Challenges of a startup founder

It’s tough out there as a startup founder. A founder can come up with an idea they’re passionate about and want to spend their work life pursuing it. They may have even left the comfort of their corporate job. It’s likely they have even convinced a handful of people to join their mission and they’ve had a few ‘pat on the back’ moments.

However, as the idea develops, they realised their minuscule team doesn’t have the skills to do everything, so they go and acquire more human resources. Freelancers seem like a good option; they can get highly experienced professionals into their organisation for good value and flexible terms. In fact, the founder realises that hiring full-time employees at this stage is a risky strategy because they don’t know for certain what channels to market are going to work or what technology they are going to utilise, so they don’t know what skills to hire for. The founder is a good judge of talent, but the process of finding and vetting the pipeline of freelancers is time-consuming, despite the number of platforms out there. Once they’re in, how do you fully motivate them and generate buy-in? The founder is frantically trying to avoid the worst case scenario: saying yes, onboarding the freelancer into your processes, then seeing them churn out after a couple of months.

Likewise, for freelancers, it becomes an unfulfilling cycle of dedicating your time to various startups, never seeing the upside of your work. It’s normally out of the question to ask for equity and share in any liquidation event of the shares. So you charge slightly more, working at risk, invoicing after the work is completed, hoping to get paid within 30 days. In some cases there is a risk of not getting paid at all - 58% of freelancers have worked with a client who failed to pay (acccording to PayPal). It’s not surprising you can’t give your all to these projects.

After all this the founder will find themselves behind schedule and running out of money. They search around for investors in their network or scramble to connect with the so-called investors on LinkedIn. It becomes a full-time job speaking to time-wasters and herding cats into the round. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way for investors to contribute to a startup outside of the traditional ‘rounds’ structure and follow on easily as the enterprise scales? Then the founder’s idea might survive.

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