This is a topic that continues to fascinate me, so here it goes again: startup dreams are worth more than limited reality when it comes to fundraising. Entrepreneurs pitching an unproven idea with no product or customers can often raise money at a higher valuation than if they have a working product with a few paying customers.
The potential of the unknown. What might the business become? How big can this thing really be in a few years? Without a product these are all fantastic questions. Being blissfully ignorant about the true potential makes for a dreamy discussion when it comes to valuation: there’s no data so the valuation can be as high as the entrepreneur can convince the investor.
Once a product has been built and a handful of customers are using it, there’s data. All kinds of data. How frequently is the product used? How much did it cost to acquire the customers? How much do the customers pay? How long does it look like they’ll use the product? With data, it’s easy to build a financial model and make estimates around growth, financing needs, etc. Then, valuations are more definable (even if some part of the financial models are imaginary).
Entrepreneurs would do well to remember that dreams are worth more than limited reality when it comes to fundraising and valuations.
What else? What are some other thoughts on the disconnect in valuations for a startup with an idea vs one with a product and a handful of customers?