10 Top Startup Advisory Service Providers to Build Your Board

As a startup founder or CEO, there might come a time when you need advice that isn’t available within your core team.

In such cases, rather than hiring in-house, you can choose to work with external consultants who can bridge that knowledge gap while still keeping your startup lean.

In my 15 years as a business valuation advisor for startup founders, I’ve often seen them form a “startup advisory board”—a panel of consultants and experts who offer advice as needed.

Unlike a formal board of directors, an advisory board provides strategic guidance without governance duties.

This means you get valuable insights and support without having to deal with the rules and responsibilities of a formal board.

But finding the right advisors can be tricky, especially if you need expertise in various areas.

To help you build the best advisory board, in this article I recommend 10 advisors in different expertise areas, from business valuations to content marketing.

Quick Analysis: What to Look for in a Startup Advisory Service Provider

When choosing a startup advisory service provider, make sure they have the following:

  1. Startup-specific experience: Choose advisors with a background in startups, as they’re familiar with the fast-paced and often unpredictable nature of the startup world.
  2. Deep industry knowledge: Advisors who deeply understand your sector can offer insights that go beyond general advice for complex issues like VC negotiations and precise valuations.
  3. Strong reputation: A well-regarded advisor brings reliability and boosts your startup’s chances of success.
  4. Proven track record: Past successes indicate a capability to deliver meaningful results.
  5. Quick turnaround time: Advisors must respond swiftly in a fast-moving startup environment. For example, at Eton, we deliver valuations in under 10 days.
  6. Startup-friendly pricing: Flexible and transparent pricing that accommodates tight budgets. Options include deferred payment plans, tiered packages, and performance-based fees.
  7. Exceptional communication: To set a solid foundation for startups, advisors must respond promptly, provide clear, actionable advice, and give thorough explanations. 

10 Top Startup Advisory Service Providers in 2024

Here are my best recommendations for each type of advisory you need as a startup founder:

  1. Eton – Best Business Valuation, M&A, and Stock Options Advisor 
  2. Kruze Consulting – Best Finance and Accounting Advisor
  3. Graphite Financial – Best Fractional CFO Services
  4. Rapacke Law Group – Best Law Firm for Startups
  5. TechEmpower – Best Tech Advisors  
  6. Frederickson Partners – Best HR and People Advisor  
  7. Growth Marketing Advisors – Best Growth Marketing & Enterprise CRM Advisor
  8. Spicy Margarita – Best Content Marketing Agency for Startups
  9. Renovarum – Best Strategic Advisory Firm
  10. Prodify – Best Product Advisor for Startups

1. Eton Venture Services – Best Startup Valuation, M&A & Stock Options Advisor

💡 TL;DR: Why Choose Eton?

Choose Eton for fully compliant startup valuations, leveraging over 15 years of expertise and a track record of 3000+ audit-defensible valuations from ex-Big Four consultants — all at a fraction of the usual cost and time.

That’s us! I acknowledge that I’m a little biased here, so I’m going to be as transparent as possible below about our startup advisory services, how they work, and client experiences.

At Eton, we deliver fast, affordable, always-compliant valuations and advisory services for all types of startups.

Here’s why you should choose us:

✅ Experience: Since our founding in 2010, we’ve delivered over 3000 business valuations for venture-backed startups, private-equity firms, and fast-growing businesses. 

✅ Value: The difference between us and those household name consultants? We offer the same quality at a fraction of the cost and in a fraction of the time. 

Our consultants are all Big-4 trained (Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PWC) and I, the CEO, will be your key contact throughout our engagement. 

We also deliver valuations in as short as 10 days, and even shorter for an extra fee. 

✅ Relationships: I make myself available to all of our clients for calls. The clock doesn’t run and no question is off limits. Having worked at the Silicon Valley Law Firm, Gunderson Dettermer, I can share all my secrets on venture-backed business law.

I’m really proud of the work we do at Eton and the level of service we provide our clients.

Check out this testimonial from Paul Sciarra, Executive Chairman at Joby Aviation, highlighting his positive experience working with Eton across their 10+ year startup journey:

And this one from Debbie Markowitz, Chief Financial Officer at Spring Health:

Our Full Range of Startup Advisory Services

Whatever valuation or advisory you need for your startup, we do them all, and we do them well:

  • Startup valuations: Startup founders need to determine the overall worth of their startup when seeking investment, planning an exit, or making strategic decisions. Eton does all kinds of valuations for startups.
  • 409a valuation: To issue stock options at a fair market value to employees, ensuring tax compliance and avoiding IRS penalties. This is the main focus of Eton.
  • Stock option advisory: Guidance on structuring and managing stock option plans to attract and retain key employees, especially in competitive markets
  • Transaction advisory: Founders need this when engaging in financial transactions, such as funding rounds or acquisitions, to ensure due diligence, minimize risks, and maximize value.
  • M&A advisory: Strategic advice and support during mergers or acquisitions to achieve growth, market expansion, or consolidation objectives.

Our Startup Valuation Process

Eton’s valuations never take longer than 10 days (on receipt of documents) and when needed, can be fast-tracked. Some clients ask for one-day turnarounds which we’re happy to accommodate.

But I find a 10-day turnaround suits most clients. The process is the same regardless of the timeline.

Here’s what our typical 10-day timeline and process looks like:

Eton's startup valuation process

Step 1. Information Collection

First, we’ll have a conversation to understand your needs and how complex your cap table is. We’ll tell you exactly what we need from you to get started (such as financial statements)

and once you’ve delivered those documents we’ll review them within 1 day.

At this stage, every valuation gets a dedicated manager and analyst to keep things on track and accurate.

Step 2. Valuation Modelling and Analysis

We get to work using our extensive databases and keen analysis skills to put your valuation draft together.

Step 3. Draft Reports Delivered

On day 6 or 7 we’ll send you exhibit pages that show the calculation data we’ll use. This will include the methods we’ll follow, assumptions we’re making, data used, and a conclusion.

Step 4. Client Review and Approval

We’ll then invite you for a call to review the document. 85% of the time our clients finalize on the first draft. The rest of the time, we’ll agree with you on what needs to be changed and make those changes in one day.

We’ll send the revised draft back to you and get it finalized in 2 days.

And that’s it, your valuation is complete.

Step 5. Board/Audit/SEC/IRS Support by Eton Senior Staff

The final step doesn’t usually happen. But if you are audited, we step up and support you through the entire process, working with the auditors (who our team usually knows from past work experiences) to make it as seamless and stress-free as possible.

And rest assured, our valuations have never lost an audit.

Who Do We Typically Work With?

A large number of our clients are startups and scaleups with ambitious growth goals. Some names include:

  • Substack
  • Definitive Intelligence, a Web3-focused company
  • Oklo
  • Apex Health Solutions
  • Guru Technologies

We work directly with founders and finance teams as they prepare for funding rounds or just after they’ve closed a founding round so that their valuations are timely and relevant.

Here’s what one client had to say:

You can find more client testimonials here.

If you’d like more information or have questions, please get in touch with me here. I answer all my emails and calls!

Need an accurate and audit-defensible startup valuation?

Eton can help! We deliver valuations in 10 days (or less) and we've never lost an audit.

2. Kruze Consulting – Best Finance and Accounting Advisor for Startups

Why I recommend them: For their great track record in helping companies get acquired and save millions in taxes collectively.

Kruze Consulting provides comprehensive finance and accounting services to over 800 fast-growing startups in sectors like SaaS, eCommerce, biotech, and FinTech. 

Kruze has helped clients secure over $12 billion in funding and $100+ million in tax credits.

Their expertise shines from pre-seed to Series C, and their clients are twice as likely to be acquired.

Kruze’s key services include interim CFO consulting, financial modeling, bookkeeping, tax returns, venture debt consulting, and fundraising advice.

Here’s what one client says:

Source

3. Graphite Financial – Best Fractional CFO Services for Startups

Why I recommend them: Graphite Financial offers scalable and long-term CFO support from seed to exit, with high-touch, in-house-style support.

Graphite Financial specializes in fractional CFO services and financial modeling. 

They pride themselves on offering scalable and long-term support from seed to exit. Over 8 years, they have guided 250 startups to countless exits and M&As. 

Some of their clients include:

  • Caraway
  • Confiant
  • Holistic AI
  • Polygon.io
  • Boisson

While they cater to startups of all sizes, their sweet spot is well-capitalized startups with product market fit. 

Each startup gets a dedicated team, not just a single accountant, offering high-touch, in-house-style support.

Graphite Financial’s key fractional CFO services include CFO and fundraising, financial reporting, comprehensive bookkeeping, tax compliance, and expense detail reports. 

Here’s what one client had to say:

4. The Rapacke Law Group – Best Law Firm for Startups

Why I recommend them: For saving you time, money, and hassle with transparent fixed fees and fast communication.

The Rapacke Law Group specializes in intellectual property and business law for startups. 

They handle various patents, trademarks, and startup legal services. The firm’s expertise spans from initial business formation to final liquidity events.

The Rapacke Law Group aims to be hassle-free with transparent fixed-fee pricing for easy budgeting and quick responses within one business day.

Their services include IP protection, legal opinions, company formation, agreements, and liability.

Here’s a customer testimonial:

5. TechEmpower – Best Tech Advisors for Startups

Why I recommend them: TechEmpower transforms ideas into web/mobile apps with custom development, AI expertise, and performance optimization through unique benchmarks.

TechEmpower transforms your startup’s innovative ideas into smart web/mobile applications.

Their team of 25 US-based engineers excels in web and mobile development, AI, big data, Java, Python, and cloud infrastructure. 

TechEmpower has worked with startups of all sizes across various markets, including:

  • The Bouqs Co. (farm-fresh flower delivery)
  • MyStrength (mental wellness)
  • Clara for Daters (intentional dating app)
  • Keslow Camera (camera and equipment rental house)

Their unique TechEmpower Web Framework Benchmarks, viewed hundreds of thousands of times by web application developers, have proved that your choice of tech impacts performance.

Their services include tech review, due diligence, and fractional CTO.

Here’s a client testimonial:

Source

6. Frederickson Partners – Best HR and People Advisors for Startups

Why I recommend them: For their long and notable history, emphasizing diversity and inclusion in hiring.

Frederickson Partners helps build HR teams and hire executives for startups and unicorns. 

They are a market leader, having worked with over 400 venture-funded startups in nearly three decades.

Their expertise spans various tech sectors, including internet, e-commerce, AdTech, EdTech, construction technology, Health Tech, and social media.

Known for their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, they coach clients on securing diverse executive leaders, exemplified by their DEI project for Facebook.

They offer HR Executive Search, HR Advisory Services, and Board Services.

Here’s a testimonial from their client X (Formerly Twitter):

7. Growth Marketing Advisors – Best Growth Marketing & Enterprise CRM Advisor

Why I recommend them: For their track record in driving significant results from marketing campaigns.

Growth Marketing Advisors (GMA) helps founders and executives build scalable growth marketing and enterprise CRM strategies. 

They specialize in high-growth ventures, particularly startups and category creators. Their clients include:

  • Shutterstock
  • Minitab
  • Logicbroker
  • Vincent Alternative Investments

The GMA team is great at both the creative and the tech side of growth marketing, expertly managing ad servers, CRMs, and tech stacks.

Known for creating “marketing machines,” GMA delivers impressive results, such as quadrupling Time Study’s annual recurring revenue and tripling Hunterz’ return on ad spend.

They offer performance marketing, CRM database optimization, and data management. 

Here’s a testimonial from GMA’s client Minitab:

Source

8. Spicy Margarita – Best SEO & Content Marketing Advisor for B2B Startups

Why I recommend them: For their expert SEO-driven content strategy and scalable system that generates high-converting inbound leads for B2B SaaS startups.

Founded by content marketer Ben Goodey, Spicy Margarita specializes in content marketing strategy and implementation for global B2B SaaS companies.

Specifically, Goodey and his team helps startups scale traffic, leads, and conversions with SEO-driven content operating systems and high-quality content.

They’ve advised B2B SaaS startups like the below on content and SEO strategy:

  • Mesh (an HR performance enablement platform)
  • SentiSum (a Voice of Customer analytics platform)
  • Canopy (a parental control and screen time app)

Goodey is also the founder and creator of the How the Fxck community where you can get podcasts, blogs, and templates on all things SEO and content. 

There, you’ll also find case studies of how companies like Monday.com, SurveyMonkey, and Typeform scaled content to 1M+ traffic per month. 

You can work with Goodey and his team in three key ways:

  1. Monthly or weekly content and SEO strategy calls
  2. SEO implement
  3. High-end content production at scale

If you’re not ready for a full-on engagement, you can subscribe to his premium newsletter to get weekly emails filled with juicy podcasts, case studies, and strategy advice.

You can also choose to do a one-off purchase of his Content Scale package

Or just connect with him on LinkedIn where he shares valuable insights regularly.

9. Renovarum – Best Strategic Advisory Firm for Startups

Why I recommend them: For combining experienced professionals with fresh talent to ensure efficiency and innovation.

Renovarum supports startups through every stage of their lifecycle –  from business ideas to exit strategies.

With a team of multidisciplinary professionals, they address financial, strategic, accounting, and legal challenges.

Renovarum’s team has senior and younger professionals – giving a mix of experience and new ideas.

Within startup advisory, key services include drafting business plans and pitch decks, strategic advice on management control systems, and assistance in finding funding sources.

10. Prodify – Best Product Advisor for Startups

Why I recommend them:  For their Vision-Led Product Management framework to build scalable, product-led businesses.

Prodify helps startup founders and CEOs build scalable, product-led businesses across B2B, B2C, and B2B2C sectors. 

Their past clients include Savonix, Whoop, Pinkaloo, and Higher Logic. 

Prodify developed the Vision-Led Product Management framework, detailed in their #1 Amazon bestseller “Build What Matters”. 

The core concepts focus on selecting product success metrics, crafting a customer journey vision, creating a strategic plan, and developing a product roadmap.

Here’s what a client said about their experience working with Prodify:

Startup Advisory Services – FAQs

Have more questions about startup advisory services? I answered them below:

What does an advisor for a startup do?

An advisor for a startup provides expert guidance and support in various areas crucial for the business’s success. Here are the key responsibilities:

  1. Strategic Planning: Helping you define and refine your business strategy.
  2. Financial Guidance: Offering advice on financial planning, budgeting, and fundraising.
  3. Market Analysis: Providing insights into market trends and competitive landscapes.
  4. Operational Improvement: Recommending ways to improve operational efficiency and scalability.
  5. Networking: Connecting you with potential investors, partners, and other valuable contacts.
  6. Risk Management: Identifying potential risks and suggesting mitigation strategies.
  7. Product Development: Advising on product development and go-to-market strategies.
  8. Mentorship: Offering ongoing mentorship and support as you navigate the startup journey.

The compensation for startup advisors can vary widely based on factors like the advisor’s expertise, the specific services provided, the stage of the startup, and the region. Generally, startup advisors may charge:

  • Equity: Typically, advisors may take equity ranging from 0.1% to 2% of the company’s equity, depending on their contribution and the startup’s valuation.
  • Hourly Rates: Hourly rates can range from $100 to $500 or more per hour, depending on the advisor’s experience and specialty.
  • Retainer Fees: Some advisors may prefer monthly or quarterly retainers, which can range from $1,000 to $10,000 or more, depending on the scope of services.
  • Project-Based Fees: For specific projects or advisory roles, fees may vary widely based on the complexity and duration of the engagement.

The difference between a startup advisor and a consultant lies primarily in their roles and the nature of their engagements:

  • Startup Advisor:

    • Role: Provides ongoing strategic guidance and mentorship to startup founders and leadership teams.
    • Engagement: Often part of a startup advisory board or serves as an individual mentor.
    • Focus: Focuses on long-term growth and strategy, offering insights and advice based on experience and industry knowledge.
    • Compensation: May receive equity in the startup or a combination of equity and fees.
  • Consultant:

    • Role: Offers specialized expertise and services on a project basis or for specific needs.
    • Engagement: Typically hired for short-term projects or specific tasks such as market research, product development, or operational improvement.
    • Focus: Solves specific problems or challenges, delivering tangible outcomes within a defined scope.
    • Compensation: Usually paid hourly, on a project basis, or through retainer fees for the duration of the engagement.

In short, a startup advisor provides ongoing strategic guidance and mentorship, while a consultant offers specialized expertise for specific projects or tasks within a defined timeframe.

get in touch

Let's talk.

Schedule a free consultation meeting to discuss your M&A or valuation needs. 

President & CEO

Chris co-founded Eton Venture Services in 2010 to provide mission-critical valuations to venture-based companies. He works closely with each client’s leadership team, board of directors, internal / external counsel, and independent auditor to develop detailed financial models and create accurate, audit-proof valuations.

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