Introduction

The job of venture capitalists has many facets and only one of them is writing a cheque. The role of a VC is to help the founder throughout his journey, which starts before he or she even raises money. As part of Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus, we see it as our mission and responsibility to help founders by sharing our knowledge and allow them to draw from our experience.

Founders must be jack of all trades which is not an easy job. Often founders are first time entrepreneurs that have never built a company from scratch or have raised funding before. The good news is, there is more information available for free now than ever before. The internet is full of great content covering all different aspects of the life of a startup.

The team of Dtec Ventures has made the attempt to filter and compile the best content ranging from pitch deck templates up to tips on how to negotiate with VCs. Because we are an investor in the MENA region with an emphasis on Dubai, we have also collected a selection of content that helps founders to navigate the regional specifics. Which blogs keep you up to date about the latest startup news in the region? Which investors exist and at what stage do they invest? What are the best startup events to build a network? This and many more questions you might have are hopefully answered in this guide.

Must read/watch for entrepreneurs

There is content out there that is simply too good to be missed. The selection below is a list of articles, books and videos that we believe are must read/listen/watch for every entrepreneur. While we don't want to label them as the canon of entrepreneurial knowledge, but they probably get close to it.

  1. ‘How to Start a Startup’ by Paul Graham
  2. YCombinator ‘How to Startup a Startup’ lecturer series If you have time, watch the entire series if you can. That might be a little of an overdose, but try to watch at least the first three Lectures
  3. 'Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything' by Steve Blank
  4. 'What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence' by Stephen A Schwarzman
  5. 'The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers' by Ben Horowitz
  6. 'The Bezos Letters: 14 Principles to Grow Your Business Like Amazon' by Steve Anderson
  7. 'Venture Deals - Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist' by Brad Feld
  8. 'REWORK' by Jason fried
  9. 'Mastery' by Robert Greene
  10. ‘Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action’ by Simon Sinek
  11. 'The Lean Startup' by Eric Ries
  12. 'Lean Presentation design' by Maurizio La Cava

Because there is so much qualitative content we imposed a self-limitation. We don’t want that you drown in information but actually really read and absorb all the encapsulated wisdom.

Fundraising

Fundraising is a topic high on the agenda of every entrepreneur. Each day in the news we see headlines of startups announcing that they have raised millions of dollars in funding. But to get to that point is a long and difficult journey. That doesn't mean it is impossible, however the funding announcement is only the culmination point of weeks and months of work. The investment process itself can be lengthy and daunting. While good VCs don’t take advantage of it, founders are at a disadvantage given that they lack the knowledge and experience to raise funds. With the below selection of content, we try to equip founders with the required knowledge to get ready for fundraising and grab the attention from investors.

Pitch deck:

  1. ‘The quick and dirty guide to creating a winning pitch deck’ This guide walks you through the essential slides that must appear in a pitch deck. This is an indicative and well-rounded structure. In case you believe you need to incorporate more details on certain topics, please add these slides in the annexes.
  2. ‘Best pitch decks’ This blog post provides many tips & tricks to make your message stand out and illustrates these tips with real example.
  3. ‘Startups - What is a pitch deck presentation’ A list of recommended slides from top VCs (500Startups, Sequoia Capital, etc.) and piece of advice on how to grab investors’ attention.
  4. ‘Forbes - Best pitch decks’, ‘Startup pitch decks: what you can learn’ A collection of pitch decks from unicorn companies, including Uber, Snapchat, Airbnb, when they were raising during their early stage.

Investment instruments (priced equity vs. convertibles)

Equity Financing

  1. ‘Bring on outside investors - Equity financing steps’ This link explains how to approach equity financing, from your ask (amount raised and valuation) to the steps and documents to close a funding round.

Convertible vs. KISS vs. SAFE

  1. ‘Article 1’, ‘Article 2’ These pages list the differences between these three financing methods and terms usually used for each (valuation cap, discount, maturity) and implications for the entrepreneur and investors.
  2. ‘YCombinator - Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE)’ On this page you can find the YCombinator SAFE templates and explanation.
  3. ‘500Startups - Keep It Simple Security (KISS)’ The official 500Startups KISS page with the templates for the Debt and Equity versions.

Term sheet & Deal terms

  1. ‘Term Sheet guide’ This guide walks you through the key clauses appearing in a term sheet from the economics to the terms usually negotiated between founders and investors. It also addresses the company governance post investment (voting rights, board rights, etc.).

Due diligence

  1. ‘Due Diligence guide’, ‘YCombinator - Due Diligence checklist’ These pages summarize an investor’s approach to due diligence, the multiple points under review and documents asked to the founders. The level of details and documents requested varies depending on the funding stage (seed, Series A/B/C+), industry, and type of business.

Cap table

  1. ‘What is a cap table?’ This page summarizes the essence of a capitalization table, which is a comprehensive spreadsheet listing all of your company’s securities.
  2. ‘Sample cap table’ Through this link you can download a standard cap table spreadsheet.
  3. ‘Cap table template’ Another template to be downloaded with instructions in the excel file.

Negotiation tactics

  1. ‘Top skills for founders in startup fundraising’ A set of negotiation points usually discussed between VCs and entrepreneurs, and tips to address them from a founders’ standpoint.
  2. ‘HBR - How to negotiate with VCs’ Tips & recommendations from a Harvard Business School professor on how to negotiate with VCs during fundraising.

Pitfalls

  1. ‘Forbes - Five mistakes to avoid while fundraising for your startups’ This article lists the major pitfalls encountered by entrepreneurs when fundraising, from raising too early to raising at too high valuation.
  2. ‘The problem of startup valuation going too high or too low’ An interesting article on the consequences of raising at a too low or too high valuation.

MENA specific

Blogs/News sites

  1. 'Wamda' Wamda is not only one of the largest VC in the MENA but also an excellent source of information for news & research report on the local startup ecosystem.
  2. 'MENAbytes' A popular news website dedicated to technology and local startups.
  3. 'Magnitt - News' Magnitt is the most popular platform in the MENA for startups & investors. Access hundreds of reports, daily news on investments and apply directly to dozens of VCs for funding.
  4. 'Startup MGZN' A digital publication and community for startups in the Middle East.
  5. 'Entrepreneur - Middle East' Advice, insight, profiles and guides for established and aspiring entrepreneurs worldwide. Home of Entrepreneur magazine.
  6. 'Arabian Business - Startup' Read all the latest news on the startups, investors, venture capitalist, founders, and latest technology in the Middle East.
  7. 'Bloomberg - Middle East' Bloomberg publishes daily business and markets news, data, analysis, and video, featuring stories from Businessweek and Bloomberg News.

Startup Directories

  1. 'Magnitt' A MENA-focused directory of startups. Create your profile in a few minutes.
  2. 'Arabnet' Another directory of startups, Arabnet also hosts one of the most popular startup conferences in our region.
  3. 'AngelList' The largest directory of startups globally and a platform to connect with investors, accelerators, and talents.

Research & Reports

  1. 'MAGNiTT - Research' MAGNiTT publishes regular reports on the state of the startup ecosystem, trends and funding.
  2. 'Wamda - Research' Another source of detailed reports and analysis on investments in the region.
  3. 'Arabnet - Business Intelligence' Arabnet has developed exclusive studies and reports, one of the most popular being "the state of digital".
  4. 'Dubai Chamber - Publications & Reports' The directory of publications from the Dubai Chamber for both public and private sectors.

Conferences

  1. 'Step Conference' Step is the largest, annual tech festival in Dubai for startups to showcase their potential.
  2. 'RiseUp Summit' One of the MENA region's largest innovation and entrepreneurship summits, taking place in the heart of Downtown Cairo annually.
  3. 'Arabnet - Conferences' Arabnet is a leading events, insights and innovation platform focused on tech business and innovation in the MENA region.
  4. 'Gitex Future Stars' Co-located with GITEX Technology Week, GITEX Future Stars gives start-ups a global stage on which to shine and meet with potential partners and investors.
  5. 'Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival' A relatively new and upcoming festival for entrepreneurs hosting many world-class speakers and pitch competitions.