Funding readiness: is your cap table attractive to investors? 

April 4, 2024 - 3 minute read

The importance of financing readiness for startups 

Investment readiness is actually critical for startups looking to raise money as it directly impacts your ability to secure funding and scale operations. A solid foundation of funding readiness enables startups to attract investment more easily - it builds credibility and trust with potential investors. 

It’s therefore important for founders to understand what investors are looking for when considering a startup.  

There are several components that make a company attractive for funding: a solid business plan, accurate financial statements (including projections and a target funding amount), a strong team, an innovative product or service, a significant market opportunity and market understanding (and how you position yourself), a crisp-clear competitive landscape (knowledge of the gaps they don't cover or don't cover well), product-market fit - customer acquisition and retention strategy and health, as well as several other issues such as intellectual property, compliance and partnerships. 

There is also another crucial issue: information about who owns how much of the company. That's where the cap table comes in. You can put the cap table in the "equity management" bucket, part of the larger finance area. 

Understanding cap tables 

A cap table (short for "capitalization table") is a document that provides a detailed breakdown of a company's ownership structure. It lists all of the company's securities: shares (common or preferred), shares reserved for stock options (granted to employees, executives, consultants, or others as part of their compensation), and SAFEs, warrants, or convertible debt. We're getting a little technical here, but it's important to understand the components.  

Another essential part of the cap table is clearly who owns what type of securities - how many and what percentage of ownership - as well as how much was paid by investors.  


A screenshot of a computerDescription automatically generated
Example of a cap table with shareholder and equity information. Source: Nimity by SeedBlink 



Why is a cap table important for attracting new investors? 

The cap table is a key due diligence item because it shows how each stakeholder is affected by a new fundraising. So a very important reason why the cap table is important to investors is that it provides transparency. They know what they are getting into and will understand the dynamics of ownership once they invest. In the early stages, it's important for the founding team to still own a large portion of the company and still be motivated to keep going. The cap table will reflect this. 

Another benefit is that a cap table provides clarity around equity compensation. Outlining the different classes of shares and the rights and restrictions associated with each class ensures that all stakeholders understand the value of their equity.  

It also provides a framework for the grant, exercise and transfer of equity. By providing this clear and concise breakdown of ownership, it helps avoid disputes and misunderstandings among shareholders. 

Another benefit of a cap table is that it can help manage equity compensation with the goal of incentivizing and retaining employees. By receiving equity via ESOP, employees are aligned with your long-term success. This goes back to the ability to secure a strong team, brownie points on your funding readiness agenda. 

A cap table can also provide insight into the valuation of the company. Tracking the ownership percentages and value of each class of equity provides a clear picture of the company's worth. This information can be extremely valuable when raising capital. 

Compliance is another factor that shouldn't be overlooked. Tracking ownership percentages and the value of each type of stock helps ensure that the company is in compliance with securities laws and regulations. 

Finally, a cap table can facilitate informed decision-making across the board. Providing a clear and concise breakdown of ownership and value helps ensure that all stakeholders have the information they need to make informed decisions. This includes you as a founder: When you raise capital, you need to figure out how much of your company you're willing to give up for investment. This is part of your growth and funding strategy, and a good cap table can help you do this. 


Understanding dilution for you and your current investors  

Equity dilution is the reduction in the ownership percentage of existing shareholders after a funding round, as new shares are issued. There are other causes of equity dilution, such as a founder increasing the employee option pool, but for this article we'll focus on funding rounds. 

The good news is that a cap table can help manage dilution. You simply calculate dilution in a cap table. By tracking the number and value of shares outstanding and the rights and restrictions associated with each class of shares, a cap table can help ensure that dilution is managed fairly and transparently.  

Scenario modeling is also useful when it comes to dilution. Such simulations help founders - and potential investors - play with the cap table, exploring different future paths and evaluating their potential outcomes without real risk. 

Speaking of dilution, there is a very important issue to consider: pre-emptive rights. 

Pre-emptive rights ensure that existing investors have the right (but not the obligation) to invest in future fundraising rounds of the company in order to maintain their stake in the company. The right is designed to protect current shareholders from dilution of value or control. Are your existing investors aware of their rights? Engage them in a discussion and use the cap table to work things out. 


Tools to build and maintain a clean and accurate cap table 

Given all of the above, you can imagine how important it is to have a reliable cap table. It's not only about painting an accurate picture of your company and setting the right expectations with potential investors, your team and partners, but any mistake in the early days can cost you dearly in the long run. 

So if you are preparing for your first round of fundraising or new rounds, NOW is the perfect time to build or review your cap table. While it's perfectly possible to get a cap table template online and manage your equity in a spreadsheet in the beginning, as things progress and you get more investors or more types of equity, the cap table becomes complex and you risk making costly mistakes.  

Our strong recommendation is to use specialized tools (like Nimity) that provide, at a minimum, the ability to manage the cap table and administer the stock plan. 

It's not just about accurate calculations, it's about all the benefits mentioned above plus other implications, such as more advantageous operating models like a Trust structure, or moving the company to another region. Not to mention the more mundane administrative tasks of collecting signatures for quick decisions, communicating effectively with all stakeholders, and so on.   


How can founders have a healthy cap table? 

If what you've read so far speaks volumes, but you are not sure where to start, why not try Nimity by SeedBlink? It's a SaaS platform built with founders like you in mind. It's free to get started and offers not just cap table and equity management, but a holistic approach to funding, from first round to early liquidity.  

Any start-up or scale-up is welcome to Sign up FREE for Nimity by SeedBlink. 

Subscribe to our All Things Equity Newsletter

From equity management strategies to portfolio tracking advice, our newsletter brings the latest from the heart of tech and equity world. Learn from our European network of investors, founders, lawyers and tax advisors.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
By subscribing to our newsletter, you agree to Nimity's Privacy Policy and consent to receive marketing communication. You can unsubscribe at any time.