1. Valuation is temporary. Control is forever. Ravikant’s point is that entrepreneurs should make sure that, at the beginning, they always retain control of the company’s voting rights, regardless of how much money they raise. It does no good to have a high valuation where you take in lots of money, if you lose control. The way to do that is to create alternatives to one particular deal, using creative financing ideas.
2. The less you raise, the more it matters. Usually the early raises (first institutional rounds, known as the Series A) have a lot more impact than later raises (Series B+). Usually, this is because early rounds are the most dilutive (i.e., you have to give up a greater percentage control of your company) and establish the terms which are often picked up by the later investors. And the more you raise from investors, the more your control decreases.
3. If you want advice, ask for money. And visa versa. If you go asking for money, VCs give you an earful on how to run your company. If you go asking smart people for advice, eventually you’ll do well enough that those advisors will refer you VCs. This is assuming that you get good advice and follow it. Here’s more on the value of advisors.
4. Money has karma too. Too much money can actually kill a startup because it raises expectations about what kind of return will be possible. Big amounts of money are like drugs. They’re addictive. But it means you can’t go after small markets, even if you can build a highly profitable company. Going after niche markets is a problem because early stage investors know you’re not finance-able by later stage investors, so they won’t fund you. It’s game theory, looking back from the end. As for being lean, Sequoia Capital has taught us why it’s important.
KDYKES: Read this full article because these are key elements that any startup founder needs to understand when going to raise money. In my first company where we raised significant money ($5 million +), we got caught up in the heady times of the late 90’s and made stupid mistakes. We raised too much, lost voting rights and watched the subsequent team come in an blow up the company we’d spent years building.