A commercial venture or initiative an entrepreneur undertakes to create and evaluate a scalable business model.

Author: Manu Lakshmanan
Manu Lakshmanan
Manu Lakshmanan
Management Consulting | Strategy & Operations

Prior to accepting a position as the Director of Operations Strategy at DJO Global, Manu was a management consultant with McKinsey & Company in Houston. He served clients, including presenting directly to C-level executives, in digital, strategy, M&A, and operations projects.

Manu holds a PHD in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University and a BA in Physics from Cornell University.

Reviewed By: Kevin Henderson
Kevin Henderson
Kevin Henderson
Private Equity | Corporate Finance

Kevin is currently the Head of Execution and a Vice President at Ion Pacific, a merchant bank and asset manager based Hong Kong that invests in the technology sector globally. Prior to joining Ion Pacific, Kevin was a Vice President at Accordion Partners, a consulting firm that works with management teams at portfolio companies of leading private equity firms.

Previously, he was an Associate in the Power, Energy, and Infrastructure Investment Banking group at Lazard in New York where he completed numerous M&A transactions and advised corporate clients on a range of financial and strategic issues. Kevin began his career in corporate finance roles at Enbridge Inc. in Canada. During his time at Enbridge Kevin worked across the finance function gaining experience in treasury, corporate planning, and investor relations.

Kevin holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from Queen's University and is a CFA Charterholder.

Last Updated:September 22, 2022

A startup is a commercial venture or initiative an entrepreneur undertakes to create and evaluate a scalable business model.

While the term "start-up" is used to describe all new enterprises, including self-employment and entities that have no intention of ever being registered, the term "entrepreneurship" refers to entities that intend to expand beyond the scope of their single creator.

Start-ups endure much uncertainty in the beginning and frequently fail, although a small percentage becomes successful and significant.

Founders or co-founders of start-ups often create a solution to an issue that they want to tackle. For example, a start-up's founder will start by conducting issue and solution interviews to develop a minimum viable product, or a prototype, in order to establish and validate their business models.

Family, friends, and venture capitalists are just a few people many entrepreneurs seek for additional money.

Fun fact: California, which is well-known for having a thriving venture capitalist community and is a popular location for entrepreneurs, is also regarded as having the most challenging business environment.

Using seed money, start-ups can finance their company planning and research expenditures.

Partnerships in Start-ups

To make their business model work, start-ups may cooperate with other companies. However, start-ups must match their internal characteristics, such as their management style and products, with the market's state to appeal to other enterprises.

There are two optimal profiles for companies commercializing inventions, often known as configurations or archetypes.

The inheritor profile asks for a less entrepreneurial, more conservative management approach, and the business should innovate incrementally while building on existing standards.

In a market with a dominating design and a fixed standard, this profile is intended to increase your chances of finding a business partner.

The original, which has a management style that is very entrepreneurial and in which a radical invention or disruptive innovation wholly new standard is being produced, stands in contrast to this profile.

This profile is intended to increase your chances of finding a business partner in a market without a dominating design established norm.

New companies should align themselves to one of the profiles to locate and attract a business partner while commercializing an idea. Finding a business partner increases a start-up's chances of success.

In order to fulfill their company vision, start-ups typically require a wide range of partners. As a result, the road to commercialization is frequently rocky, with several versions and fresh ideas.

According to some economists, start-ups may learn from their interactions with other businesses. Even if those interactions end, the start-up will still have learned critical lessons about how to proceed in the future.

A start-up needs to make adjustments when a partnership is failing.

Three different alterations can be distinguished:

  • Change in the start-up's business plan
  • An adaptive constellation of cooperation
  • Modification of a business relationship's characteristics

Founders & Co-Founders

Co-founders and founders are those who help new businesses get off the ground.

The most common co-founders include founder-CEOs, engineers, hackers, web developers, web designers, and others participating in the early stages of a new, frequent endeavor.

Anyone can be a co-founder, and an existing firm can also be a co-founder. Like CEOs of well-established companies, founders in charge of the start-up's overall strategy occupy the position of founder-CEOs.

Start-up studios allow entrepreneurs and team members to develop alongside the company they help create. Founders must ensure they provide their team members the opportunity to advance inside the business to generate forward momentum.

It is neither formally nor legally defined what qualifies a person as a co-founder. However, an agreement with fellow co-founders or approval from the board of directors, investors, or shareholders of a new firm can establish one's eligibility to use the title "co-founder."

Reasons why Entrepreneurs Commence Start-Ups

The ability to start a new firm or a start-up is called self-efficacy. This is because it has a close connection to start-up activities.

Self-efficacy among entrepreneurs may significantly impact how they handle objectives, jobs, and difficulties. Entrepreneurs with high self-efficacy or who believe in their ability to succeed are more inclined to regard challenging tasks as challenges to be conquered rather than obstacles to be ignored.

Stress is every day among business owners. Both internal and external pressures are present. They have internal deadlines to meet in order to create prototypes and prepare the goods or services for sale.

To guarantee that investors and other stakeholders continue to support the companies, they are expected to satisfy milestones externally. Entrepreneurs need to learn how to manage stress since starting a new business in an uncertain environment is challenging.

The inability to manage stress might result in emotional weariness, and the founders of the businesses might close them down.

The start-up process can take a long time—three years or more, according to one estimate to generate profit—so sustained work is necessary. In addition, long-term effort maintenance is complicated due to the high failure rate.

Compared to CEOs at large firms, some start-up founders dress more casually or with an unconventional attitude and use more creative marketing techniques.

For instance, start-up entrepreneurs in the 2010s sported hoodies, shoes, and other informal attire when attending business meetings.

Recreational amenities like pool tables, ping pong tables, football tables, and pinball machines may be available in their workplaces.

These amenities are utilized to foster teamwork and creativity while also fostering an enjoyable work atmosphere.

Some informal methods, including "flat" organizational structures where regular employees can interact informally with the founders and chief executive officers, encourage workplace productivity, which is necessary to launch their firm.

A rigorous command and control hierarchy with CEOs, managers, supervisors, and employees is not always used in start-ups. Some businesses provide staff incentives, such as stock options, to enhance their buy-in as they stand to earn if the business succeeds.

The elimination of stress enables the employees and researchers at the start-up to concentrate more on completing the task at hand and less on the environment in which they work. They are potentially resulting in remarkable accomplishments for both themselves and their organization.

The Start-up Ecosystem

A start-up is founded and grows in the start-up ecosystem according to its size and maturity, which impacts the number and success of businesses.

The start-up ecosystem comprises people like business owners, venture capitalists, angel investors, mentors, and advisors, as well as top research universities and institutes, businesses, and schools.

Even though start-ups are developed globally, and in all sorts of enterprises, certain regions and industries are more closely linked to them than others.

Large numbers of online start-up businesses, some of which sold the technology to enable internet access and others that used the internet to offer services, were linked to the late 1990s internet bubble.

Silicon Valley, a region in northern California noted for the high degree of start-up firm activity, is where the majority of this start-up activity was concentrated. With the help of groups like NY Tech Meet Up and Built in NYC, start-up advocates are also attempting to create a community of tech start-ups in New York City.

Early in the new millennium, so-called "patent trolls" bought the patent assets of failing startups and used them to sue firms they believed to be violating the patented technologies.

Investing in Start-ups

The soul of start-ups is investments. All organizations need to remember this, but small-scale businesses and new companies in the initial phases especially need to.


Understanding the many start-up investment options is what will determine whether you receive the financing that is necessary to employ the top staff or not. Finding the required source of finance may seem like a futile endeavor to many small-scale business owners.

The first step towards getting a business where it needs to be is by being aware of all the sources of start-up funding available and where to seek such investors.

Cash from investments helps small-scale businesses to maintain operations, bring in expertise, recruit more employees, enhance output, and scale the business.

This procedure is directly related to the budget and business plan for the start-up, which are used to precisely direct business in its early years. Let us take a look at all the primary sources of funding for a start-up :


Bootstrapping is the initial capital invested by the entrepreneur themself from their pocket.

When someone tries to start and grow a business with their own money or the profits from the new business, this is referred to as bootstrapping.

The business owner gains much expertise while just investing his capital. This implies that the entrepreneur will not be required to repay loans or other borrowed money if the company fails.

The business owner will save money and be better positioned to draw investors if the initiative is successful. All innovations and ideas employed in developing the firm are reserved for the entrepreneur/innovator.

A lack of initial finance forces entrepreneurs to think creatively, develop novel solutions to issues, and launch new products. Expanding the business may prove challenging if the demand outpaces a company's capacity to provide or produce goods or services.


The collective effort of individuals to support activities undertaken by other persons or organizations through the donation of funds in the form of equity is known as equity crowdfunding.

In contrast to donation and incentive crowdsourcing, equity crowdfunding involves the sale of shares that have the potential to generate a profit. 

Such agencies can help decrease the information gap and prevent the financial crisis associated with equity crowdfunding because they entail multiple participants following the strategy of a sole prime investor.

The crowd's contributions start the crowdfunding process and impact the outcomes or final value of the offerings. People take on the roles of offering, selecting, and promoting the enterprises in which they have faith.

They occasionally take on the role of a donor, offering assistance with social endeavors. In other instances, they turn into stockholders and aid in the expansion and development of the offering. In order to garner more support, people share information about the projects they support in their online networks.

Debt Financing

This is known as debt financing when a business sells debt instruments to retail and/or institutional investors to raise funds for working capital or capital expenditures.

Individuals or organizations acquire a pledge to repay the debt's principal and interest in exchange for lending them the money, making them creditors. Equity financing is the alternative method of raising money in the debt markets, which involves issuing stock in a public offering.

Debt financing's key drawback is that creditors must be paid interest, which implies that the total money paid back to the lender will be greater than the original loan.

Regardless of the company's earnings, loan payments must be made, and this can be highly problematic for small-scale businesses that have not yet established a consistent cash flow.

Angel Investor

A person who invests in startups as an angel investor typically gives funding in exchange for ownership of stock or convertible debt.

When most investors are not ready to help them, angel investors typically support startups in their early stages.

The risks associated with angel investments are high, and businesses frequently experience dilution from additional investment rounds. Hence, angel investors demand a very high return on investment.

By committing less than 10% of their capital to these ventures, angel investors frequently reduce the risk associated with an investment. This is because a significant portion of the angel investments are entirely lost when early-stage companies fail.

A small but growing number of angel investors invest through equity crowdsourcing online or band together into groups or networks to share funds and offer guidance to the firms they are investing in.

Venture Capital & Private Equity Firms

A type of private equity finance known as venture capital (VC) is given by venture capital firms to fund startups, early-stage businesses, and rising businesses that have either shown or are expected to show strong growth.

Venture capital firms or funds fund these early-stage businesses in exchange for equity or ownership stakes. In the hopes that some of the businesses they support will succeed, venture capitalists take on the risk of financing hazardous start-ups.

After an initial "seed fundraising" round, the normal venture capital investment happens. The Series A round is the initial round of institutional venture capital used to finance expansion. The goal of venture capitalists who provide this financing is to make a profit through an eventual "exit" or leave the company.

This can be done in many ways, such as a company selling shares for the first time to the general public in an initial public offering (IPO) or the disposal of shares through a merger, or a sale to another party.

Valuation & Rounds of Financing

It is equally crucial for business owners to secure intellectual property protection for their idea if a company's worth is founded on its technology.


According to some economists, intellectual property now accounts for up to 75% of the value of US public corporations.

A tiny startup company's worth frequently derives entirely from its intellectual property. As a result, technology-focused startup businesses must have a solid plan for safeguarding their intellectual property as soon as feasible.

Google is a recent example of a startup company that has generated significant profits for its founders and investors. Google's founders became billionaires through their stock ownership and option grants.

There are many stages that an investor may take part in while investing in a business. For example, the opening round is known as the seed round. Typically, the seed round occurs while a business is still relatively early in the execution process and its product is still in the prototype stage.

Most likely, there are currently no positive financial indicators or performance statistics. Investors, therefore, depend on the quality of the team and the concept. Family members, close friends, and angel investors will be the participants at this stage.

The amount of danger and reward are at their highest at this point. The Series A round comes after that. The business may already be producing money at this time and has gained traction.

Venture capital firms will participate in Series A rounds along with angel or super angel investors. Series B, C, and D represent the subsequent rounds.

They are the three rounds that precede the initial public offering. Both private equity and venture capital companies will take part. Companies in Series B consistently bring in money, but they must develop to keep up with demand.

Companies in Series C and D have a good track record of profitability. They aim to grow into new areas, create new products, acquire another company, or get ready to go public.

Researched and authored by Aviral Mathur | LinkedIn

Edited by Sakshi Uradi | LinkedIn

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