I spent the better part of the last 3 years building our 3rd business from revenues and sweat. We went from an idea to sustainable, growing, and profitable business. It was not easy, nothing ever is. At times we flirted with taking funding, had offers on the table, and sought out a few commitments. Even had 2 larger companies approach for us for an early acquisition. Ultimately though we chose to stay independent.
During this same time a close friend of mine left a huge internet company, founded a new startup, raised 10′s of millions in VC, folded that startup in what they call a ‘soft landing’, and started another one. He was convinced he needed funding for the new project. I doubt my words made any real difference but I tried to steer him away from it. He did the math and ultimately decided to tell some of the biggest names in the angel and VC world he would forgo their cash for few months to see if this idea had legs.. and was met with utter contempt.
With VC you gain cash, and the ability to spend it. You do not gain the assurance of success. And all along you have to deal with other people telling you how you should conduct your business. Meh.
As bootstrapper you have earned the freedom and independence to make your own mistakes, revel in your own success, and work you ass off. The success or failure is 100% yours.
Why is this important to me? It allows me to build the company I want to see. One that does not push useless upsells on their customers to maximize profit, one that can operate from a mindset other then win at all costs, one that has integrity and character. Sure a few extra 0′s in the bank would come in handy from time to time. But I also like knowing that every 0 in there was a result of choices that were made with our values in mind. The soul of a business runs through every aspect of it. Your customers, your employees, and the public at large sees it for what it is. Good and bad, motivated by greed or passion, acting like asshats or elegant problem solvers.
When did “funding” become a mark of success? The argument could be made it is the direct opposite. Yes, we all see the big IPO’s, those 1 in 1000 that make it. The other 999 would likely have been so much better off either flaming out early, or working through to a real solution to a real problem and making real revenue. We live in the age of the zombie startup. It should be dead, but instead just pivots with every dilution.