Securing funding is a milestone that nearly every founder strives for. But raising money isn’t as simple as it might seem, as the company’s stage must be taken into consideration when determining who much, or if, money should be raised.
I have been a CEO of a small company for over two years now. In a small company, you need to constantly jump from one role to another. You have to get out of the building and keep the ship in its course at the same time, or sometimes also change the course. Jumping between tasks is even more evident when a key member of your team decides to leave the company.
Last week I talked to a young, first time founder. Before we even talked about Techstars, he said, “You know what, we have raised a little bit of cash, we have a good advisor, we are probably okay, we don’t need an accelerator.”
You cannot imagine how much I cringe when I hear that kind of statement.
There can be no doubt that startups mark a new era in the world of business. We are currently living in the early days of this new business reality as young new companies from all over the world launch their products and services, changing our everyday lives and making innovation the currency of the future.
As of writing this, I’m currently a part of a startup that’s grown to over 250k unique pageviews a month, and over 300k signups to date.
And while I’m happy to say that we’re on a good track, the path to that marketing success wasn’t glamorous. It was paved with hundreds of failed A/B tests, too many unopened emails to count, and heaps of traffic that wouldn’t convert.
There was no turning back. They had little food, disease was taking its toll and the instructions he had been handed were clear. It was a point of no return. Hernan Cortez was on the shores of the Atlantic.
Everyone wants to appear legitimate in the eyes of the public. In addition to helping you maintain a forthright reputation, you are also able to grow your company.
When people trust you, your brand, and your products, they are more likely to invest in all three. It is not easy, however, to gain the conviction of people. Far too often, people have proven to be less than trustworthy.
In 2011 we raised $2M from some of the top investors in Silicon Valley. Our startup, SocialWire (later renamed Manifest), helped online retailers instantly personalize the shopping experience when their customers signed in with Facebook. However — we soon learned that it was hard to convince the big retailers to add our product recommendations to their websites which they’ve been optimizing for years. We also found that not enough customers wanted to sign in with Facebook while they were shopping online to get a more personalized experience.
Quitting your job to launch a startup can be a daunting decision, particularly if your tolerance for risk is not very high. It’s still possible to be a successful, self-funded entrepreneur and take calculated rather than extreme risks - I know because I’ve done it! Here are my top recommendations.
When advising or mentoring startup founder-CEO’s, or when governing my own priorities as the CEO of mParticle, here is the basic framework that I use to sort through all the things I need to prioritize and balance. This isn’t exhaustive and other people may think about things differently, and as always I reserve the right to be wrong but, this is just how I do it. So here are what I believe to be the top 5 things a startup CEO needs to do, in this order.
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