If you want your startup to take over the world (or at least your industry), it often seems like there's only one way to get there: Court venture capitalists to invest in your great idea. The problem with this, of course, is that venture capitalists tend to want a return on their investments. They want it big and they want it fast.
Increasingly, founders are starting to question whether this is the right way to go. For every ubiquitous unicorn (Facebook, Uber, and if you're a podcast fan, Quip), the path to success is littered with roadkill. The New York Times has just published a long profile of a small but growing number of startups that are finding other ways to get off the ground. These companies value sustainability over explosive growth, and they're exploring avenues like buying out investors, equity investments, and specially structured loans.
Growth models aren't the only reason these entrepreneurs are trying new ways to get funding. Structurally, the venture capital world has the same problems with bias writ large as the rest of Silicon Valley. If you're female or gender-nonconforming, nonwhite, or simply not from the right networks, you're going to gravitate toward the people who will support you. Finally, some are questioning whether the need to satisfy VCs has led big companies to take shortcuts that enable societal harm — think of Facebook and election interference.