We got into this discussion at a recent MIT mentoring session. So I thought it would be helpful to list some of the ways it is worth raising money, primarily from VCs.
Validation: With all four of my venture-backed startups I found that prospective partners, customers and even vendors saw us as more credible after raising a 7-figure Series A. Round. This is also true of job candidates as Tim Chen, founder of Nerdwallet says in a Forbes article:
What’s a good reason to raise money? Tim says the problem was that even though they didn’t need the money, great talent wants social validation. They want to know who your investors are. So, they raised a big round.
Timing: I was taught by a VC that the best time to raise money is when you don’t need it (but will at some point in the future). By raising money when you don’t need it you have much more leverage with investors. You will reduce the stress and strain of raising money when you do need it. Believe me, investors can smell desperation!
Time: without pressure of needing more capital you can take your time building your pitch deck, and very importantly, practicing your pitch. You also have more time to find prospective investors who are a good match for your venture.
Flexibility: Though you need to outline a “use of proceeds” in your pitch to investors, since you don’t need the money immediately you will have the option of changing how you spend (invest) that money in the future.
Competition: Competition amongst VCs does two important things for founders: one it generates FOMO – Fear of Missing Out – driving a sense of urgency; and two, competition drives valuation. Since you aren’t in immediate need of capital you will have the time to to perform proper due diligence on your investors and to garner more than one term sheet.
More resources: with more capital in hand you can hire more staff, spend more on customer acquisition, and make other important investments in your venture.
Creating value: the longer you wait to raise money the higher your valuation should be, which translates into getting more capital for the same amount of equity – leverage. And you are focused on these two things: your customers and creating value in your venture, right?
Access to investor’s value: investors don’t just provide capital. The best can help you recruit for your management team; provide good advice, feedback and guidance on your strategy; and provide helpful contacts of all sorts. Value-added is one way VCs compete for the best deals.
Of course, there are downsides to raising venture capital. Food for a following blog post.