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The Customer-Funded Business: Start, Finance, or Grow Your Company with Your Customers' Cash

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Who needs investors? More than two generations ago, the venture capital community - VCs, 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 good reasons: the sometimes astonishing returns they've delivered to their Who needs investors? More than two generations ago, the venture capital community - VCs, 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 good reasons: the sometimes astonishing returns they've delivered to their investors and the astonishingly large companies that their ecosystem has created. But the vast majority of fast-growing companies never take any venture capital. So where does the money come from to start and grow their companies? From a much more agreeable and hospitable source, their customers. That's exactly what Michael Dell, Bill Gates and Banana Republic's Mel and Patricia Ziegler did to get their companies up and running and turn them into iconic brands. In The Customer Funded Business, best-selling author John Mullins uncovers five novel approaches that scrappy and innovative 21st century entrepreneurs working in companies large and small have ingeniously adapted from their predecessors like Dell, Gates, and the Zieglers: Matchmaker models (Airbnb) Pay-in-advance models (Threadless) Subscription models (TutorVista) Scarcity models (Vente Privee) Service-to-product models (GoViral) Through the captivating stories of these and other inspiring companies from around the world, Mullins brings to life the five models and identifies the questions that angel or other investors will - and should! - ask of entrepreneurs or corporate innovators seeking to apply them. Drawing on in-depth interviews with entrepreneurs and investors who have actually put these models to use, Mullins goes on to address the key implementation issues that characterize each of the models: when to apply them, how best to apply them, and the pitfalls to watch out for. Whether you're an aspiring entrepreneur lacking the start-up capital you need, an early-stage entrepreneur trying to get your cash-starved venture into take-off mode, an intrapreneur seeking funding within an established company, or an angel investor or mentor who supports high-potential ventures, this book offers the most sure-footed path to starting, financing, or growing your venture. John Mullins is the author of The New Business Road Test and, with Randy Komisar, the widely acclaimed Getting to Plan B.


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Who needs investors? More than two generations ago, the venture capital community - VCs, 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 good reasons: the sometimes astonishing returns they've delivered to their Who needs investors? More than two generations ago, the venture capital community - VCs, 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 good reasons: the sometimes astonishing returns they've delivered to their investors and the astonishingly large companies that their ecosystem has created. But the vast majority of fast-growing companies never take any venture capital. So where does the money come from to start and grow their companies? From a much more agreeable and hospitable source, their customers. That's exactly what Michael Dell, Bill Gates and Banana Republic's Mel and Patricia Ziegler did to get their companies up and running and turn them into iconic brands. In The Customer Funded Business, best-selling author John Mullins uncovers five novel approaches that scrappy and innovative 21st century entrepreneurs working in companies large and small have ingeniously adapted from their predecessors like Dell, Gates, and the Zieglers: Matchmaker models (Airbnb) Pay-in-advance models (Threadless) Subscription models (TutorVista) Scarcity models (Vente Privee) Service-to-product models (GoViral) Through the captivating stories of these and other inspiring companies from around the world, Mullins brings to life the five models and identifies the questions that angel or other investors will - and should! - ask of entrepreneurs or corporate innovators seeking to apply them. Drawing on in-depth interviews with entrepreneurs and investors who have actually put these models to use, Mullins goes on to address the key implementation issues that characterize each of the models: when to apply them, how best to apply them, and the pitfalls to watch out for. Whether you're an aspiring entrepreneur lacking the start-up capital you need, an early-stage entrepreneur trying to get your cash-starved venture into take-off mode, an intrapreneur seeking funding within an established company, or an angel investor or mentor who supports high-potential ventures, this book offers the most sure-footed path to starting, financing, or growing your venture. John Mullins is the author of The New Business Road Test and, with Randy Komisar, the widely acclaimed Getting to Plan B.

30 review for The Customer-Funded Business: Start, Finance, or Grow Your Company with Your Customers' Cash

  1. 5 out of 5

    Susan Ali

    I have come across a review on this book says that all what the author should have said was to get your customer to pay you in advance. Dear reviewer, are you truly an entrepreneur? You would then know that the most difficult part of every product/service lifecycle is selling it. This book gives you something that no other book ever managed to provide out there, the detailed recipes of how-to ATTRACT and sometimes PUSH your customer to pay you to solve their problem or pamper them. It's gold.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Muhammad

    Great book on various possible models to pick if you don't have access to funding right away (which is the case in Pakistan). It talks about 5 possible business models that can work in this mode which are not capital intensive (for example, you can't make a power plant like this, you need lots of capex upfront.) Some key models discussed were: marketplaces (a la Airbnb), subscription businesses (like SaaS with monthly recurring revenue), service-to-product (think Netsol's journey to LeaseSoft), Great book on various possible models to pick if you don't have access to funding right away (which is the case in Pakistan). It talks about 5 possible business models that can work in this mode which are not capital intensive (for example, you can't make a power plant like this, you need lots of capex upfront.) Some key models discussed were: marketplaces (a la Airbnb), subscription businesses (like SaaS with monthly recurring revenue), service-to-product (think Netsol's journey to LeaseSoft), scarcity model (like Zara or Banana republic and all the Flash Sale sites), pay-in-advance models (think air ticketing, dropshipping, threadless) The book is written by an academic but he does a good job of talked about 2 successes and 1 failure in each model and their causes.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Murat Eskiyerli

    Unlike what he recommends in his book, the author could never decide for whom the book was written for: entrepreneurs or angel investors. The book also suffers from the fact that there are very long descriptions of cases, but not enough of author's own insight.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Daria Zheglo

    The book is full of insights on how to establish a customer-funded business. All is good, but it is too repetitive and there are no enough examples from different business areas. Basically each model gives you two-three success stories. This is not sufficient. Not enough pros-cons.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jono

    4.85

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marijan Lesko

    Excellent read for any entrepreneur ... Instead of selling yourself to VCs or selling your soul to banks, use this idea. Trust me, it works big time!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Pronam Chatterjee

    Repititive.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Arif

    This book talks a type of business financing model (versus venture capital based financing) that using customers' cash as fuel to drive further growth of their business. They charge customer early, making a good margin from that, sells just enough services/products that customer needs, then use the flow of cash to make improvement of their offering, or expanding its business. Good example for each types of customer funded model such as: match making, subscription, pay in advance, etc. This book talks a type of business financing model (versus venture capital based financing) that using customers' cash as fuel to drive further growth of their business. They charge customer early, making a good margin from that, sells just enough services/products that customer needs, then use the flow of cash to make improvement of their offering, or expanding its business. Good example for each types of customer funded model such as: match making, subscription, pay in advance, etc. Interesting discussion.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    This is a good way of reframing the lean/scrappy startup concept through five models of funding your business through revenues: Matchmaker (two-sided market - i.e. AirBnB), Pay-in-advance (i.e. Threadless), Subscription (i.e. Costco, TutorVista), Scarcity (Zara, flash sales, Vente Privee), Service-to-product (GoViral)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Umstattd Jr.

    This book is excellent overall. Unfortunately, they dismiss reward based crowdfunding which undermines their credibility. If you realize that they totally missed the crowdfunding boat, the rest of the book is very useful. I would love to see a second edition in a few years with a chapter added on Kickstarter with case studies from Pebble and Exploding Kittens.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mani

    This is definitely a very good read for entrepreneurs and investors. The customer funded models are discussed in a really amazing way. Enjoyed it!!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jannik Keller

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

  14. 5 out of 5

    Otto

  15. 4 out of 5

    JuanMartitegui

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mazen

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nitin

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ritesh Singh

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bogdan

  20. 5 out of 5

    Derek

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ali

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

  23. 5 out of 5

    Theta Aye

  24. 5 out of 5

    Federico Buciak

  25. 4 out of 5

    Torsten Wolter

  26. 4 out of 5

    Federico Nitidi

  27. 5 out of 5

    Evgeniya Mizinets

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tania

  29. 5 out of 5

    Zekai Huang

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ali

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