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Different Techniques to Establish the Valuation of Startups in Pre-Revenue Stage

Updated: May 10

Startups in the pre-revenue stage find it challenging to determine their worth. The lack of revenue and profits makes it difficult to use traditional valuation methods, such as discounted cash flows or multiples of earnings.

However, many startups rely on venture capital funding to grow and expand. In such cases, it is crucial to understand the different techniques that can help establish the valuation of a startup.

In this blog post, we will explore the various methods to value a startup in the pre-revenue stage.

Berkus Method:

The Berkus Method is a valuation approach that evaluates the different aspects of a startup to arrive at a fair value. This method is based on five key factors: Soundness of Idea, Prototype Development, Quality of Management team, Strategic Relationships, and Product Rollout. Each of these factors is assigned a specific value, and the sum of these values determines the startup’s valuation.

Scorecard Method:

The Scorecard method involves assigning weights to specific criteria, such as market size, management team, product position, etc. The valuation is then determined by multiplying the scores assigned to each criterion by its corresponding weight. This method helps investors and startup owners to identify and prioritize the critical factors influencing the startup’s valuation.

Chicago Method:

The Chicago Method follows a similar approach as the Scorecard method. It involves evaluating various factors, such as market size, management team, product uniqueness, etc., to arrive at a fair value. However, in the Chicago method, a mathematical model is used to derive a valuation range, based on the scores assigned to each factor.

Venture Capital Method:

The Venture Capital method is a widely used approach to determine startup valuations. It is based on the expected return on investment, time frame of investment, and risk profile. This method involves estimating the company’s future earnings, adjusting for risks, and discounting it back to present value to arrive at the valuation.

Risk Factor Summation Method:

The Risk Factor Summation method involves assessing specific risk factors that affect the startup’s success, such as barriers to entry, competition, legal/regulatory risks, and management capabilities. Each of these factors is assigned a value, which is then summed up to determine the startup’s valuation.

Book Value Method:

The Book Value method is the most basic approach to valuation. It involves determining the net worth of the company by subtracting its liabilities from its assets. However, this method does not account for the company’s growth prospects, potential earnings, or market position.

Cost-to-Duplicate Method:

The Cost-to-duplicate method involves estimating the cost of reproducing the startup’s intellectual property, technology, and other assets. This method assumes that the valuation should be at least equal to the cost of building a similar company, with similar assets and capabilities.

Comparable Transaction Method:

The Comparable Transaction method involves analyzing comparable deals in the market to determine the valuation of the startup. This method is based on the assumption that the market provides the best indicator of a startup’s worth and that similar deals will have similar valuations.


Valuing a startup in the pre-revenue stage can be challenging, but with the right methods and understanding of the key factors that affect valuation, it is possible to arrive at a fair value. The methods discussed above are just some of the many approaches that investors and startup owners can use to determine startup valuation. It is crucial to work with experienced professionals in the field to ensure that the startup’s valuation is accurate and reflective of its potential.


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