Startup Lean Coffee

Bootstrapping vs. Venture Capital

Published on
November 11, 2019

I couldn’t make October’s Startup Lean Coffee; but thanks to Mark Adler, who facilitated in my absence, we were able to keep our momentum going! The topics that were discussed included:

  • Bootstrapping vs. Venture Capital
  • How should equity for a founding CTO be calculated
  • Lyft, Uber, WeWork… what’s next? Implications?
  • Content creation for marketing: how much, who, when?
  • What are the day-to-day challenges of having a fully distributed team?
  • NYC development shops

Since I wasn’t there, I decided to limit my comments to just one of these topics.

Bootstrapping vs. Venture Capital

All startups are bootstrapped in the beginning; some need to raise capital to achieve their full potential.

Many successful founders in industries ranging from financial services to media, marketplaces, and technology have built substantial businesses with little or no upfront product development. They do so to rapidly and inexpensively test their riskiest assumptions using prototypes that can be easily modified or rebuilt before codifying those assumptions in code or long-lived content. In many cases, they test their revenue model, too; and if it works, they start generating revenue: i.e. bootstrapping.

Once they have de-risked their business by testing these assumptions, they focus on stabilizing and scaling the business, which sometimes (but not always) requires outside capital investment.

Remember that venture capital is only one source of such financing. Some revenue-generating businesses that need capital to manage cash flow can secure financing for receivables. Others can qualify for grants or may be a better fit for impact investors. Some need help with in areas where vendors might provide services in exchange for shared revenue, like RevUp for performance marketing or Magnolia Partners (shameless plug) for cannabis companies.

It’s very easy to believe that your idea is one of those that really requires capital to start. It can take a lot of work to figure out how to de-risk your assumptions and demonstrate initial traction without raising capital.

"The truth is that when it comes to business ideas and startups, if you believe that your company cannot exist without money, then it probably will not exist with it."

The Agonizing Truth About Startup Funding Entrepreneurs Need To Face

Think of revenue should be your cheapest, easiest to access source of capital. If it isn’t, then make sure you understand your business model thoroughly.

About Startup Lean Coffee

Startup Lean Coffee is a monthly gathering of founders, early employees, advisors, investors, and anyone involved or interested in joining the startup world in any capacity. Our sole purpose is to help each other improve by sharing questions and experiences. All you need to bring is your attention, curiosity, and willingness to share.

We follow a Lean Coffee meeting format, a lightly facilitated meeting where participants democratically build an agenda and discuss each topic for a fixed time, voting to continue discussion or move on to the next topic after the time runs out.

Feel free to continue conversations that were started at our meetings and start new ones on our  Startup Lean Coffee Slack workspace. Please treat our Slack space like our in-person meetings: ask questions, share interesting information, create channels.

Startup Lean Coffee is graciously hosted by Betaworks Studios. Participation is free; but space is limited. We usually meet on the 4th Friday of each month. Sign up for the next Startup Lean Coffee, which will be on Friday, November 22nd at 9am.

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