This is the companion piece to You Only Need Two Investors. Once you have your main seed and venture investor, the question is, when and how do you fundraise? Investors can bring two different values to a company— cash and guidance. If you have already taken care of guidance by finding a solid seed and venture investor, all you need is cash to grow. My opinion is you should get cash with the least amount of work, so you can stay focused on the business.

Two big changes to fundraising in the last few years have a significant implication on…

Working Backwards is the most important book to read for Series A+ founders this year. I’m surprised that Amazon allowed this book to be published, since it goes into so much detail on processes that Amazon created which have given it a competitive advantage over the last twenty years. Although it describes a period of time after Amazon went public, that was an era when much more immature companies IPO’d. The struggles Amazon was dealing with and their solutions are a must read for high growth founders in Series A+ companies.

This review is not intended to be comprehensive, but…

A lot of my companies — SVA, Lambda, Major League Hacking — are in the business of training people and placing them as fellows in companies. Increasingly, many of my companies — Maven, Reforge and several more upcoming — are involved in upskilling of current employees in companies. What these two sectors share is that the most rational buyer is a manager (for fellowships) or the employee themselves (for upskilling). The challenge is that the budget for both of these areas (hiring and learning and development) often fits under HR in larger companies.

I am sure that there are pro-active…

Jumping to the punchline, you need one seed investor who helps you find product market fit (PMF), the stuff I talk about here. You need one venture investor who helps you turn your PMF project into a company by hiring the right people, paying attention to the right metrics, building the right culture, and making good decisions as you scale. A lot of founders get confused about investors. …

I may have more companies building applications on top of Zoom than any other investor. Some, like Outschool or Lambda are perfectly adapted to Zoom. Others are well adapted to Slack. For many of my other companies, Zoom and Slack are jail. I say this in all deference to Zoom and Slack. Their video quality and chat functionality are much much better than any other. The problem is that neither was built to be a component in an application. They take over the user experience and do not allow a company building an application to customize their user’s experience.

For…

As a founder, you can act one of two ways. Either you can treat your idea as your precious and lock it away in a dark room until the big reveal, or you can go out there and tell everyone about it. I’m running a Clubhouse room called @edpitches weekly with a bunch of the other edtech and future of work investors. At least once a week, a founder I inform gives me a ‘no’. There are two failure cases for founders. One is ‘I’m not raising so I don’t want to talk to anyone’. That’s another post. …

This is a story that has been unfolding in the future of work space since Covid hit. For ever and ever, companies hired people by looking at resumes and interviewing candidates. Many of us who have succeeded were beneficiaries of that approach because we went to the right schools, or were white men like the interviewers, so they felt kinship.

This practice needs to end. Resumes and interviews are the perfect process if you want human bias to be the main factor in hiring.

Did you go to the same school as I did? Were you in the same clubs…

As a pre-seed investor, my focus is on helping founders find product market fit (PMF). PMF is that state where the market needs what you are making so much that almost any mistake you make is ignored and the momentum continues. Facebook with Beacon, Netflix with Flickster, Amazon with Fire Phone, Airbnb with some horrible overseas experiences, etc. These are companies that found PMF and the market was quick to forgive them.

Here is the report card I work on with founders:

My point of view is that any company who gets an A on this in a large market…

Thanks for reading this series on Finding PMF! If you missed earlier articles, here is the start of the series.

If you have magic, habit, discovery and a great growth loop working, getting you to an “A” on my PMF report card, it’s time to raise Series A. You should probably be in the $200k MRR range at this point, which is solid for raising Series A. You are in the top 1% of seed-stage companies and should be able to raise a great round. Here are the things to work on before you raise Series A. They are all…

Thanks for reading this series on Finding PMF! If you missed earlier articles, here is the start of the series.

In previous articles, we discussed the need to find your magic, the thing that blows your new user’s mind, because it fits so precisely with what they need. We discussed habit, how to intentionally create weekly engagement. And we discussed discovery, how to help user’s see your magic as quickly as possible. If you have executed well on those, you have a solid product. Now you need to figure out a growth loop. …

John Danner

Co-founder and CEO NetGravity, Rocketship Education, Zeal Learning, Dunce Capital. john@danners.org https://dunce.substack.com/

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