Is getting funding really more important than building the actual business?

posted by Jeff | Monday, April 2, 2012, 11:52 PM | comments: 0

As a fan of the book Rework, it's no secret that I value businesses that can continuously execute in a sustainable way. I like the idea that you can identify a need, bootstrap a solution and eventually have an entity that exists on its own accord. However, as someone who follows technology news, I tend to see more stories about how to fund businesses than actually operate them.

So here's the question: Am I totally getting it wrong? I have some ideas for technology businesses, and some of them I believe have a decent shot at making a reasonable amount of money. And yet, if I were to believe what is reported from Silicon Valley, the "right" way to do it is to pitch your idea to venture capitalists, who will give you millions of dollars, and it will all be rainbows and puppies. Oh, and by the way, they'll have a lot of say in how you do stuff, and they'll want some of that money back eventually. But don't worry, they throw money at a lot of stuff, most of it fails, and they get lucky now and then. It's the Hollywood blockbuster approach to business.

I just can't help but think that's insane. If the initial push is to get a wad of cash, then the next push will be for some kind of payout or "funding event," whether that means an IPO or getting someone to buy you. I'm sure those are rewarding things, but does anyone care about building something awesome, and then seeing it through in the long term?

I have to admit, if someone came along and wanted to buy CoasterBuzz tomorrow for a million dollars, I'd sell it in a heartbeat. But even then, that's largely because it started as a cash-bleeding project I started myself, and I've watched it roll now for a dozen years. The goal was never to sell.

One of the things that perhaps I struggle with a little, in my industry, is that we're very much a left-brained enterprise. We use technology to make stuff. The thing is, I sort of fancy myself as a bit of an artist, or a wannabe artist, at least. The act of creation, to be a vital part of something, that's the kind of work that gets me out of bed. Money is an extrinsic motivator, and without question, very important, but I can't imagine a world where that's ultimately the goal.


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