Why, unfortunately, startup life is for the privileged few

by | Apr 2024 | Start a Company

Are startups a great leveller? Equal opportunity for all?

Nope. Startup life is for the privileged.


Here’s why I believe this…

Who, other than someone with a safety net, can do the following?

Give up salary for 18 months
After that, earn below market rate for 3-5 years 
Put their career on hold for up to 10 years 
Raise $100,000s from “friends and family”



Startups are the domain of:

– The middle class (predominantly white males)
– The wealthy
– People supported by family, friends or a spouse

In other words… the privileged.

Sure there are exceptions, and I’m not throwing stones – I’m a white, middle class male with wealthy friends. I also have a spouse whose job pays our rent (still!).

For my first startup, I raised $500K from friends and family. To most aspiring founders I meet today, that’s simply not possible.



So, if you’re not one of these lucky ones, what do you do?

Here are 5 ways anyone can launch a startup:

  1. Start a service-based company and transition to a product-based company over time, funding it with revenue.
  2. Apply for every available grant. It’s time consuming, sure, but so is everything else. Also, unlike equity investment, grants don’t always depend on you quitting your job to work full time in your startup.
  3. Apply for a loan. Loans keep you focused on revenue, which isn’t a bad thing.
  4. Willing to take a sabbatical? Apply to an incubator (N.B. accelerators are different – they generally require you to have a business up-and-running already. Incubators offer practical support, office space, etc. in exchange for equity). Or apply to Antler (“day-zero investor”), or Entrepreneur First (“international talent investor” 😬).
  5. Need to stay employed? Self-fund your startup as a side hustle. Take your time. Allow your idea to grow, iterate and find market fit organically (forget someone else launching your idea before you. This is not why you’ll fail.). Or check out DQ Ventures, which helps entrepreneurs launch a business before quitting their job.

Good luck. It’s not easy out there right now!

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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