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And at Y Combinator we get an increasing number of companies that have already raised amounts in the hundreds of thousands.
It's hard like lifting a weight because it's intrinsically hard to convince people to part with large sums of money. But much of the other kind of difficulty can be eliminated.
The ultimate source of the forces acting on you are the forces acting on investors.
Investors are pinched between two kinds of fear: fear of investing in startups that fizzle, and fear of missing out on startups that take off.
September 2013Most startups that raise money do it more than once. But the three phase path is at least the one about which individual startups' paths oscillate. That's the type the startups we fund are doing on Demo Day, and this essay is the advice we give them.
A typical trajectory might be (1) to get started with a few tens of thousands from something like Y Combinator or individual angels, then (2) raise a few hundred thousand to a few million to build the company, and then (3) once the company is clearly succeeding, raise one or more later rounds to accelerate growth. Forces Fundraising is hard in both senses: hard like lifting a heavy weight, and hard like solving a puzzle.
And the misleading ways of investors combine horribly with the wishful thinking of inexperienced founders.
An early stage startup grows mostly because the founders make it grow, and if the founders look away, growth usually drops sharply.For example, if a reputable investor is willing to invest on a convertible note, using standard paperwork, that is either uncapped or capped at a good valuation, you can take that without having to think.The terms will be whatever they turn out to be in your next equity round.But that in turn makes investors nervous they're about to invest in a flop. What investors would like to do, if they could, is wait.When a startup is only a few months old, every week that passes gives you significantly more information about them.
The cause of all this fear is the very thing that makes startups such attractive investments: the successful ones grow very fast.