“Ain’t no need to watch where I’m goin’; just need to know where I’ve been.” Mater in Pixar’s Cars
This is wrong. But it is the behaviour that a lot of founders execute on after raising money.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Venture Math, Valuation and Accretive Milestones and whiners. I was struck at how many entrepreneurs seem to be working towards the post-money valuation of their last round of financing. I think this is wrong. You should aim high. Higher than the post-money of your last round. You should be acting like the pre-money for your next round. That is the only way you will drive the necessary milestones for the next raise.
Let’s make a few assumptions.
You are raising $1MM on a $4MM pre-money valuation. This gives you a post-money valuation of $5MM. If you subscribe to 2x valuation as the floor for the next round. This means that you need to start behaving like your company is worth at a minimum $10mm. That’s right, a minimum of 2x your post valuation. You should be targeting >2.5x, so in our example you need to start acting like a company that is valued at $12.5MM.
Your behaviour and decisions need to reflect milestones necessary to raise your next round of capital. Not the round you just closed.
“The art of raising a round it to raise enough money to get to a significant milestone, and not too much money taking too much dilution too soon. So how do you define the milestones.” – David Crow
This is incredibly difficult. Because the balance is crucial to the long term success of the company, getting it wrong and you’ve raised too much money you will be diluted, but you might have enough money to change direction and try again. If you aren’t behaving like the end point has changed, the company will be executing on goals that are too small to raise the next round.
Don’t aim for the Net Present Value milestones. You’ve already raised money to achieve those. Start setting milestones for your future value. And start delivering against those.