Raising Funds Through SAFE Note

SAFE (or simple agreement for future equity) notes are documents those start-ups often use to raise seed capital. Essentially, a SAFE note acts as a legally binding promise to allow an investor to purchase a specified number of shares for an agreed-upon price at some point in the future.

SAFE notes are a type of convertible security, while convertible notes are a form of debt that can convert into equity once certain milestones are met. Because of this, convertible notes usually have a maturity rate and an interest rate. 

Raising funds through SAFE Note

SAFE (or simple agreement for future equity) notes are documents those start-ups often use to raise seed capital. Essentially, a SAFE note acts as a legally binding promise to allow an investor to purchase a specified number of shares for an agreed-upon price at some point in the future.

SAFE notes are a type of convertible security, while convertible notes are a form of debt that can convert into equity once certain milestones are met. Because of this, convertible notes usually have a maturity rate and an interest rate.

How SAFE notes works?

For start-ups in initial stage, there is typically very little data, making it difficult to assign the company any value. SAFE notes allow you to postpone your company’s valuation until a later date with following steps when raising funds through SAFE note:
  1. An investor provides seed money in exchange for equity stake in future.
  2. The company uses the investment to build the business.
  3. Post progress of business, find another investor with post-money valuation.
  4. Calculate the company’s new price per share.
  5. Convert the SAFE note into the applicable number of shares in the company and distribute them to the SAFE investor.

Key Elements in a SAFE Note

  1. Discounts: SAFEs sometimes apply discounts, usually between 10% and 30%, on future converted equity. This means that the investor will be able to purchase shares at a discount on the future financing.
  2. Valuation Caps: Another way for the investor to get a better price per share than future investors are through valuation cap. Valuation caps are a term in SAFE notes that establish the highest price or cap that can be used when setting the conversion price.
  3. Most-Favoured Nation Provisions: Where there are multiple SAFEs, this term requires that the company notify the first SAFE holder the terms for the subsequent note. If the first SAFE holder finds the second SAFE’s terms to be more favourable, they can ask for the same terms.
  4. Pro-Rata Rights: Allow investors to invest extra funds so that they can keep their percentage of ownership during future equity financing.

Investor has four options while investing in start-ups through SAFE note

  • A valuation cap, but no discount
  • A discount, but no valuation cap
  • A valuation cap and a discount
  • No valuation cap and no discount

Illustrations

Particulars Discount rateValuation capDiscount rate & Valuation Cap
SAFE investment$ 1 Mn$ 1 Mn with valuation cap of $ 2 Mn$ 1 Mn with valuation cap of $ 2 Mn
Discount rate50%50%
Funds infused by New Investor$ 1 Mn$ 1 Mn$ 1 Mn
Value per share of New Investor$ 1$ 1$ 1
Revised Valuation$ 8 Mn$ 8 Mn
Discount rate0.75 [$2 Mn / $8 Mn = 0.25 then 1 – 0.25 = 0.75]0.67 [$2 Mn / $6 Mn = 0.33 then 1 – 0.33 = 0.67]
Revised price for conversion0.75 [1 * 0.75]Either of 0.5 or 0.75
Number of shares New Investor to get1 Mn shares1 Mn shares1 Mn shares
Number of shares SAFE Investor to get2 Mn shares1,333,333 shares2 Mn shares (possible to opt for 0.5 which is more favourable

As a start-up, finding funding is often one of the very first challenge that one will face. SAFE notes, while still new, provide an excellent opportunity for start-up to develop business without increasing overheads with interest payments.

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Raising funds through SAFE Note

How Safe Note Works?