We read amazing things every day. Such as the suspected $100 million exit of a 37 day old startup Mailbox. But I am struck by something else in this remarkable story when I consider it in the light of the works of Jim Collins book, Good to Great.
With Mailbox, the first attempts at greatness were something far less - a failed todo list. And within Good to Great, you will learn Jim Collins research reveals for most it can take several years to find a defining hedgehog concept (key product/value proposition) to drive a business forward to lofty heights.
What does this mean? We need time. Even if you believe product-market fit is little more than a video and sign-up list or you are the most ardent lean startup supporter you still need time to test, measure, learn and refine your founding concept. Time to pivot and adjust. Time to make mistakes and recover. Time to build and time to sell.
What does that have to do with early capital? For many founders early capital literally creates the time you need to succeed. I applaud those that come out of the block with a perfect idea and the free time to execute. But it is time to come clean and admit this is the exception to the rule. As a community we need to understand this truth and be careful demanding perfection too early of promising founders. It is important that we find creative and traditional avenues to capital for our founders. I hope we realize that no matter the spreadsheet or elevator speech that early money bets on the founder. Early money gives founders much needed time to develop that so called overnight success.
Who do you believe can be a great founder? If you find them then offer your help through your time, introduce them to us at StartRVA and Lighthouse, share your expertise with them and if at all possible your capital to give them time to demonstrate that greatness! Lighthouse has provided founders with 3 months of inspiration and connections but in every case more time is needed - and that means more capital too!