15 Short Stories About LinkedIn's Early Days

I was lucky enough to be one of LinkedIn's earliest employees in 2003. I joined the company when it was just over a dozen people and was the 2nd non-founding engineer hire.

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Why This? Why Now? Why You?

Once your startup has some traction, fundraising becomes more straightforward. Investors still care about your vision and your team, but much of their focus shifts toward analyzing and interpreting your numbers: how fast is revenue growing? How many users are logging in monthly? How about daily? What fraction of users are retained for at least 3 months? 12 months? Strong numbers reduce the perceived riskiness of your company even if other parts of your pitch are weak. After all, if your company is making $2m/year and growing 20% monthly, then you must be on to something, right?

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Startups are Risk Bundles

Startup founders are sometimes surprised when they spend a year or two executing against their roadmap, make a lot of progress, and still have to struggle to raise more capital. Why wouldn't investors be interested in a company if it's much further along than it was last year? Why are the few investors who are interested only willing to invest at a lower valuation?

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Avoid Piecemeal Seed Rounds

Most founders try to raise their seed rounds in one shot, but some do their fundraising over long stretches of time and across a series of (rising) valuations. For most founders in the latter group, piecemeal fundraising is out of necessity: if they can't raise $1.5m but can raise $400k, then $400k is almost certainly better than nothing. Some founders, however, do fundraising in small increments in an effort to fight dilution, on the assumption that more capital will be available later. Unfortunately, incremental fundraising does little to combat dilution while posing significant existential risk. If you have the opportunity to raise your target seed amount in one shot at reasonable terms, then you should take it.

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Investor Relations for Post-Seed Startups

When founders are raising their seed rounds, they try to meet with as many investors as possible -- a sound strategy for raising money. However, after those seed rounds close, most founders are unsure about how to allocate time to new investor relationships. Should they start reaching out to Series A investors even though a Series A is over a year away? Should they accept meeting requests from VCs they've never talked to before? If they do meet with new investors, what should such meetings be about? This post will address some of the most common questions about meeting with investors when you're not fundraising.

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