Tuesday, August 09, 2005

So now you have money...

You've just raised a round of angel or venture capital. You're flush with cash, you can pay your staff and maybe even yourself. For one brief shining moment you are not asking anyone for money (assuming all checks have promptly arrived and have been deposited with your latest friend, the banker). This won't last long, so bask in the glory of the moment, crack open a bottle of mad dog 20/20 (the opus one comes later) and promptly get back to work.

You now want to focus 100% attention to operations and R&D. First review your budget in great detail. You will want to put together a couple of plans with different assumptions. The first assumption is that you take in no revenue and have no other source of capital than the money you now have in the bank. How long can you stretch the almighty dollars you have just painstakingly raised? This is known as your runway and will help give you a feel for when you should start raising your next round. This will also give you much needed parameters around prioritization of cash going out of the company and when you absolutely need to spend money. The second model you put together should have revenue assumptions. What is the earliest (realistic) date you could start bringing revenue into the company. Revenue both extends the runway of your company and leads to higher perceived value.

What are the stumbling blocks to realizing this second model? What is the most efficient expenditure of capital to get you there? i.e negotiate, but do not cut corners on expenses along your critical path to revenue. You must find the right balance on time to market with least amount of cash out. I like to think of it more in terms of "time to value" instead of time to market. To me, time to market implies sales and marketing teams. In an early stage company you should not have a sales and marketing team. These are called "founders." Try to drive to something of value that can be sold as quickly as possible, testing the market along the way with advisors and prospects.

When you've struck your hypothetical value proposition (or some other value prop you've found laying along the roadside) you'll know because you'll have a smiling customer on the other side of your handshake. Now is the time to take in that next venture round (or a strategic round from your smiling customer) and ramp sales, marketing, and of course, customer support.

... but we're getting way ahead of ourselves. Months before that you will need to start meeting with VCs, prospective customers, and building out that golden nugget of value

1 comment:

The Lal said...


good observations and concur with most of it especially
"In an early stage company you should not have a sales and marketing team. These are called "founders."


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