Hi everyone - how things have changed since our last update. The first funds from our latest investment round have hit the bank, we've added several more portfolio companies (14 and counting), and we continue to be inundated with enquiries and referrals - this time from not only aspiring founders but also people who want to join DQ and help us scale. As momentum builds we've adjusted our north-star objective to launching 1,000 companies over the next 10 years.
In this update
Earlier this month, our friends at Investigate VC officially joined our funding round as lead investor, valuing DQ at just over $25mn. Investigate is an early backer of some amazing network-effect startups, including "day-zero investor" Antler, which has funded 1,000+ companies.
As always, a funding round is never closed until all the money is in the bank. We'd welcome conversations with qualifying private or institutional investors (minimum ticket is $100K).
Despite all the attention on entrepreneurship, we believe there's a vast and overlooked market opportunity driven by the following five "secrets":
- Entrepreneurship is not black-and-white. Many people assume you're either an entrepreneur or you're not. "If someone is an entrepreneur, they've already started something." This is false. Entrepreneurship is all about timing, means and context. There are literally millions of great entrepreneurs out there who, for personal, financial and other reasons, currently work for someone else. Circumstances dictate they see no alternative (because they haven't yet discovered DQventures).
- Solo founders are preferable to co-founders. Probably the biggest risk to your future success as an entrepreneur is becoming an equal partner with someone you haven't worked with before. Ironically, this is also the most efficient way to dilute your ownership and influence. It's better to establish some traction alone, then hire a strong founding team on a vesting plan after you raise some initial capital.
- Venture capital is the wrong path for 90% of entrepreneurs. Most founders would be better off either bootstrapping or taking a "one-and-done" approach to startup funding. They should grow their businesses with non-dilutive capital (ideally revenue), maintain a higher percentage of equity, and ultimately enjoy better returns at a lower valuation.
- Many of the best founders are overlooked. Research has consistently reported that older founders and female founders have a greater chance of success. The irony is that, although these founders receive a relatively low share of support compared to younger male founders, they also tend to be better listeners, are easier to work with, more coachable and have less ego. Perhaps that's why programmes like DQ appeal disproportionately to more experienced and female professionals.
- Expert help is highly effective and widely available. The world is full of successful business people and exited founders. These people have the time, knowledge, expertise and appetite to guide first-time founders successfully on their startup journey. Often they prefer a small equity stake instead of a salary. The problem is there's no established place for these individuals to meet, no structure to define their business relationship, and no cost-effective engine to implement their strategies. This is what DQ provides.
In the next 10 years, DQ will leverage these secrets to launch 1,000 new companies, earning a 20% stake in each.
DQ business report
- Our founders now complete the DQ programme digitally via our portal, enabling us to automate 80% of what we previously did on Zoom calls.
- We have received 170+ applications for the go-to-market role we advertised last week. We've also begun assembling our database of exited founders, who've expressed interest in supporting DQ portfolio companies in the future. We're happy to hear from more people like this.
- 50% of the CTOs we interviewed with portfolio company, Sentium, expressed interest in subscribing to the platform. The solution will provide "user-access-control-as-a-service", enabling SaaS companies to provide their users with more granular product access.
- Sentium is the first time DQ has supported a technical founder, and so far it's been a great success. Although such founders can build the product, they often need help with idea validation, go-to-market and funding. We see this as another large and untapped market opportunity and have subsequently signed our second technical founder. If you know a strong technologist who hasn't yet launched their own venture, we'd love to hear from them here.
With no "hard" marketing spend (but plenty of time and effort), we’re growing the top of the funnel as much as we can cope with:
Top posts and recommendations
This is the content that's generated the most page views, likes and comments for DQ over recent months, plus some third-party content we've really enjoyed.
- Advice to a first-time angel investor.
- Interview with DQ co-founder, James Green.
- Startup and VC jargon founders should understand.
- Are older founders more innovative?
- Key stats from 2023.
- Jimmy Carr on finding your purpose.
- Business advice from Jeff Bezos.
- How to tell better stories (Lenny's podcast).
- Bill Gurley tells Tim Ferris what he's learned about investing.
Thanks for sticking with these updates and continuing to support us. If these reports are too long / short / frequent / boring / unwanted, please let us know!