i had a question regarding my startup and i really trust you are the best to give me advice.
i started my own startup/platform in 2014 targeting edtech / elearning sector.
today after 4 years of hard work i hold my position in my city as most dominant/prestigious, school elearning management system among A class private schools. with access to over 10,000 student in multiple schools and a 5* satisfaction rating.
next year i also signed a 7 year binding contract with a University adding 40,000 studying to our platform.
we run on a subscription per student model, trying to maintain state of art cloud distributed -auto scaling, auto healing, single click deploying - system platform.
so far * i' have been working alone * , depending on my MBA knowledge to maintain business side (b2b) and my extensive software engineering knowledge to maintain platform green.
current status of my project :-
10,000 student subscription, with extra 19,000 student will sign next year in schools.
40,000 subscription college students. (across 6 colleges with potential 9 more colleges next academic year)
current net profit to very decent, its already pretty profitable.
- there are many revenue streams that is becoming available for me today as my platform grows and my experience in field increase, and i believe that i have reached my limit of what i can do alone.
so, should i seek investment ?
i have little experience in business side of startups and most friends keep saying since i'm doing fine on my own i should carry on, may be hire a team to help expand .
yet i sincerely don't have enough time/exp to manage a team myself, i'm almost 90% sunken in R&D of my own products, and already overloaded managing new contracts / signing leads
what do you think should me my next step ?
You already have the best investor - customer revenue. You do need help, and if you are unsure of the roles you need to fill, start a list of tasks to embrace the rapid scaling you have earned. You do not need a CEO, you need people who can do things you are doing that no longer require your time, so you can address other issues. You have to be direct withourself - are you the best R & D person, or is there someone who can do that with your guidance for the product direction.
We often tell ourselves that nobody can do "it" as well as we do, but often it is we are afraid they can and then we do not know what to do next. In a company that will scale like yours, there are far more "jobs to be done" (an excellent framework, by the way) than people to do them.
No, unless you simply cannot support growth from the new revenue, you do not need to seek investment. It's always a stronger position if you are self-funded through growth in revenue. It sounds like you simply need to hire employees to help you scale. Those should be paid with the new revenue source. If you are not taking home a salary yourself, you're making a mistake in your pricing.
Smart growth should have been part of your plan before seeking a 4x jump in subscribers. Unfortunately now you have to scramble to meet your obligations. But you do have the math in front of you for the number of employees you can support with the new revenue. Prioritize, and don't make this mistake again as you grow. Your business plan should be a living document that is updated no less than quarterly. How you will grow smartly is a key piece of the plan.
You're about to grow your user base by multiples. Congratulations! You CANNOT do this by yourself. Stop everything else and focus entirely on your capacity to handle the customers with whom you have contracted. You may see it has having a half dozen new clients over the next two years, but in reality it's tens of thousands of customers who could break your system. You need capacity far greater than one person to handle it. Do the math, figure out exactly how much support (in hours per task) is needed per thousand users. Before you sign up any more clients, make sure your growth path is clear and that you're charging enough to be profitable with the additional employee expenses.
Looks like you are in the scaling path - depending on your ARR - I would suggest you get a strong Ops executive to help you with the SG&A piece while you focus on PROD and ENG. Once you get to $2-5m in ARR, then it'll be easier to attract 'premium' VC $ and scale from there