Skip to main content

Start-up business plans are useless: Mike Moritz

According to BusinessWeek's Deal Flow blog, Michael Moritz, a general partner at VC firm Sequoia Capital and an early investor in Google, Yahoo! and Cisco, while speaking at the VentureOne conference in San Francisco told a story about Google that demonstrated why VCs always say they invest in entrepreneurs or ideas--and not business plans.
As you might know, Google started out thinking it would sell its technology to corporations for internal use. After a year or two, that plan clearly wasn’t working. So the entrepreneurs started casting around for another strategy. "There is nothing like a declining cash balance to focus the mind," Mortiz quipped. Google's founders noticed the success of GoTo (later renamed Overture and bought by Yahoo) and set out to improve on its paid-search model. The rest is history--and so is Google's original business plan, which, to the founders' credit, they never formalized.

When evaluating a nascent startup, Moritz doesn't look for a detailed blueprint of the future. "The longer the business plan, the worse the prospects for the company," he said. "The more comprehensive the financial projections, the more unlikely a company is to meet those expectations." The business plan for Intel was famously written on half a sheet of paper. Yahoo! never had a formal plan, Mortiz said. But in both cases, the founders had a very clear idea of the product or service they wanted to build.

Arun Natarajan is the Editor of TSJ Media, which tracks venture capital activity in India and Indian-founded companies worldwide. View sample issues of TSJ Media's Venture Intelligence India newsletters and reports.

Popular posts from this blog

How I Raised Funding - Priyanka Agarwal, Wishberry

You have to be confident and shameless while crowdfunding. Priyanka Agarwal, Wishberry shares on how to succeed in crowd funding with Venture Intelligence in this  interview. Priyanka also candidly shares how the team built Wishberry, raised funding from top angel investors like Rajan Anandan, on pivoting, and difficulties in raising capital for entrepreneurs operating in niche spaces not chased by VCs. Q: What does Wishberry do?Priyanka Agarwal: In its latest avatar, Wishberry has pivoted into crowd financing of low budget films (INR 1-5 Cr). We are essentially trying to create an internet platform for investment opportunities for HNIs in films including Marathi, Tamil, Kannada, or films targeting the global diaspora.

L-R: Co-founders Anshulika Dubey & Priyanka Agarwal, Wishberry Given that you are building a marketplace, how did Wishberry solve the Chicken and Egg problem? Beyond the “all or nothing” model what did Wishberry do to pull in more artistes and investors? First, you…

Interview with One97's Vijay Shekhar Sharma

Venture Intelligence featured an interview with Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder & Managing Director of One97 Communications as part of the July issue of the US-IVCA / Venture IntelligenceIndia VC report. One97 is one of the pioneering start-ups in the Indian Mobile VAS space and recently raised its first round of funding led by SAIF Partners.

Some extracts from the interview:

VI: How were you funding the company until now?
VSS: We were the first company to put a revenue sharing model in place with operators. That gave us recurring revenue and made the company cash positive.

VI: What were your challenges in fund raising?
VSS: Two challenges: first, deciding on the network the fund could provide and second, the kind of size commitment they can make for future investments. A third factor was the comfort with the VC: what kind of team it was, the chemistry between team members, the kind of person who will come onto our board. The VC on the board becomes your everyday business partner.

V…

Poor Son to Rich Son - A Sales Story

Hat tip: I originally saw this in the reply to a message posted by a friend of a friend on Google+ and then lost the thread in the circles of Google+. Apologies!

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private equity, venture capital and M&A deals in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs reach out effectively to the investing community.