# How To Calculate the Share Price of a Startup Company?

One critical metric that stands out when assessing a startup’s financial health and potential is share value. Calculating the share value of a startup company is essential not only for investors looking to gauge the worth of their investment but also for founders aiming to understand their company’s market position and growth trajectory. Unlike established corporations with straightforward financials and historical data, startups present unique challenges due to their often limited operational history and high growth expectations.

This has led to various methods tailored to capture startup valuation’s nuanced and speculative nature. Among these, the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) method stands prominent for its thorough consideration of future cash flows and the inherent risks involved. Other notable techniques include the Venture Capital Method, which focuses on future earnings potential and market opportunities, and Capitalization Tables (Cap Tables) for a more equity-focused snapshot. Each method provides a different lens through which to view a startup’s value, offering insights that cater to different investor priorities and strategic needs.

## How To Calculate the Share Price of a Startup Company?

To calculate share value for a startup company, methods include the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) method, the Venture Capital Method, the Capitalization Table (Cap Table) method, the Comparable Company Analysis, the First Chicago Method, and the Berkus Method. The Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) method calculates a startup’s equity value by estimating future cash flows and discounting them to present value using a risk-reflective discount rate, then subtracting debts and liabilities.

For me, the DFC method is the best because it considers the time value of money. DCF  involves forecasting future cash flows using historical data, market analysis, or industry averages, alongside choosing an appropriate discount rate based on the company’s risk profile.

1. Valuing Equity with the Cap Table Method: This method uses the capitalization table, showing all shareholders and their ownership percentages. To value equity using this method, you need the pre-money valuation, the number of shares outstanding, and each shareholder’s ownership percentage. Add any new investment to the pre-money valuation for the post-money valuation, divide by the number of shares to get the value per share, and multiply by the ownership percentage for each shareholder’s equity value.
2. Discounted Cash Flow Method for Startup Equity: The DCF method estimates a startup’s future cash flows and discounts them to present value using a discount rate (often the Weighted Average Cost of Capital, WACC). The discounted present value is divided by the number of shares outstanding for the per-share value. This method requires careful estimation of future revenues and selecting an appropriate discount rate.
3. Venture Capital Method for Valuing Startups: The venture capital method values a startup based on potential future earnings, discounting projected future revenues to present value using a rate that reflects the investment’s risk level. This method is speculative and relies on forecasting future revenues and growth, making it suitable for evaluating startups with high growth potential but also high risk.

Calculating the equity value of a startup is a complex process that requires a blend of art and science, especially given the uncertainties and growth expectations of early-stage companies. Among the various methods available, the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) method is particularly noteworthy for its emphasis on the time value of money. This approach deepens into forecasting a startup’s future cash flows, drawing on historical data, market analysis, and industry averages to paint a picture of the financial future. These projected cash flows are then discounted back to their present value using a discount rate meticulously chosen to reflect the riskiness associated with the company’s operations and market environment. To arrive at the equity value, it’s essential to subtract any debts and liabilities from these discounted cash flows, offering a clear view of what the equity is genuinely worth.

The journey to understanding a startup’s equity value doesn’t stop here; it’s intricately tied to several critical components. The pre-money valuation sets the stage by offering a snapshot of the company’s worth before the infusion of new investment, often arrived at by a thorough analysis of past performance and future growth prospects. This figure becomes a cornerstone in determining the price per share, especially when combined with the equity stake offered to investors. This percentage varies significantly depending on the company’s development stage and the funding being raised. Understanding these components is crucial for both founders and investors, as they directly influence how much of the company each party owns post-investment.

Startups aren’t just about common stock. They present a rich tapestry of equity types, each designed to serve specific purposes, from attracting investment to incentivizing employees. This array includes Preferred Stock, Convertible Preferred Stock, Warrants and Options, debt instruments, and equity-based compensation like Employee Stock Purchase Plans (ESPP) and Employee Stock Option Plans (ESOP). Each type of equity carries its own set of rights, risks, and rewards, and choosing an equity structure is a strategic decision that can significantly impact the company’s financial future and culture.

An inevitable aspect of raising capital is dilution—a reduction in existing shareholders’ ownership percentages as new shares are issued. While often viewed negatively due to decreased ownership concentration, dilution can also be a potent growth strategy. It enables startups to secure the funds necessary for expansion, product development, and market penetration. The challenge lies in managing dilution effectively, ensuring that growth opportunities are seized without excessively eroding the ownership and control of the original investors and founders. This delicate balance between growth and control is a pivotal aspect of startup equity strategy, underscoring the complex interplay of financial planning, investor relations, and long-term vision shaping the journey of startup companies.

## Calculate Share Price for Startup – Example

Let’s create a practical example using the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) method for a hypothetical startup company, Luxe Coffee Co. (LCC), to illustrate how to calculate its equity value.

### Company Overview:

Luxe Coffee Co. (LCC) is a startup in its early stages. It focuses on premium coffee products for the high-end market. It has shown promising growth and plans to expand its product line and market reach.

### Step 1: Project Future Cash Flows

Projected cash flows for the next five years (in dollars, not thousands):

• Year 1: \$500,000
• Year 2: \$700,000
• Year 3: \$900,000
• Year 4: \$1,100,000
• Year 5: \$1,300,000

### Step 2: Select a Discount Rate

The discount rate reflecting the risk is 12%.

### Step 4: Subtract Debts and Liabilities

Assuming LCC has debts and liabilities totaling \$200,000.

### Step 5: Calculate Share Price

Assuming LCC has 500,000 shares outstanding.

We’ll start by calculating the present value of the future cash flows, subtracting the debts and liabilities to get the equity value, and then calculating the share price based on the corrected equity value and the number of shares outstanding.

Let’s proceed with these calculations.

• The total present value of future cash flows is approximately \$3,081,791.
• After subtracting debts and liabilities of \$200,000, the equity value is approximately \$2,881,791.
• Given that there are 500,000 shares outstanding, the corrected price for LCC is approximately \$5.76 per share.

This refined example clearly and accurately calculates Luxe Coffee Co.’s share price based on the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) method, presenting all values in their appropriate dollar scales.

## Conclusion

Calculating the share price of a startup company involves a meticulous process that typically starts with forecasting the company’s future cash flows and discounting them to their present value using a discount rate reflective of the inherent risks. The Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) method is widely used for this purpose, offering a detailed approach that considers the time value of money.

Once the present value of future cash flows is determined, subtracting any outstanding debts and liabilities yields the company’s equity value. Dividing this equity value by the total number of shares outstanding gives the per-share price, providing a crucial metric for investors and founders to assess the startup’s financial health and potential.

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Fxigor

Igor has been a trader since 2007. Currently, Igor works for several prop trading companies. He is an expert in financial niche, long-term trading, and weekly technical levels. The primary field of Igor's research is the application of machine learning in algorithmic trading. Education: Computer Engineering and Ph.D. in machine learning. Igor regularly publishes trading-related videos on the Fxigor Youtube channel. To contact Igor write on: igor@forex.in.rs

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