Startups · Fundraising

How to stretch out your last few months of runway?

Anonymous

July 16th, 2015

We've only got 2 months of runway left, no funding on the horizon and were running as Lean as we can. I'm starting to feel more and more panicked/anxious about losing my company. What can I do? 

Brian McConnell

July 16th, 2015

Time to take a hard look at the situation. It's easy to get into the "boiling frog" trap, delay taking definitive action, and then end up in a situation where decisions are made for you. If its looking unlikely that you'll pull a rabbit out of a hat, you may be better off to use the two months to shut the business down cleanly, and give any employees time to figure out their plan B. If you just let it run out of money, you'll be left with lots of loose ends, such as overdrawn back accounts that you can't close out, delinquent payables, etc. I wish I had pulled the plug on one of my businesses several years back but instead ended up against a wall, and accepted an awful "acquihire" deal with the most dishonest person I ever encountered. Everyone got screwed over, including our investors. It would have been better if we had shut it down and kept the intellectual property in case another opportunity came along (in retrospect we were about five years ahead of the market with that product and probably would've had another shot at it, but instead we ended up working and getting swindled out of everything by a cretin we all absolutely hated). Without knowing the details, I can't tell you what you should do, except you should make a frank assessment of the odds of a dramatic turnaround. I'd compare it to landing a plane when the engine is out. Small aircraft don't automatically crash when the engine quits, but they do turn into gliders. You're going to come down to land somewhere, but that doesn't mean everyone is destined to die in a fire.

Axel Schultze Founder Society3 Accelerator & Fundraising market place

July 16th, 2015

Extremely hard to say not knowing anything about your situation but obviously you have three major dials

1) Generate or increase revenue
2) Reduce cost.
3) Get alternative funding

REDUCING COST
Reducing cost is relatively easy, you trim it down to zero - but there is a saying "saving yourself to death". So it involves some strange risks. Definitely stop paying yourself, let go people that do not generate revenue i.e. developer (I know it is very hard) but you maybe able to rehire as soon as it gets better - probably 2-5 month and you are good.

GETTING REVENUE
The most important measure is to generate an income stream instantly. I've been there twice. Try to sell sell sell 
- Sell some consulting hours - assuming you are an expert in something
- Sell your solution to customers before you do ANYTHING else
- Sell a special version of your product at a special price...
- Sell parts of your technology to other companies
- Sell training classes to businesses
- Sell event tickets for an industry event that you pull together
- Sell.... what ever value you can create

ALTERNATIVE FUNDING
There are many flavors of funding. I.e. donations, loans, crowdfunding
Here is a blog post I wrote a while ago:
10 different ways to get funding

As a good entrepreneur you will want to turn on all dials :)
Let me know if you need some more help

Brian McConnell

July 16th, 2015

And Mark Capps, you are too lazy to read the messages you are receiving. (I am not affiliated with this organization BTW, just another email subscriber, just like you). If you were not totally lazy, you would notice there is a "manage your email notifications" link at the footer of every message which, if you were not too lazy to follow it, includes an option to "unsubcribe from all email lists". So instead of being a dick and whining to everybody on this last, that you initially subscribed to, maybe follow basic protocol and quietly unsubscribe with annoying the shit out of everybody else. And really if that's too much bother, just put this address in your spam filter. Thank you very much!

Roberto Angulo CEO at AfterCollege

July 16th, 2015

I was in your shoes about 15 years ago. If you believe in what you're doing and think you can make it a go, go lean. Go without pay, get a core team and give them equity and bootstrap it on minimum wage or without pay if you have to. If you have investors and they won't give you any more money, give them a choice: they can give you more funding and you keep going, or you shut it down. Or you can recapitalize. If it's worth continuing and you see the light at the end of the tunnel, then you are in the driver's seat. Talk to your board, do a recap as an alternative to shutting down and give equity to yourself and the team that will help you to keep going. Good luck. 

Jessica Thompson Founder, Advisor

July 16th, 2015

Tell us more about your overhead and cogs. How lean is lean? If you are paying people you are definitely going to have to stop doing that, get it down to the founders and nobody gets paid. If you have to get part-time or full-time jobs and try to run it on nights and weekends until you find more funding. Keep the website up and keep looking, switch to guerrilla marketing. I'm with Roberto and Brian, if you believe in it, go serve coffee somewhere if you have to, keep the IP and get more funding or another investor and split the pie again. Good luck!

Abdullah Almefdaa CEO @ Gulf Cloud Corp.

July 17th, 2015

I will not fold or go bankrupt I would use whatever resources left to keep the project alive in dormant stage (cocoon) for one year or more and go for full time employment.

Peter Kemball Member Issuers Committee at Equity Crowdfunding Alliance of Canada (ECFA)

July 17th, 2015

While you are in a tough spot, you are thinking ahead which gives you a chance of avoiding unnecessary unpleasantness and an opportunity to learn and test yourself. The prospect of loss of your company is hard to contemplate but the key issue is why would your customers care and do they care enough to provide you funds for any reason such as consulting? Happens often if you are on the right track. If so preservation of IP and people skills with the intent to renew growth is an option on the table. Ask for support more often than not it will be forthcoming. If not then an orderly exit to limit the damage is likely to be your best option.  Should you take this path, engage in some reflection of your own personal growth in skills and knowledge as a result of the time spent and what you have learned about yourself. Most often this provides comfort at a turbulent time.

Good luck with the transition.

Andrew Lockley

July 18th, 2015

You can also pressure creditors to take a debt for equity conversion. Alternatively, just look at CVA (UK) or chapter 11 (US). You can trade through. If it all goes wrong, fold the company and buy the IP from the receiver. With no creditors or investors, your life may be easier. You can even ask the investors to back you again. The worst that can happen is they say no. A

Mike Mitchell Consultant: Technology Development and Management

July 22nd, 2015

All good advice here, but let me challenge your perspective. Your startup business exists to answer a question: Is my new product/service (or some pivot of it) marketable? Surely, you are closer to answering the question than when you started. Now, the remainder of the journey should be clearer.

If you are being objective, you know:
A. If the destination exists as you imagined
B. About what it would take to get there.

If the answer to A is yes, you have something of value to someone. You may need to change your way of doing business, or even go into asset recovery mode depending on who you can get onboard. But viable businesses only fail when the owners give up. IF the journey is worth taking, you only need to change how you equip and plan for the trip.

Andrew Lockley

July 16th, 2015

Cut costs, sell more, keep looking for funding. Necessity is the mother of invention. How far off break-even are you?