Company valuation of start-ups. A critical examination of the applicability of selected evaluation methods

Bachelor Thesis, 2018

53 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table of contents

List of figures

II Table directory

List of abbreviations

Formula Directory

1 Introductory

2 Characteristics of a start-up company
2.1 Life cycles of companies and products
2.2 Definition of start-ups

3 Requirements of the evaluation methodology
3.1 Definition of enterprise value
3.2 Functions of company valuation and valuation occasions
3.3 Value determinants of a company valuation
3.3.1 Cash Flow
3.3.2 Terminal Value
3.3.3 cost of capital
3.3.4 Multipliers
3.4 Requirements for the evaluation procedure for a start-up

4 Evaluation procedures and their applicability
4.1 Overall valuation method (net present value oriented)
4.1.1 Earned value method
4.1.2 Discounted Cash Flow Method (DCF) Weighted Average Cost of Capital Adjusted-Present-Value
4.1.3 Applicability of capital value-oriented procedures in start-up companies
4.2 Individual valuation procedure (net asset value oriented)
4.2.1 Net asset value method
4.2.2 Applicability of value-oriented procedures in start-up companies
4.3 Mixing process (market value oriented)
4.3.1 Multiplier method
4.3.2 Applicability of market value-based methods
4.4 Situational procedures
4.4.1 Venture Capital Procedure
4.4.2 Applicability of situational procedures

5 Exemplary application of a start-up company valuation
5.1 Short presentation of the start-up "HelloFresh SE"
5.2 Company valuation using the VC method
5.2.1 Investigation of the current market position Market volume/ growth rate Market share of HelloFresh SE Analysis of the most important markets Analysis of the food market Summary and outlook
5.2.2 5-Year Forecast HelloFresh SE
5.2.3 Calculation VT
5.2.4 Calculation V

6 Conclusion

Bibliography and source index

List of figures

Abbildung 1: Übersicht über mögliche Bewertungsanlässe

Abbildung 2: Marktanteile der größten Essenboxenlieferanten in den USA 2017

II Table directory

Table 1: Ermittlung des Free Cashflows

Table 2: Ermittlung des Substanzwertes

Table 3: Wertansätze zur Bestimmung des Teilrekonstruktionswertes

Table 4: Marktvolumen USA für Essensboxen (EUR/USD 0,8347 31.12.2017)

Table 5: Ermittlung des Marktanteils von Hellofresh

Table 6: Geplanten Quoten für die Umsatzplanung von HelloFresh SE

Table 7: Finanzielle Entwicklung sowie die Umsatzplanung bis 2022 für HelloFresh SE

Table 8: Peer Group HelloFresh SE

List of abbreviations

German Stock Corporation Act (AktG) - German Stock Corporation Act (Aktiengesetz)

APV - Adjusted-Present-Value

CAGR - Compound Annual Growth Rate

CAPM - Capital Asset Pricing Model

DCF - Discounted cash flow

EK - equity

FCF - Free cash flow

FK - outside capital

GK - Total capital

GmbHG - GmbH Act

German Commercial Code

IPO - Initial Public Offering

LCM - Price-to-earnings ratio

PEG - Price-earning-growth ratio

SE - Societas Europaea

TV - Terminal Value

VC - Venture Capital

WACC - Weighted Average Cost of Capital

Formula Directory

Formel 1: Berechnung des Terminal Values

Formel 2: CAPM-Model

Formel 3: Berechnung eines Multiplikators

Formel 4: Berechnung des Unternehmenswertes nach dem Ertragswertverfahren

Formel 5: Berechnung des WACC Kapitalkostensatzes

Formel 6: Berechnung Gesamtunternehmenswert (WACC-Ansatz)

Formel 7: Berechnung Wert des Gesamtkapitals eines unverschuldeten Unternehmens

Formel 8: Berechnung Tax Shield Cashflow

Formel 9: Berechnung Barwert Tax Shield Cashflow

Formel 10: Berechnung der Rendite nach dem Substanzwertverfahren

Formel 11: Gleichstellung zwischen Substanzwert und Ertragswert

Formel 12: Berechnung des zukünftigen Unternehmenswertes in der VC-Methode

Formel 13: Berechnung des heutigen Unternehmenswertes in der VC-Methode

Formel 14: Berechnung der nötigen Investitionen im VC-Modell

Formel 15: Berechnung der unterstellten Kapitalrendite im VC-Modell

1 Introductory

At first glance, it may seem a bit too high to say that young companies such as start-ups have a significant share of the growth of an economy. But it is a fact that a vibrant economy produces a large number of start-up companies.

Although start-up companies represent only a small part of the economy due to their size, they have a considerable influence. The National Federation of Independent Business in the USA has found in a study that two-thirds of the newly created jobs were generated by start-up companies.1

KPMG also came to a similar conclusion in its current Start-Up Monitor 2017. In 2017, an average of 13.2 jobs were created per start-up. In 2018, an average of 7.5 new hires are to be made.2

In addition, innovations are mainly driven by small, young companies. Large, established companies often shy away from the risk of adapting to new circumstances, as they have a lot to lose if the realignment does not bring the desired successes. Thus, traditional retail was revolutionized by the young, previously small, start-up called, which developed into the current online retail giant. Many retailers are now struggling to keep up with this new trend.

The Amazon example alone shows how much a young company can make a significant contribution to the economic growth of an economy. Growth in the USA in the 90s was significantly stronger than in Western Europe due to the high number of start-ups of new technology start-ups such as Amazon.3

But even if established companies want to participate in the new market trend, they often use the opportunity to take over a start-up. On 28.09.2017, for example, the automotive group Daimler took over the Flinc ride-sharing service.4

In order to ensure the success of a young company, a considerable amount of financial resources is often necessary. In a study by PWC, surveys determined that one in six start-up founders is planning follow-up financing in the following 12 months.

This can be done either through debt financing via a bank or by taking on a new shareholder in the form of venture capital financing. In both cases, an enterprise value must be determined in advance. In the case of credit financing, the company value is necessary for determining creditworthiness. When a new shareholder is admitted, a valuation is required to determine how many shares can be acquired for which equity contribution. These are just two exemplary occasions that make an evaluation of companies indispensable.5

In the present bachelor thesis, it will be examined to what extent the traditional valuation methods are also suitable for the company valuation of start-up companies. The aim is to identify possible strengths and weaknesses of the assessment procedures in relation to start-ups applied to established companies.

At the beginning, the characteristics of a start-up company are characterized.

Subsequently, general principles of a company valuation will be explained. Here, reference is also briefly made to the most important value determinants. This section concludes with the requirements for assessment procedures for start-up companies.

Subsequently, the suitability of the selected evaluation procedures for a start-up evaluation will be checked.

Individual, common evaluation procedures are then dealt with in more detail and a distinction is made between overall evaluation procedures, individual evaluation procedures, mixed procedures and situation-related procedures.

After the subsequent example evaluation, the corresponding conclusions from the applicability of evaluation procedures for start-ups are shown in the conclusion.

2 Characteristics of a start-up company

2.1 Life cycles of companies and products

Basically, the status quo of companies can be classified in three phases. In the literature, a distinction is made between the Early Stage, the Expansion Stage and the Later Stage.

In the early stage phase, the founder has a first business idea. It starts with the creation of first prototypes as well as demonstration samples, on the basis of which a business concept can then be designed. Furthermore, the first organizational structures are created, production is set up, the first sales channels are set up and market entry is prepared.

Unlike in the early stage phase, the company has already reached break-even in the expansion stage and is recording cash flows. However, these may still be companies that are not yet fully integrated into the market. In the advanced expansion phase, companies are already engaged in product and country diversification in order to conquer new markets.6

A company in the later-stage phase has established itself in the markets and records stable and mostly high cash flows.7

In order to get a better picture of the current phase of a start-up company, it makes sense to also deal with the life cycle of products.

The introduction of a product is largely associated with costs. The cash flows generated are usually not sufficient to cover the high costs of opening up markets and distribution networks. As a result, the operating result for the introduction of products is usually negative at first. The introductory phase ends when the unit profits become positive. In the subsequent growth phase, the product is further and further established on the market, sales and cash flows increase. On the other hand, in the subsequent saturation phase with subsequent degeneration, the profits decrease due to increasing competition until the product finally dies out.8

2.2 Definition of start-ups

After briefly giving an overview of the rough division of companies, we will now go into more detail about typical development stages of start-up companies. But first, start-ups need to be identified.

"Start-ups are young, not yet established companies that contribute to the realization of an innovative business idea (...) were founded with little start-up capital and are usually dependent on considerable financial support very early on to expand their businesses and strengthen their capital."9

Further definitions of start-ups can be found in the literature, but they differ only slightly from each other. KPMG has dealt intensively with the characteristic properties. Accordingly, start-ups are highly innovative with their technology or business model on the one hand, have strong employee and sales growth on the other hand and are also not older than 10 years.10

These young companies are in the early stage phase, which in turn is divided into several phases.

KPMG has divided the early stage phase into five smaller phases in its current Start-Up Monitor 2017. At the beginning there is the seed phase. The first concepts are being developed here, but sales are still lacking. In 2017, 21.4% of start-up companies were in this phase. In the subsequent start-up phase, the young company created a market-ready range of products. The first sales can be generated. In 2017, 45.6% of start-up companies were in this sub-phase. In the subsequent growth phase, later-stage and steady-stage, the company establishes itself more and more in the market and sales are constantly expanded.

Typically, young companies cannot have a long and continuous history. Their goal is to take advantage of new technologies, new business concepts or new market conditions in order to grow into a stable company. Considering the uncertain factors in starting a start-up, combined with the high cost of product launch, there is a great risk of failure. Due to this clear risk profile, it is difficult to find a suitable company value.11

3 Requirements of the evaluation methodology

3.1 Definition of enterprise value

In the business context, the value of a good is expressed by its overall benefit, which it receives from the economic entity.12

In this context, one also speaks of the objective, or subjective, theory of value. According to objective theory of value, each object has an assigned, recognized value. This corresponds to the market price. Here, the subjective values of buyer and seller are not taken into account, but only the company as an object is evaluated with a generally valid size. The perspectives and the respective situation of the buyer and the seller are disregarded. Subjective theory of value, on the other hand, evaluates the use value of the object. Thus, the value takes on a subjective character, since each individual derives a different benefit from the object or the company.13

In the case of company valuation, the objective value of a company is created by the purely monetary calculation by means of different models, which will be explained later. In the course of the sales negotiations of companies, subjective values are then exchanged, which deviate from the previously calculated objective value. Thus, the calculated objective value in the company valuation is merely an approximation of the final purchase price of the company.

The value of an object, whether primarily monetary or ideal, arises from the subjective evaluation of the viewer. So it is not uncommon that the value of an object differs from individual to individual. In contrast, the price is ultimately an exchange value where two or more individuals have agreed on the value. If one now assumes a company sale, the buyer will only enter into an agreement if the negotiated price is not higher than his subjective values. Conversely, the seller will not sell as long as the price is below his own values.

Thus, negotiations or an agreement only take place if the value of the buyer corresponds to or exceeds the value of the seller. This creates room for negotiation.14

If one thinks about the procedure of determining the valuation of a company, one could quickly come to the conclusion that the value, or the price of a company, results from the balance sheet values, since there the assets and liabilities of a company can be read. However, this is not the case, because there is a different objective between the enterprise value and the balance sheet value. Balance sheet values are mainly characterized by the precautionary principle. This means that impending liabilities must be measured in the form of provisions as soon as they are known. Income or sales, on the other hand, may only be accounted for when they have occurred. Here, the seller of a company would be disadvantaged. In addition, the individual valuation principle according to § 252 para. 1 no. 3 HGB. Accordingly, assets and liabilities must be valued individually. Synergy effects are not taken into account here, although they can have considerable value for companies. In addition, balance sheet values are past values. In addition, the acquisition values of the business assets must be taken into account here, which are reduced by scheduled or unscheduled depreciation.

In a company valuation procedure, the future development on the basis of historical values is particularly important. The value of a company should reflect the future values that can be generated in the future.

In addition to the inappropriate sole consideration of the balance sheet value, there are other value approaches for the valuation of companies - for example, the market capitalization value. If it is assumed that a company's current share price reflects current expectations and sentiments in the market and this can be seen as a future average expectation of all market participants about the expected returns, then it would make sense to multiply the current share price by the number of shares issued. However, since one must assume an information asymmetry between the market participants and not every market participant has all or the same information, this value approach is also rather unsuitable.15

In addition, one must be aware that the value of a share refers to a share of the company. However, a complete takeover of control of the company would not be reflected in this value solely due to the possibilities of influence.16

In addition to the above-mentioned valuation approaches, in practice there is also the liquidation value, the reproduction value, the net asset value and, above all, the income value. Reference will be made to this later.17

3.2 Functions of company valuation and valuation occasions

In a company valuation, the current company value is to be determined on the basis of the forecast of the future development of a company. The aim is to evaluate the expected future situation in monetary terms and to map it in the present. With a company valuation, one wants to obtain information about the value of the company currently and in the future. Regardless of the exact reason for the company valuation, the goal is to define quantitative quantity for the upcoming decision.18

In addition to clarifying numerous, differentiated reasons and occasions for company valuation, functional valuation theory takes into account the different, subjective value assessment.

It is divided into main and secondary functions. A very common main function is the advisory function - also called decision-making function. Here, decision values are determined that sound out the economic limit. The decision values can ultimately show the price lower and upper limit.19

The task is to find a company value on the basis of which entrepreneurial initiatives can be made. These include, for example, the purchase or sale of companies, mergers and mergers, IPOs as well as transformations or spin-offs.20

These are the subjective values of a company, since the realizable benefit in the future depends on the ability and will of each individual.21

Another main function is the argumentation function. This is closely related to the advisory function. While the consulting function is the internal exchange of information, the argumentation function describes the basis for negotiations, for example in the course of a company sale.

In other words, a company valuation that initially had a decision-making function can take on an argumentation function at a later date. The purpose of the argumentation function is the support of a party, which is done by providing argumentation values, which should lead the other side as close as possible to the desired decision price. These are also subjective values.22

The ancillary functions of a company valuation specified in the literature include, among other things, the drafting of contracts and the tax assessment function. In the function ultimately mentioned, the task of company valuation is to provide a basis of assessment for the taxation of, for example, inheritance and gift cases. The area of responsibility of the contract drafting function includes, for example, the matters when a shareholder leaves a company. The remaining shareholders must pay it out for this. For this purpose, the current market value of the company is used.23 But even when a new shareholder joins, a valuation is required to determine the amount of the required contribution.24

In the following chart, possible valuation occasions are summarized again:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure Overview of possible valuation occasions25

3.3 Value determinants of a company valuation

With regard to the subsequent description of the individual valuation procedures, the most important value determinants of a company valuation will be described here.

3.3.1 Cash Flow

Cash flow is generally referred to as a company's payment surplus. The higher the cash flow, the higher the internal financing potential of the company. First of all, it makes sense to briefly devote yourself to the payment flows of a company. A company's cash flows can be divided into two areas, the finance area and the performance area. The latter describes all deposits into the company through the sales market and all payouts to the procurement market. These include, for example, materials, investments and wages. Taxes and subsidies by the state are also assigned to the scope of services. The cash flows of the financial division include capital contributions and distributions from the owners as well as interest, repayments and loans from creditors. At this point, it becomes clear that a company is involved in a wide variety of payment flows from different areas. Therefore, a wide variety of payment surpluses arise. As a result, there are different ways of calculating cash flow variables, which, however, build on each other. There are two methods for determining a cash flow, the direct and the indirect method, whereby both ways lead to the same result. With the direct method, the deposits are directly compared to the withdrawals. The indirect method is based on net income, adds non-cash expenses such as depreciation, subtracts non-cash income and eliminates cash-effective but non-profit-making transactions such as investments.26

For company valuation, the operating free cash flow as an indirect method is of particular importance, because this shows how much money the company has at its disposal.

Here is a presentation of the operating free cash flow method:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Table 1: Determination of free cash flow27

3.3.2 Terminal Value

Following the cash flows, a brief reference should be made to the terminal value. This is used in cash flow-based valuation methods. When using such valuation methods, which will be discussed in more detail later, cash flows are designed for a certain number of planning periods. The planning period is divided into two phases. In the first phase, the detailed planning phase, both the cash flows and the discount rates are precisely developed, period by period. In the subsequent rough planning phase, a cash flow is then assumed as an eternal return, the terminal value, under the assumption of the infinite continuation of the company. This approach is called the going concern approach.28

The shorter the detailed planning phase and the lower the discount rate with stronger increases in future cash flows, the more influence the terminal value has on the value of the company. Since a young start-up company in particular will have increasing cash flows in the future, the terminal value has an above-average effect here.

This can account for up to 90% of the total company value.29

When determining the terminal value, three basic principles should be taken into account. First, there should be model consistency. Valuation variables such as cash flows, discount rates and possible assumed growth rates are coordinated, also with regard to the previous detailed planning phase. Second, the terminal value should be yield-oriented. The further one envisages the future, the more returns should be influenced instead of concrete plans, because it becomes increasingly difficult to predict concrete cash flows. This is especially true for start-up companies.

The third point concerns the observance of cash flow timing. Here it is taken into account that the cash flows are always generated at the same time, usually at the end of the period.30

The Terminal Value (TV) is calculated as follows:

Formula 1: Calculation of the terminal value31

FCFn = Free cash flow (see Chapter 3.3.1)

g = Constant growth rate of cash flows

WACC = Discount rate (explained in more detail in Chapter

In the further course of this work, the cash flow-based valuation procedures are presented in the detailed planning phase. The calculation of the terminal value would then be hung behind the calculation of the detailed planning phase.

3.3.3 cost of capital

If you choose a net present value-based company valuation method that uses cash flow, future payment surpluses must be discounted to today. This is done with a cost of capital rate. Cost of capital rates are returns expressed in an interest rate that could be achieved if an alternative were invested instead of in the company. This forms a connection, or a comparison, between the company's distribution series and the alternative investment.

Examples of such comparative investments could be investments in other properties, investments in the money or capital market or consumer purposes. Care must be taken to ensure that the two investments that are put into relation are comparable in the following five points and thus comply with the principles of equivalence:32

1) Runtime: The period in which the capital is tied to investments must be the same. Since the investment term in the company is difficult to define, it is divided into two phases: The detailed planning phase with a duration of three to five years and the subsequent global planning phase. There, the last year from the detailed planning phase is continued as a perpetual pension. Here, the yield curve or interest rates of bonds with long maturities can be used as a guide.
2) Same risk content: Both investments must carry the same risk of loss. This can be done, for example, via the profit discount method, in which the cash flows in the numerator are corrected downwards, or via the risk premium method. In this case, the discount factor in the denominator is increased by a risk share if the purchase of the company would carry a greater risk than the comparative investment used.
3) Liquidity: Resaleability must also be treated in the same way. For example, it is much more difficult to sell shares in a GmbH compared to shares in a listed AG. This difficult sellability should be compensated by an increase in the cost of capital.
4) Purchasing power: Annual inflation must also be taken into account. Here it is important to distinguish between industries and business models.
5) Labour input: For smaller companies, or for example in KGs, a fictitious entrepreneur's wage should be taken into account by reducing the cash flows in the numerator or by increasing the cost of capital in the denominator.33

There are several ways to determine an interest on the cost of capital. One possibility is the Capital Asset Pricing Model or CAPM.

Formula 2: CAPM Model34

The r represents the return of an alternative, risk-free investment. This could be, for example, a domestic government bond. The factor added to this corrects the return of the alternative, risk-free investment by a "risk premium" for assuming the additional risk when buying a company. On the one hand, this consists of a market risk premium E(Rm) – r. For example, E(Rm) could represent the return of an index such as the DAXe.35

On the other hand, this market risk premium is still multiplied by a beta. This beta represents the systematic risk of the investment. It can be calculated by dividing the return of a single stock by the return of the ines over the same period. Here it becomes clear that a CAPM cost of capital rate for the discounting of cash flows of an unlisted company can only be determined if a peer group of comparable, listed companies is used. Particular attention must be paying attention to the comparability of the risk. A beta of 1 means that the title has the same risk, a beta < 1 ein geringeres Risiko und ein Beta > 1 has a higher risk than the index.36

In the literature, there is no agreement on the evaluation of the CAPM model. The model parameters are quite variable. Beta factors depend on which index, and also which company, you use for comparison. The risk-free interest rate can also be chosen at will. Thus, instead of referring to the domestic government bond, one can also refer to interest on short-term bank deposits.37

Despite critical consideration, the CAPM model has a great relevance in practice and is therefore dealt with in this work.

3.3.4 Multipliers

If a market-price-oriented method is chosen for the valuation of companies, multipliers are required. The aim is to determine the value of a company on the basis of prices paid for comparable companies on the market. For this purpose, the multipliers for the peer group are first determined.

formula 3: Calculation of a multiplier38

The multiplier of a comparable company M is composed of the market price MP, such as the market capitalization, and the reference value BG of the comparable company. The reference value BG can be, for example, the EBIDA of the comparison company from the peer group. In valuation procedures with multipliers, it is assumed that the current knowledge of all market participants is reflected in the share price. Multiplied by the number of shares, you get the market capitalization. In the end, despite the asymmetry of information, the current state of knowledge is to be surpassed by multipliers on the valuation object.39

How the valuation object is now evaluated with these multipliers from the peer group is to be explained in the course of the multiplier procedure under point 4.3.1.

3.4 Requirements for the evaluation procedure for a start-up

The traditional procedures are mainly adapted to companies with a long economic existence, a well-developed accounting system and with representative historical values for valuation in the future.40

This non-existent historical data for start-ups makes it difficult to carry out a company valuation for them.

In addition, young companies often have no, or only very small, payment surpluses.41

An example of this is the online trade Zalando. In the first few years, millions in losses were accepted there, but with a view to the expected enormous potential in the future.

This example shows that a valuation of Zalando in the early years on the basis of cash flows would not have been possible and, above all, not appropriate, because the future potential of the young company would not have been taken into account.42


1 cf. Damodaran (2009), p. 4

2 cf. KPMG (2017), P. 7

3 cf. Damodaran (2009), p. 4

4 See manager magazin (28.09.2017)

5 cf. Freudig/ Torka (2017), p. 8 ff.

6 cf. Diller (2007) p. 21

7 cf. Hess (2007), p. 29

8 cf. Rieg (2004), p. 92

9 cf. Achleitner

10 cf. KPMG (2017), P. 22

11 cf. Frei (2006), p. 12

12 cf. Behringer (2013), p. 174

13 cf. Peemöller (2012), p. 4

14 cf. Zwirner (2012), p. 25

15 cf. Kuhner/ Maltry (2017), p. 38 ff.

16 cf. Behringer (2013), p.1742

17 cf. Kuhner/ Maltry (2017), p. 38 ff.

18 cf. Zwirner (2012), p. 14

19 cf. Behringer (2013), p. 180

20 cf. Zwirner (2012), p. 9

21 cf. Behringer (2013), p. 180

22 cf. Seppelfricke (2012), p. 10

23 cf. Behringer (2013), p. 188 ff.

24 cf. Drukarcyk/ Schüler (2015), p. 3

25 Own presentation based on Rieg (2004), p. 56

26 cf. Seppelfricke (2012), p. 41

27 Own presentation based on Seppelfricke (2012), p. 51

28 cf. Meitner (2012), p. 580

29 cf. Damodaran (2009), p.10

30 cf. Meitner (2012), p. 580

31 cf. Own presentation based on Meitner (2012), p. 582

32 cf. Franken/ Schulte/ Brunner/ Dörschell (2016), p. 375

33 cf. Kuhner/ Maltry (2017), p. 102 ff.

34 Eigene Darstellung in Anlehnung an Schwall (2001), p. 246

35 cf. Schwall (2001), p. 246

36 cf. Seppelfricke (2012), p. 69

37 cf. Schwall (2001), p. 246

38 Own presentation based on Franconia (2016), p. 455

39 cf. Franken/ Schulte/ Brunner/ Dörschell (2016), p. 455

40 cf. Hayn (2012), p. 771

41 cf. Damodaran (2009), p. 2 ff

42 cf. Tuma/ Schröder (2018)

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Company valuation of start-ups. A critical examination of the applicability of selected evaluation methods
University of Applied Sciences Aschaffenburg
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Marvin Zimber (Author), 2018, Company valuation of start-ups. A critical examination of the applicability of selected evaluation methods, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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