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Brad Feld

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How Convertible Debt Works

Posted: 10/12/11 12:19 PM ET

Last night I gave a talk hosted by SVB at their Palo Alto office. It was part of the "Never Ending All Old Is New Again Venture Deals Book Tour." I had a ton of fun talking to and answering questions from about 75 entrepreneurs who -- at the minimum -- enjoyed eating the great food and wine that SVB provided on a luscious evening in Palo Alto. Oh -- and I signed a bunch of copies of Venture Deals.

Several questions came up about Convertible Debt. We touch on it in Venture Deals but realized that we didn't cover it in enough depth so Jason recently wrote a Convertible Debt series on Ask the VC. The series is now complete - here are the links to the posts in order.

* Convertible Debt Series
* Convertible Debt - The Discount
* Convertible Debt - Valuation Caps
* Convertible Debt - Conversion Mechanics
* Convertible Debt - Conversion In A Sale Of The Company
* Convertible Debt - Other Terms
* Convertible Debt - Warrants
* Convertible Debt - Early Versus Late Stage Dynamics
* Convertible Debt - Wrap Up

If you feel like we missed anything, or got anything wrong, or were confusing in our explanation, please chime in on the comments on the post. If you want to see an actual convertible debt term sheet or the actual legal documents, take a look at the TechStars Open Sourced Model Seed Financing Documents.

As a bonus to the evening, I got some direct, constructive feedback from one of the attendees via email later that night. While the "thank you" and "good job" notes are nice, I only learn when someone criticizes me (hopefully constructively, but I can handle it in any form.) The feedback was:

May I make a constructive criticism regarding your talk tonight? Your answers to audience questions tend to be overly long and rambling.....you "overanswer," to invent a word. You start strong and respond right to the essence, but then your focus blurs and you keep taking verbal baby steps away from the thought stream. If you trim a minute or two off each answer, you can call on more people and hear more questions, which sends more people home happy. I think if you self-critique a video of yourself in a Q&A session, you'll arrive at the same conclusion.

It's a good suggestion. I often try to provide additional context to the question, but it sounds like - at least for one person - I went off on a few space jams that weren't additive. I love the phrase "overanswer" - it's a lesson from TV interviews 101 (e.g. just answer a question - any question - quickly). Something to ponder as I continue the Never Ending All Old Is New Again Venture Deals Book Tour.

This post originally appeared on Feld.com.