Take Your Company Public: A Must Read Before You Do Anything! As a consultant in the business of structuring companies, setting up strategic alliances for clients, writing business plans and PPM’s and taking companies public on the OTCBB, I must admit I’ve seen my share of scams and swindling of uninformed clients. One sad issue that permeates the industry is clients who believe that their only option is to give up substantial equity while paying hefty fees to consultants who take your company public.
Here is the reality. When you are investigating the industry to find a consulting firm to work with to facilitate your ‘go public’ process, the first thing you need to do is make sure you are hiring a ‘turn-key’ solutions consulting group; meaning they need to offer everything soup to nuts in house because the second your consultant outsources anything, accountability is lost.
Next, on the issue of paying fees and also giving up equity, it should be either or, not both. If a company tells you that they want you to pay them in both upfront fees and in equity, you should laugh and walk away. In actuality the best deals for the client are those that are simply fee based, not equity based.
It’s better to pay 100k in a few easy installments than to pay millions in stock that will only be liquidated after the IPO which will completely obliterate your stock price and almost certainly ruin your company’s chances of success. It baffles me to see the scenarios that uninformed company owners accept. Currently there is a company that is promoting all over Google Adwords that they will take your company public for $25k and after a month of talking to the company, when you finally agree to use them they break the bad news that they are not going to charge you $25k or anything even close to that, they are, in fact, going to charge you $125k upfront, plus $10k to $20k for your initial SEC audit and on top of all of that they are going to take 30% of your company! It’s shocking but this group of consultants, because of their extensive advertising, has no problem bringing in clients and turning the tables on them at the last minute and sadly, because the client is uninformed, they accept the contract and pay the fees.
If you are going to give up any amount of equity in exchange for the process of going public, it should be with a licensed broker dealer and there should be zero out of pocket expenses from you. Your broker dealer should pay for the SEC audit, S-1 filing, SEC approval, FINRA approval, Symbol achievement and ongoing investor relations to keep your stock price solid. Unless your broker dealer is doing all of this, you need to find a new, full service broker.
Keep in mind, each consulting firm you talk to will give you a million reasons as to why their fee structure and process is the best but here are some comparable facts so that you can make the right decision on how to proceed. First of all, if you get an emotional consultant that acts like he is excited about your project and ‘can’t wait to get started’ this is bogus and you should walk away. The best consultants keep clients at arm’s length and never get emotional because it clouds the process and makes them ineffective. Besides, if they are acting so excited about your company it’s probably because they are trying to convince you of their legitimacy that won’t stand on its own merit.
Next you want to make sure that you are getting a quote on your specific company type which includes at a minimum: corporate structuring, strategic alliance facilitation, board of directors evaluation, business plan authoring built for IPO, investor finder service, SEC audit (the should be able to give you a general idea of the cost of the audit and have a company that you can use as most consultants don’t employ an auditor on staff), S-1 filing, SEC approval, FINRA approval, symbol achievement, market maker or broker dealer relationship/contract setup and investor relations for long term success.