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Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist [Hardcover]

Brad Feld , Jason Mendelson , Dick Costolo
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Aug. 2 2011
An engaging guide to excelling in today's venture capital arena

Beginning in 2005, Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson, managing directors at Foundry Group, wrote a long series of blog posts describing all the parts of a typical venture capital Term Sheet: a document which outlines key financial and other terms of a proposed investment. Since this time, they've seen the series used as the basis for a number of college courses, and have been thanked by thousands of people who have used the information to gain a better understanding of the venture capital field.

Drawn from the past work Feld and Mendelson have written about in their blog and augmented with newer material, Venture Capital Financings puts this discipline in perspective and lays out the strategies that allow entrepreneurs to excel in their start-up companies. Page by page, this book discusses all facets of the venture capital fundraising process. Along the way, Feld and Mendelson touch on everything from how valuations are set to what externalities venture capitalists face that factor into entrepreneurs' businesses.

  • Includes a breakdown analysis of the mechanics of a Term Sheet and the tactics needed to negotiate
  • Details the different stages of the venture capital process, from starting a venture and seeing it through to the later stages
  • Explores the entire venture capital ecosystem including those who invest in venture capitalist
  • Contain standard documents that are used in these transactions
  • Written by two highly regarded experts in the world of venture capital

The venture capital arena is a complex and competitive place, but with this book as your guide, you'll discover what it takes to make your way through it.

Frequently Bought Together

Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist + The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses + The Startup Owner's Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company
Price For All Three: CDN$ 100.79

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"...offers hard-headed advice on dealing with lawyers and venture capitalists, so you can make the right decisions for you and your business..." (FT.com, 30th January 2012)

"Long term horizons, coupled with clear analysis in the book, provide a clear understanding and historical perspective into financial crises" (Ad-Hoc-News, November 2011)


"Easily the best book I have ever read on start-ups and venture capital."
Tim Ferriss, author of #1 NY Times Bestsellers, The 4-Hour Workweek and The 4-Hour Body

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars THE book for raising Venture Capital Feb. 4 2013
If you have never raised capital through VC's or you have done it 10 times, you are guaranteed to learn something from this book. I am buying an additional copy for my lawyer!

Alan Smithson, CEO
SmithsonMartin Inc.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  161 reviews
67 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's like having Brad whispering in your ear when you pitch VCs July 18 2011
By DROdio - Published on Amazon.com
(Note - although the book isn't available yet, you can get it on a Kindle immediately -- that's what I did)

I'm CEO of a tech company based in Silicon Valley, and I've been reading Brad's blog for a long time.

I wasn't sure how much new information the book would provide -- after all, just following the blogs of top Valley-based entrepreneurs and VCs provides a wealth of information (Brad Feld, Fred Wilson, Steve Blank, Mark Suster, pmarca, Sean Ellis, Ben Horowitz -- the list goes on)

But the book delivers in a few key areas: First off, Brad & Jason break down the entire process from soup to nuts. That's great for first-time entrepreneurs. I wouldn't be surprised if this book became the bible of startup incubator programs. There's enough detail to make it feel fresh, but it's not so dense that it's hard to get through. I would suggest a re-read though, especially if you're completely new to fundraising (like Dick Costolo says in the forward, if you don't know preferred stock from chicken stock).

The real value for more experienced entrepreneurs lies in the nuances of the fundraising process. If you've been through it before, you know that one misstep can be very costly, and there's absolutely a "code" to follow. Its described eloquently as VCs looking to do deals with those who can speak their language. So consider this a way to get fluent in that language, so you can focus on what's important to you, instead of junior mistakes.

For those looking to raise an angel round only: I've written a series of blog posts about our experience raising $1MM for our statup. The raise took us 14 weeks, and my goal is to help other entrepreneurs do it more quickly and efficiently. You can read about my "Fundraising Cribsheet Manifesto" at [...] . Hope it's helpful, and good luck!
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading if you're starting a tech business July 17 2011
By Eduardo Fernández - Published on Amazon.com
You need to read this book if you are running a startup or plan to start a company soon. If you're like me, you've probably scoured the internet for this sort of information before. There are some fantastic blogs out there, but it's very difficult to find detailed and specific information. All you need to know about raising money is here, in a nice package. Go buy it now.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Become an insider July 17 2011
By Scott C. Yates - Published on Amazon.com
It seems like a lot of deals that you hear about from the VC world are all done by insiders. Part of that is just perception, but part of it is reality: People who've done lots of VC deals get VC funding much more quickly and easily.

Part of that, clearly, is the track record. I think another part of it, however, is just the world of VC. The actual VCs are so busy that they just don't have time to give a whole education to the founders of the companies that are seeking funding. They want to deal with someone who speaks their language.

That's why this book is so useful. Any reader who really gets immersed in every page won't be able to help but emerge from the experience with an imprint of the language of VC. If you really read it, you'll have the advantage of at least sounding like an insider, someone who really has the language down. If you have the language down, well, that's the crucial first step.

If you were thinking of moving to, say, Portugal for more than five years, you'd probably buy a book and really try to learn some Portuguese before you go and keep it with you there. If you really want to get some VC, you are going to live in that world for at least five years. This is the book you need to read and study over and over for your journey.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like having a startup super-mentor on your shelf Aug. 4 2011
By foobar - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was very pleased to receive an advance copy of Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist the other day. After reading it, I've concluded that it's like having a super-mentor on your shelf.

I have been extraordinarily fortunate throughout my career to have been blessed with amazing mentors. Men like Will Harvey and Steve Blank have been there to help me, encourage me, and push me to do better. For any entrepreneur, these super-mentors are one of the secret weapons that can make a difference: answering difficult questions, making key introductions, or offering sage advice.

However, there is one thing that the best mentors do which is most important: they can help you figure out what the $@%@$ is going on. When things get really tricky, often we find ourselves asking the wrong questions, or not even knowing enough to ask.

When raising money, for example, you might think that most negotiations happen in a rational way, over just a few deal points that have a clear meaning. You might think that "company valuation" refers, naturally, to how much your company is - you know - valued. But this kind of thinking will get you in trouble fast. Because in reality, these negotiations hinge on hundreds of hidden factors, incentives, and sources of agency bias. Nothing is straightforward, especially if you haven't done it before. These are the moments when the truly great mentors stand out in their ability to cut through the BS and help you understand the motivations and systems that are driving seemingly incomprehensible behavior.

All of this is by way of saying that if you already have a mentor of the caliber of a Steve Blank or Brad Feld on speed-dial, you probably don't need to read Brad's new book Venture Deals.

What's that you say? You don't - or you're not sure? Well then, you absolutely, positively, without-any-doubt have to read Brad's new book Venture Deals.

When I received my advance copy, I was a little worried. I generally try and stay away from topics like "how to raise VC" or "how to sell your company" because the startup landscape is already saturated with tips and tricks. And reading a term sheet has all the entertainment value of watching dried paint get even drier.

But Venture Deals is quite a surprise: it's readable, engaging, and addresses issues way below the surface.

It is not a how-to manual or a collection of tips. It's an in-depth explanation of what the @$%$ is going on when an entrepreneur considers raising money or doing an M&A transaction. And even if you don't think you're going to do that for your startup, this is very valuable information to have - because you never know who might approach you in the future. This is a book you'll want to have handy, just in case.

I've dealt with a bunch of different kinds of investors over the years, from so-called "dumb money" all the way up. The hardest thing to understand when working with them is that they are subject to forces and incentives that are rarely disclosed openly. When I came to Silicon Valley, I was inducted into a body of accumulated wisdom about how to handle them. This is the same advice I hand down again to entrepreneurs who are seeking my counsel. That advice is completely consistent with what's contained in Venture Deals.

For example, the right way to think about a term sheet is as a negotiation over just two things: economics and control. Everything in a term sheet is negotiable - if and only if you already have sufficient leverage. (Do you know the sources of leverage in a VC deal? Wouldn't you like to?) There are many founder-friendly terms you can push for, from automatic acceleration to reduced vesting - but each risks reducing the alignment of interests between founders and investors. And even if you're an old pro at raising money, you're likely to find a few surprises in here. Are you sure you know the formula for how your VC reserves capital for your future rounds (I didn't)?

And even the most battle-tested entrepreneur would be forgiven if they were a little confused by the following bit of poetry in a term sheet:

"Antidilution Provisions: The conversion price of the Series A Preferred will be subject to a narrow-based weighted average adjustment to reduce dilution in the event that the Company issues additional equity secuities..."

Now even though us old pros know that there are different kinds of antidilution provisions, are you absolutely sure you remember which one is the good kind and which is the horrible kind that caused all those problems in 2001? Are you sure your lawyer will catch it if the formula isn't quite right? Wouldn't you rather be sure? I've lived through a crisis where a company's antidilution provisions kicked in and nobody could agree on how the formula was to be interpreted. I wish I'd had this book on my shelf back then.

Which brings me back to my claim at the top about having a super-mentor in book form. Venture Deals explains not just what to do but why it works that way. Every VC term sheet I've ever seen has come with a claim that its terms are all "entirely standard" and "as simple as possible" - whether it was one page or a dozen pages long. That can be frustrating, but what do you do about it? Which terms really are standard for good reasons, which are standard for bad reasons, and which are just gotchas designed to skew the negotiation?

Venture Deals has negotiating tips, same as other books, but - much, much more importantly - its negotiating section is called What Really Matters? When you're in the thick of it, only a truly great mentor can tell you which provisions are negotiable, which are negotiable-but, and which are really non-negotiable. ("negotiable-but" means you can possibly win that fight, but it will damage your reputation in the process.)

Now, it's important to keep in mind that Brad and Jason are themselves VC's, albeit ones with an entrepreneur-friendly reputation. So you always have to take their advice - like anyone's - with a grain of salt. But they've thought of that, too. Throughout the book, they've given space for brief commentaries by an experienced entrepreneur, Matt Blumberg, CEO of Return Path. In several places he gives an important counterpoint to Brad and Jason's perspective. It's a combination that is unique to this book.

I hope all of you who are reading this - no matter where you live, no matter what kind of company you have - will one day get to make the pilgrimage to Sand Hill Road in Silicon Valley, or another famous startup hub. It's an exhilarating experience. But it's not without its risks. As the old saying goes, "watch your wallet." And bring your copy of Venture Deals.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I've read all of the "VC" books - this one's the keeper Sept. 26 2011
By Kenik Hassel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
So many Venture Capital books are functionally textbooks. Written with lots of mechanical detail, yet missing the narrative thread that results in a consumable, tangible read. This book nails the VC process, the high spots, the gotchas and everything in between for the startup entrepreneur. If you want to be a VC, this isn't the best book for you...then again there really isn't a book for that. This book is for startup entrpreneurs that don't want to go into the funding process with their pants down.

A super read and resource.
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