Yesterday, a founder of a company we know received a note from a VC passing on their round with the explanation that “things are going to be really rough in your space for the next 24-36 months.” Another well-known investor recently posted on LinkedIn to broad aplomb that founders who need money should “hold off on fundraising for the next 6-12 months until conditions improve”.
These investors and others, who are now opining with expert certainty and false timing precision on macro predictions, are among the same ones who confidently made bets just 6 months ago at valuations that now look laughable. They have no more of an idea than you or I as to what is going to happen to the global economy or your sliver of it 6,12, 24, or even 1 month from now. Is it really going to be easier for founders to raise money in 6-12 months than it is now? I have no idea and neither do they. Things might get a lot better or they might get a lot worse.
We all know what things are like in the macro right now: tech stocks have been hit hard, growth investors have pulled back, and there is a lot of uncertainty about a possible recession on the horizon (if we’re not in one already). In moments of uncertainty like this, everyone loves to look to people who project confidence and purport to have a crystal ball.
I remember 2008-2009 all too well. The market was tanking, things were scary, and everyone was quick to lavish seer-like abilities on folks who called the crash like “Dr. Doom” Nouriel Roubini and star banking analyst Meredith Whitney. There was one small problem, though…these folks may have been right about 2008 but they were wrong about everything after, with Whitney being forced to shut down her failed hedge fund in 2015. When it comes to timing the economy and stock market, as much as we want to believe that someone has the ability to see the future, time and time again it’s been shown that nobody knows anything.
So what does that mean for founders? Focus on what you can control. Stop listening to macroeconomic soothsayers and watching CNBC. If you need to raise money for your business right now, go for it. Will it be harder than it would have been 6 months ago? Absolutely. Will it be easier in 6 months? Nobody knows.
But what I can tell you with 100% certainty is that great founders and businesses are still successfully raising money right now. You may have to work harder, you may have to run a tighter process, you may need to talk to more investors, but if you see the opportunity for your business, this is the time to go make it happen. Over the course of building a successful venture-scale business over a 10-15 year time horizon, a typical founder will have to raise money 5+ times. Expect that some of those fundraises will be in bull markets and some in less favorable conditions. That’s out of your control. What is within your control is building a great business that is fundable in any environment; THAT should be your sole focus.