Worked with over 300 founders and 60 companies. Formerly EIR at Entrepreneur First. Ex-Cofounder at Overcart. Extensive e-commerce and SaaS experience in a rapidly changing market. Product and Marketing guy. Ex Management Consultant.
If it is an idea (as opposed to a patentable solution), don't bother with an NDA. NDAs are notoriously difficult to enforce and only sends the signal that you are (potentially) a naive founder. There are certain situations where an NDA might be useful:
- When you have to discuss a patent-pending solution (typically where you have to walk through the entire process of building the solution or algorithm).
- When the expert may have visible conflict of interest (e.g., investor in a competing product).
- You need to have an NDA as part of another contract (e.g., maybe a client you are working with prevents you from sharing information with anyone else). This is obviously very rare.
Generally, if this is an app idea you're working on right now, it is better to be as open about it as possible and get clear and honest feedback from them. I have worked with over 300 individual founders and 60 early-stage companies in the last two years—and not one of them had any information worth NDA-ing. The benefits of brainstorming with an expert far outweighs the risks of the information going into the wrong hands.
Further, even if 0.5% of the people in the world have had similar ideas, that's 39m people who already have the same idea.
Since you mentioned you're raising a seed round, I strongly suggest not using an investment banker. At the seed stage, VCs are investing in you more than your business—putting a banker in the middle will do you a lot of disservice. IBs are typically used for Series B and beyond.
I also noticed that you call yourself an engineering services firm—typically services companies don't make good VC fundable businesses. If you have a product that you can spin off and raise money for, that might be more attractive. Happy to chat in more detail about the fundraising process if you wish.
I'm going to answer this question in a broad manner, since you haven't mentioned what your current business is about and why you want to pivot. If I were you, I'd talk to other founders who have been through the same quandary at some point, maybe someone who's in a similar industry and a few years ahead of you.
Creative services and agencies are ripe for disruption. My view is that they are going to be replaced by product and venture builders. But knowing what product or venture to build is not simple—if you are already running a creative services company, it may be worthwhile talking to your clients to see what their top challenges in the field are. Don't start thinking about a solution just yet. Identify the problem worth solving first.
I'll be happy to chat in more detail if you'd like. I work with and advise deep-tech companies at Entrepreneur First and would love to spend some time talking about mental models you can use (and when not to use them).
Hi, first off--congratulations on starting to get some VC interest. I've been through this process when raising for my own startup. I currently help founders at a global startup company-builder. I hope the following helps.
"Cap" is used to denote the maximum valuation you will use as ceiling in a convertible debt (CD) transaction. Don't let the name worry you, it isn't a loan that needs to be paid back. When raising money for a very early startup, there's no precedence for you to determine what valuation the startup commands. So, you'd rather defer that valuation decision to a point where you have more traction and you can be more scientific about how much your company is worth. In a CD arrangement, investors will commit to investing in your company for a "discount" on your next equity raise. If your next round is at a $2m valuation and you offered them a 20% discount, then -- when you raise your next equity round -- they'd receive shares at a $2m minus 20% valuation.
Happy to share more details on this, and help understand how to determine the right terms for your team. And address any questions you may have.
Since Shaun's answer accurately addresses the main question, I am going to address this in a slightly non-technical, business-strategy way that does not deal directly with SEO rankings.
As a business, the blog is really to get people to learn about you, your e-commerce store, and your products. I'd suggest that you consider a self-hosting account on Medium so that you get the best of both worlds - your blog becomes more discoverable due to Medium's extensive network and you still have a custom domain name (blog.domain.com). This may or may not fit in into SEO wisdom, but works very well from a business perspective. I'm not sure how your affiliate marketing attribution is done, but I don't imagine that will be impacted whether you use Medium, Wordpress, or a simple HTML page to power your blog.
I've seen more and more companies move away from running after rankings through technical SEO manipulation. As long as your content is relevant to the audience coming to your website and they spend more and more time on your website, your ranking will continue to improve. Any short-term "hack" you make to improve rankings outside of content will be short-lived. So do you what you'd do normally to get more business for your business.