The Angel Investing School Beginner Guide to Term Sheets

You may be wondering, what is a term sheet? How does it work? Do I need a lawyer in order to understand it? Don’t panic, we are going to introduce you in this article to the basics of what a term sheet is and how it works.

When investing in a founder, it is essential to define the relationship going forward between the investor and the founder. There are many tools founders and investors can use to clearly define this relationship and the parameters of their agreement. One such tool is called the term sheet. As a beginner angel investor, understanding the ins and outs of term sheets is crucial for ensuring the success of your investment as well as the relationship between you and the founder. 

Economics in Term Sheets

When entering into an investment agreement, the economics outlined in a term sheet lay the foundation for the financial relationship between the investor and the entrepreneur. As a beginner angel investor, it’s essential to grasp the key components, which can be usually found in a term sheet:

  1. Investment Amount: Understand the commitment you are making. Clearly define the amount you are willing to invest in the startup.
  1. Valuation: Determine the valuation of the company. This figure is critical in assessing the potential return on your investment, based on the price per share.
  1. Equity Ownership: Clarify the percentage of the company you will own in exchange for your investment. This is a key metric that directly ties back to the financial success of your venture.

Legal Terminology in Term Sheets

Beyond the financial aspects, the control section of a term sheet defines the investor’s influence and involvement in the strategic decisions of the startup. For a beginner angel investor, understanding the following points is crucial:

  1. Shareholder Rights: Clearly articulate the rights you, as an investor, will have as a shareholder. This may include voting rights, dividend preferences, and other privileges that safeguard your interests.
  1. Board Representation: Determine whether the term sheet provides you with a seat on the company’s board. Board representation is a powerful tool for shaping the direction of the startup. It is very rare for founders who seek early investment such as angel investment to have a board nevertheless this term is an important one to be familiar with. 
  1. Information Rights: Understand the level of transparency you will have access to as an investor. Information rights ensure that you are well-informed about the company’s performance and strategic decisions.

Founder-Friendly or Investor-Favorable: The Ongoing Debate

Term sheets often spark debates within the entrepreneurial and investor communities, with discussions revolving around whether they are founder-friendly or more favourable to investors. As a beginner angel investor, it’s crucial to recognise that these documents are not legally binding and can take various forms, from a simple document to an email.

The Founder’s Decision: Acceptance or Decline

Ultimately, founders hold the reins when it comes to accepting or declining the terms proposed in a term sheet. As an angel investor, building a relationship based on trust, transparency, and collaboration is key to ensuring a positive outcome for both parties.


Entering the world of angel investing in the UK demands a solid understanding of the dynamics embedded in term sheets. By grasping the nuances of economics and control, beginner angel investors can confidently navigate these agreements, fostering mutually beneficial partnerships with innovative entrepreneurs. As the startup ecosystem continues to evolve, staying informed and adaptable will be essential for success in the ever-changing landscape of angel investing.

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