The advice we give to all of our portfolio company founders

by | Mar 2024 | Start a Company

Will 2024 be the year you start your own company? Here’s the advice we’re giving our future portfolio founders:

1. Find your purpose and your tribe:

  • What can you work on for the rest of your life?
  • Where does your experience and reputation provide an advantage?
  • How can you build a community as a thought leader? Start now?

2. Focus on revenue, not venture capital:

  • VC is unsuitable for >95% of companies.
  • Raising money is a massive time-suck.
  • Even if you raise, investors become your bosses.

3. If you need startup funding, aim for one-and-done:

  • Look for patient capital (friends, family, HNWs > VCs).
  • Stay lean and fund growth with non-dilutive capital.
  • Revenue > grants > debt > equity, in that order.

4. Build proof before product:

  • Speak to prospects before building ANYTHING.
  • Find out whose “hair is on fire”.
  • Work out what they’ll pay for and why.

5. Define your minimum viable p̶r̶o̶d̶u̶c̶t̶ business:

  • How do you solve your prospects’ problem TOMORROW?
  • How and when will you get paid?
  • Name your first 10 customers.

6. Do what doesn’t scale:

  • If possible, start by providing a service.
  • Delight your customers by doing what others don’t.
  • Use technology/freelancers to automate repetitive tasks.

7. Stay on top of your numbers:

  • Stay lean and leverage AI tools to supercharge productivity.
  • Keep airtight unit economics (LTV based on profit, not revenue).
  • Remote, offshore, outsourced teams > FTEs in high-cost locations.

8. Grow slowly then quickly:

  • Get organised with a basic CRM and systems from day one.
  • Grow, track and nurture profitable relationships and referrals.
  • Productise and scale ONLY once things are working.

9. If your rocketship needs fuel, don’t underestimate the impact of:

  • Liquidity preferences and anti-dilution.
  • Downward pressure on private and public market valuations.
  • A hostile macro-environment (high interest rates, anti-trust, etc.)

Have a great year, everyone!

P.S. Hat tip to Les Buckley for the hair-on-fire analogy (yet again) and to Pierre Sabbagh, who wrote a brilliant post that inspired me to update this one. Cheers Pierre – good luck with the (next) venture!

P.P.S. If you, or someone you know, may be on the verge of launching something, if only those pesky bills didn’t need to be paid, let me know. We help professionals get a venture up and running BEFORE leaving their job.

Kickstart your business without quitting your day job

DQventures is the only venture investor worldwide to support aspiring founders who cannot afford to give up full-time employment.

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