By Tom Fedro
I can remember working through the process of creating filings in order to take a startup public, and we were well on our way to making it happen only to have things change at the last moment and end up taking an acquisition offer as our way to liquidity and value to our shareholders. I remember making my first OEM deal with a major PC manufacturer. Those were (and still are) exciting times. Something happens along the way, though. When we started to succeed, we were now being pursued by the money as opposed to the other way around.
If you’re in the midst of starting your venture, or if you’ve been through the process; you already know what an exciting and yet desperate time it is. Conferences, meetings, speaking engagements, marketing partnerships of tenuous value, and activity—a ton of activity—and it’s really somewhat of a scattergun approach. All of this activity is designed to expose you to investment and to create buzz, and the hope is that something will come from it all. If it doesn’t cost a fortune to attend (and sometimes even when it does) you’ll be there. Some startups never make it past this stage. Investment money doesn’t come in fast enough or the business just doesn’t take off.
I’m convinced some startups should be past this stage but just can’t break free of it. If things go as you hope, there will come a time when the value of the exposure activity and the frenetic pace of presentations, conferences, and endless cash-less marketing meetings will be worth far less than the effort expended. You may react differently, but when that time came, I was confused and unable to immediately recognize it. I didn’t say “No” enough.
Where are you in the development of your company, and are you behaving like you’re still a few steps back?