Things money cannot buy are still the most valuable things.
Chris Drit stashed this in Time
I've been thinking a lot lately about the most valuable parts of my startup during the current stage it's in - discovering my customers "hair on fire problem" and then not defining exactly how people will use it.
It appears I'm not the only one thinking about these things:
So it’s useful to separate what aspects of your business could be improved with money alone from what you need to address with time, attention, and intelligence.
So, do I spend my time chasing money from investors? Or do I spend my time getting my business right? How do I value the precious, little, time that I have in order to understand what to spend it on?
Since everyone and their dog is now an expert in Lean Startup, you need to demonstrate, not regurgitate platitudes. Tell me about how and why your pitch changed when you vetted your idea with potential customers. Walk me through a screenshot of your app, revealing the customer feedback that lead to each part. [...] Tell me about your first idea which turned out to be wrong but lead to the second, and how much easier it was to sell the second. [...] Tell me in your customers’ own words why they’re willing to pay you for any of this.
All things money can’t buy, but exactly the things which, when combined with money, make companies most likely to succeed.
What I'm starting to realize is, the longer you can bootstrap without raising money the more power and leverage you obtain.
Tell your audience (if it’s true) that you’re already doing $100,000/month, you’re adding 1,000 users a day, or you’re in beta tests with five Fortune 500 companies. In other words, you have proof that the dogs are eating the food. The longer you can bootstrap without raising money, the more powerful your pitch.
Slogging through it, day-by-day, is getting tough. Getting to the point of a remarkable story isn't coming quick. But it seems building great companies takes time. I guess I'm still trying how to figure out how to be the bacon, and not the bread.
I would argue that it is not the length of the bootstrap but what is achieved relative to your resources that give the leverage.
At some point, if the eventual goal is a funding event, a long bootstrap will start to work against your pitch, particularly if your progress stalls.
I'm definitely interested to see how other people can answer your question about what changed after vetting customers.
As far as chasing money, vs getting the business right, with no context of where you are now or what you are working towards, I would pitch when external indicators (customers, advisors, media, the direction of the wind) made me believe I could close what I need to execute the opportunity with reasonable terms. Otherwise, focus on executing the business. If there is any doubt, execute the business. (there is also the desperation hail mary pitch, but avoid that whenever possible)
Hope that's not too abstract or platitudinal, but it's hard to be more concrete without specific details.
There are plenty of stories of bootstrappers who succeeded.
It's important to remember that money can help you SURVIVE but it cannot buy you taste, excellence, or product-market fit.
Once you have enough money to survive, it's all on you. That's why starting a company is hard.
Put another way, Mo Money = Mo Problems, but Money = Lifeline.
Don't give up. You're on the path a lot of us are on.
A flow chart would be good.
I can tell you it's really, really hard without a co-founder.
"It's important to remember that money can help you SURVIVE but it cannot buy you taste, excellence, or product-market fit."
That is VERY sage advice. Thank you.