rules.
Here we can apply a simple rule: the more the project is worked out and developed, the protection is stronger, because it is more profitable for the investor to invest in the project itself than to steal the idea and start from scratch.
Can you please send me the email address where I can deliver you the whole project/invention description along with its draft and prototype, because I would like to show you the project in more detail apart from the basic registration I did.
For a quality project registration it is necessary to send as much detail as possible about the product and business model, so that the members could analyse it better and make a decision about their interest in investing. That’s why it is not practical to deliver projects via post, phone or email, but primarily through project registration form which is on the CRANE web site.
I wanted to know if the project must necessarily be from the WEB/ICT sector or there may be investors interested, for example, in agriculture/modern cultivation of certain cultures for regional export. What kind of projects do you fund?
In theory, there is no limit to the kind of project or the field it is from. But in practice, business angels are interested in risky projects with high growth potential, which can result in a multiple return on investment over a few years. This means that low-return and small-income projects are generally excluded, and that innovative, production projects with a prominent technological component have the best chance. In short, we prefer ICT projects and avoid capital-intensive and low-income projects – which are generally in the field of agriculture, hotel/hostel investments, real estate investments and the like.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t register, because it will increase your project’s exposure and the possibility of finding a suitable investor.
I wanted to know, in the collaboration of the investor and the idea implementer, how is the liability of each party defined regarding a failed project or wasted invested money? I.e. what are the consequences of the failed project for the company that tried to realize the idea but failed?
As indicated, a business angel, in general, invests in a company by taking over a (minority) ownership stake in return. This means that the company and the investor are no longer separate entities, but the investor now has a certain say in key decisions, which is generally evident in investor’s participation in the company’s board of directors.
This also means that the business angel will try to get to know all the people included in the company’s ownership and operations, and that he probably won’t invest if he finds that he can’t trust those people to use his investment in the best possible way.
Before I send you the complete business plan for the project, I would like for somebody to sign an NDA.
CRANE association does not sign NDAs or similar documents, for the simple reason that those documents prevent our main function which is to give our members – business angels access to received projects. Legally, CRANE is a private legal entity whose activities do not in any way bind their members who are, on the other hand, individual natural entities.
However, we can give two pieces of advice on what you could do. First is to simply forget the NDA, because it simply a) does not represent a real level of project protection, and b) it limits your business opportunities, especially finding an investor. In the developed world, professional investors – especially VC funds and business angels – generally don’t sign NDAs, and you can find reasons for it in several places on the Internet.
However, if you are really certain that parts of your business plan must not “leak,” take our second advice. Make an executive summary which contains enough information for the potential investor to have an idea what the project is about, and then demand a signing of NDA from anyone who wants you to send them a complete plan. Although this also isn’t an ideal solution, it is a certain compromise between investor’s interest and your fear – which is most often unwarranted.
In the end, have the following quote in mind: “The best way to protect your business plan is to realize it.”