How to Create a Cap Table: A Basic Overview

As a start-up company, you’ll want to consider creating a cap table to manage your financial assets. However, tracking ownership, shares and various funding sources can become overwhelming quickly. Creating a capitalization table that offers the quick setup, security, and automation you need is the best way to ensure your business’s shareholders and employee stock plans remain efficiently managed.

This article will provide a basic overview of how your company can create its first cap table. We will cover what a good cap table looks like, crucial elements to include, a free cap table template, and why selecting the right cap table management software is critical to the continued financial success of your start-up.

How to Make a Capitalization Table

There are a couple of different methods for creating a cap table.

If you’re looking to maintain a hands-on approach to your stock option management, creating a cap table from scratch or using a template is a good option to get started. Handmade tables are typically built using Excel or Google Sheets. While this method offers greater control over the nitty-gritty details, handmade tables are generally considered outdated and cumbersome to maintain in the long run.

The more popular and preferred route would be to use a cap table software. This cap table creation method pays for itself by offering innovative organization, accurate tracking of ownership data, and seamless setup.

Regardless of the program that you choose, the best practices for a good cap table remain constant. These best practices encourage future investments, ensure your company remains in compliance, and provide accurate information when you need it.

But what does a good cap table look like?

What does a good cap table look like?

A cap table should provide the information and functionality necessary to project trends that promote informed financial decision-making. This is also sometimes referred to as a “clean” cap table. A good cap table should be:

  • organized and easy to read.
  • kept up to date on all options, investors, equity percentages, fundraising rounds, etc.
  • compliant with regulations such as Section 409a.
  • accurate in creating financial projections.
  • a reflection of your company’s business plan and financial growth goals.

What should a cap table include?

To ensure that your cap table establishes trust and credibility with potential investors, it should contain specific information regarding your equity and ownership structure. Some of the physical elements that should be accounted for include:

  • share counts (including authorized, unissued, and outstanding shares).
  • point-person for decision-making and approvals.
  • number and names of owners and investors and their shares.
  • valuations before and after investments.
  • price per share.

How can cap table software help?

While creating a cap table can be done using a simple program such as Excel, a cap table software solution can revolutionize ownership management. Prospective investors will look to your capitalization table for details on current share distribution, equity growth, and ownership count to evaluate your company’s investment risk level.

The more polished the cap table, the more likely investors will express interest in your company’s future. A software management solution can ensure your cap table checks all the boxes and accurately reflects the financial potential of your company.


Including these critical pieces of information in your cap table will set your company up for financial success. When creating the perfect cap table, factors such as readability, accuracy, and compliance must be considered.

Astrella’s cap table management software does all the legwork for you by offering easy setup, predictive analytics, and active tracking. Request a demo today and see how easy equity management can be with an intuitive and empowering cloud-based solution!

About the Author

Carine M. Schneider, FGE (Fellow of Global Equity), is an experienced and well-connected leader in the private market and global compensation industry with extensive experience working in consulting, technology, and financial services. She was named one of the 100 Influential Women in Silicon Valley by the Silicon Valley Business Journal and one of 17 “Women to Watch” in 2017 by Brown Brothers Harriman Center on Women and Wealth. Follow Carine on Twitter and LinkedIn.