Thursday, October 22, 2015

Spending Capital

The Joker burning "his half" of the cash in The Dark Knight.

Enough data points now to write this post without giving anyone in my portfolio away, and enough that I feel like I see a pattern.

I'm seeing a lot of first-round/seed stage capital going unused. I'm seeing millions of dollars, per company, sit in the bank while the founders subtly brag about "low burn."

As a reminder, the capital is there for one thing and one thing only... to be burned! I'm not saying blow it all in six months, but I am suggesting you take a close look at your roadmap, and draw circles around the stuff that you can get answers to faster if you spent more money. Whether it's discrete project based targeted spending (a contractor who can vet an idea quickly), or leveling the team up with a new hire to iterate on an aspect of the product that's core to the strategy, spend the money to move the football forward. Everyone in the room wants to know how this business is going to work (or not), sooner rather than later.

Sitting on capital because it's comfortable and feels good to have the buffer is fear driven execution, and remember, we don't want to be driven by fear.

At my previous company Gnip, we took $400k of our $1m seed round and handed it to a contracting firm to help build our prototype. 40% of our $ allocated very early in our existence. Scary, sure, but we got everything moving very quickly.

How you feel about your burn rate is a function of a zillion factors: personality, risk tolerance, state of your industry, competition, etc, etc. Burning too slow can be as problematic as burning too fast. Push yourself!

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