If you are just beginning to get your startup off the ground, there will be a lot of decisions for the founding team to make. Many of these decisions have to be made quickly, some with very little information, and plenty of them will end up impacting the business over the long haul. It really doesn't matter how far you are into the process, setting up a virtual data room at the outset is a great idea and will definitely come in handy down the road. Here are some things to consider when choosing a virtual data room provider for your startup:
Early stage startups are understandably concerned about the cost of everything. When you don’t have much money in the beginning, every cent has to be spent wisely. The team may decide not to invest in certain tools and solutions for the sake of saving a dollar. Fortunately, however, a virtual data room doesn’t have to break the bank. Cloud solutions have come a long way, and you may be pleased to learn that there are some solid virtual data rooms out there that are both incredibly useful and surprisingly affordable.
The best thing to do when trying to decide which one is right for you is to ask around and check out online profiles to assess which service will meet your needs at a price you are willing to pay. And, make sure that you pay attention to the fine print because some solutions offer a base rate, and then tack on a host of other charges if you add data or users. But, there are some great providers who understand how annoying and deceptive this is and provide data storage services at a reasonable flat rate (ahem, SecureDocs).
For busy startup leaders, there simply isn’t time to waste on setting up clunky systems or software and then spending even more time figuring out how to use them. Although most of us are pretty accustomed to having to learn new technology and can acclimatize quickly, some software and application providers make things unnecessarily complicated, confusing (or at least annoying) even the most tech savvy people. Those folks are probably the same ones that create overly intricate pricing charts. And, the real kicker is that they often just sell you the product and then essentially wish you the best of luck in figuring out how to use it.
To avoid this kind of mental wrangling, your team should look for a provider whose system is easy to setup and quick to implement. And, perhaps more importantly, their staff should be able and willing to assist you every step of the way, even as you continue to use the service. In addition, you shouldn’t have to finagle with gigabytes and number of users at any point. The best solution for your startup is probably the one that offers unlimited data and users, so that you don’t have to worry about upgrading as your business grows and demands increase.
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Security is huge. If you are going to invest in a data room that doesn’t emphasize security, you might as well attach all of your documents in an email and blast it out to the public. One of the amazing benefits of a great virtual data room is that it is custom built to store and protect data. You should be choosing a solution that implements high level security measures to shield data from exposure, such as encryption, access control, and two-factor authentication, and those are just minimums really. A highly secure service will likely go beyond these measures with things like watermarking, disabled printing, permissions-based roles, and even more.
In addition, forward looking startups will recognize the value of setting up a secure virtual data room for future fundraising efforts and the potential development of intellectual property. By having your virtual data room established early, you won’t have to scramble to set up a secure system when it is time to fundraise and undergo due diligence investigations.
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A virtual data room isn’t just a place to safely store documents. It should also help with organizing and understanding the data that it is housing. For example, multi-level folders, tagging, highlighting, cross-referencing, advanced searching, and report generation features all make finding and reviewing data easier and faster. You may not need a ton of extra features, but a basic data storage site probably isn’t what you are seeking either.
The best virtual data room providers understand what sort of features most companies will actually utilize and specifically design their service to provide ones that are practical, without going overboard just to make it seem fancy.