Photo: Quirky Blog
Ben Kaufman just raised a $68 million Series C round for his invention creation startup, Quirky. But he isn’t celebrating or boasting about it.Instead, Kaufman wrote a lengthy article that cautions entrepreneurs about the perils of raising money for the wrong reasons. He also describes what fundraising really means to him after seven years of founding companies and working with investors.
“In the eye of the public, and specifically the tech community, funding is thought to mean much more that it actually does,” Kaufman writes. “The world views funding as a badge of honour. I view it as a scarlet letter. I’m continually disturbed, insecure, and uncomfortable about what it means to raise money, and what it means to boast about it.”
When founding his first company, Mophie, Kaufman thought money would solve all of his problems. “I had an idea. I believed the only thing standing in the way of my gift wrap and ribbon prototype of the first ‘lanyard-headphone’ becoming a mass market success was just a little bit of dough,” he writes.
Later, he finagled his way into a $1 million financing. He was only 19, and this was in 2006.
“Mophie hits the big time,” a newspaper headline read. The article was accompanied by a photoshoot Kaufman now refers to as “regrettable” and “douchy,” where the founders wore sunglasses and held up cash (above).
But really, there was no reason to celebrate. “My grandfather called me to congratulate me on building a successful company,” Kaufman recalls. “We still hadn’t done shit. We just got some dude to write a check.”
Now, even though he was just cut a whopping $68 million check for Quirky, Kaufman isn’t getting caught up in the hype. Instead, he asks people not to congratulate entrepreneurs for their fundraises.
“Congratulating an entrepreneur for raising money is like congratulating a chef for buying the ingredients,” Kaufman writes. “Don’t congratulate people for raising money. That was never the goal. The goal is building a successful and meaningful business. When people raise money, instead of congratulating them, wish them luck. Their work is just getting started.”
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