What Every Startup Needs to Know

From pitching for seed funds to growth after launching your product, there are multiple facets of what it takes to be successful at all stages of startup growth.  Below are some key pointers that every startup needs to know:

1. Team

“Date” your co-founders ahead of time. You will spend more time with your co-founders than with your friends and family, and VC investors care about the team at least as much as they care about the idea. 

Hire s-l-o-w and fire fast.  Don’t let one bad apple spoil the bunch.

2. Protect and Leverage your Intellectual Property

Be thoughtful about utilizing your employer’s resources.  If you’re working for a company when you begin to formulate your startup plan, be sure to understand your obligations to your employer.  You don’t want to launch a business only to have your former employer claim that your company’s work belongs to it. 

Develop an IP strategy.  Assign all intellectual property to your company and develop an IP roadmap for leveraging the value of that work. 

Your ideas need champions.  Be cautious about sharing the specific details of your work, but remember that if no one knows what you’re up to, no one can help you succeed. 

Your IP is your “secret sauce” – it’s what makes your company different from your competitors. Leveraging your IP to be a barrier to entry in the market is what makes every other name-brand unicorn startup what they are. 

3. Product-Market-Fit

Know your product and validate the concept.  Don’t go to market until you have clarity on the problem you’re solving, your target audience, the size of your market and your product’s defining features.  Once widely known, a company’s narrative is hard to change.

4. Use Investors For Business Development

Be strategic about your relationships.  Investors are more than just a checkbook. They can provide critical business intelligence, help you make connections to industry leaders, and provide strategic advice. 

Understand your company’s growth cycle.  Very few companies find success quickly — develop a fundraising strategy that will help you preserve your equity position for the long haul.

5. Think Exit

The path that builds early revenues may not lead to a successful exit. An early understanding of the M&A opportunities in your industry is an important first step for a founding team that hopes for a successful sale at the desired return. Great companies are bought, not sold. 

6. Execute

Just in case you missed this, execute, execute, execute.  You’ve got to be in the market to win the market. Execute. 

“Seasons” of VC Fundraising

A common misconception in the startup world is that venture capital (VC) fundraising grinds to a halt during the summer months. However, data from Carta Market Research challenges this notion, revealing that fundraising activities persist year-round, including during the traditionally “slow” summer period.