Softbank Vision Fund: What you need to know

Venture Capitalists can make you dreams come true as a prospective entrepreneur. How different is SoftBank? Read on..

Enter SoftBank

The world of startups is full of pitfalls, but also filled with investors looking to help fund the next big thing. Over the last decade, a whole economy has been created around it – an economy that has produced many successful gadgets, but also many outright failures.

Softbank is one of the biggest players in this economy, its Vision Fund is one of the most coveted funding sources for startups.

The sheer size of the fund, valued at $100 billion, is said to be disrupting the whole venture capital industry by raising the prices on companies and investments. As such, it’s one of the big hitters these days, yet it’s difficult to understand just why it is so important.

Why is it necessary?

Startup companies, particularly in tech, often face a huge problem from the get-go: funding. It used to be, decades ago, that you could start producing whatever widget you wanted by hand, sell it locally, and slowly expand.

That won’t work today.

The global economy has shifted, and today, success in tech often requires having a wide reach and mass production. This means that any new venture needs prohibitive amounts of money to begin with, amounts of money regular people don’t really have.

Does it just give you money?

Of course not. While Vision Fund’s funds are big, it isn’t bottomless – and they aren’t a gift, either.

Vision Fund is an investment program, its core philosophy being that it’ll give entrepreneurs the money they need so they can focus on building a successful company without the financial issues they’d otherwise face.

Softbank is known for being a permissive investor, but it’s still a capitalist undertaking – which means a profit is eventually required.

Moreover, Softbank will naturally be entitled to a share of whatever profit your company makes.

You could, therefore, see this funding as a loan of sorts.

What if no profits are made?

One of the big problems of venture capitals is that many companies indeed never make a profit. This is pretty common when companies try to fix problems that aren’t there, thus failing to find a market.

The Venture Capital world is full of poorly planned, ill-conceived gadgets somebody somehow thought were the next big thing that led to millions of dollars wasted.

In theory, investors review proposals and choose those that are the most likely to succeed and help change our world.

In truth, venture capitals are often seen as a way for certain individuals to promise investors everything, deliver nothing, and live like millionaires.

Softbank’s Vision Fund, however, has a method to try and stop this.

Fighting mismanagement with clauses

As usual with venture capital contracts, if your project doesn’t take off, the investors lose their money. That’s also true of Softbank’s fund, and whatever money was spent on getting the company off the ground will be lost.

Just as well, if the company turns a profit first, then it stops doing so, the fund itself will take the hit.

That is true, however, only for the money that was actually spent on the company.

Softbank’s Vision Fund has a peculiar clause that hopes to fight against venture capital scammers, those who live like millionaires on investor money and then return nothing.

Money spent on management salaries and bonuses can be taken back if the company fails.This doesn’t only extend to the initial investment, but also earnings.

Earnings are divided between the company and Softbank, but if the company stop earning any money soon, managers are expected to pay back a part of the money they took to Softbank.

This makes keeping the company efficient a priority above all things, since results are not just encouraged but expected.

Is this really changing the landscape?

It’s still early to tell. Softbank works in a different way from other funds, since it requires entrepreneurs to have some skin in the game. They’ll fund projects, but they don’t take the full cost of a failure – meaning companies receiving funds need to plan around the idea of having to pay back a part of it.

While the logic is sound, it also means only people who can take a risk can participate – thus thinning the eligible startups and offering the services mostly to people who already have means to begin with and who can take the brunt of failure.

Still, in a world where venture capital is a thing, Softbank Vision Fund has caught many eyes and helped many companies, even when their tactics and clauses are often reviled by others.

Conclusion

The emergence of venture capitalists like SoftBank really makes the difference. With funding that can bring the entrepreneurs dream to reality, it is world heralding.

Your Business Plan and You

Investors and entrepreneurs have a need for a winning business plan. Here is a look at some underlying notables.

The Must-See Notables For Crafting A Winning Business Plan

It has been observed that about 20% of new businesses pack up within the first year of their establishment, while a majority do not exceed a lifespan of five years. Many reasons can be adduced for this recurrent unfortunate phenomenon, chief among which is the use of a shoddy business plan.

It is often said that if you fail to plan, you inadvertently plan to fail. Every new endeavor requires an in-depth research on several issues surrounding the area of interest. Such a research will help you understand the concepts and how to develop an effective modus operandi to get intended results.

This is the reason every intending founder of any business needs to have an unambiguous business plan.

A great business idea is only the starting point of a promising business venture. What ensures the success of the business is a deliberate, in-depth and realistic approach in building a strategic plan to establish and grow the business till you can break even.

Though it is possible to eventually make a success out of a business without an initial business plan, it is a risk equal to traveling to an unknown place without a map or leading whatsoever.

This guide thus gives a case on the necessities of a business plan, and the possible drawbacks of not having one.

CLARITY OF VISION

The process of developing a business plan helps put your dreams and vision for your venture into perspective, enabling you to sort out unrealistic expectations and see more clearly.

More often than not, the excitement of having a potential solution that meets perceived needs of people in an area overshadows a person’s sense of caution and tact.

A business plan enables you to do some research that refines your vision to fit the real needs/wants of your target audience. A business plan also provides a document to critics who can help point out inadequacies, risks and fantasies in the business idea; helping to tweak the plan to a reasonable level.

FINANCIAL REQUIREMENTS

The major danger upcoming/startup businesses face is running out of money. It is necessary to have a near-perfect idea of what total running (capital plus variable) costs will amount to over a specified period of time, so as to draw up how to gather the required fund.

This is one of the things a well drawn business plan enables a business owner to achieve. You can safely avoid running short of cash without making any profit from the business.

RISK ANALYSIS AND MANAGEMENT

During the research leading up to writing a business plan, the prospective business person is able to spot possible risks and challenges to be encountered in the course of the business. This makes it possible to develop strategies to combat the risks in the event of their occurrence.

INVESTOR PITCHING

One of the importance of a business plan is to give a prospective investor an overview of what he intends to invest in, the risks and financial promise.

For instance, a bank would need to scrutinize the business plan of a business man seeking a loan facility to finance his business to check if the business is viable enough to repay the loan with accruing interest under the stipulated time frame.

Individual investors also need to look at the business plan to know if the business is worth the risk of their investment and see terms of repayment in case the business flops. It should also state what amount of equity the owner is providing investors if returns are not in cash.

SOURCE OF MOTIVATION

A business plan usually serves as a confidence booster in the bleak periods of a business. A look at the plan after a while will show how far you have come and overcome obstacles on your path in the business, strengthening your resolve to solve the present issues confronting you.

DIRECTION

Just as a traveler going to a new destination needs a map and maybe a GPS device for direction, an intending business owner needs a business plan to give a direction from the start of the business up till when he breaks even.

A business plan could also serve as a template for future expansion. It is a reference that can be looked up to know which milestones have been achieved and which challenge is next to be taken up.

ALIGNMENT CHECK

Challenges, new technology and emerging market data sometimes make a business owner lose originality and focus, swaying the business away from its foundational goal. A business plan therefore is important as a medium of checking if the current business philosophy and targets are in line with initial goals, and enable correction and a reset if the business has gone off its course.

BIRD’S EYE VIEW

A business plan carefully highlights the different parts of the proposed business model and their intricacies and interconnections. This gives a broad view of the relationship between the parts of the business and also the mutual effects of the capital elements (labour, capital etc.) on one another. This outlook helps to determine how each element can be varied to create optimum results at the most reasonable costs.

PRIORITIZATION

One of the challenges emerging ventures face is choosing which business establishment steps to take at particular times, which options of marketing and distribution to utilize, among other service delivery options. A business plan helps outline the focus and goals of your business such that you know which options to pick above others, and which steps in your road map should be taken before or alongside another.

CONCLUSION

From the benefits outlined so far, it is evident that having a comprehensive business plan before launching a business venture is really important to its success.

A well-researched plan serves as an anchor for the owner to fall back on when challenges arise, as well as a tool for convincing potential investors on the safety and potential profits on their investments in the business.