Allocating Time

Except in rare cases (like if you’ve gained a ton of traction by bootstrapping and investors are now selling themselves to you), preparing and running the actual process of fundraising is time-consuming, regardless of whether you’re a first-time or repeat founder.* Raising venture capital almost always takes longer than you think and will distract you and your team from building your company. A founder’s job, especially in the early days, will be hiring the team, sales and business development, building the initial product, and raising capital.

controversy Prominent investors disagree on how much time founders should allocate to fundraising. Paul Graham, founder of startup accelerator Y Combinator, advises startups to constrain fundraising to a limited time period,* while Upfront Ventures partner Mark Suster says startups should allocate a few hours every week to the meetings and activities related to fundraising, citing, among other reasons, that good relationships take time to build, and can’t develop if they’re relegated to specific times of year. Graham suggests startups with multiple founders assign only one founder to fundraising, so that the other founder or founders are not distracted from company operations.

Figuring out whether you can allocate the time to fundraise depends on how long the process will take, right? This is impossible to generalize, but everyone wants to know. So we’ll go ahead and answer this for you, but please take it with a grain of salt, because every fundraising process is different: From the moment you decide to raise venture capital through to signing a term sheet, the process takes an average of three months. If you’ve founded four companies already and your newest one is really hot, it could take two weeks and you won’t have to lift a finger; investors might flock to your door. If you’re just starting out building your network from scratch, it might take closer to six months.

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