The most popular question I'm asked

And what worries me about it...

I've done a fair few interviews over the years as a founder of a tech startup and the most popular area for questioning is around the challenges of raising finance. Admittedly this is a challenging area but my concern is that this is not what building a company is about, it is just one aspect. There seems to be far too much focus on this area in the tech press and with accelerators particularly. 

I remember when I started out 6 years ago it was all about pitching to investors and practicing that pitch to within an inch of it's life. Things have not changed much. It was good practice for public speaking and confidence but my sales spiel to actual customers was very different and they would have laughed me out of town if I'd used "the pitch" on them. 

When I raised the VC round I remember lots of people congratulating me but I all I knew was that things had just got a whole lot more complicated from a governance perspective, the stakes were raised and I'd lost a big chunk of the company. I was very fortunate to have great VCs who will remain lifelong friends but there was still no feeling of success. I only get that with sales and seeing rising positive numbers. 

This oldie but goodie article from Mark Suster still rings true. In a room of 200 startups only 5% are going to be VC backable and then only 1 of them will bring in the returns that are required to keep the VC's in business.  That's why VC's need plenty in their pipeline. The odds are stacked against them finding that golden business to make their investors happy. 

I would love to see less focus on VC's being the golden ticket and more on establishing a profitable business whether it scales to $100m or not. It doesn't make it less of a business if it only gets to $1-10m. And if you raise VC you'll be lucky to come out with a couple of million even after a $50m sale with liquidation preferences. Build stuff people want is the mantra we hear. I know when I went into this I did it for the autonomy, the independence and freedom to create great products and services. I don't think I'm alone in these drivers.