Putting a value on sweat equity
Martin Brassell, CEO of Inngot, considers how founders can realise value from their hard work in a pre-start context
There are many areas in which expectations differ between investors and entrepreneurs seeking investment. One of the areas that often proves hardest to resolve is the question of valuation, especially if a business is yet to generate first revenues.
‘Sweat equity’ is the delightful term coined to describe the value to be placed on the efforts expended to bring an opportunity to the point of realisation. At the point when a business is first presented to independent investors, rather than a more receptive first audience of ‘friends and family’, entrepreneurs will often strive to place a financial value on their labours. From their viewpoint, this is a perfectly reasonable thing to do: after all, no-one doubts that bringing an innovative idea to market involves a lot of perspiration as well as inspiration.
Any investor worth having knows that the road to success is generally a steep one, and likely to require a good deal more sweat to be expended. He or she also understands that it is counter-productive to leave a founder so short of equity that they lack the commitment and energy to make the climb. However, the risk climate dictates that this is a buyer’s market at present, in which any valuation is bound to be subjected to close scrutiny, and needs to be as objective and well-evidenced as possible.
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