Shooting a Rocket to the Moon

CxO Corner, Finance | |By: admin

“…As Dr. Stoner points out, the launch of the first mission to the moon required thousands of mid-course corrections in addition to great up-front planning and aiming. If the engineers in charge of the project had just pointed and launched without making these corrections, they would have ended up in the middle of outer space instead of landing successfully on the moon. Setting a clear direction is important. Checking to make sure that you are still on course is just as critical…”

I read this snippet right after I did a VC pitch for a previous company. The pitch went fine; although the company was a bit too early for this fund (you may have heard this before – like a billion times). After the presentation, the investor and I started discussing the characteristics shared by his biggest portfolio hits. Among the recurring attributes: the biggest exits were at revision B-and-a-half of the business plan when the magic happened.

There’s an old investor adage that most plans will require twice the money expected and twice the time to execute. That’s rev B-and-a-half thinking.

This excerpt from a post by Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures that underscores all of this.

I’ve never met Fred, but he seems like a straightforward guy with a good track record. His commentary about the timing of funding and the likely requirement to change the plan in order to be successful goes even farther than rev B-and-a-half, say to Plan C or Plan D.

There are several morals to this story. But one of the most important for us entrepreneurs is do not fall in love with your current strategy, or the business model or marketing plan. Do fall in love with hitting the moon, and doing whatever it takes to get there.

That’s not to say that founders are always wrong and investors are always right. But, in companies that take in outside equity, more founders would be there at the finish line with their companies if they would just keep their eyes on the prize and let go of an emotional desire to preserve their How-To and Who-Will assumptions in the original business plan.

Stay true to your vision but be prepared to constantly course correct until you land, intact on moon.


This post was written for “On the Level with C-leveled” for TEQ Magazine.

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