I Am Moving Back to Chicago

This spring I will be moving back to Chicago after spending the last year  in my home state of California.  It’s exciting to get back to Chicago and I wanted to share a little bit about the decision to come back.


Why I left Chicago in the First Place

When I was growing up in Southern California, my friend Jason used to call me the Family Guy because whenever he asked if I wanted to go out I was always busy doing something with my family. For me, family is and always has been priority numero uno. So when my uncle passed away a few years back and my grandma Elsie was living by herself in Massachusetts, we decided it was time for her to move back to California where she had had lived for the previous 30 years of her life.  After months of trying to convince a 93-year-old woman to move across country, she finally said, “Ethan, I’ll move back when you move back.”  I said, “Sold!”  And that was that.  We moved back to California towards the end of 2011 and I have spent the last year and change living in the state where I spent the first 18 years of my life.

My time in California has been wonderful and I am very grateful for it.  Living closer to my family, I was able to do things I hadn’t done in years.  I visited my sister on her birthday for the first time in a decade.  I was able to surprise my best friend Ned for his 30th birthday and later attend his engagement party.  I even got to celebrate Hannukah this year with my family for the first time since probably high school. Most importantly, I got to visit my Grandma Elsie 15-20 times in the past year and was even able to make this biography about her.  She’s in hospice now and we’re not sure how much longer she’ll be with us, so I’m insanely grateful for the time I’ve been able to spend with her and the rest of my family.  It’s truly been a gift.

As Much as I love being close to my family and friends, I’ve decided it’s more important for me right now to be back in Chicago.   

First and foremost, I’ve come to the conclusion that my decision to live in California was hurting my business partner, Desiree.  During my time away, we went from a six person team to a 20+ person company. While this growth is exciting and mucho, mucho awesome, in this same period, we had our merchant account fire us as customers, we moved offices twice, we had an employee go AWOL for a week, and we had to lay off folks that felt like family.  None of these things are fun.  All of them are difficult and stressful and emotionally taxing.  My being out of the office has meant that Desiree has had to shoulder way more of the crud that partners are supposed to share together.  And that just sucks.  I don’t want to make her do that anymore.

Second, it dawned on me recently that there is a big distinction between managing and leading.  My being in California hasn’t necessarily hurt us from a revenue standpoint (we tripled our revenue in 2012), but it is starting to hurt us from a leadership standpoint.  As we begin to scale our company and develop a culture and identity, founders need to be leaders, not managers.   And while I’ve found that managing from afar is difficult yet doable.  Leading from afar is nearly impossible.

Third, I have been blessed with an opportunity at GiveForward to work with an incredibly passionate and inspiring team of people doing something we believe is going to change the world.  Opportunities like this don’t often come around twice in a lifetime, so I don’t want to take this one for granted.  I’ve heard stories from so many entrepreneurs who after getting lucky with their first venture, spent the rest of their lives trying to recreate that magic only to find that the stars never aligned again in just the right way.  When you have something that you truly believe can make a dent in the universe, and you’ve been lucky enough to catch all the right breaks along the way, you need to grab on tight with both hands, go after it with all your heart and remove any hurdles that can hold you back from achieving what you know is possible.

Lastly, it’s always about family.  Most people are lucky if they have one, loving and supportive family.  I am lucky enough to have two.  I get to work at a company where co-workers genuinely care about each other and feel more like family than cubicle mates. So while saying goodbye to my California family is really hard to do, it’s a lot easier knowing that when I return to Chicago, my GiveForward family will be there to welcome me back.

The Six Stages of the Startup Lifecycle

As far as I can tell there are six stages to a startup lifecycle.  What is super-convenient for this blog post is the fact that all somehow end in the same three letters: I-R-E.


If there is one thing that all great founders share, it’s that they have an insanely strong desire to solve problems and make a dent in the universe.

People like Jeff Bezos (Amazon) or Muhammad Yunus (Grameen Bank) started their companies because they ran up against problems that ate at them day in and day out, consuming their every thought until they had no choice but to quit their job, put everything else aside and solve these problems.

Don’t start a company  because you watched the Social Network and you think it would be cool to be the next Zuckerberg. If you start a company with the goal of becoming rich and famous, I can tell you two things:  (1) you are likely going to fail; and (2) you are a giant turd sandwich.  In all fairness, there is nothing wrong with wanting to get rich, but if your main motivation is accumulating wealth, there are many  less circuitous paths toward this end.

Challenge:  Next time you give your elevator pitch, spend  the first 15 seconds explaining the problem before you start pitching them on the solution.  If the person is not moved by the significance of the problem, chances are you’ve created a solution for a problem that doesn’t really exist.

Image stolen from the mucho-awesome Happy Startup School


Once you’ve discovered a problem you are passionate about fixing, it is up to you to inquire and learn as much as possible from people who have been in your shoes. Go to meetups, listen to speakers at StartupGrind, volunteer at events like Startup Weekend or Lean Startup Machine.  Get engaged with the local startup community.  During this period, share your idea with everyone you meet (don’t worry about them stealing your idea) and seek out a mentor or two who is willing to coach you along this journey. No one succeeds without receiving help from others. Smart founders make use of the resources around them.

Challenge:  Find the email address of a successful entrepreneur you admire and email her.  Start a dialog by asking a succinct, one sentence question that she can answer in one minute or less.


As my dino friend @FAKEGRIMLOCK says:








If you expect to change the world, you need to be on fire.  Passion is the fuel that feeds this fire.  Your startup is your baby.  And like a real baby, it WILL consume every waking minute of your day.  If you are not obsessed with your startup 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, your fire is not burning bright enough.

The flip side of being on fire is that everything else in your life takes a backseat to your startup.  There is simply no physical or emotional energy left over for anything else.  In the first few years of your startup, you end up sacrificing relationships with friends and people you love.   You stop exercising.  You have no regular paycheck so you start eating junk food because it’s all you can afford.  The idea of a normal dating life goes completely out the window.  Basically, the well-rounded, interesting person you once were ceases to exist. For better or worse, the new you is a stressed out, unhealthy, emotionally unstable robot with a single track mind to change the world.

Challenge:  For the next 30 days, don’t call or hang out with your friends or family, and spend no more than $10 per day on food, transportation, and entertainment.   This is what life will be like for the first twelve to twenty-four months of your startup.



The company with the smartest people  wins.

At a certain point, you will have found product-market fit (hooray!) and  it will be time to scale your company.  From here on out, everything comes down to execution execution execution.  Execution starts with finding the best talent.

The common refrain when it comes to hiriing is that smart founders always hire people that are smarter and more capable than themselves. As someone who is admittedly not very smart, I absolutely, 1000% agree with this statement.  But recruiting smart people is not enough. It’s equally important to recruit people who think differently than you do and who are going to challenge your ideas.  This raises the bar for the whole company and pushes everyone in the company  to achieve at a higher level.

Challenge: Before hiring anyone, ask yourself, do I believe this person can take X responsibility off my plate and do it ten times better than I could do it myself?  If the answer is no, they are not the right person for the job.


Once you have great people on your team that you trust completely, you stop shouldering as much of the day-to-day work and your main role shifts to inspiring your team to produce at a level beyond what they thought was possible.

To use a sports analogy, your goal is to move from player to coach.  More specifically, you need to become Phil Jackson.  Jackson won 11 NBA championship rings as the coach of the Bulls and the Lakers.   Of course his championship teams started with an incredibly strong core of talent (Jordan, Pippen, Shaq, Kobe), but they didn’t win on talent alone.  And they certainly didn’t win because Phil was calling all the shots from a tactical standpoint (Jackson was notorious for not calling timeouts when his team was going through a rough patch, but instead trusting his players to figure it out).  Rather, the secret to Jackson’s 11 championships was able to get the most out of his players.  He knew how to get inside his players heads.  He inspired them and empowered  them to be the best players that they could be.

Challenge:  Are you more Phil Jackson or more Michael Jordan?  Do you trust people to take the big shots or do you feel the need to take all the shots in order for your team to win?  If you still feel the need to take all the shots, you may have hired the wrong people.


When you’re raising capital, one of the common questions you get from VCs is “who is going to acquire you?”  The answer everyone gives is “Google, Facebook, (maybe AOL if this was 1996).”  The real answer, of course, is “who the f*ck knows?”

Getting acquired is partly outside of your control and focusing on it too much at the early stage may be putting the cart before the horse.  The best piece of advice I’ve ever received from someone who has sold their company is: build a company that solves a real problem, delights your customers, and has a strong P&L.  If you do these things someone will want to purchase you.

circle of life

The alternate route is stage 6B: the Acqui-hire. At this stage, your Startup dies and your engineers go back into the startup ecosystem to be reincarnated as a killer photo-sharing app.


Dinner with Tony Hsieh

I won a contest and get to have dinner tonight in Vegas with one of my all-time role models, Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.  I’m super-excited about the opportunity but could use some help.  If I can only ask him one question, what should I ask?  

The Accidental Entrepreneur

Innate desire to make a dent in the universe + repeatedly getting punched in the face by a problem + decision to stop getting punched in the face = entrepreneur. 

I just came back from the Dublin Web Summit, where 3000 Internet entrepreneurs in all shapes, sizes colors, religions and nationalities gathered to geek out for a few days in Ireland.   With so much diversity of ideas, cultures and belief systems floating around, it made me wonder if there are any common traits that make up an entrepreneur.

As far I as can tell the only common theme that runs through all leaders (be it political, business, educational, humanitarian) is an innate desire to do cool shit — to make a dent in the universe  and leave the planet a tiny bit better than they found it.

I think entrepreneurs share this same desire.  I don’t know any entrepreneurs who started off their career seeking entrepreneurship as an end unto itself.  Rather, I’ve found that almost all good entrepreneurs tend to be accidental entrepreneurs.  That is – they didn’t choose entrepreneurship.  Entrepreneurship chose them.

Accidental entrepreneurs are often people who were making a dent in the universe in all sorts of professions before they were ever entrepreneurs.  They might have been teachers (like Daphne Koller of Coursera), or film producers (like Jim Gilliam of Nation Builder) or consultants (like Ryan Howard of Practice Fusion), but then one day they encountered a problem that punched them square in the face. And this problem kept punching them in the face day in and day out, consuming their every thought, until they had no choice but to put everything else aside and start punching back. At this moment in time, whether it was their intention or not, they become an entrepreneur.  This is just one definition.  In the comments, I’d love to hear how you guys define an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurship is getting punched in the face by a problem enough times that you finally decide to punch back



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Jedi Max

What happens when a community rallies together to help a stranger?  This summer I witnessed something that totally blew my mind and warmed my heart.

Last May Brad Feld decided he was going to raise money on GiveForward for someone he didn’t know, a 17-year-old named Justin who was battling stage 4 testicular cancer.  I asked the Startups and Burritos community to support Brad’s efforts by sending Justin virtual hugs to his GiveForward page.  The outpouring of support was nothing short of amazing. You all sent hundreds of virtual hugs and gave Justin a critical boost during the most difficult of times.  If you have 4 minutes, stop what you’re doing and watch this video that shows how you all helped change a life. It gives me goosebumps every time I watch it.

Now, Brad’s at it again. He’s running the Detroit Marathon on October 21st and has chosen another person on GiveForward to help.  His name is Jedi Max. Max is eight-years-old and LOVES Star Wars.  When he grows up, he wants to be a pizza chef.  (yeah, I know, Jedi-Pizza Chef = most awesome job EVER!).

Max also happens to have a very aggressive form of brain cancer called Glioblastoma Multiforming.  But Max is the toughest Jedi fighter/pizza chef in the galaxy so he’s obviously going to beat this.  That said, even the strongest Jedi-pizza chefs can use some extra help.  If you feel like doing something awesome today,  I encourage you to go to his GiveForward page and leave him a HUG to let him know he’s going to kick cancer’s butt.

May the Force be with Max!

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The Evolutionary Convergence of Ideas

The other morning I read a blog post from one of my business role models, Seth Godin.

He wrote:

Instead of outthinking the competition it’s worth trying to outlove them.”

When I read his post, I couldn’t believe it. “How cool is this?”, I thought. The idea of out-CARING the competition  is the business philosophy that has driven my  decisions for several years. I’ve written about out-caring the competition in the past on my blog, and now, uber-smart business guy, Seth Godin is writing about the same idea. Neat-o.

Seth and I are not unique though.  When I googled the phrase “out-care the competition” at least a dozen other people have written about this same concept.  Across the Interwebz, people had converged on this idea independently of each other.  This phenomenon happens all the time in the startup world (two companies in different parts of the world will start the same business at the same time without knowledge that the other company exists).

I recently learned that a similar phenomenon happens in nature as well.  It’s what is known in biological terms as evolutionary convergence.  (the acquisition of the same biological trait in different lineages). The wing is the classic example of evolutionary convergence.   In the survival of the fittest, flight is a pretty  useful characteristic to have. Because of this, birds, bats and insects have all evolved wings and the capacity to fly even though none of these animals are even closely related.  Birds, bats and insects have all converged on this useful trait.

Convergent evolution of the fin.


The lesson as applied to startups is that if you have an idea, don’t sit on it.  TAKE ACTION.   No matter how novel you think your idea is, chances are about one hundred other people are thinking of the same idea.  The ones who win are the ones who act on it.



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Is Blogging Dead?

There has been a lot of scuttlebutt in the blogosphere * over the past year that BLOGGING IS DEAD.   In fact if you Google the words “blogging is dead” you will find over 60 pages filled (ironically) with blog posts using the exact same, hyperbolic, attention grabbing, headline I chose  for this post.

*Disclosure: I don’t actually know what (or where?) the blogosphere really is.  I just thought it would be fun to use the words scuttlebutt and blogosphere in the same sentence.

So, is this true?  Is blogging really dead?  Cause if so, well that kind of sucks, man!  I mean I just started this damn blog a year ago and now I find out that the whole industry is dead.  Double Turds!!!!

Sadly, for me and my stupid blog filled with words, the data seems to back up this apocalyptic prognostication.  Today’s blogger is no longer writing long form blogs in WordPress (or god forbid Typepad or Blogspot).  Instead, they’re using blog-lite websites like Tumblr to share interesting photos with snarky captions.   In fact, Mashable recently posted that by the end of 2012 the word Tumblr will actually overtake the word blog in Google searches.

The reason Tumblr is spanking long-form blogs is pretty simple.   Tumblr = pictures.  Blogs = words.  Pictures > Words.  :. Tumblr Wins.  End of Story.




I just have to look at my own blog analytics on Startups and Burritos to see that this is true.  For example.  The longest post I’ve written (Why Weird is Good) is 1241 words. It got a whopping 102 views. The shortest post I’ve written (Best Job Interview Follow Up Ever) is 56 words but includes a funny video. It had over 3261 views.  The post with the video did 32 times better.  Was the content really 32 times better? Perhaps it was, but more likely the reason the video post did so much better is because people simply prefer to consume information through video rather than long, boring prose.

Okay, so if blogs are in fact dying, what does this actually mean?

Truthfully, the growing distaste for written blogs is merely a symptom of a bigger trend.  As we become ever more addicted to the constant fire hose of information that is social media, most people (myself included) sadly don’t have the attention span anymore to read anything that requires more than 20 seconds of brain power.  In other words, the death of blogs is probably just the canary in the coal mine.

Instead of words, we want pictures. Lots of them.

MORE PICTURES.  LESS WORDS.  This is the trend  –> Instagram: $1 Billion exit //  Encyclopedia Britannica: out of print

Take for example, these two e-commerce sites, Sears and FAB.com. Which one do you think will still be around in 20 years.  I’ll give you a hint.  It doesn’t rhyme with beers.


So here’s my takeaway to my fellow Startuppers:

Your content needs to be visual or it will perish!!!

This trend isn’t just with blogs. It’s your website, your mobile app, your emails, your monthly newsletters, your everything.  Visual is the way of the web in 2012 and I don’t think we’ll see a reversal anytime soon. The trend towards a more visual web has been upon us for years, and the growth of mobile devices, whose small screen sizes mandate we use even fewer words, will only accelerate the visual web’s dominance. if you’re is not moving towards a more visual content delivery system, you’re dead in the water.



* Holy mackerel! This non-visual blog post is whopping 564words.  And yes, in case you were wondering, it would probably generate a lot more more traffic if I simply replaced 560 of these words with an awesome animated GIF of keyboard cat.

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Idea Assassins

“Do few things but do them well. What doesn’t work, kill quickly.”

This is not a quote from Sun Tzu. It’s from Simon Rothman, who is probably just as smart. Simon was one of the very early guys at eBay and was responsible for starting eBay Motors, which ended up becoming a $14 billion-a-year global business and generating about one-third of all of eBay’s merchandise sales. He later became a board member at Tesla and is now executive-in-residence at Greylock Venture Partners.

I had a chance to meet with Simon last week. The advice he gave me about marketing strategy was just too good not to pass along, so I thought I’d share it. Here are Simon’s four rules on marketing:

1. Place only a handful of bets.

Startups rarely fail for a lack of ideas; they fail for a lack of focus. As a founder, your job isn’t to come up with a million marketing ideas but instead to prioritize the top three. So many startups fail because they try to boil the ocean. Instead of trying to tackle a million different marketing ideas, keep in mind that 80 percent of your revenue will likely come from your top 20 percent of customers. Try to figure out the common characteristics behind these top-producing customers, and then focus on the channels that are bringing them in.

2. Put enough time, money, and resources into each strategy to give it chance to succeed.

If you place too many bets, you spread yourself too thin and set yourself up for failure. Some of your bets will fail, not because they were bad ideas but because they were undercapitalized and never even had a real opportunity to succeed. The key is to put more money into fewer bets.

Take display ads, for example. You might be losing money for three months on your display ads, but then on the fourth month, you make a small tweak in the ad copy and your ads turn into a huge moneymaker. But if you only had enough budget to run the ads for one month, you never would have figured this out and just would have thrown money down the drain. Marketing is all about iterating and making as many tweaks as possible in the time frame that you have allotted. The more money you budget for a particular channel, the longer you can stay in the game and the better your odds are of figuring out a formula that works.

3. Test your hypotheses in any way you can — including your instincts.

There’s an old saying in marketing, “What you can’t measure, you can’t improve.” This saying is absolutely true — except when it’s not. Try to test as much as you can, but realize that you can’t measure everything. One of the things that worked well to drive growth early at eBay was PR, one of the most notoriously difficult tactics to measure. Simon said that even though they couldn’t really measure it, they just knew it was working. In other words, sometimes, as a founder, you have stop being a nerd, put down your copy of The Lean Startup, and just trust your instincts.

4. Add fuel to the fire, or kill it quickly and move on to the next idea.

Once you’ve tested a strategy, you have two options. If the strategy is knocking it out of the park, pour more time, money, and energy into it in order to make it scale. If the strategy is not working, kill it immediately. As Simon said, ”If you have to ask yourself repeatedly whether a strategy is working, then the strategy is NOT working.” The harder question arises when a strategy is working pretty well but is not really knocking it out of the park. The tendency in most startups is to keep it going, because they have already put significant time and money into it and want to see it all the way through. This is the wrong choice!

Instead, recognize that the resources you put in are sunk costs, and kill the idea. When you only have enough money and bandwidth to execute on two or three ideas really well, the opportunity cost of putting resources into anything but the best performing strategies is too high.

Marketing is a crap shoot; no one really knows which ideas will work until they let them loose in the wild. The more ideas you test, the greater your chances are of finding the one that works. But don’t test them all at the same time. That won’t work. If you do that, they’ll all fail because you’ll be stretched too thin to execute any of them well. The key is to prioritize.

Lastly, be an idea assassin. Don’t get emotionally attached to your ideas. Be ruthless about killing off the medium performing ideas and just keep the absolute best. Because if you don’t make it a practice to kill off your ideas, your ideas will end up killing off your startup.

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Work Hard. Get Lucky. Ride the Wave. And then Smile for the Camera.

Startup formula for becoming an overnight success: Work hard. Get Lucky. Ride the Wave and then make sure to smile for the camera.

I got an email the other day from a CEO at a company I advise who had applied for a startup accelerator called Impact Engine.   The news in the email was not good.  She had reached the last round of judging but didn’t make the final cut.

My advice to her was: don’t worry about.  As a startup founder, there is so much that is outside of your control, that all you can really do is continue to work your tail off and hope to catch a few lucky breaks along the way.

Here’s an example.

In 2009, I fell in love with a venture capital firm called First Round Capital.   A tweet from one of their associates had led me to a blog post, which led me to their website, which led me to their holiday card video. If there is such thing as love at first sight with a venture capital firm, this was it.  “OMG,” I thought to myself after I watched the video,  “These guys are as weird as I am.”

So I decided to email them.  It was the first venture capital firm I had ever reached out to and I had absolutely zero clue as to what I was doing.  I wrote a stupidly long and wordy email telling them about GiveForward and asked for the opportunity to pitch.  Within a day I got a very thoughtful response from an associate.  He said no and that we’d probably be better off as a non-profit.  A year later after graduating from Excelerate Labs, I reached out again to FRC to see if we could pitch and again the same associate said no.  This time, he wrote that he appreciated the progress we had made but didn’t see this as a “venture type deal”.  Another year passed, and then in April of 2012 I reached out to FRC again.  This time, we got a better response.  They agreed to hear our pitch and a few weeks later decided to co-lead our round along with Founder Collective.  (hooray!)

Now, the funny thing is, last night I got an email out of the blue from the First Round Capital  VC who I had written to all the way back in 2009 and 2010.  I hadn’t spoken to him in two years and he has since moved on from First Round Capital to start his own VC firm.   His email consisted of only one word.  It said:

Congrats :)

Moral of the story.  In life and in startups, if you believe in what you’re doing, just keep doing it and with a little luck, eventually someone is going to notice.

I think this is particularly true with raising capital.  As a first time entrepreneur, when you go to pitch investors you’re going to hear NO a lot more than you hear YES.  When we did our angel round with GiveForward in 2011 we ended up oversubscribed, meaning that more people wanted to invest than we had room for in the round.  Even so, the NO’s outnumbered the YES’s nearly two to one. (we pitched 45 investors.  16 said yes.  29 said no. 13 participated in the round).  With our most recent round of funding that closed this past July, we ended up oversubscribed again.  But we still heard NO eight times before we heard our first YES.  NO’s are the default answer in the VC world. Rejection is part of the game. It doesn’t mean your idea is bad. It might just mean that your idea doesn’t fit within a firm’s investment thesis or the timing is bad for the firm or that your concept is “too early” and the market isn’t ready for it yet.

When I look back at GiveForward in 2009, we definitely fit into this last category of being  “too early”.  And to be honest, if I was First Round Capital, I probably wouldn’t have invested in us back then either.

Here’s what the landscape looked like in 2009:

  • GiveForward, Kickstarter, and maybe three or four other crowdfunding sites exist; none of which have really taken off yet.
  • Facebook, the main platform people use to share their crowdfunding pages, has a ‘paltry’ 200 million users
  • The term crowdfunding is largely unknown.  Most people in the industry were still referring to the space as “peer to peer fundraising”

Here’s what it looks like in 2012

  • There are over 300 crowdfunding sites worldwide; Kickstarter has become a household name.
  • Facebook now has about a 1 billion users worldwide sharing crowdfunding pages millions of times a day.
  • The term crowdfunding has not only been popularized by the general public but President Obama has even passed a crowdfunding law called the JOBS Act with near unanimous support from Congress.

What a difference three years makes, right?  GiveForward isn’t a fundamentally different company than we were in 2009, but in 2012 the public is now comfortable enough with the concept of crowdfunding to make market adoption a real possibility.  And truth be told, we got really lucky with our market timing.   Although we were a little early when we launched in 2008, we bootstrapped and stayed in the game long enough to be in the right place at the right time.  In 2010 Kickstarter got funding from Union Square Ventures, putting crowdfunding on the VC map (thank you Fred Wilson).  By 2011, Kickstarter had blown up and crowdfunding had officially arrived.  And now in 2012…well, now everyone who got into crowdfunding early is just riding the wave and hopefully looking good when we smile for the camera.

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VC Funding and Cancer Free

There’s a popular critique in many startup blogs downplaying the importance of raising capital. The argument is that raising capital is easy and the real work happens after a company raises money.   Rather than celebrating companies that are generating revenue and turning a profit, startup culture chooses to celebrate companies that are raising lots of venture capital and by doing so we end up lionizing the wrong startups.

Having bootstrapped two startups  and seen one of them fail in part because of an inability to raise capital, I can say straight up, I think this popular critique is a bunch of poop.

Raising capital IS important and it should be celebrated.

As a startup founder, your most important responsibility is getting key stakeholders to believe in your vision of the future. This means everything from finding a co-founder and early employees to convincing that first customer to believe in your product. Getting the right investors to buy into your vision is a huge part of your role, and it’s an important milestone in the lifespan of a startup.

For Most Startups, Capital is a Necessary but not Sufficient Factor for Success.

Of course raising capital doesn’t mean that your startup is going to be successful.  And of course not every startup is the type of startups that should be taking on VC funding.  But for the startups that actually do need the money in order to achieve scale (i.e. startups that hope to become $500 million+ companies) taking on an appropriate amount of funding from the right investors means your startup at least has a chance for success.

Here’s all the proof I need that money still matters…

Last week GiveForward announced we had just completed a $2mm raise with some great investors. On the same day we announced our raise, we got an email at the office from one of our users on GiveForward who was fundraising for a 17-year-old named Justin battling stage 4 testicular cancer.   The email subject line read: CANCER FREE!!!!!!!!!!




As a company, I can tell you there was 10 times more excitement around the office when we got this email than when we saw our names in TechCrunch. These are the kind of emails that we live for!  But, had we not raised capital last year, we would never have received this email.  We never would have been able to grow a team and advertise our services, and Justin’s family likely never would have found us.

So, at the end of the day is raising capital something worth celebrating?  Yes!!!!  If raising capital means we are now going to be able to reach thousands more families just like Justin’s, then I believe it is absolutely something worthy of celebration.

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