This is an update to my 2019 Feb 22 survey, with additional findings and insights.
I did a survey of founders and CEOs of startup software companies. I asked them the question: When did you get outside investors, excluding friends and family? After you had some satisfied customers who provided some revenue? Before? At some later stage of your company?
The key learning is that there are many paths to growing a software company
There were a total of 17 responses. 11 raided money from outside investors once they had a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) with some satisfied customers and some revenue, 3 never raised capital from 3rd party investors to grow into significant sized companies. 3 raised money before they had any customers. Two of these conducted large numbers of interviews of potential customers (in one case, 300 individual documented interviews in one year).
Investors told me that they did invest in pre-revenue and pre-customer companies. These were clean technology, medical technology, pharma, quantum computing, etc. i.e. not software companies.
Every investor told me that they don’t invest in the idea. They invest in the people. i.e. The world is filled with people with ideas, but there are few people that can actually create something.