October 2014 status - a live autopsy and question

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  • David

    I didn't see this thread until after the Seedrs alert.

    I'm sure the last few weeks have been tough for you; don't sweat it.

    You have a very good story to to sell and someone you met through this exercise will introduce you to something you won't believe. It might be a few months or even years but it will happen. Giving it a shot is a good thing.

    For investors.
    If you invested in the first round (Jan 2013), fill out your claim form and send it to the HMRC office that sends your tax code
    If you invested in the second round, it is part of your tax return that is due by the end of Jan 2015.

    Back to VB
    Take a little time, breathe. Dust yourself off and come back. I know you will.

  • Definitely a good idea to sticky it.

  • Thanks Arvy.

    It's a strange process, the selling-off of assets and prepping to turn the lights off. Quite emotional.

    Thankfully the job front looks really promising as several doors opened after I published the blog post. This means I shouldn't have too severe a financial squeeze before I can start getting back on top of things. It's horrible how one runs on empty (financially and emotionally) and the result is that I can't afford a break... but some afternoons on the bike before I start anything new might help.

  • Come for a ride at some point while we are still neighbours!

  • Swearing at motorists is hardly the relaxation David needs... <<< obvs LOLz

  • Heh, I've done rides during traumatic and post-traumatic times of my life... my takeaways: Ride slowly, don't go far, stay in areas you know.

    Most of the accidents I've had have been during such periods, there's a level of mental exhaustion that is just dangerous. I remember doing a London Dynamo Box Hill run and at the cafe I was remounting my bike after a drink, and I stepped over and just went straight down hard. Couldn't believe it... but something gets frazzled.

    I'll mostly try and potter around town... meandering commutes at below commuter pace. Just putting some miles in the legs.

  • I like to get on the Turbo and listen to Metallica.

  • You are Peter Sagan AICM£5

  • I was going to write an email to David/Matt, but ended up thinking that a more public space might be more appropriate.

    For the people that don't know me (most of you) I am friends with Matt (and hopefully now David), and I worked on microcosm for a few months from September to December last year - which incidentally led to getting my current job, so I'm very grateful to them both. I also invested in the second fundraising round before I did this (it's already public on Seedrs so I'll disclose the amount - a shade under £10k for just under 0.5%).

    I had an inkling that it would come to this, and to be perfectly honest, I don't mind. I'm extremely pleased that Matt and David were able to give it their best attempt within the bounds of the resources available, and learned a few lessons along the way.

    There are a few things that I want to comment on.

    Firstly, the quick winding down. I appreciate how hard this decision is to make, even when it's staring you in the face. On second thoughts, having never done it myself, I probably don't quite appreciate the difficulty of it. However, it does give everyone closure. Less emotionally important, it also gives the investors their loss relief which can then be used for other opportunities.

    Secondly, the openness and clarity of communication with investors and other interested parties, including the open-office policy. The honesty in the quarterly updates was great, you weren't afraid to shine a spotlight on your own weaknesses and shortcomings. It gave me huge amounts of trust and confidence that, although things didn't progress smoothly at times, nothing was being shirked or purposefully ignored/obfuscated. This is a rare feeling for me to have about any company.

    Thirdly, from the short time I worked with you both, I know how much effort and deliberation went in to every decision. Nothing was hand waved, no short cuts were taken. In hindsight, perhaps some should have been (!) but at least it meant that there was solid reasoning behind every direction that was taken. Given this and the latest decision to shut up shop, I have faith that it's both the best and the only way forward.

    To both of you (and without wanting to be patronising):

    Take as much time off as you can afford to, as it's been an emotional roller-coaster and both of you have put in so much time and effort.

    Keep me in the loop with where you're going and what you get up to. If in future you decide to have another go at creating something, let me know.

    Don't treat this as a failure. I can't speak for other people, but I'm extremely impressed with what you've achieved on what was essentially a shoe-string budget.

    If you ever fancy a drink and to talk things over, you know where I work!

    All the best,

  • perhaps I should just gift LFGSS in it's entirety to LFGSS CIC

    This (apart from the gift element) was a thought which occurred to me last time I looked at this thread.

    since I was offered money for LFGSS

    What order of magnitude? The comedy online site valuation tools (and I use the term advisedly) give valuations of anywhere from $10 to £130k. I ask because the thought which occurred to me was to have the CIC/Cycling Club acquire lfgss.com by a buy-out funded by a one-off subscription from cycling club members. In the olden days, clubs would sometimes have a subscription to purchase a memorial trophy, for example, and raise total sums of the order of a month's salary of the average member, but I wasn't sure whether the amount which could be easily raised this way would be comically short of a commercial valuation.

    In the light of your considering gifting it to the CIC, the commercial value is less relevant, but my understanding is that lfgss.com has had it's historic deficits funded by you personally, so some contribution towards making up those losses would seem to be the least we could do in respect of any transfer of ownership.

  • who valued the company on round 2 at £2m ?

  • The first offer for LFGSS was about 3-4 years ago and was ~£250k + a permanent position with 2-3 year lock-in at "above market rate", making the total offer shy of £500k.

    The second offer for LFGSS was early this year and was for the site content and users, no tech or requirement that I continue. That company is an advertising company, and just wanted to purchase and own the site traffic, they offered £136k cash and I could walk away the next day.

    LFGSS could afford neither, and if I were selling LFGSS to a third party I would certainly want to extract as much value as possible. But if the buyer were the community, then as a member of the community I would prefer that it were acquired without being encumbered by debt.

    Yes a few grand would be nice, but I've know enough of the world to know that it isn't actually a life transformational amount - the first offer was, the second offer maybe was.

    When it comes down to it, if I think about what I would value it isn't the cash, it's something I lost in my youth that I still struggle with: the freedom to travel to the USA and to not be restricted by the shadow of my past. The money is actually irrelevant, but recognition that could change things for me is something I desperately want. So gifting the site in it's entirety in return for community support for recognition I would do. That's a thing that could be life transformational.

  • I did.

    I used a fairly standard equation for a company at pre-revenue stage which factors in the number of engineers, the potential exit value, and so on to determine the likely value of the company at that time.

    Until revenue is coming in and can be used along with growth to perform more accurate calculations, valuations are really a rough guide to the potential return should the company be acquired. I was guided on this by other founders who did sell their company after a couple of years for way above £2m, but obviously one factors in the risk that you don't sell and mark down the valuation. The figure also correlated with a SV rule of thumb that values a company at roughly $1m per engineer plus whatever value is already on the books from the first round. So the method of pre-revenue valuation agreed with other startups, and was additionally accepted by the accountants.

    Valuations are always at that time. And if I were asked a few months ago, I would have answered that the round we were doing was likely going to be a "down round". In that we were behind our projected progress at that time and we had dropped our valuation to reflect the reality of our progress. We also knew that by doing so we might attract an angel with reputation enough to raise the valuation again... that is, if by bringing on the right people we de-risk future fundraising then we would've managed to improve the chances overall and that would lower the risk that we would fail (in the way we did), which would've increased the valuation again.

    It's all ups and downs. One cannot make it too complex as the valuation is a mix of known things (number of engineers) and unknowns (potential exit value and future earnings potential). To try and make it too complex is to lie... it implies those things are known and fact... they are not. So instead it's more "we've got 2 engineers and this tech, and we believe the future revenue is X for a growth rate of Y, and a likely acquirer would have to pay roughly Z and we only have a 20% chance of selling the company so the value is AA". So long as everyone accepts that... that's the value.

  • I used to work with a bloke who had a crazy idea to charter a 747 on new years eve in 1999 and chase midnight on a full circumnavigation of the globe. He called it Timewarp 2000. The idea was to celebrate the new millenium in every time zone on earth in one almighty (probably very sticky and smelly) jet set party. He funded the whole thing using ticket sales i.e he got several hundred friends to pay a large sum of money to take part in it. Everything looked set to go in November 1999 and then the jet chartering company went bankrupt (turned out to have fake ATOL details or whatever). The party never happened and his friends lost their money.

    His next business failed through having a crap product. (Socially elitist members club, full of twats)

    And then his next one through having the same product but with the same flaws amplified. (It was full of bigger twats)

    Now he's fucking loaded because he stuck to the same product but aimed for the biggest group of dickheads in the world (billionaire's children).

    The moral of the story is (speaking as somebody who has failed with startups personally before), don't give up. If you believe that what you have can be made to work, continue to fight for it in any way you can.

    On the other hand, knowing when the fat lady has finished her warm up and is mid show is the hardest bit.

    Whatever the outcome, anybody who has the courage to try to make an idea they believe in work is awesome. I'm quietly in awe DK.

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October 2014 status - a live autopsy and question

Posted by Avatar for Velocio @Velocio