Table of Contents Simon Whereas Ralph and Jack stand at opposite ends of the spectrum between civilization and savagery, Simon stands on an entirely different plane from all the other boys. The other boys abandon moral behavior as soon as civilization is no longer there to impose it upon them.
October When I talk to a startup that's been operating for more than 8 or 9 months, the first thing I want to know is almost always the same.
Assuming their expenses remain constant and their revenue growth is what it has been over the last several months, do they make it to profitability on the money they have left?
Or to put it more dramatically, by default do they live or die? The startling thing is how often the founders themselves don't know. Half the founders I talk to don't know whether they're default alive or default dead. If you're among that number, Trevor Blackwell has made a handy calculator you can use to find out.
The reason I want to know first whether a startup is default alive or default dead is that the rest of the conversation depends on the answer.
If the company is default alive, we can talk about ambitious new things they could do. If it's default dead, we probably need to talk about how to save it. We know the current trajectory ends badly. How can they get off that trajectory? Why do so few founders know whether they're default alive or default dead?
Mainly, I think, because they're not used to asking that. It's not a question that makes sense to ask early on, any more than it makes sense to ask a 3 year old how he plans to support himself. But as the company grows older, the question switches from meaningless to critical. That kind of switch often takes people by surprise.
I propose the following solution: It's hard to say precisely when the question switches polarity. But it's probably not that dangerous to start worrying too early that you're default dead, whereas it's very dangerous to start worrying too late.
The reason is a phenomenon I wrote about earlier: And the way founders end up in it is by not realizing that's where they're headed.
There is another reason founders don't ask themselves whether they're default alive or default dead: But that assumption is often false, and worse still, the more you depend on it, the falser it becomes. Maybe it will help to separate facts from hopes.
Instead of thinking of the future with vague optimism, explicitly separate the components. Say "We're default dead, but we're counting on investors to save us.
And if you set off the alarms sufficiently early, you may be able to avoid the fatal pinch. It would be safe to be default dead if you could count on investors saving you.
As a rule their interest is a function of growth. If you have steep revenue growth, say over 5x a year, you can start to count on investors being interested even if you're not profitable. Sometimes something about your business will spook investors even if your growth is great.
So no matter how good your growth is, you can never safely treat fundraising as more than a plan A. You should always have a plan B as well: In any case, growing fast versus operating cheaply is far from the sharp dichotomy many founders assume it to be.
In practice there is surprisingly little connection between how much a startup spends and how fast it grows. When a startup grows fast, it's usually because the product hits a nerve, in the sense of hitting some big need straight on. When a startup spends a lot, it's usually because the product is expensive to develop or sell, or simply because they're wasteful.
If you're paying attention, you'll be asking at this point not just how to avoid the fatal pinch, but how to avoid being default dead. That one is easy: Hiring too fast is by far the biggest killer of startups that raise money. But most err on the side of overestimating this need rather than underestimating it.
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The current study aims to study the ro. October When I talk to a startup that's been operating for more than 8 or 9 months, the first thing I want to know is almost always the same.
The Part 1 question will be an essay on a given topic. A set of notes on the topic will be provided, and will include three bullet points.
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A Socratic perspective on the relationship between ignorance, human evil, and the examined life.