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What due diligence should you do before deciding to drop out of a PhD program?
While every graduate student has had this conversation in their mind more times than not, you've got to think about what you want long term before you made the drastic choice of leaving. When I had this particular conversation with myself, I had said, "Well, if I pass my candidacy I'll stay." At that point, you have to make sure you put as much effort in as possible, and then if you don't measure up, you don't measure up. You did whatever you could to stay, and it's no harm no foul if you leave. If you are among those that have used graduate school as a passway through the economic downturn and really have no interest in research or pursuing any academic field, then I bid you farewell and wish you good luck. If not, and you're really struggling, set an appointment with your thesis adviser and have a long drawn out conversation about why you are thinking of leaving, is there anything that might make things easier/better/faster, what can you do to move things along, etc. etc. They are called advisers and mentors for a reason, they're supposed to do that, despite what many any adviser (mine included) actually does. Grad school is hard. While I wouldn't wish this life on anyone, if you've started out already, you're interested in becoming an expert in a certain field. To give that up to do something else, seems...wasteful in my humble opinion unless you've had an extreme change of heart. Or something has happened. Take the time to think about what you're doing, and do your research to talk to the people you need to before you go. Last thing you want to do is make the wrong decision and have to start from the beginning all over again.
How would we analyse (in a due diligence) the earnings of a carved out towerco?
Short answer:Same way you analyse any other asset.Financial model and DCF of cash flows, considering:income from carriers, fees you can chargeCosts (power, backhaul and - most importantly - leases and site costs)Industry changes (consolidation, buying power)Technology changes (cloud RAN, small cells, 5G, new bands, mm wave, 3.5GHz, 6GHz, data usage, coverage analysis etc)Future (more sites…)From a DD perspective the most critical will be property related: leases, uo-lifts, etcIf you do not have one on the team you need a property expert with relevant experience. The leases around towers and (more generally, more importantly) other sites on rooftops etc are very complicated.I have, in past life, worked on projects like this.It is a scary mix of finance, technology (things are changing fast• the network that was OK five years ago or even last year will not be adequate in two years time) and property law.If you want more details or you want suggestions on experts please PM me and I may have some ideas.
What due diligence should a Quora user carry out prior to asking a fellow user to answer a question?
Maybe I'm being a bit naive about this, but it strikes me that "I've gotten angry responses" from people in the past might be reading a little too much into it. The "suggestions" on who to ask what are far from perfect.  Some questions from anon users can be perceived as indirectly insulting to the person who's been asked to answer, especially when they're from an anon user.  For instance, I have to admit I paled a little bit and got very irritated, when I got asked BY AN ANON USER something about women with chin hair.  That was definitely trolling, and part of the reason why I raised my A2A price - to make people think for a minute before they just randomly asked assinine questions of random women.  If, on the other hand, I was a dermatologist or beautician, and that was in my profile, it might have been just fine to ask me that question. As it was, I had just returned from a nursing home visit where I was surrounded with men and women with all sorts of random hairs growing sporadically all over places that they didn't belong, and felt particularly sensitive to that issue as well as my own mortality.  Troll hit a nerve before I hit "decline", and made me take a harder look at my profile picture to see if there was anything there - and I put tweezers on my shopping list, too, just in case anything further developed.  I appreciate being asked questions that sometimes are a little out of my range, sometimes I will make an extra effort to answer them, and do a little research to expand my world a little.  But if you're going to ask someone to answer a question about "delicate" or personal-types of topics, anonymously, having to do with health or relationships or sex or things along those lines, make sure that they have represented themselves as expert in the topic or indicated that they're willing to ask those questions on their bios before asking them, no matter their "price".  Or, better, ask them using your real name. You can also send a PM letting them know who you are, and indicating that you are interested in their take, but for personal reasons prefer not to be associated with the question.  They can then choose to say no or to block you, or to answer the question.  Just don't be an ass, or a troll.  World is full up with them enough as it is.If they've blocked you already, well then.  Move on, there's nothing more to ask there.If you're asking a business-related type of question, your decision and research on who to ask is a question of your economy and your credit spend.   Every now and then there's something that I'm working on learning more about, and am thrilled to use your serendipitous question, anonymous or not, as a jumping off point for my own exploration of the topic.  It's better for me, if you're not anonymous, I might find that you are an interesting person, and want to follow you because of your awesome and fascinating questions or interests. Anonymous A2A does piss some people off, but since you're anonymous, what do you care? At worst, they'll report you to Quora admin and you'll get banned from the site for a bit or altogether, at best, people will answer your question because they think it's something they can or want to answer.  Sometimes there's a question and a person that for whatever reason, you feel uncomfortable approaching - that's OK, just take the risk.  But do a little homework, first, as suggested in the other answers here.  And better yet, perhaps you might develop some cojones and own who you are when you A2A.   They still might not answer, but hey - at least you've behaved like a grown-up.
How do venture capitalists, business angels, and other investors carry out due diligence research on a startup before they decide to invest?
I believe that that in the vast majority of cases angel investors do not carry out due diligence, while venture capitalists and others (as broken down by Gil Silberman) perform their own due diligence (sometimes effective in evaluating a startup investment and sometimes not so effective because they are not looking for the traits and factors that make startups successful, from a historical/statistical point of view).Now before I get into the meat of the answer let's define due diligence, because it is such a broad term and it means a lot of things to a lot of people.  I'm going to go with prolific investor David S. Rose's definition right here What's the difference between a VC and an Angel Investor?Furthermore, taking advantage of Mr. Rose's vast knowledge of angel investments (the guy actually wrote the book on it! Amazon.com: Angel Investing: The Gust Guide to Making Money and Having Fun Investing in Startups (9781118858257): David S. Rose, Reid Hoffman: Books) there will be anywhere from 50,000 - 70,000 angel investments in the U.S. this year alone (this is his WAG but still), growing anywhere from 5% - 10%. I believe that number will grow faster than that due to a variety of factors, including:angel investing is becoming seen as a separate viable asset class, in part thanks to the efforts of people like Mr. Rose and many othersnew rules allowing non-accredited equity investors to get equity through crowdfunding (and more loosing of regulations to come)the general shift in the economy from joining corporations to building businesseshardware crowdfunding platforms, including Kickstarter and IndigogoSo let's assume that there will be 100,000 angel investments per year pretty soon. One out of 40 will be financed (2.5% of all of the startups in the U.S. that seek angel capital close in on the deal) so that means angels will look at 4MM deals per year and probably perform some sort of verification on say 10% of that meaning 400,000 startups and their teams will need to be checked out. And that's a bare minimum. Maybe investors will want to start checking out 20% of the potential startup investments.These are the numbers for the U.S. As the global startup ecosystem grows there will be an increasing need for similar services in Europe, Asia, South America and even Africa. Numerous investors have mentioned the lack of ability to do due diligence across borders as one of the obstacles to investing in startups overseas, but on the other hand U.S. angel groups and venture capital companies, to a great degree, are looking into foreign markets but without the adequate resources.There is also another very interesting issue.  As angels add layers of data, analysis, due diligence, critique and so on there is currently no way to capture those layers of data for the good of the investment community at large. This residual collection of data has been something the recruitment industry has struggled with and gave some thought. Recruiters and hiring managers go through tens of millions of resumes each year, spending valuable resources on each candidate and a lot of knowledge is built up when each resume is processed by the company. If there was a feedback loop for those crowd-verified pieces of information then it would build value for the community at large.What if we not only could automate a part of that process, improve its quality but also build a residual database of verified information that builds on top of each other. Utopian? Maybe. But as the number of angel investment transactions increases and more and more people chase the promise of 10%, 20% and even 40% annualized returns I am certain angel investment volumes will increase.I am building such a framework and a product in the future so I personally strongly do believe there is a market and it's not only in the angel-startup pairing. There are other people that do business with startups that will want to screen, fact check or do serious due diligence. The market is there. It might be angels paying for the service or it might be other players in the very beginning but the era of the Verified Startup is coming.The VCs, private equity firms and other players will rely on their in-house resources for a while to come, but angels often do not check their information a lot of the time and what makes things worse is that in a lot of cases they do believe that due diligence is being done (because their angel investment group says it is or a lead syndicate investor says they've done it) when it hasn't been done.As far as doing all of the work yourself, as both Tim Berry  and Randall Reade have said, this is certainly an option, but the same case can be made for legal work, accounting, hiring and so on. You can do it yourself but as the scale of the industry grows that might not make sense. If someone has done it 10,000 times why are you going to be better if you've done it 3 times?So if angel investors are to stop "flying blind", according to Gil Silberman (quote: "Smaller investors might just invest blind, beyond the pitch deck and the recommendation of larger investors[...]") there needs to be a comprehensive framework, set of standards and set of products for fact checking decks, doing startup founder background checks, due diligence and so on.I'll be writing about these topics here: www.startupfactcheck.com.More to come.
How do I transition from financial due diligence to private equity?
A couple of ways for someone to transition into private equity, after working in financial due diligence at public accounting firm for a couple of years, include:Transitioning into corporate finance advisory (specifically advising private equity firms), then seeking a role in private equity, orDoing a secondment to a private equity firm.I was a corporate financier in the advisory team of a public accounting firm in the UK for a couple of years in the early 2000s. The advisory team was a sister team to the transaction support team - the group that did financial due diligence on behalf of clients that were management teams or mid-sized private equity firms.A few of my colleagues did secondments to private equity firms and I recall at least one of them left the corporate finance team for the PE firm full time (and eventually became a partner). I left corporate finance to join an investment banking team, then joined a real estate private equity firm before leaving the institutional world to found Pique Ventures, an impact investment and management company that launches and manages venture capital funds.I didn’t track the career trajectory of all of my former colleagues, but I’m pretty sure experience as a corporate finance advisor led to opportunities in private equity. It brought us closer to deal sourcing and investment decision-making than it did on the financial due diligence side.
How many questions will a seed series fund send out to a potential investment when conducting due diligence?
It varies a lot. An intuitive investor who is really excited about a deal could arrive at a decision after 5 minutes. A process-driven investor who's on the fence could ask a near-infinite number of questions.I will say that my firm typically takes 2-4 weeks (plenty of exceptions) to diligence a seed investment and we will want to know at a minimum:Company historyFounders' backgrounds/storiesMarket (mainly around size and adjacencies)Product (high-level, demo, vision, roadmap)Product/market fit (does the market actually want the product you've made?)Traction (# of customers, average contract size)Unit economics (CAC, LTV)Competitive landscapeFinancial modelFunding details (previous funding/investors, current round size, term expectations)
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