This article is an excerpt from the essay on A Guide to Seed Fund Raising by Geoff Ralston. A seed investment can usually be closed rapidly. As noted above, it is an advantage to use standard documents with consistent terms, such as YC’s safe. Negotiation, and often there is none at all, can then proceed on one or two variables, such as the valuation/cap and possibly a discount.
Deals have momentum and there is no recipe towards building momentum behind your deal other than by telling a great story, persistence, and legwork. You may have to meet with dozens of investors before you get that close. But to get started you just need to convince one of them. Once the first money is in, each subsequent close will get faster and easier
Once an investor says that they are in, you are almost done. This is where you should rapidly close using a handshake protocol If you fail at negotiating from this point on, it is probably your fault.
When you enter into a negotiation with a VC or an angel, remember that they are usually more experienced at it than you are, so it is almost always better not to try to negotiate in real-time. Take requests away with you, and get help from YC or Imagine K12 partners, advisors, or legal counsel. But also remember that although certain requested terms can be egregious, the majority of things credible VCs and angels will ask for tend to be reasonable. Do not hesitate to ask them to explain precisely what they are asking for and why. If the negotiation is around valuation (or cap) there are, naturally, plenty of considerations, e.g. other deals you have already closed. However, it is important to remember that the valuation you choose at this early round will seldom matter to the success or failure of the company. Get the best deal you can get–but get the deal! Finally, once you get to yes, don’t wait around. Get the investor’s signature and cash as soon as possible. One reason safes are popular is because the closing mechanics are as simple as signing a document and then transferring funds. Once an investor has decided to invest, it should take no longer than a few minutes to exchange signed documents online (for example via Clerky or Ironclad) and execute a wire or send a check.