Methods and Criteria affecting Early-Stage Venture Valuation
Christoph Philipp Wessendorf, Christian Hammes
The valuation of Start-Ups, especially in an early stage of the life-cycle remains a difficult undertaking with a strong tendency towards subjectivity. Conventional valuation methods can generally not be applied, as they either do not adequately account for the characteristics of Start-Up companies or need to be considered as impractical. With fundraising for venture investments continuously increasing, this challenge deserves a closer investigation. We therefore developed a survey to get a deeper understanding of the valuation practice of German-speaking Venture Capitalists and Business Angels. The specific topics of interest in this survey included the knowledge and usage of methods for Start-Up valuation, the criteria and performance indicators considered to drive Start-Up value as well as the current situation and trends in venture investment. We found clear differences between early-stage Start-Up valuation practice and later-stage valuation practice with an overall strong tendency towards an increased level of subjectivity within the valuation process. This subjectivity is reflected by the valuation methods chosen, the partial lack of a structured investment approach as well as the impact of personal experience and gut feeling on valuation assumptions and indicators.
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