There’s so much debate on social media and elsewhere on bootstrapped vs VC.  Bootstrapped you maintain control, and the unit economics.  But many see it as so much harder.  And it’s almost always longer.  VC can let you go faster, but it can become an addiction.  And the dilution all-in generally ends up being 60%-70% by the time you approach an IPO.

The debate misses a simple, clear Third Way:  Just Raise One Round.

A few folks that have done this, more or less:

  • Klaviyo.  Now worth $8 Billion, they mainly just raised a seed fund and didn’t raise material additional capital until the pre-IPO phase.
  • The Trade Desk.  Now worth $34 Billion, they weren’t sure how big it would get, so they raised just one core VC round.
  • Zapier.  Raised one core seed round, and then got to nine figures of ARR.
  • Veeva.  Raised single digit millions, worth $35 Billion today.

They just raised enough to get a real business going.

There are more stories like this.  It doesn’t have to literally just be 1 round.  Raising 2 small VC rounds < $10m or so together can also work.

The point is, if you raise less than $10m, especially less than $5m or so, you really do maintain almost all your optionality and control.  And most of the cap table.

One round might dilute you from 100% ownership to 70%, but that’s it.  And if you raise say $3m, your investors may hope for a $3 Billion IPO.  But realistically, any “exit” will make them money,  No one (or at least, almost no one) is going to block an exit or create a lot of drama.

Raise $3m, you can sell for $10m, $30m, $100m, whatever you want really.  Maintain control.  And still use that $3m to get off the ground and fund the initial core team.

It’s not so crazy.  Really, I did a version of this myself, raising $9m in each of my two startups and stopping there.  It has its cons.  You have to stay very efficient, and the competition can often outspend you.  It’s not always the right strategy.

But there is a lot of freedom in being capital efficient but also raising just enough to start that people can eat.

It’s at least worth thinking about.

One and Done in raising VC.  It’s a real option.


And a great convo in this 20VC on how The Trade Desk maintained optionality by raising a small amount of capital in the early days:

And a related post here:

The 10x Rule: What Raising $1 of Venture Capital Really Means



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