No Longer A Startup

I have written a bit about the stages a successful startup goes through in the past. Covering theories such as conceptseed, early stage and growth stages for those that were not reading in 2009.

One of the things I have always believed is that at some point, in the $50 million revenue range, a startup is no longer a startup and is really a small company. Maybe I was wrong. I now think sometimes it happens before that mark. 

I am basing this on my current experience with nCrowd. Back in January when we announced the CrowdSavings acquisition All Things D reported that nCrowd had 70 employees. That number goes down a little as we rationalize the organization and up a little as we purchase the assets of Tippr. But for the sake of discussion let's use it.

If you use David Cumming's Employee Counts as a Proxy for Startup Revenue post with $150,000 (I have always used just a straight $200,000 myself) of revenue per employee for a venture backed startup without a recent large round of funding one could estimate that nCrowd has revenue of about $10 million. That estimate would be low, because our revenue per employee is higher, but it is no where near $50 million. and nCrowd is starting to feel more like a small company than a startup. 

Why is this? The answer is three fold.

One, the way we have grown is partially due to organic geographic expansion and partly due to executing a rollup strategy that also quickened our geographic expansion. The latter has lead to more time being spent on integration then one would normally see for a company the size of nCrowd.

Two, due to the headwinds created by Groupon and LivingSocial, the financial markets are not receptive to investments in the local e-commerce space (and have not been for some time) so our actions are driven by profitability and building long-term value. This is not a bad thing, it just makes things feel a little more small company like than startup like.

Three, I personally don't get to spend as much time as I want talking to customers, growing our member base, and building product. The startupy stuff. My job is much more corporate whack a mole. I get involved in acquisitions, handle the duties that a company Secretary is required to do, the administrative things that our CEO does not have the time or inclination to do himself, and oversee parts of the technology integration of the assets we purchase.

This is all good. But it points out that some startups become small companies much before others and that the $50 million number I have been throwing out there could be a lot lower in certain circumstances. Sometimes a startup becomes a small company before you know it. 

nCrowd is no longer a startup. It's a small company. And that is great progress.

May 7, 2013  |  Comments  |  Tweet  |  Posted in nCrowd, Startups