It’s exciting to be in the mix at the 2014 Mass Challenge Mentor matching process http://masschallenge.org/accelerator.
As a mentoring service to the hard-working finalists in the nation’s largest Accelerator, I’m republishing this post.
This post was originally published in 2012; nothing has changed. Enjoy and comment!
Where Start-ups Get Stuck – and How to Avoid Going There
Between us, my long-time friend (and fellow blogger) Andy Palmer and I have started a lot of companies. We also advise many other companies and look at even more pitches from start-ups. A shared observation is that while a few start-ups shine (or at least glimmer) and go on to some success, other start-ups seem stuck before they start. Why?
Here are our observations on where start-up founders get stuck and our advice on how to prevent Stuck situations, presented Q&A style. This post also appears on Andy’s blog.
Q. Andy, where are the most common places you see founders getting stuck, and why?
I see a lot of founders get stuck at the very earliest stages – by being distracted by fundraising. I’ve said before – over and over again – founders should focus on developing their business first and not worry about fundraising nearly as much as they would probably like. It’s natural to be nervous when you don’t have any money in the bank. But it’s a healthy discipline to figure out how you are going to create value for customers who will pay you instead of spending time thinking about how to extract money from venture capitalists or seed investors. As an angel investor, I’m always looking for people who are mission-driven and focused on their customers, as Jim says below, instead of worrying about what potential investors might think.
Q. So how can entrepreneurs avoid getting distracted by fundraising?
Just focus on your business and your customers. Wake up every morning thinking about how you are going to create value for your customers. Go to sleep at night considering which of your customers you helped that day and how. Be maniacally focused on your customers’ needs. It sounds simple – and it is – but executing this when you are starting from scratch – with no product, no credibility, and no people – is really hard. It requires all your energy and your concentration.