Finances & juridique

Fundraiser Guidelines

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Un nombre croissant d’entrepreneurs font intervenir un leveur pour les assister dans leur levée de fonds. Or son rôle reste relativement flou et peu encadré. C’est pourquoi The Galion Project a réalisé ce document de référence sur un tour de financement en Série A ou Série B avec un leveur de fonds. L’objectif est double : d’une part définir les conditions dans lesquelles il apporte une réelle valeur ajoutée ; d’autre part accompagner les entrepreneurs dans leurs négociations avec cet intermédiaire en définissant précisément les modalités et clauses de son contrat.

Ce document, réalisé sous la direction de Didier Kuhn (ScreenTonic, Chais d’oeuvre), est la synthèse du retour d’expériences de membres du Galion : Nicolas Berbigier (Famoco), Grégory Pascal (SensioLabs), et Anna Stepanoff (Wild Code School). Un grand merci à eux et à tous les entrepreneur.e.s du Galion qui ont contribué à la réalisation de cet outil.

Faut-il faire appel à un leveur ?

Il n’y a pas de réponse toute faite mais voici quelques éléments de réflexion :

Dans cette activité non régulée, on trouve beaucoup d’acteurs sous des formes diverses et surtout avec des qualités de prestations extrêmement variables ! Soyez vigilants et exigeants.

À quels moments faire appel à un leveur ?

Avant de prendre un leveur, il est essentiel de bien analyser vos besoins à chaque étape de la levée de fonds. Cela vous aidera à évaluer si vous souhaitez ou non faire appel à ses services.

3 phases :

1) Préparation

2) Roadshow / Commercialisation

Là où un leveur peut vraiment faire la différence, c’est lorsque votre activité requiert une structuration financière plus élaborée (mélange d’equity, de dette, d’obligations convertibles…), de créer un “pool” de plusieurs investisseurs ou d’aller chercher des investisseurs autres que les VCs de la place bien identifiés, comme par exemple des VCs étrangers, des fonds corporate agissant souvent sur des thématiques spéciales, des family offices peu médiatisés… Cette connaissance d’un large spectre d’acteurs peut permettre d’arriver à financer des projets qui ne rentrent pas dans les thèses “classiques” d’investissement des VCs ou de compléter un tour avec des acteurs qui apportent une connaissance métier ou sectorielle.

Cela peut aussi permettre de créer plus de concurrence et de mettre ainsi sous tension le process de levée. Mais cela n’est possible que si votre activité est à même de retenir l’attention de ces acteurs spécifiques (réalité de votre dimension internationale, adéquation avec la verticale d’investissement du Corporate VC, taille de deal justifiant plusieurs investisseurs…).

3) Négociation / Closing

Avec ou sans leveur ? Un leveur peut vraiment être un bon sparring partner pour vous aider a structurer votre pitch et une aide d’autant plus précieuse que votre levée nécessite une structuration financière et des partenaires financiers variés. Mais il ne faut pas oublier que l’ensemble de l’exercice de la levée de fonds (la capacité à faire rêver sur son projet, à le “vendre”, à le présenter clairement, votre abnégation et votre détermination, vos compétences en matière de négociation et de décision, votre capacité à apprendre et comprendre un domaine nouveau qui peut être abscons (c’est quoi déjà le weighted average ratchet 🙂 ?) fait partie intégrante de votre aptitude à convaincre un fonds… et cela ne se sous-traite pas !

Comment choisir son leveur ?

Si vous décidez de faire appel à un leveur, reste à choisir lequel.

Pour cela, FAITES VOTRE DUE DILIGENCE ! Pour cela, considérez :

Voici une base de contrat de prestation avec un leveur. Le but est de lister et d’expliquer les principales clauses à retranscrire dans votre contrat, pas de proposer un contrat type à reprendre tel quel. Nous avons volontairement fait le choix de l’anglais sur la suite du document pour qu’il puisse être utilisé avec des acteurs internationaux.

Engagement letter – terms

1/ Between the company and the advisor

The assignment that you wish to give to THE ADVISOR will consist in assisting THE COMPANY and its Shareholders in the contemplated Transaction

2/ Definition

Notes: important to define the targeted investors and those you don’t want (you can add in addendum a list of targets or exclusions): (i) type of investors: VCs, Corporate VCs, Public Institutions, Corporates, Family Offices, BAs… (ii) local / international

(i) capital increase, convertible bonds, venture debt (from one or more Potential Partners), bank debt;

(ii) sale of part or the totality of the shares of the Shareholders carried-out by The Potential Partners

Notes: Even if the Transaction is intended to be a “classical” funding round through a capital increase, it’s interesting to contemplate (or decide to exclude them) the different forms of financing which could occur. In the same manner, a funding round could trigger a partial sale of existing shares from minority shareholders or cash-out from founders. It also happens that the funding round turns into the full sale of the Company. Better to anticipate and have the terms negotiated with THE ADVISOR. You can also decide to go ahead with a “double track” process: Financing or sale of the Company.

Notes: same as above : define what is the scope of the financing instruments that would be considered.

Notes: useful to specify an amount under which you will not consider the Transaction. Important to have THE ADVISOR committed to a minimum amount which could be very different from the amount they pretend they can raise for you when they are trying to get your business.

3/ Scope of the advisor engagement

The assignment of THE ADVISOR will include the following elements:

Notes: you could exclude some of these items. You should also specify if there is a specific process (different time phases…)

THE ADVISOR undertakes neither to send any information to nor to contact any Potential Partner without the prior agreement of the Company, should it not have been previously selected in accordance with the Company.

THE ADVISOR will inform regularly and exhaustively the Company of the execution of its mission.

4/ Remuneration & expenses

Foreword: obviously the fee amounts and structure will depend a lot on your specific situation. Here are a few guidelines and reference points. Everything is negotiable !

Notes: the funds contributed by the existing shareholders (or by an investor which has already expressed its commitment to invest before hiring the ADVISOR) can be a bit tricky to manage. On one hand, the existing investors can be (rightfully) very reluctant to see a commision taken on their additional investment, on the other hand not including them in some form in the remuneration of THE ADVISOR can create misalignment of interest (THE ADVISOR being better-off by bringing new investors than taking the money from the existing ones or can create a mess if, at the end, the existing shareholders decide to invest much more than their initial commitment). Our recommendation goes to the second option: the funds committed by the existing shareholders from the start of the process are excluded but if they decide later in the process to increase their share or, as it might happen, to preempt the whole Transaction after having seen other investors interests / term sheets, then the additional amount is treated in the same way as any amount coming from new investors.

The retainer already paid to THE ADVISOR will be netted from the Success fee.
The Company will reimburse THE ADVISOR for all reasonable expenses incurred in connection with the preparation and execution of this transaction. Individual expenses above [500 – 1000] € are subject to prior written approval by the Company.

Notes: Be careful: you should not accept or commit to pay part of the fee in kind (free shares / stock options (BSA) or else). This is an absolute NO GO ! You should not grant a right to THE ADVISOR to invest along the funding round. There is no reason to prevent them from investing but (i) this should not be a right and (ii) you should decide with the new investors whether you want THE ADVISOR to invest in your company. These 2 schemes are not market practice , can add confusion to the process and potential conflict of interest : your ADVISOR should represent your interest (the existing shareholders) and not the interest of the new comers (them if they invest or get shares).

Financing modalities:
All fees will be paid by the Company once it shall receive the cash from the closing of the Transaction, within [15 days].

Notes : It should be based on the cash received, so that in case of, for example, different tranches of financing, the fee is only paid when cash in the bank!

5/ Exclusivity & duration of the mission

This contract is valid until the earlier of a period of [6] months from the signing of this contract or the completion of the Transaction and will be automatically extended by periods of 2 months.
Either party may terminate the contract at any time by notifying the other party in writing with a [2 – 4] weeks notice period.

In the event that THE ADVISOR terminates the contract, no Success Fee shall be paid by the Company and THE ADVISOR gives up on its follow up right.

In the event that The Company decides to terminate the contract during the duration of the contract, T he Company will pay to THE ADVISOR :
– X € if terminated before the start of the commercialisation (could be a price based on time spent)
– [Y € or x% of the minimum amount of the Success Fee] if terminated before the issuance of a Term Sheet by a Potential Partner
– The full Success Fee if terminated after the issuance of a Term Sheet (above the Minimum Amount) by a Potential Partner
No follow up right applicable in these cases.

Notes: this is an often missing clause in the contract albeit an important one: it could happen that the Company decides to terminate the contract (funding no longer required, company got acquired, THE ADVISOR is not delivering on its promise….). It is therefore very important to have the ability to terminate this contract and discuss beforehand the relevant fees to be paid. In these cases, it is also important to decide how long and how the follow up right remain applicable so that for example if the ADVISOR is not delivering, you can switch for another one. Not having this clause is a source of potentially painful conflict.

6/ Exclusivity

The Company agrees that no entity other than THE ADVISOR will be retained by them for any services relating to the Transaction, except with the prior written agreement of THE ADVISOR, for all the duration of the contract.

7/ Follow up right

In the event of any termination of this Agreement (except for the cases listed in “no go fee/ break up fee), THE ADVISOR shall be entitled to the applicable fee or fees on or prior to [6-12] months from the effective date of termination of this Agreement, if the Company consummates, or enters into an agreement with any of the Potential Partners which subsequently results in a Transaction. Any such fee or fees shall be payable upon the closing of any such Transaction.

Notes: The follow up right is standard as long as it remains below the [6-12] period indicated here.

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