Most startups should not raise money. Some exceptions include when it’s a winner take all market (like eBay), winner take most with a huge valuation boost (like Salesforce.com), or very capital intensive (like a hardware business). In this context “raise money” means the traditional large sums of money over multiple rounds approach. There’s another approach that isn’t talked about as frequently: raising limited money to get key people formally involved.
By raising limited money you might sell 2 – 10% of the business to get key people participating instead of the traditional 20 – 40% (usually 30%) per round, not because you need the money but because you want them formally involved. You might say you could do that through board seats or advisors — you could, but it’s better if they have some skin in the game through a formal investment as well as the board/advisor participation.
The next time you want to get a person involved in the business for a long time, and you’re not raising money, consider raising money from them as a way to align interests and formalize the relationship.
What else? What are your thoughts on raising limited money to get key people formally involved?