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Should you seek venture capital if you don't need it?

     
11:58 pm on Sep 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I have a pet project that I have been working on for almost a year now. It's grown modestly, more of a brick and mortar rate of growth than an internet boom.
I'm happy, I enjoy working on the site. I enjoy that it's mine. I am very proud that it is free to use and runs no advertising. My little way of giving back to the internet and niche that has been so good to me.
A much more corporate site in my sector recently announced that they raised another 30 million in venture capital and it makes me wonder, should I partake of the VC well? Is it possible to keep your soul on someone else's dime? Craig did it when everyone said that eBay's influence would destroy the charm of craigslist, there seemed to be no noticeable difference after the buyout.

Just curious.

12:12 am on Sept 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Just consider it this way- right now it is 100% your baby. To raise VC money, you have to give up part of your ownership. Some VCs may accept less than 50%, but most will probably require a majority stake. Do you want to give up that much control?

I'd say that if you don't need the money, there's no reason to go after it. More owners often creates more problems.

12:21 pm on Sept 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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another 30 million in venture capital and it makes me wonder

...just how long until DotCom Bubble 2.0 bursts.
12:11 am on Sept 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I have a pet project that I have been working on for almost a year now.

By the word "pet" being in there I will make an assumption that this is not really your "full-time" gig so to speak. That being said do you want it to be? If not, stay away from the VC funding. I work with private VC firm locally. They have an huge laundry list of things they want before they will put a penny in and when they do they expect aggressive growth and eventually an exit strategy of some kind to get their investment back like an IPO or another fund to buy them out.

Unless you are ready to make this 110% of your life and do all of those things I would be very careful about tracking down VC funding, especially if you don't really need it. Just keep up what you are doing and sell out when you are ready.

1:07 am on Sept 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Just keep up what you are doing and sell out when you are ready.

I had read (I think on this forum) that money was not always the only reason for seeking to work with VC. Most VC's have a vast network of resources such as marketing, PR, legal, and even broker services that become available (required) when they are funding the project.
Looks like I'll be staying away for now, but it sure would be nice to have those resources in your corner when it comes time to sell.

5:47 pm on Sept 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Most VC's have a vast network of resources such as marketing, PR, legal, and even broker services that become available (required) when they are funding the project.

This can be true, but not always. The VC groups I do work with don't offer these types of services. In fact, on the criteria of putting money in (big criteria) is a very strong management team. They want to see this because they want the team to be able to provide these services.

If you are seeking this type of help you have a few options open to you...

    1. Simply hire the talent as needed on a project by project basis.

    2. Pick the really critical pieces you need and offer them stock options in return for their services. Personally that is a deal I would jump all over if the venture were right.

    3. Seek out an angel investor (typically one step below a VC) that has the management skills you want and is willing to put some money in, but more importantly willing to put their skills, resources, and experience in. You are more likely to find this with an angel investor than a VC firm.
12:16 am on Sept 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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As always Hunter, thanks for the informative replies. After your post I did some research on the differences in VC and angel investors. Very interesting. I almost get the feeling you had some contributions to the Wikipedia definition of angel investor. :)

The more thought that I put into the more I realize that in order to keep my vision (right or wrong) intact I'll have to keep plugging along myself. Looking at the more corporate site in my sector and seeing every square pixel covered with ads makes me know that I couldn’t butcher* my site that way.
And if the site falls by the ideological wayside, (cue Sinatra) at least I did it my way......

* Purely subjective, I'm sure that the majority of investors consider a site chock full of ads a beautiful thing.

9:39 pm on Sept 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I almost get the feeling you had some contributions to the Wikipedia definition of angel investor.

I actually have never read their definition of angel investor, my experience on this comes from actually working with an angel that did it this way, which I didn't know was somewhat common.

I helped get a dot com up and running in late 1999 early 2000 (yes, I am aware my timing stunk) and our first source of capital came from a very involved angel investor who actually sat on our board and gave a ton of really great advice and had some really good resources we were able to leverage.

the ideological wayside, (cue Sinatra) at least I did it my way.....

I love that ideological view point, I should make this song my theme song :)