Early-stage founders have been asking for advice about their fundraising plans lately. Many are planning to raise this year after avoiding a difficult fundraise environment in the second half of last year. Many of these companies don’t have runway past 2023. They’re looking to raise venture capital to extend their runway.
If last year taught us anything, it’s that the availability of venture capital funding isn’t a given; it’s heavily impacted by macro conditions. Venture capitalists themselves were impacted by macro conditions and had a difficult time raising capital from their limited partners in the second half of last year.
Raising capital isn’t the only way to extend a start-up’s runway. Increasing revenue and reducing expenses are also levers founders can pull to extend runway. Expenses can be cut only so much, but revenue growth is limitless (hypothetically).
In today’s environment, I’m a fan of founders with limited runway taking control of their destiny by trying to get their companies to breakeven. It’s not possible for all founders, but if it is a possibility (even a slim one), it makes sense to work toward it if you have limited runway. It reduces or eliminates cash burn, extending runway. If venture capital is still an objective, it puts the founder in a better position because they don’t “need” the investment to survive. This approach has its downside, too. It could negatively impact growth. That’s not ideal, but a slower growing company is better than a dead company. If a founder achieves breakeven and manages to show growth (even slightly), it’s a good signal to investors and could increase their desire to invest.
If you’re a founder running out of runway, consider the option of moving the company toward breakeven.