At Venture Highway’s yearly founder event, we had a mix of tech-first founders and old-school leaders.
Merging modern and traditional approaches, we exchanged stories that offered fresh insights into business. In the context of differing ideologies—Traditional vs. Tech—the event sparked genuine and thought-provoking discussions. It became a unique gathering where the old and new schools of thought converged, delving into the intricacies of building companies from various perspectives.
In a world with varied business philosophies, the significance of this dialogue becomes evident. The landscape is shifting, with once-abundant VC funding facing seasonal drought, putting profitability at the forefront. In this evolving scenario, where the ebbs and flows of business dynamics are more pronounced than ever, we hope that the insights shared by our tech and traditional leaders will help future founders plan their way forward.
The heart of the conversation lay in unravelling the distinct thought processes of bootstrapped/family-run businesses and venture-funded enterprises. The dialogue at the event wasn’t about highlighting differences, but about finding value in diversity. It was an exploration of how values, rooted in authenticity and adaptability, can thrive in the dynamic landscape of the new tech era. We dissected topics like capital allocation, hiring strategies, and board management.
Here are some highlights from the conversation:
VC-backed businesses often focus on short-term growth, aligning with the expectations of investors who have to think in terms of milestones, ensuring the company is growing in the right direction, to continue injecting capital.
Traditional models on the other hand, due to the consistency of capital, can prioritise a broader set of values, including employee well-being, long-term customer relationships etc.
Picking investors who understand your business philosophy, and gestation timelines, and can provide patient capital will help VC-backed founders have more leeway for long-term experimentation.
VC Money Mindset vs Bootstrapped Mindset
Bootstrapped enterprises focus on achieving self-sufficiency and maintaining steady progress as they build a foundation for sustainable growth.
In contrast, VC-backed ventures place a premium on adaptability, openness, and continuous experimentation, often speeding up the pace of learning to stay abreast with recent developments, and capitalising on industry/market changes to disrupt the incumbent.
Traditional founders can learn to experiment with multiple initiatives, fail fast and discover value pools sooner. Adapting to the agility of VC-backed businesses will help them increase the longevity of their companies.
In contrast to VC-backed enterprises, family-run businesses often exercise caution against excess capital, emphasising a measured and mindful approach to expenditures and workforce expansion.
VC-backed ventures often get tempted to increase spending and hire rapidly due to a readily available short-term supply of funds.
This underscores the difference in financial strategies, with family-run businesses prioritising a more frugal and value-oriented use of capital. VC-backed businesses need to value their equity and plan capital more cautiously, avoiding the short-term allure of high valuations, which may set them on a dangerous path.
Strategic Triggers for Growth
Family-run businesses effectively utilise triggers like financial metrics, market feedback and team dynamics during new project launches, team expansions etc as proxies to understand and initiate strategic steps tailored to their unique journey.
VC-backed enterprises should adopt a comparable approach, employing distinct triggers and corresponding actions when activated.
The varied triggers and responses underscore the importance of the founder’s perspective in making practical decisions for sustainable growth.
Preserving Organisational Culture
Family-run businesses can prioritise organisational culture, for instance, by providing job security with a “no layoff” policy during business downturns and cultivating employee loyalty.
VC-backed companies embrace strategic hiring and firing in line with capital constraints and growth requirements. The ambitious startup talent may also be very distinct from the employees of a traditional business, prioritising personal growth at the organisation instead of thinking more long-term about the employer-employee relationship.
Aligning your Board
Family-run businesses foster close-knit founder-investor relationships, emphasising personalised understanding, while VC-backed scenarios prioritise formal interactions and transparency.
Distinct communication styles in both dynamics underscore founders’ importance in adapting to unique environments.
The entrepreneur-investor dynamic thrives on trust, transparency, and open communication, creating a collaborative environment for growth and success.
Reimagining values in the new tech era isn’t merely a theme; it’s a call to action.
The fusion of traditional and hyper-growth mindsets birthed a narrative of shared wisdom and collective growth.
As we reflect on these conversations, we’re reminded that the future isn’t about choosing one path over another – it’s about embracing the richness that lies in the convergence of diverse ideologies.
The dialogue continues, echoing the heartbeat of innovation and shaping the values that will steer businesses into the new tech era.