Raising Capital

The Founder and His Vision


This is part one of my ongoing Series on Getting from Zero to One.

You suspect you possess the Founder's Eye- that mythical Picassoan Eye referred to in the Prelude.

To put it another way, you don't laugh to yourself at the suggestion.

Why is this? 

You probably see the outlines of something immense in your mind's eye. 

And again, why is this?

It may not be something you can immediately explain- and is more likely something you just feel instinctively.

And why is this?

It's probably because you have encountered or witnessed a problem or obstacle or gap in your life at work or elsewhere that frustrated or perhaps even infuriated you. Something inside you told you there must be a better way to do this and now you believe you will be the agent of change- that you will build something that destroys this particular issue and perhaps goes far beyond it.

You feel a passion for this cause, for this arena- you are ready to fight for it at enormous cost. You feel something larger than yourself is at stake and you are consumed by this feeling.

But where do you begin? How do you harness this immense energy?

A thousand questions crowd your mind: How and where to begin? What to build? Who to call? Who to trust? Who to partner with? Do I need funding? If so how to raise funds? Who to help me with my model? It goes on and on. Some never make it past this first day, overwhelmed by the anxiety of it all- most just muddle through somehow in a perpetual state of nervous tension. It doesn't have to be like this.

If you’re going through this or are about to launch your first startup, this series of posts is for you. I was inspired to write it by the many young entrepreneurs I meet who are trying to make their way through this "blessed warm fog" (as Conrad put it).  It’s the beginning after all- and one of the most difficult and misunderstood phases of a startup’s lifecycle. It requires some of the most concrete tasks and yet some of your most creative thinking all at once.  

It's time to take the first steps, one at a time. I like to call this‘Going from Zero to One’.

This series is essentially going to be a Buddhist chant with a singular mantra, to be repeated in a steady, rhythmic tone, over and over again…. Zero to One, Zero to One, Zero to One.... I will explain, I promise.

For the next post in this Series on Getting From Zero to One, click here.

The Hidden Passage: A Succession of Firsts


This is part of my Series on Getting from Zero to One.

Take a look at that map of yours for a moment and let your eye roam around it clockwise: Mentor, Team, Technology/Product, Partnerships/Customers and Funding. Yes they’re all inter-related, one affecting the other to a large extent- but you can’t worry about that now.If you choose well and execute, success in one will often lead to success in another. You have mapped out the big picture, but now it's time for granularity. You will break your company down into its component parts and again ask yourself basic questions such as these:

What is my vision? What has my customer development told me? What minimum viable product will I begin with? Have I found a good mentor? Who is the first person I need on my team? Who my first channel partnership or first customer? What is the minimum funding I need to get through this first stage? Can I provide it or will it need to come from someone else?

You’re after a succession of firsts all at once, nothing more and nothing less.

Initial Idea & Vision, early Customer Development, early MVP, early Mentor, first team member, first customer, first 10 customers, first 20 customers, first funding in, first revenue.... and on and on... each is a major milestone and each should be thrilling to you. Individually these initial steps in each category may seem modest, but when executed in their totality, something absolutely magical happens to your startup. It is something I have marveled at time and time again when I see it occur and I consider it to be one of the great hidden forces at play in the realm of entrepreneurship. Suddenly, as if by some magic spell, the world begins looks at you and your company differently. What has happened here? 

From nothingness you have created Value.

And the delicate needle trembles, moving slowly away from “zero” and tantalizingly close to “one”.The crowd begins to murmur now…. very softly, almost in a whisper…. “zero to one…. zero to one….. zero to one……”

For the next post in this Series on Getting from Zero to One, click HERE