SEOmoz was also helped in this deal by an important factor I think every startup should consider – WE DIDN’T NEED THE MONEY. We were already profitable and growing, already had a brand name in the industry and had attracted interest from multiple investors. I think that every entrepreneur who’s considering startup-dom should think about establishing those goals before they go for institutional capital – a profitable, growing company with a product that’s on the market and a brand name that’s well known makes you:
* A) Lower risk to investors
* B) Interesting to multiple parties and multiple kinds of investors (angels, VCs, private equity, etc.)
* C) More confident in every step of the process
* D) Able to walk away from a deal you don’t like
This psychology is so powerful that I can’t imagine doing it any other way. If I wanted to build a travel portal to take on Kayak.com, I’d start a great travel site (maybe even just a really interesting blog), build up some brand recognition, use advertising or low-cost premium features to drive revenue and only after those numbers made for a compelling story, approach investors. I’d use that same formula even for a capital intensive business – start with cool ideas, great writing and valuable resources, become a hub for your industry, show web traffic and positive interest, then go fundraise.