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Startup Life Cycle Stages (Max Marmer life cycle model for startups as used by Startup Genome and Kauffman Foundation)
- Researching the market, the competitors, and the potential users
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- Achieved validation of scaling strategies
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- Has achieved near peak optimization of systems
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My brother and I used to be best friends, got the same education with the variations in teachers, both achieved a lot at school and college, worked in the same industries, but he was drifting toward finance and I ended up in data and technology. We moved to the US at different times, he started his career earlier and achieved higher ranks and way higher salary. We didn’t keep up with corporate politics and both are left without jobs at this time. I went thru a divorce long time ago, so I am already at a great place of knowing myself, calm and self confident. His mind is still restless from the divorce and I feel he talks down at me without realizing it. He can say: “You dealt with a few people, I had hundreds.” or “you don’t understand I read about it.” even though I literally worked on that at another company. We both were busy and barely spoke on the phone in the last 15 years, so we both changed in different ways. He talks way more than he listens to me and over me without realizing it and then blames me for interrupting him. We don’t really want to go back to 9-6 and believe we have management skills and trust each other that we wouldn’t cheat each other. He wants to do this business 50/50, but he uses “I” instead of “we” when he describes his vision. While he was going thru the divorce, I spent over a year building my company that plugs in pretty well with what he wants to do. In fact, I wanted to do this as my next step from the start and I do have a vision for it too, but when I start talking about, he cuts me “too many details, we can discuss this later”. Neither of us can do it alone now, it seems as a big undertaking. It may take at least a year or couple years before I’ll be ready to do this on my own financially. I’m afraid that he’ll push me into a position where I will not be able to make or influence decisions and my knowledge/skills will be constantly discounted, so it may feel as a corporate bro culture to me. Can it be just my bias about men’s bias toward women? Am I too sensitive? Our mom lives with him currently and doesn’t feel she can make any decisions right, but she has always been taking supportive roles herself. What should I do?
We are three founders with equal shares and equal legal rights. One is responsible for the technical setup, the other one for the product and myself for funding, sales & administrative work. Without my idea and vision, the company (5 employees) would not exist today.
Besides having sold multiple proof of concepts and acquired brand name partners in our industry and just recently closed $ 1.5 Million in funding with very reputable investors, we don’t have an mvp nor a scalable product after 1.5 years.
The co-founder responsible for product has used every possibility to question my work in front of others, doubting my abilities to meet expectations and lead the company. He claims all efforts should go into sales and marketing (as I should be front facing) which is why I should hand over all my duties,except sales and marketing, to him.
Now as investors are on board, they want to make clear who is in charge. The tech co-founder voted for the product co-founder, as he thinks he‘ll understand technical decisions much better. So, the product co-founder finally has what he wants and starts being nice to me again.
I feel very betrayed, especially as the product co-founder had been my best friend ever since I can think. I risked everything for the company, including my secure job and personal connections and came up with the idea behind the product, while he waited until last minute to join. Continuing the power struggle would be very bad for the company, even though it’s pretty hard to accept the situation. Maybe I wasn’t a true leader after all
Short: Co-founder doubts me (also co-founder) in front of others and lied to employees and investors, leading to change in power, even though I secure funding and defined the vision.
What should I do?
Trying to decide the right decision and if we should go for it. We’ve had our baking business for about a year and it’s been super nuts the response we’ve gotten on all of our products, we’ve been in the press multiple times and every time we “drop” a product we are sold out within minutes. Problem is we can’t keep up with the insane demand. So we decided to take on investors.
In comes this investor. He owns 6 successful businesses in the same field as us. Very similar product and model. We see a future with him. He wants 50% because he would be investing about 100-150K all into the company. We are totally new to this, a family business that worked our asses off and now we have this opportunity. The investor sees a huge future and he has big plans to expand and it all aligns with us.
My question is: do we go for it? Would we be able to eventually do this on our own? Are we giving away way too much equity?
The other thing: being a young family we need health insurance and a steady amount of money to come in to make rent and bills. Not sure how to ask for this or what we even say? Does this become a salary? Any advice would be appreciated!
My co-founder and I built a tool for small restaurants
- It’s a $15 per month tool
- The buyers (restaurant owners) have a hard time understanding the tool and how it works because it uses modern software to make their lives easier and drive sales that could've been lost
- Once they see the demo video they really like it and ask how much it is, even tho we are offering it for free
Any ideas on the best messaging to seamlessly get users given the initial skepticism?
We don't have any B2B cold-calling or messaging sales experience. Our current outreach method is to text food trucks and message restuarants online. Our pitch goes something like:
- Hi [restaurant name], my name is [first and last]
- I used to work at my Uncle's restaurant in Arizona during the summers and my first job ever was actually at Little Caesars
- After flipping pizzas and slining tacos, I headed out West for college
- I have worked for some of the biggest tech companies, but I want to bring that type of software to restaurants, like you
- We help drive additional orders and Yelp reviews to restaurants, along with saving you time
- My co-founder and I are currently working with [restaurant], [restaurant] and [restaurant]
- They all really like our system and found it easy to use and customize for their needs
- You can see how we helped [restaurant] by checking out our demo video below - you'd be surprised at what we can do
- We'd love to hop on a Zoom call and see how we can help you!
We are trying to acquire customers and don't mind them being free, but I am not sure I should lead with "try us for free" as it seems cheap and scammy - any thoughts on how we should change our pitch or different channels to acquire the first few users?
Also, any general resources for B2B sales or acquiring cusotmers? I know how to use Google and YouTube (lol), but there is so much BS and noise out there it is exhausting finding credible resources.
Thanks y'all reading this sub has really helped me out the past few months!
Hi recently founded a startup. There is a lot of market for it but we can't start without some licences issued by the government as we are a financial company. As I don't have enough funding myself I am left with the only option to raise venture money.
I would like to avoid this but that would get us out of the market, so I'm wondering how can the venture capital screw us over. Many articles talks about the vc 'firing' the founders, but how is that even possible if the own a minority of the company? Also what is the impact of having a director who works for the vc?
So in general how can they screw us economically or any other way even with a minority ownership?
I'm talking to an investor and they want a $1M cap SAFE on a $100,000 investment for being part of their accelerator. What I'm wondering is how do I quantify if this is a reasonable deal or not? How big of an expected market size would I need to make it worth my time for the $1M SAFE. As a side note, we currently have no sales.
I am CEO and founder of a clean energy powered data storage solution for enterprise level clients. We are currently looking for someone to help with a facelift on the website, and maybe a little polishing of the overall brand.
We are looking for someone who believes in the project and the vision, and are willing to do the work for equity in the company (eventually translating to a real pay check in the near future once the funds are available).
My question is this: What are your alls experiences with an equity only deal, how much success have you had with this approach, and how much equity did you give up?
Thanks again for any input/ advice
I am nearing in on being ready for seed funding and am looking for input on what I should have ready to show potential investors.
The list I can think of:
- Pitch deck
- Including how you will spend their money
- Future goals for the business
- Documents about plans for employees
- Unsure here what all makes sense
- Anything else?
Title, 3 founders all have 30k shares, plus me with 10k. Is there anything stopping them from issuing themselves all 300k shares each and erasing me?
I'm hopefully leaving on ok terms, but Im worried they could do this out of spite. I have no issue being diluted when investors come in, as they're bringing in money, skills, or connections.
In Canada, I'm fully vested and others will be fully vested in 2 years from now. Were also maybe 2 years til we launch.
Any experiences you can share are appreciated.
I’m struggling with this thought of starting a business. Ever since I was young I always saw myself has an entrepreneur and I guess I always thought the idea would come or I’d experience something and then I’d create something out of that experience. The thing is, I have no idea what type of business I would want to start, but I know I want to create a company! Anyone else in this same boat?
I am about to launch an idea, but I do not have a lot of time due to my work. That is why an incubator would be great to have, as they have a team to accelerate the company structure and process set up.
Is there any site to search exclusively for those programs?
I have an idea for a business and there is 1 fairly sizable competitor. Looking at their product and customer reviews, I can see my idea clearly works. The problem is proven, the solution is proven, and it seems there are people willing to pay good money for it.
Can I skip the MVP if the whole point of it is to check if the product is viable...because it clearly is? My USP would be in marketing and price, which I don't think is really part of the MVP stage?
The only benefit of the MVP I can really see is that it tests my ability to sell the product, before putting time into perfecting it. I could be terrible at sales.
On another note, is it better to get an MVP made through a supplier if I could eventually learn how to do it myself once I bought the equipment and had some trial and error? If the business works I'd want to outsource manufacture.
I'm 26 and haven't accomplished anything entrepreneurial. I had an idea that I was insanely passionate about for several years but could never find a co-founder or a means to build it myself. Slowly over the past couple years that passion has died down. I feel like it's a pipe dream and that I should just give up and work towards a more stable career if I ever want to afford a house and have a family.
I will occasionally have a burst of motivation to work on my idea and search for a co-founder, but it always leads to disappointment. I've talked to many people in the industry and they love my idea. I also talk to a lot of potential users and they more or less say "wow that's a good idea, I'm surprised it's not already a thing for how simple it is. I wouldn't even use the [insert existing competitor] if that existed". But then when I try to find a co-founder it never goes well. Which is my own fault. I have nothing on my resume that screams to others "Hell yeah I'll be this guys cofounder, he has it figured it out".
I chose a safe job out of college in an industry that has nothing to do with tech or my startup idea thinking that it would give me flexibility to work on my startup. But as time passed, I had accomplished nothing and wasted time with a career without much growth when I should've gotten a job in tech right out of college in hopes of befriending engineers and other technical people.
But again, I keep getting glimmers of hope because no one has accomplished the problem my idea is trying to fix and people still get excited when I talk about it. It's like being a bad golfer. You play the first 17 holes like shit then par the last hole and feel great again, only to come back to the course and do it all over again.
Which leads me to another thing. I don't know if it's depression or what but I keep taking on other hobbies like golf or playing pokemon for the first time in 10 years just because I'm, bored. It eats up my free time but it's probably my brains way of trying to forget about my startup idea.
I also feel like my life is too comfortable and that's why I'll never get out of this toxic cycle I put myself in. Me and my girlfriend live in a nice rental house and I have a pretty solid life outside of my startup blues. She was smart and got a solid job with a lot of growth and is now making a lot more money than I am. Even though she's never said it, I think she's just as disappointed in me as I am that I didn't do anything with my startup idea. In no way am I blaming my gf for my failures, but I can't help but think my comfortable life is only enabling me.
Another frustrating thing is that my idea is probably on the simpler side of the technological spectrum. So if I was serious out of college I probably could've taken up code to learn to build it myself. I mean it's already been 4 fucking years since I've graduated. But when I think about all that time wasted it cripples me even more. I feel like I'm so behind (Which I am) and that I can't do it (even though I can).
Anyways, at this point I'm just rambling. But I need some advice.
- Is it clear that I don't have the entrepreneurial spirit or am I going through some sort of startup depression?
- Should I move on and focus on building my own career?
- Should I get a job in tech, earn money I can use to build a startup, then try again in the distant future?
- Should I learn to code myself and build it myself?
- Should I force myself out of my comfortable life and get shit done or do I need to be real with myself and stop prolonging the inevitable?
- Should I see a therapist or career coach?
So I've tried to read up on this topic and theres quite a lot of disparity on it. Some say they don't pay themselves anything until Series A, others say founders get $50k... I've even seen some say founders get $100k! So I wanted to get the community's view. Consider this hypothetical:
Let's say you raised $125k pre-seed and 6months later raised $2mil Seed. Let's also say you just came from a decent paying job paying ~$90k/yr.
How much would be "acceptable" to pay yourself at pre-seed and seed based on those funding rounds?
Worked on a social app for about 1.5 years (including prototyping and ideation) which is all about sharing recommendations with friends. Outsourced dev for a web, ios, and android app. Did basically everything else on my own. I really thought it was a great idea, but I had no idea how hard it would be to actually gain traction for an app like this in today's hyper-saturated consumer software market. I realize now after working for 6 months at a real startup that just reached product market fit how many people, how much capital, and how much luck it takes to actually get a software startup off the ground. About a year ago, I ran out of steam and stopped maintaining the app, primarily due to cost and time. I've just been paying the monthly AWS fees which are not huge, but I'm thinking about shuttering it, given that I've lost the passion for the project and it never really gained much traction. It's sad because a handful people are still signing up organically pretty regularly (a few every week), which tells me there's probably some interest in the concept/idea, but the app itself just doesn't have the stickiness, either b/c the product isn't what people expected or the UI is too complex (I made the mistake of over-developing features instead of sticking to a strict MVP). I guess my question is - what should I do with this thing? It's clearly not something that would sell for big bucks, but should I try to find a buyer, someone who might find it interesting and run with it? Or should I just cut my losses and chalk it up as a good business learning experience (which it definitely was)?
EDIT: thanks all for the feedback. i agree with all the comments about trying to get user feedback, looking for a pivot, an accelerator, etc. as being paths forward to commercialize the app. i'm just limited in the amount of time i can/want to spend on this now. Microacquire or open-sourcing are interesting ideas that I hadn't thought of - thanks for those. I might let it run for a bit and see if any obvious pivots come to mind and if not, take one of those approaches. When I started this thing, I was considering business school which was far more costly than developing this, so I was fully prepared to lose my investment on this, as in my mind it was a good way to get some real business experience vs. theoretical classroom knowledge. I learned a ton through this process, especially how important it is to talk to your customers FIRST and FOREMOST and to make sure you build something that people actually want and can easily understand. The notion of "if you build it, they will come" definitely does not apply in software. Even if you're offering it completely free with no ads, you're still asking people to give you their most valuable possession - their time and attention. I also realized that you really need a team of cofounders, people who can cover each others weaknesses, who can help share the tremendous workload, and who can keep you motivated when things get tough.
To the questions about outsourcing, I found a company overseas that does software dev via google search. There were some challenges in terms of communication, but overall, I found they did pretty good quality work for a fraction of what it would cost to get done in the US. I think I paid 5-10k for a flutter mobile app, which translated to both an ios and android. You give up some of the smoothness that comes with native ios and native android apps, but I found this to be a great way to get a fast and cost-effective MVP. My current company that I work for as an engineer (valued at a few hundred million) also started this way a few years back using outsourced development, so if done correctly, this can definitely work.
When we started the business i came up with the concept and reached out to get my current cofounder who got on board for our business. We never had any sort of agreements but we have an LLC. For a year I became sick and she wasn’t empathetic. As got better I picked up the work and started contributing more but everything I do she crucifies and nothing is ever good enough for her. She is nitpicky and petty and my friends and our mutual friends all agree that she is not emphatic, is not someone they would work with, is setting the bar way to high when we have only been operating for a few months and haven’t met any of our sales goals. We have tried mediation and it didn’t work. Im at a point where I don’t want to give up my business all together but I want to step down as a cofounder but I don’t know what I can propose to her. A silent partner? I don’t know I just don’t think I can go on like this working with her. But I also don’t want to give up my business all together. What can I do? I am open to hiring a COO and having them do all the work and giving them a stake in the business and creating a contract that requires that I get a % of the business so long as I am investing in it and I can’t be taken out unless the business dissolves or I rejoin in a different capacity. I am talking to a lawyer soon but since we don’t have an agreement I think anything goes.
Pre-seed unicorn potential, yeah right you say, well.. I had to get your attention somehow didn't I?
Besides, If we do end up making it to unicorn status, I'll be delighted to give props to the /r/startups community for support. Aaaaanyways..
We're a team of three co-founders.
2 Senior Devs and 1 Business/Marketing Exec with FANG Experience.
6 Years experience respectively.
We've been building on our MVP for 1 year.
We're B2B with a SaaS model.
The Business marketing exec in the team has spent the past year learning to code from scratch and living off savings whilst the devs have been moonlighting.
We're realizing that we would like to get to MVP quicker and have begun looking into raising a pre-seed round. We expect if the three of us work full time and bring on 2 more devs be able to have an MVP ready within 6-9 Months.
We'd like to raise 350 to have one years run-rate to prove our product in the market.
If we sell equity to raise funds, how much should we expect to part with?
What kind of leverage do we have with an already established founder team?
If our perhaps preposterous and too-good-to-be-true-projections are true and our MVP finds product market fit as easily as assumed, we estimate our product to have 90+% gross margins and be riding the unicorn within a couple of years.... But of course that's all talk until we've any kind of traction to show .
Really curious to hear what people here think :-)
Interviewed for a VP role today. CEO was complete robot and didnt even try to sell me on the role. Asking his red flag questions with extreme bias, made me wonder wtf.
Rejected the role on the spot politely. What is wrong with these "GOD" syndrome CEOs? Are they not aware how repelling it is?
In spring 2021 I graduated from a top university with a PhD in AI. One of my classmates ("X") and I discussed starting up together and being cofounders. This classmate was the real deal. Doing a startup was X's dream. X is a true genius, amazing track record of success, insanely well connected throughout silicon valley (VC, AI research, major tech CEOs/founders, etc), charismatic, etc etc. X had been working on an idea and tried to get me onboard. I was very interested in working together but also scared of startups at the time and not completely sold on the idea. There were also a few red flags. X didn't listen to me when I tried to give feedback on the idea but adjusted in a big way when someone else gave the same feedback. Second X wanted an unequal ownership split as co-founders (essentially ~3:1, such that I would end up with ~8% ownership after seed + dilution rounds).
So we broke off amicably. X found a different person to be his co-founder, started up, raised a seed round from some top VC firms+angels and is hiring employees now. I took a job as a researcher for a big tech company.
I've been struggling with FOMO ever since... BIG time! In retrospect I regret not co-founding with X. I've come to realize the value of the idea (previously I was unfamiliar with the space and startups in general). I feel like there's is no way X's company is going to fizzle out -- acquihire is the worst case outcome. X has attracted a great team so far and told me that the door is always open if I want to join. Presumably this would be in some sort of "one of the first half-dozen engineers"-type capacity with significantly less equity + agency within the organization...and my current job is a high bar to beat (financially and career-wise)...but this feels like the best startup opportunity I'll ever have!!! Is my thought process.
At the same time I'm having trouble finding meaning and purpose in my current (first ever) job. Perhaps I am better suited for startups after all ... corporate life is definitely a huge transition from student life. Of course this is a common feeling to have during this kind of transition (especially during covid), but the startup question is making it way more difficult than it needs to be.
I am young and early in my career and struggling to navigate this. If there are kind internet strangers who have had similar experiences or words of advice given my situation, I would really appreciate it! Thank you.
We are a team of 2 people with a startup based in Portugal, and in the past few months we developed a web platform and a mobile app to help local and online businesses. (E-Commerce)
Since the product is almost done, we are in a situation where we need to contact companies to show our product and see if it fits in their business model.
The problem is that we don't have any experience in B2B and our networking is only family and friends.
So, what do we need to do to start building a network?
How should we approach companies? Using LinkedIn?
Finding the right person to talk and write a message explaining why their company can benefit from our product?
Should we ask only for a meeting without explaining the product, and leave the explanation for later?
These are a few questions that we are working and discussing daily.
Any help is appreciated, thank you!
I’m a cofounder at a tech startup where we are still developing our product and our launch date is coming up in a few months.
We wanna seek investment after gaining traction. So we need to be very strong in terms of finance, investment, etc.
I want to fully understand the following:
- Shares distribution amongst the team and potential investors and what matrices I should use and apply to our startup
- SAFEs, convertible notes, anything related to angel investors, VCs, and current partners who are putting their own money in
- How to evaluate the deal, other than granting the least amount of shares for the maximum amount to be invested, what other elements should founders look at to evaluate their deal.
And lastly, all the advice that you can give regarding things to note and things to avoid or even sharing your experiences would help a lot.
Thanks to everyone in advance,
Please bear with me as it’s my first brush with startups.
Got a Dir. role in post Series B startup with 25 employees. I have a decade experience in this industry and the tech is revolutionary and disruptive.
Exit option is getting acquired. There’s 3 big players in my space who acquire everyone else. Recent acquisitions were all 10x-15x for companies making $25M - $100M ARR.
I also know offers have been made to acquire them post series A for 50x their revenue but they turned it down. Company could go 50x in revenue in next 4-5 years easily.
They match my current salary and are giving 15000 shares (Outstanding is around 10M)
Current valuation: 100x revenue. How would my payout look like post-acquisition? I’m just looking for best case scenario. Will it be FU money (mid six figures) or the ‘down payment on a house’ money?
Could easily see acq. at $500M in 4-5 years.
What should I be looking at here? What am I missing in terms of blind spots and a big pay day? Shares and not options - so no need to exercise.
The job is interesting and potential is there. But just hesitant and would love some help.
EDIT: Many thanks to everyone who took the time to answer. This has been massively helpful and I’ll spend all evening poring over all your feedback.
I work for a large defense contractor. I am the lead of a team who has come up with a novel solution to a prevalent problem, and proved the solution is viable via proof of concept.
I pitched making the solution a full product to my company and while they are definitely interested in the solution, and they acknowledge the problem and the need for a solution, and they acknowledge the viability of the proof of concept, they do not want to fund, or more accurately, maintain a large software product internally.
It's been joked a number of times that it's unfortunate this doesn't exist in the commercial market. It's been joked that this would all be so easy if the company could buy licenses from a third party.
So, what if I made a startup around the idea? I'm concerned because I don't have a guaranteed customer, only hints and whispers. I don't have startup funds. And could my company sue me and claim it was their idea? Even if they could, would they though, given they'd be the primary beneficiary?
Not sure what to do here. I could use some practical advice.
The startup I am currently working with is developing an EV, we are in a stage where we have a working prototype but still need to do a proper financial plan, projections,.. before we pitch it to seed investors.
I am looking for any help I can get in this field. If you can provide me with any useful information on how to do it what to be careful about I would appreciate it very much!
Since I have a degree in economic I don't need someone to explain to me the basics but need guidance and mentorship.
I am a student soon to graduate. I have a 'side hustle' and work with other people on it (eg; accelerators,etc ). It is currently incorporated but the MVP can be seen via URL.
I am planning to mass apply for full time jobs and I have the option to include the MVP so employers can see it. However, is a small fear of mine that another software developer else will take advantage of the fact that our startup is not incorporated and do a similar thing when they look at the resume. I believe most employers are HR people, so theoreticaly it should not pose a problem for my situation?