Raising money is the second hardest part of starting a startup. The hardest part is making something people want: most startups that die, die because they didn't do that. But the second biggest cause of death is probably the difficulty of raising money. Fundraising is brutal.
One reason it's so brutal is simply the brutality of markets. People who've spent most of their lives in schools or big companies may not have been exposed to that. Professors and bosses usually feel some sense of responsibility toward you; if you make a valiant effort and fail, they'll cut you a break. Markets are less forgiving. Customers don't care how hard you worked, only whether you solved their problems.
Investors evaluate startups the way customers evaluate products, not the way bosses evaluate employees. If you're making a valiant effort and failing, maybe they'll invest in your next startup, but not this one.
But raising money from investors is harder than selling to customers, because there are so few of them.
When investors can't make up their minds, they sometimes describe it as if it were a property of the startup. "You're too early for us," they sometimes say. But which of them, if they were taken back in a time machine to the hour Google was founded, wouldn't offer to invest at any valuation the founders chose? An hour old is not too early if it's the right startup. What "you're too early" really means is "we can't figure out yet whether you'll succeed."
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