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More than two generations ago, the venture capital community– VCs, business angels, incubators and others –convinced the entrepreneurial world that writing business plans andraising venture capital constituted the twin centerpieces ofentrepreneurial endeavor. They did so for good reasons: thesometimes astonishing returns they've delivered to their investorsand the astonishingly large companies that their ecosystem hascreated.
But the vast majority of fast-growing companies never takeany venture capital. So where does the money come from to startand grow their companies? From a much more agreeable and hospitablesource, their customers. That's exactly what Michael Dell, BillGates and Banana Republic's Mel and Patricia Ziegler did to gettheir companies up and running and turn them into iconicbrands.
In The Customer Funded Business, best-selling author JohnMullins uncovers five novel approaches that scrappy and innovative21st century entrepreneurs working in companies large and smallhave ingeniously adapted from their predecessors like Dell, Gates,and the Zieglers:
- Matchmaker models (Airbnb)
- Pay-in-advance models (Threadless)
- Subscription models (TutorVista)
- Scarcity models (Vente Privee)
- Service-to-product models (GoViral)
Through the captivating stories of these and other inspiringcompanies from around the world, Mullins brings to life the fivemodels and identifies the questions that angel or other investorswill – and should! – ask of entrepreneurs or corporateinnovators seeking to apply them. Drawing on in-depth interviewswith entrepreneurs and investors who have actually put these modelsto use, Mullins goes on to address the key implementation issuesthat characterize each of the models: when to apply them, how bestto apply them, and the pitfalls to watch out for.
Whether you're an aspiring entrepreneur lacking the start-upcapital you need, an early-stage entrepreneur trying to get yourcash-starved venture into take-off mode, an intrapreneur seekingfunding within an established company, or an angel investor ormentor who supports high-potential ventures, this book offers themost sure-footed path to starting, financing, or growingyour venture.
John Mullins is the author of The New Business Road Testand, with Randy Komisar, the widely acclaimed Getting to PlanB.
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About the Author
JOHN MULLINS, PhD, an associate professor of managementpractice at London Business School, is one of the world’smost authoritative and best-known voices on the creation,financing, and growth of entrepreneurial ventures. A veteran ofthree such ventures, including one he took public, his previousbooks are the go-to sources on the assessment of entrepreneurialopportunities (The New Business Road Test) and on thecreation of breakthrough business models (the widely acclaimedGetting to Plan B, with Randy Komisar). John is a frequentspeaker to communities of entrepreneurs and their teams, CEOs offast-growing companies, and investors therein.
Table of Contents
Why This Book? xv
1 Craving Crowdfunding? Pandering to VCs? Groveling to Your CFO?: The Magic of Traction and the Customer-Funded Revolution 1
2 Customer-Funded Models: Mirage or Mind-Set? Old or New? 39
3 Buyers and Sellers, but Not Your Goods: Matchmaker Models 70
4 Ask for the Cash: Pay-in-Advance Models 98
5 Recurring Revenue: Subscription and SaaS Models 125
6 Sell Less, Earn More: Scarcity and Flash Sales Models 153
7 Build It for One, Then Sell It to All: Service-to-Product Models 177
8 Make It Happen: Put a Customer-Funded Model to Work in Your Business 205
About the Research 267
About the Author 271