Wednesday, July 4, 2007

How much funding does a startup need?

Great post from Marc Andreesen's blog: How much funding is too little? Too much?

Key take-aways:

How much money do you need in theory?
  • Need enough money to get to PMF (product-market fit)
  • Once you're past PMF, then you need enough money to fully exploit the opportunity
Risks of taking too little money
  • May have unexpected setbacks (product release slips, competitor emerges, major customer loss, etc.)
  • Funding window may not be open when you need money (startups from late '90s who raised money--like TellMe and OpenTable--are still around today, while their competitors ran out of cash)
  • Global shock (e.g. terrorist attack)
Risks of taking too much money
  • Dilution, loss of control
  • Liquidation preference--raises the bar for how successful the company has to be
  • Cultural corrosion
Cultural corrosion:
  • Hiring too many people--slows everything down, makes it much harder to react and change
  • Lazy mgmt culture
  • Engineering team bloat
  • Lack of focus on customers and products--easier to be completely focused on customers and products when you don't have a lot of money in the bank and you worry about the doors closing imminently
  • Too many salespeople too soon--outselling a product that isn't quite ready yet, that hasn't achieved PMF--alienating early adopters and making it much harder to win them back when product is ready
  • Product schedule slippage--what's the urgency? We have all this cash! Creating a golden opportunity for a smaller, scrappier competitor to emerge

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