How to Finance and Grow Your Startup – Without VC

About this course: Who? If you’re an entrepreneur at any stage of your journey, or even an aspiring one, and you need money to start or grow your business, this course is for you. What? This course will introduce, and help you put to use in your startup, the five models through which your customers can – and will, if you ask them! – fund your business. These five time-tested models have been put to use by entrepreneurial superstars like Michael Dell, Bill Gates, Richard Branson and more. Sadly, though, the five models are rarely talked about and not widely understood. Until now! The five models will be brought to life by the real-world stories of an inspiring collection of incredibly creative entrepreneurs from around the world – including successes and failures – through a series of captivating no-holds-barred interviews with founders and others, and investors, too. Why? More than two generations ago, the venture capital community – VC’s, business angels, incubators, and others – convinced the entrepreneurial world that writing business plans and raising venture capital constituted the twin centerpieces of entrepreneurial endeavor. They did so for very good reasons: the sometimes astonishing returns they’ve delivered to their investors and the incredibly large and valuable companies their ecosystem has created. But the vast majority of fast growing companies never take any angel or venture funding. Are they onto something that most of today’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has missed? Indeed, should a business angel or VC be seen as the first port of call for getting your nascent entrepreneurial venture off the ground or growing it faster? Perhaps not. How? You’ll be asked to do a series of exercises – out in the real world – to put your growing toolkit to use in your business or the one you hope to start. Hands-on, practical tools to help your business start and thrive – without venture capital. You’ll join our discussion board of fellow participants, if you like, and learn from others who are putting the tools to work, just as you are. And to suit today’s fast-paced lifestyles, we’ve broken what you’ll get – short lessons, interviews, thought-provoking questions, even some optional things to read – into bite-sized chunks, so you can log in and grab them whenever and wherever you are. And what else? If, after checking out and perhaps completing this course, you find your company in a position where seeking venture capital turns out to be the right thing to do next, John Mullins leads an inspiring and hands-on executive education course at London Business School – this one face-to-face – called Financing the Entrepreneurial Business. There, among a room full of investors and entrepreneurs, you’ll study a series of captivating real-world cases and learn everything an entrepreneur – or an investor, for that matter – needs to know to handle the person who sits across the deal table and take an entrepreneurial business from start-up to exit.

Created by:  University of London, London Business School

  • John Mullins
    Taught by:  John Mullins, Associate Professor of Management Practice
    London Business School
Commitment7 weeks of study, 5-6 hours/week
Hardware ReqAbility to download apps
How To PassPass all graded assignments to complete the course.
User Ratings
Average User Rating 4.7See what learners said
Introduction: Why this course?
A widely-held notion in entrepreneurial circles is that the way to start and grow a thriving business is to come up with a great “idea”, write a great business plan, raise capital from angels or VCs, flawlessly execute the plan, and (Voila!) get rich! But it hardly ever happens that way. In fact, the vast majority of fast-growing companies never raise any venture capital. How do they do it, and how can you do it? This MOOC holds the answer. So let's get going! 

1 video5 readings
  1. Video: 0.1 Why this course?
  2. Reading: 0.2 Glossary
  3. Reading: 0.3 Course outcomes
  4. Reading: 0.4 Assignment before starting Module 1
  5. Reading: 0.5 Get-to-know-each-other survey
  6. Reading: 0.6 Getting to know you survey responses
Module 1: Why taking venture capital is a bad idea
Welcome to Module 1! As you can see by the title of this first module, I hope to convince you in this chunk of the course that seeking (and taking) money from an angel or VC investor, at least early in the life of your venture, is an exceedingly bad idea. Here we go!

13 videos1 reading
  1. Video: 1.1 Introduction to Module 1, Part 1: John Mullins
  2. Video: 1.2 Introduction to Module 1, Part 2: John Mullins
  3. Discussion Prompt: 1.15 Reflection
  4. Video: 1.3 A customer-funded success story - Thomas Knobel
  5. Discussion Prompt: 1.3.1 Reflection: Is there a Thomas Knobel in you?
  6. Video: 1.4 A Silicon Valley perspective - Interview with Sramana Mitra, Part 1. Sramana Mitra on bootstrapping; on why many great companies are not VC backable; on how to go to VCs as kings, not as beggars; and more.
  7. Video: 1.5 A Silicon Valley perspective - Interview with Sramana Mitra, Part 2
  8. Video: 1.6 A Silicon Valley perspective - Interview with Sramana Mitra, Part 3
  9. Discussion Prompt: 1.6.1 Reflection: If you seek VC at some point, will you go as begger or king?
  10. Video: 1.7 A growth guru's perspective - Interview with Verne Harnish, Part 1. Verne Harnish on managing cash; on scaling up; on creating rhythm in your business; and more.
  11. Video: 1.8 A growth guru's perspective - Interview with Verne Harnish, Part 2
  12. Discussion Prompt: 1.2.1 Reflection: Are you open to an alternative to taking early VC?
  13. Video: 1.9 A venture capitalist's perspective - Interview with Bruce Golden, Part 1. Bruce Golden on why capital efficiency matters; on controlling your destiny; on unicorns; and more.
  14. Video: 1.10 A venture capitalist's perspective - Interview with Bruce Golden, Part 2
  15. Video: 1.11 A venture capitalist's perspective - Interview with Bruce Golden, Part 3
  16. Video: 1.12 A venture capitalist's perspective - Interview with Bruce Golden, Part 4
  17. Discussion Prompt: 1.8.1 Reflection: Improving your cash cycle; how will you do it?
  18. Video: 1.13 Module 1: Wrap-up, lessons learned, and a look ahead: John Mullins
  19. Discussion Prompt: 1.13.1 Reflection: Five customer-funded models. Is one right for you?
  20. Reading: 1.14 Optional reading
  21. Discussion Prompt: 1.12.1 Reflection: How will you make your business more capital efficient?
Graded: Entrepreneur or Angel Interviews
Module 2: Matchmaker models
Welcome to Module 2! In this module we're going to focus on matchmaker models (sometimes called marketplaces - eBay, Airbnb, and Uber and the like) and how you can put them to work in your business. We'll see examples of both successes and failures and, as in Module 1, we'll get several perspectives other than mine, including that of a VC investor who knows this kind of business intimately. Ready? Let's go!

9 videos1 reading
  1. Video: 2.1 Introduction to Module 2
  2. Discussion Prompt: 2.11 Reflection
  3. Video: 2.2 A matchmaker success story -
  4. Discussion Prompt: 2.2.1 Reflection: John Erceg's niche was budget hotels. What's yours?
  5. Video: 2.3 A matchmaker failure story - ProFounder.
  6. Video: 2.4 The 'Inside Story' - interview with Amelia Armstrong. A DogVacay dogsitter provides an inside view of life as a supplier to a matchmaker business.
  7. Discussion Prompt: 2.1.1 Reflection: Is your matchmaker model compelling for both buyers and sellers?
  8. Video: 2.5 Matchmaking: An entrepreneur's perspective - Interview with Nitzan Yudan, Part 1. Nitzan Yudan on pivoting; on the value of customer-funded traction; on building relationships with investors with lines, not dots; and more.
  9. Video: 2.6 Matchmaking: An entrepreneur's perspective - Interview with Nitzan Yudan, Part 2
  10. Discussion Prompt: 2.8.1 Reflection: Can you build an Uber in your market segment? How?
  11. Video: 2.7 Lessons for matchmakers - Interview with Ivan Nikkhoo, Part 1. Ivan Nikkhoo on the Uber phenomenon; on striking the right balance and timing between supply and demand; on choosing VCs; on building a matchmaker model in emerging markets; and more.
  12. Video: 2.8 Lessons for matchmakers - Interview with Ivan Nikkhoo.
  13. Discussion Prompt: 2.4.1 Reflection: Do you understand your supplier motivations? Will they play ball?
  14. Video: 2.9 Module 2: Wrap-up, lessons learned, and a look ahead: John Mullins.
  15. Discussion Prompt: 2.9.1 Reflection: Are you considering a matchmaking/marketplace business?
  16. Reading: 2.10 Optional reading
  17. Discussion Prompt: 2.6.1 Reflection: How will you know when it is time to pivot?
Graded: Solving customer problems
Module 3: Pay-in-advance models
Welcome to Module 3! In this module we'll see that taking a problem-solving perspective will be useful as we look at how to put pay-in-advance models to work in your business. You're also going to learn from another failure story, this one in India - from rags to riches and back to rags again - as well as travel to Latin America to get the lay of the land there. And you'll see that social entrepreneurs can use customer-funded models, too, even one tackling a problem as challenging as youth literacy! Here we go!

9 videos1 reading
  1. Video: 3.1 Introduction to Module 3: John Mullins.
  2. Reading: 3.9 Optional reading
  3. Video: 3.2 A pay-in-advance success story - Funovation.
  4. Discussion Prompt: 3.2.1 Reflection: What can you build in your basement and take to the stars?
  5. Video: 3.3 The 'Inside Story': From garage to global leader - Interview with Erick Mueller.
  6. Video: 3.4 Eric Mueller on entrepreneurial teams; on why pay-in-advance works even for fledgling companies; on how to choose your first customers; and more.
  7. Discussion Prompt: 3.4.1 Reflection: Who do you need to complete your entrepreneurial team?
  8. Video: 3.5 A pay-in-advance failure story - The Loot.
  9. Discussion Prompt: 3.1.1 Reflection: Can you make it in your customer's interest to pay in advance?
  10. Video: 3.6 When customer funding is all there is - Interview with Jon Smith. Jon Smith on addressing a real social problem - kids' literacy; on starting with no money; and on raising a first angel round. Part 1
  11. Video: 3.7 Celebrating kids' writing - Jon Smith Part 2
  12. Discussion Prompt: 3.7.1 Reflection: Steve Jobs resolved pain in the music industry; Jon Smith in education. What about you?
  13. Video: 3.8 Entrepreneurship in Latin America - Interview with Carlos Varela. Carlos Varela on the entrepreneurial landscape in Latin America; on government handouts for entrepreneurs; and more.
  14. Discussion Prompt: 3.8.1 Reflection: Can your customers get you through the funding gap your company will face?
  15. Video: 3.9 Module 3: Wrap-up, lessons learned, and a look ahead: John Mullins.
  16. Discussion Prompt: 3.5.1 Reflection: At the end of the day your business model must work. Will yours?
  17. Discussion Prompt: 3.9.1 Reflection: Getting paid in advance puts fuel in your tank. Can you do it?
  18. Discussion Prompt: 3.10 Reflection
Graded: Assessing customer needs and reactions to your business idea
Module 4: Subscription models
Welcome to Module 4! In this module we'll dig into the economics of subscription models, while exploring the key building blocks that underlie many other kinds of e-commerce models, too. Because subscription models have been, in my view, over-hyped, you're going to hear about a handful of failure stories in this module, along with the story of a fast-growing online wine business that's put a subscription model to work in a novel way. Are you ready for this one? Let's go!

11 videos1 reading
  1. Video: 4.1 Introduction to Module 4
  2. Discussion Prompt: 4.1.1 Reflection: Does your reflection model make sense?
  3. Video: 4.2 Customer-funding winemakers -
  4. Discussion Prompt: 4.2.1 Reflection: NakedWines solved problems for winemakers with its angels' funds. Any lessons for you?
  5. Video: 4.3 Building customer-funded SaaS Ventures - Interview with Bill Flagg, Part 1. Bill Flagg on winning your first customer; on identifying and delivering customer value; on earning ROI on new hires; on accelerators; and more.
  6. Video: 4.4 Customer-Funding SaaS Ventures - Interview with Bill Flagg, Part 2.
  7. Video: 4.5 Customer-Funding SaaS Ventures - Interview with Bill Flagg, Part 3.
  8. Video: 4.6 Customer-Funding SaaS Ventures - Interview with Bill Flagg, Part 4.
  9. Discussion Prompt: 4.6.1 Reflection: What ROI are you getting on each new person you hire?
  10. Video: 4.7 A VC's perspective - Interview with Hussein Kanji, Part 1. Hussein Kanji on the hard part about SaaS models; on early metrics that matter; on proving scalability; on the trade-off between organic growth and scale; and more.
  11. Video: 4.8 A VC's perspective - Interview with Hussein Kanji, Part 2.
  12. Video: 4.9 A VC's perspective - Interview with Hussein Kanji, Part 3.
  13. Discussion Prompt: 4.9.1 Reflection: Are you focused on producing great software or on what the customer will pay?
  14. Video: 4.10 How not to do it: Lessons from failure.
  15. Discussion Prompt: 4.10.1 Reflection: Does your subscription model make sense?
  16. Video: 4.11 Module 4: Wrap-up, lessons learned, and a look ahead: John Mullins.
  17. Discussion Prompt: 4.11.1 Reflection: Does your subscription model pass the test?
  18. Reading: 4.12 Optional reading
  19. Discussion Prompt: 4.13 Reflection
Graded: Investigating subscription businesses
Module 5: Scarcity models
Welcome to Module 5! In this module, we're going to look at the most counter-intuitive of the five models: the scarcity model. You'll get the story of a fashion retailer that's making life difficult for others in its industry, you'll get an extensive advice-laden interview with an entrepreneur who used scarcity to his benefit, and we'll travel to India to explore today's funding environment there. Let's go!

9 videos1 reading
  1. Video: 5.1 Introduction to Module 5: John Mullins.
  2. Video: 5.2 Speed and scarcity wins for Zara.
  3. Discussion Prompt: 5.1.1 Reflection: Can you make scarcity work to your benefit?
  4. Video: 5.3 The hands-on nitty gritty of getting customer funds - interview with Rud Browne, Part 1. Rud Browne on getting customers to pay in advance and buyers to play ball; on managing through a downturn; on advice for entrepreneurs getting started today; and more.
  5. Video: 5.4 The hands-on nitty gritty of getting customer funds - Interview with Rud Browne, Part 2
  6. Video: 5.5 The hands-on nitty gritty of getting customer funds - Interview with Rud Browne, Part 3.
  7. Discussion Prompt: 5.5.1 Reflection:Entrepreneurship is a journey. Are you sure you are up for it?
  8. Video: 5.6 Easy money in India? - Interview with Ajeet Khurana, Part 1. Ajeet Khurana on 2015's easy money in India: Would it last?; on valuations in India; on mobile-first or mobile-only?; on positive cash flow; and more.
  9. Video: 5.7 Easy money in India? - Interview with Ajeet Khurana, Part 2.
  10. Video: 5.8 Easy money in India? - Interview with Ajeet Khurana, Part 3.
  11. Discussion Prompt: 5.8.1 Reflection: Today's valuation will come down. Are you prepared?
  12. Reading: 5.10 Optional reading
  13. Video: 5.9 Module 5: Wrap-up, lessons learned, and a look ahead.
  14. Discussion Prompt: 5.9.1 Reflection: Does your scarcity model really stack up?
  15. Discussion Prompt: 5.2.1 Reflection: How can your business turn less into more?
  16. Discussion Prompt: 5.11 Reflection
Graded: Scarcity and flash sale apparel opportunities in India
Module 6: Service-to-product models
Welcome to Module 6! In this module, we're going to hear from an entrepreneur who started with nothing in 2003 and sold his business less than 8 years later for nearly $100 million. We'll also hear from his partner, whose entry into the business midway into its journey raised its sights, and from a growth capital investor who backed the business in its later days without actually putting any capital into the business. Why? The customer-funded business didn't need their money! The three sides of a deal - a very special story that will surely inspire you. Here we go!

8 videos1 reading
  1. Video: 6.1 Introduction to Module 6: John Mullins.
  2. Discussion Prompt: 6.1.1 Reflection: Can you find a way to 'productise' your service?
  3. Video: 6.2 A customer funded journey (Part 1) - Interviews with Claus Moseholm, Jimmy Maymann, and Hillel Zidel. Claus (co-founder), Jimmy (CEO mid-journey) and Hillel (investor) on getting started; on raising their aspirations; on growth capital as a funding source; and more.
  4. Video: 6.3 A customer funded journey (Part 2) - Interview with Jimmy Maymann.
  5. Video: 6.4 A customer funded journey (Part 3) - Interview with Claus Moseholm.
  6. Video: 6.5 A customer funded journey (Part 4) - Interviews with Hillel Zidel.
  7. Video: 6.6 A customer funded journey (Part 5) - Interview with Jimmy Maymann.
  8. Video: 6.7 A customer funded journey (Part 6) - Interviews with Hillel Zidel.
  9. Video: 6.8 Module 6: Wrap-up, lessons learned, and a look ahead: John Mullins.
  10. Discussion Prompt: 6.8.1 Reflection: Can you bootstrap and sell services on your way to a service-to-product transition?
  11. Reading: 6.9 Optional reading
  12. Discussion Prompt: 6.10 Reflection
Graded: Determining a possible product to transform a service business
Module 7: Putting a customer-funded model to work in your business
Welcome to Module 7! In this final module we're going to draw the learning of this entire MOOC together and get started on implementing one or more of the five customer-funded models in your business. And you're going to hear an interview with someone who can get you up to speed in understanding customers well enough that you can get to what is called product-market fit - sooner instead of later! Even better, I'm going to tee up some final questions to get you started on what I hope will be a customer-funded journey that takes you wherever you'd like to go. I'm looking forward to wrapping things up and setting you off on your journey!

4 videos1 reading
  1. Video: 7.1 Introduction to Module 7: John Mullins.
  2. Video: 7.2 The Mom Test - interview with Rob Fitzpatrick (Part 1)
  3. Video: 7.3 The Mom Test - interview with Rob Fitzpatrick (Part 2).
  4. Video: 7.4 Module 7: Wrap-up, lessons learned, and a final look ahead: John Mullins.
  5. Reading: 7.5 Optional reading
How It Works
Each course is like an interactive textbook, featuring pre-recorded videos, quizzes and projects.
Help from Your Peers
Help from Your Peers
Connect with thousands of other learners and debate ideas, discuss course material, and get help mastering concepts.
Earn official recognition for your work, and share your success with friends, colleagues, and employers.
University of London
The University of London is a federal University which includes 17 world leading Colleges. Our International Programmes were founded in 1858 and have enriched the lives of thousands of students, delivering high quality University of London degrees wherever our students are across the globe. Our alumni include 7 Nobel Prize winners. Today, we are a global leader in distance and flexible study, offering degree programmes to over 50,000 students in over 180 countries. To find out more about studying for one of our degrees where you are, search for 'London International'.
London Business School
Learn more about this course

No comments:

Post a Comment