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What is a convertible note?

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I am part of a start up looking to raise some early money. Most of the investors we talk to want to give us a convertible note. We were expecting to defend our valuations and ownership percentages. The idea of debt for our early business is not attractive to most of the founders. What are the practical implications of the convertible note? Do investors typically get a board seat if they offer a convertible note?

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A convertible note is an investment vehicle often used by seed investors investing in startups who wish to delay establishing a valuation for that startup until a later round of funding or milestone. Convertible notes are structured as loans with the intention of converting to equity.