Founders of startups who are raising funding for their companies can feel like they are the only ones who are fighting an uphill battle when it comes to balancing shipping their product and shopping it for backing. But this isn’t true. Startup founders are just one sector of creators who are shipping and shopping. In fact, just about everyone who creates something new is balancing the two.
The existence of startup founders working on their product while also trying to raise funding to give their company the capital needed to continue to operate and grow is not unlike the journey of other creators — such as someone who writes a book, creates a screenplay, paints for an exhibition or writes a song. The list goes on and on. Creating is creating. And in most cases creating takes skill and financial backing to achieve commercial success.
The term starving artist represents a whole swath of creators who have produced and shipped creative work but who don’t have the know-how or backing to be commercially successful. Sure, some creative work is and should be done for the sake of the work irrespective of commercial intent and success. But most creators want to have their work to be seen and valued. Being seen and valued is the essence of commercial success for creators.
Like many startups need an infusion of capital to fuel the company, so do creators of other things. It is expensive to hire the production crew to make a movie, let alone actors. Check into how much it is to rent out a recording studio and to hire some musicians to refine and record a song, let alone a whole album. Write a book and see how much effort and money it takes to market it if you don’t already have at least a 100K following.
Creating and shipping anything is a major accomplishment that every creator should be proud of. They stood up and did something. They put themselves out there. But creating and shipping in most cases doesn’t equal commercial success without the shopping of the creative work to people who can provide the necessary capital, resources, and distribution to make that work commercially viable.
I ended the last paragraph with commercially viable intentionally because the backers’ that these creators shop their work to only support the work because they believe the work is commercially viable and has great potential. Backers of any new product are making a bet on the potential of the product being realized. This is just as true for a song, book, movie, art exhibition, or play as it is for a startup.
So founders, as you are reaching out to investors, speaking with them, and getting rejected by most, just know you are not alone and the creators of other types of products are going through a similar journey. Cheers to all creators balancing shipping and shopping.