Not that long ago a tweet went viral that annoyed me to no end:
“Congratulating an entrepreneur for raising money is like congratulating a chef for buying ingredients.”
A blog post has been on the tip of my tongue since then, and recently, Mark Solon pushed out this beauty of a post which nicely summarizes the sentiments I was feeling. http://towriteistothink.com/2012/09/18/celebrate-and-then-get-back-to-work/
I think the analogy of a chef (and the overall sentiment that raising money is insignificant) completely minimizes the significance of raising money. Yes … I totally get it … raising money is only the beginning. It’s a long journey, for which, raising money is only a small part. But comparing it to buy ingredients … something that anyone can do with great ease … is misleading … and is self serving to the person making the comment. It’s what kids do in the playground when they name call.
Despite the impression people get from reading techrunch, convincing skeptical investors who are subjected to hundreds of pitches is hard … damn hard. Unless you’re a serial entrepreneur raising money on a deck (which rarely if ever happens), it represents many months, or years of sacrifice, hard work, iteration, and commitment, and if you are a serial entrepreneur, it still represents the hard work from the past bearing fruit.
In addition to the small validation you get for your effort by investors, there’s other reasons to celebrate and for congratulations. Being able to tell your family that you’re working your tail off, making personal sacrifices, but at least not doing it for $0 is not insignificant. Not having to lay off awesome, productive members of your team, that feel like they’ve become family is pretty awesome too.
Look, I get it, You haven’t accomplished much yet. You’ve just hit a single home run in the bottom of the first inning. There’s a long way to go. I also get it that people want to discourage celebration because they want to discourage complacency. I just don’t think that happens. I’ve never met an entrepreneur that settles after raising money. I think if anything its served as a motivator. It’s added pressure and responsibility (in a good way). You feel a personal obligation to return money to the individual investors. I know that was the case with Attassa as I wrote about here.
So in parting … go dancing with your family, get a massage, drink wine with your partner, go to a movie, go go-karting with the team, and then as Mark says, get back to work.