many of the startups today are working with a travel plan
somewhat similar to that of the Donner Party: “..we’ll head
off in this direction and push through over the mountains
-- and through hard work and perseverance we’ll make it to
the promised land..”. If you’re going to have any chance of
completing this journey today, you’ll need a well-prepared
travel plan that’s somewhat more detailed than this.
“Many people flooded into Silicon Valley
in recent years, especially in the dot-com gold rush years,
but technology entrepreneurs are not the first people to head
west in search of a better life. People have been migrating
west for as long as anyone can remember – and there are things
that we can learn from their experiences. Today’s companies
are drawn by the nurturing business environment and the skilled
workforce of Silicon Valley. In the last century, good weather
and farming land was enough to entice people to embark on
a dangerous westward journey. Back then, the challenge was
to find a good road map, select a route and travel plans that
would enable you to get your family through the mountains
before the winter storms arrived. Some people made it through
without a scratch, others were not so lucky.
years ago the California Star newspaper in San Francisco published
a delicious account of the rescue of the Donner Party, a group
of several families of migrants trying to cross the Sierras
from Independence, Missouri to the Pacific in 1846 that ground
to a halt mid-winter in the Sierra Mountains near Lake Tahoe.
It told of how the lucky travelers had survived by eating
the flesh of the other, less fortunate, members of the party
and that when they were discovered they were actually broiling
and preparing the body parts of close family members for a
When we look back at the story of the Donner
party today it’s difficult to understand how they could have
been so foolish as to find themselves trapped in such an inhospitable
place mid-winter without appropriate supplies. They embarked
on the journey thinking that if they could just get over the
mountains they’d find a land of milk and honey in California.
Of course actual cannibalism is quite rare (or well covered
up) in corporate America today but many of journeys taken
by technology startups end in similarly ugly conditions and
there’s a great deal to be learned from the journeys of our
adventurous forefathers. Surely, with a little planning, each
member of the Donner party should have been able to make it
through without having to snack out on the body parts of family
and friends – indeed many other parties had successfully completed
the journey before. Wouldn’t you like to have the opportunity
of advising the leaders of the Donner Party before they set
out on their fateful journey?..”
This chapter contains vitally important
information to prepare you for your journey:
- Seven point travel plan -- I’m confident
that the Donner Party would have made it through in one
piece if they’d put together a detailed travel plan based
on these seven points. In fact, the principles of this travel
plan can be applied to any other type of journey. In this
chapter, you learn about the travel plan and how it can
be applied to your startup.
- Picking your team – when you start a
new business, you have to decide whether you want to go
it alone or bring in partners. Here you learn when and how
to go about bringing in partners and assembling the rest
of your team.
- The hidden force – you learn about the
force that drives companies to success and how you can harness
it to your benefit.
- Fundraising process – here we cover the
whole process of raising funds from investors. The chapter
covers everything from formulating your pitch and targeting
investors to negotiating terms and closing out the round.
You receive sample voicemail scripts, do’s and don’ts, valuation
guidelines and come away armed and ready to negotiate ratchets,
redemption rights, co-sale rights and liquidity preference
- Taking your bearings – you learn how
to take your bearings and fix your company’s position in
two simple steps.
- Picking the best route for you
and your product – answer some simple questions to reveal
the best route for you and your startup.
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Long Haul from Zero-to-IPO