VW Early Stage Lifecycle

Welcome to VW’s Startup Lifecycle Infographic! The purpose of this infographic is to help you identify where your startup is, or what should be happening at different stages. Note that this is not an exact science, as every startup is different, and different places use different terms…but we like ours the best! Moreover, meeting one or two benchmarks doesn’t necessarily catapult you from one stage to the next. For example, you may get $50k in seed capital from your friends and family before you even build out your first wireframe. In that case, even though you will have achieved your friends and family round, all of your other factors would likely categorize the company as “Development” stage. That said, we hope that this infographic will be helpful for you in understanding where your company is, and what you can expect.

  • Product
    How far along is your product?
    • Still very early – have a wireframe or prototype built

  • Time to / in Market
    in years
    • 1.5 to -.5 years away from market

  • Funding Stage
    • Bootstrap – founders are covering everything themselves

  • Marketing
    What are you currently doing for marketing?
    • Seeking feedback from potential customers (preferably third parties who aren’t related to you or don’t live with you)

  • Revenues
    • None

  • Legal
    What legal work do you need?
    • written agreement between founders, incorporate the business, protect the intellectual property (assign IP to company)

  • Cash / Runway
    How much cash do you have in the bank?
    • Most likely living day by day

  • Employees & Contractors
    • As if you could afford them!

  • Investors
    Have you raised any money to date?
    • Founders (savings, credit cards, 2nd jobs, Uber driver, etc.)

  • Office Space
    Where is your office?
    • Mom’s basement (Mom! Meatloaf! – just kidding, hug and thank your sweet mom)

  • Product
    How far along is your product?
    • Developing “MVP” (minimum viable product)

  • Time to / in Market
    in years
    • -.5 to 0 (launch)

  • Funding Stage
    • Friends and Family

  • Marketing
    What are you currently doing for marketing?
    • None, other than friends and family, start organic social media (no spend, but effort)

  • Revenues
    • Some revenues post launch

  • Legal
    What legal work do you need?
    • Formal founders agreements in place (with vesting), initial investment docs, independent contractor agreements, trademarks, patents

  • Cash / Runway
    How much cash do you have in the bank?
    • 9-12 months

  • Employees & Contractors
    • Maybe 1-2 founders are actual employees (regular paycheck!), but most service providers are contractors

  • Investors
    Have you raised any money to date?
    • Founders, friends and family

  • Office Space
    Where is your office?
    • Still mom’s basement (you should pay her rent), or maybe a co-working space

  • Product
    How far along is your product?
    • Beta stage, perhaps some early revenue paying customers, still identifying product market fit

  • Time to / in Market
    in years
    • 0.5 to +1.5

  • Funding Stage
    • Seed

  • Marketing
    What are you currently doing for marketing?
    • Small marketing budget, doing some A/B testing

  • Revenues
    • Revenues are consistent, but overall still burning cash (spending > revenues each month)

  • Legal
    What legal work do you need?
    • Financing docs, ToS & PP if applicable, customer contracts, employment contracts

  • Cash / Runway
    How much cash do you have in the bank?
    • 12-18 months

  • Employees & Contractors
    • Early employees are being hired, usually for high level positions

  • Investors
    Have you raised any money to date?
    • Angels, high net worth individuals, accelerator

  • Office Space
    Where is your office?
    • Co-working space, or an accelerator or incubator

  • Product
    How far along is your product?
    • Product has been fully launched and customers are clearly defined

  • Time to / in Market
    in years
    • +1 to +3

  • Funding Stage
    • Series A

  • Marketing
    What are you currently doing for marketing?
    • A full marketing plan is in place, and the company is making business development/sales hires

  • Revenues
    • Seeing hockey-stick like growth curve and approaching break-even

  • Legal
    What legal work do you need?
    • Another financing round, an option plan, and ongoing cap table management

  • Cash / Runway
    How much cash do you have in the bank?
    • 18-24 months

  • Employees & Contractors
    • A formal hiring process is in place, even have a human resources handbook

  • Investors
    Have you raised any money to date?
    • Angel Groups/Syndicates/VC/Venture Debt

  • Office Space
    Where is your office?
    • Real office space, nothing fancy

  • Product
    How far along is your product?
    • The product is at least at version 2.0, and is expanding into new markets

  • Time to / in Market
    in years

    +3 and greater


  • Funding Stage
    • Series B

  • Marketing
    What are you currently doing for marketing?
    • A full blown marketing and/or sales department is in place

  • Revenues
    • Achieving profitability (though not a must if user acquisition is the primary focus)

  • Legal
    What legal work do you need?
    • Yet another financing round, partnership agreements, litigation issues, general corporate contracts

  • Cash / Runway
    How much cash do you have in the bank?
    • 24-36 months, but qualify for or have a line of credit or debt facility

  • Employees & Contractors
    • Full time HR position is in place (i.e. Toby Flenderson)

  • Investors
    Have you raised any money to date?
    • VC / Strategics / Traditional Lenders

  • Office Space
    Where is your office?
    • Tricked up office space with a ping pong table and keg fridge.