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Learn how to negotiate your first term sheet at TechCrunch Disrupt

·5-min read

Most new founders have never seen what they covet most — a term sheet stipulating the conditions under which an investor will make a financial commitment in their startup. Unlike investors, who are far more familiar with term sheets, inexperienced founders often have a hard time understanding how to structure the document so that it provides meaningful value to investors without giving away everything they worked so hard to build.

Getting your first term sheet right is critical for ensuring the financial and capital success of your business, because the terms you agree to early on in your startup tend to carry through for the life of the company.

It’s such an important topic that we've enlisted a trio of world-class experts — Mandela SH Dixon (CEO, All Raise), Kevin Liu (director, Techstars Investments) and James Norman (CEO, Pilotly/general partner, Black Ops) — to break it down for you during a panel discussion at TechCrunch Disrupt on October 18–20 in San Francisco.

Understanding a term sheet is a daunting task, and you can’t afford to assume anything about the language, because nothing is standard. It’s nuanced, and it can impact the structure of future investing rounds, who sits on your board and what happens if the company is liquidated.

We’ll have questions, and these experienced investors and serial entrepreneurs will provide the answers. They’ll dig into essentials such as investment amount, valuation, option pool and liquidation preference — the four main pillars of a term sheet’s structure.

Learn more about the experts who will dispense real-world insights that you can use to craft and negotiate term sheets like a pro.

Mandela SH Dixon is the CEO of All Raise, a nonprofit on a mission to accelerate the success of female and nonbinary investors, founders and operators in tech. All Raise programs equip women and nonbinary leaders with opportunities to advance their professional growth and work together to create a more equitable future.

At age 25, Dixon dropped out of a PhD program to start her first company and became one of the first Black women to raise venture capital from Silicon Valley investors.

Prior to joining All Raise, Dixon was the founder and CEO of Founder Gym, the number-one training program teaching underrepresented founders how to raise venture capital. She leveraged her powerful network to recruit some of the best investors and funded founders in the world to teach underrepresented entrepreneurs how to raise capital to scale their tech startups.

Dixon also served as the founding portfolio services director at Kapor Capital and managed a portfolio of more than 120 tech startups, including Uber and Twilio. There, she co-launched the Founders Commitment — the first diversity and inclusion pledge upheld by a VC firm — and co-designed 10 workshops teaching startups how to bake diversity and inclusion into the DNA of their companies.

As the global director of Startup Weekend Education (acquired by Techstars), Dixon scaled its reach from two to six continents in less than 2 years and transformed it into the largest community of edtech entrepreneurs in the world.

Dixon is an active angel investor, limited partner, Sequoia Capital Scout and an inaugural member of First Round Capital's Angel Track, a program composed of angel investors from the most successful tech companies.

Kevin Liu is a director at Techstars Investments, where he works with companies across Techstars' portfolio on deal evaluation, fundraising and value creation initiatives. Prior to joining Techstars, Liu led data science and analytics at Mattermark (sold to FullContact), a data analytics company focused on structuring business information.

An early investor in Culture Biosciences, Retool, Seldo and Bottomless, Liu specializes in product management, data strategy and B2B software companies. He also mentors at Google Launchpad and First Round Capital.

At age 16, James Norman built his first company — an aftermarket automotive e-commerce site called MJH Sound.com. A serial entrepreneur known as a visionary in automotive product-planning, Norman has spent the past 7 years in the media and entertainment industry and has become a thought leader in over-the-top media and consumer video consumption behaviors.

His latest venture, a consumer insights platform called Pilotly, enables content creators to get feedback from audiences at scale. Norman also serves as general partner at Black Operator Ventures (Black Ops). Founded in 2020, it’s the first venture capital fund managed and led by an all-Black team of founders.

Black Ops invests in resilient founders who have a unique perspective on their market and possess the conviction to win their space. Managed by partners with operator experience, vast networks and the skills necessary to help scale companies, the fund provides more than just capital. Black Ops provides Black founders with a roadmap to success and aims to create the most billion-dollar-valued companies ever founded by Black people.

TechCrunch Disrupt is back in person on October 18–20 in San Francisco. Early action equals bigger savings. Buy your pass now and save up to $1,300 before prices increase on July 29. Plus, if you're a student, or an employee of a government or nonprofit agency, you can automatically save 70%.

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