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Best of Bootstrapping: How Can You Play this Low-Probability Game Intelligently?

Posted on Friday, Jan 25th 2019

Let me start with a quote from Marc Andreessen:

“At our venture capital firm we only invest in a sort of Silicon Valley–style tech. We see 3,000 inbound deals a year. And those are inbound and coming through our referral network, so those are sort of prequalified. We can do maybe 15 or 20 investments out of the 3,000 a year. So I like to say our day job is crushing entrepreneurs’ hopes and dreams. Our main skill is saying no, and getting people to not hate us.”
Source: Inside the mind of Marc Andreessen – Fortune Management


I run One Million by One Million (1Mby1M) – a global virtual accelerator for startups. 2019 is our ninth year supporting entrepreneurs.

Thousands upon thousands of entrepreneurs have approached us for help with their funding at a stage where their chances of getting funding is ZERO. We can’t help them, regardless of how powerful our investor connections are. We can’t help a startup get funding before they become fundable. It pains me to see how many entrepreneurs have no idea what makes a startup fundable.

You’ve often heard me say that over 99% of the entrepreneurs who seek financing are rejected. This post offers a set of rejection statistics culled from credible sources on some of the key players:

YCombinator: 97.15% [Source: The Economist]

AngelList: 98.8% [Source: The Economist]

Andreessen Horowitz: 99.3% [Source: Fortune]

If you get rejected by Accelerators, Angels or VCs, and they don’t tell you why, you need to understand the objections and the analysis that led them to their decision. Most good investors take the time to explain. Also, there are some fairly standard reasons why entrepreneurs get rejected by investors.

So, my humble advice to all entrepreneurs: please learn to assess your own probability of getting funded. Watching this 2 minutes 53 second video would be a very good start if you need a crash course in fundability.

Want introductions to Angels and VCs? A fundable and validated business is a must.

A fundable business with warm introductions is the fastest way to get funded. We can introduce you to angels and VCs, if your idea is fundable and validated. Sadly, less than 1% of businesses are fundable. What that means is more than 99% of the entrepreneurs waste their energy on pitching their unfundable businesses to investors. Hugely unproductive and unhealthy.

There is a reason why savvy entrepreneurs have been using the Bootstrap First, Raise Money Later strategy.

Generation after generation of entrepreneurs have used bootstrapping to get to a fundable stage, so they can call the shots at the negotiation table with their potential investors.

I have nothing against funding. I have scores of friends who are investors and I respect their work.

But my heart belongs to entrepreneurs who are capable of doing the heavy lifting of extensive validation. That’s where we can add the most value and that’s why we are in the trenches with those true entrepreneurs every day.

This segment is a part in the series : Best of Bootstrapping


. Bootstrapping to an Exit
. Why is Bootstrapping Important?
. How Can You Play this Low-Probability Game Intelligently?
. Do NOT Go to VCs as Beggars - Go as Kings
. Excess is NOT Required for Success
. Bootstrap First and Raise Money Later
. Some Bootstrapping to Exit Case Studies
. The Buy Side of Bootstrapping to an Exit
. Blitzscaling vs. Bootstrapping
. Bootstrapping to Unicorns
. Cinedigm Acquires Bootstrapped 1Mby1M Company Future Today for $60 Million
. Mailchimp Bootstraps to $600M Revenue
. Bootstrapping from Arizona to $10 Million
. Bootstrapped Basecamp Executes a No Nonsense Strategy
. How Under30Experiences Bootstrapped to $5 Million
. Bootstrapping with a Paycheck
. How Algo.ai CEO Amjad Hussain Bootstrapped using Services from Michigan
. Seed Investors Who Like Bootstrapped Businesses
. How iHeartRaves CEO Bootstrapped a Niche e-Commerce Company to $20 Million
. Bootstrapping with Services
. How The Intern Group CEO David Lloyd Bootstrapped to $13 Million
. How Passageways CEO Paroon Chadha Bootstrapped from Indiana
. How SmartBuyGlasses CEO David Menning Bootstrapped to $50 Million
. Death by Overfunding
. How RainmakerForce CEO Mack Sundaram Bootstrapped Decisively to $5 Million+
. How FormAssembly CEO Bootstrapped a Virtual Company with a Paycheck
. TimeSlips CEO Mitch Russo Bootstrapped to Exit with Sage
. The VC-Entrepreneur Compensation Disbalance
. BioConnect CEO Bootstraps with Sophisticated Strategic Maneuvering
. Tremend CEO Marius Hanganu Bootstraps from Romania
. Gesture CEO Jim Alvarez Bootstraps to $10 Million
. SproutLoud CEO Bootstraps to $30 Million from Florida
. Tuft & Needle CEO Bootstraps to Over $100 Million
. Co-founders Bootstrap Linguamatics to Over $10M from the UK
. Ownership Matters
. Vainu Co-founder Mikko Honkanen Bootstraps from Finland
. Entrepreneur Couple Bootstraps to $10M from Colorado
. Power2Motivate CEO Bootstraps to $80M from Canada

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