If you read the tech press these days , it seems everyone is raising capital. Every day new deals are getting announced. Despite all this activity and the seemingly limitless supply of capital, a small but vocal group of companies have decided to go it alone and build their businesses without taking on outside investors. 37 Signals has even created a blog dedicated to these brave entrepreneurs that are growing without other people's money.
While there's no question that the best source of financing is revenue from your customers I'd like to convince you that if you are building a high tech startup, then you need to raise capital. Here's why:
Today's technology (and financial) markets are moving faster than ever. If you don't have enough capital to invest in product and customer acquisition, you will get left behind. It's as simple as that.
Today's markets are huge and global. The internet connects everyone. From any location in the World you can reach a global audience. How do you reach these vast markets? Many ways. But capital sure helps you reach them faster.
Chances are, if you've thought of a great idea for building a company, many others have the same idea. All else being equal, the group that gets to that idea first wins. In today's markets, the bulk of the value in that market goes to the top player. Just look at internet search as one of many examples: Google holds a commanding position. Capital is not the only way to get there. But if you're going after a big market, capital can help you beat the other players who are chasing it.
The people that you will need to build a great company have more employment options than ever. They're looking for more than salary. They're looking for purpose, impact and ownership (stock options). If you're growing slowly. Chances are your people are exiting quickly (at least the people that you want and need to build a great company).
Finally, in order to navigate these challenging times and grow quickly, you can't (or shouldn't) do it alone. Surround yourself with advisors, mentors and connectors who give you the advice and contacts to win. The best investors will bring you more than just money. They will bring the value add that you need to accelerate your growth.