The Customer-Funded Business

Start, Finance, or Grow Your Company with Your Customers' Cash
Narrated by: James Conlan
Length: 7 hrs and 37 mins
4 out of 5 stars (89 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Who needs investors?More than two generations ago, the venture capital community - VCs, business angels, incubators and others - convinced the entrepreneurial world that writing business plans and raising venture capital constituted the twin centerpieces of entrepreneurial endeavor. They did so for good reasons: the sometimes astonishing returns they've delivered to their investors and the astonishingly large companies that their ecosystem has created. But the vast majority of fast-growing companies never take any venture capital. So where does the money come from to start and grow their companies? From a much more agreeable and hospitable source: their customers. That's exactly what Michael Dell, Bill Gates, and Banana Republic's Mel and Patricia Ziegler did to get their companies up and running and turn them into iconic brands. In The Customer Funded Business, best-selling author John Mullins uncovers five novel approaches that scrappy and innovative 21st-century entrepreneurs working in companies large and small have ingeniously adapted from their predecessors like Dell, Gates, and the Zieglers.

©2014 John Mullins, PhD (P)2014 Audible Inc.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Too much repitition

Content was good it had too much repitition.
Use cases and examples were up to date and relevant.

1 person found this helpful

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This book wants to be good

This book wants to be good, but in my opinion: it isn't.

It's structured like this: a major chapter devoted to each customer-funded model, ending with a chapter that's supposed to be practical – but isn't. And the preceding chapters are made up of run-of-the-mill "AirBnB did this... AirBnB did that... blah blah blah" – highlighting companies that model has worked for.

Such case stories are always irrelevant and useless to 99.9% of everyone else, since AirBnB, Apple, Instagram et al, are all outliers. No one knows for sure WHICH magic bullet led them to their success – and more than likely: it was a whole box of silver bullets, the biggest of which is great leadership, the next being chance (aka: "luck") etc.

Which other book will I recommend you get instead? The Automatic Customer is much more practical and useful. If you're into membership websites and such: go get that one!

3 people found this helpful

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good product and sets you up for future

Get the money from customers and not investors at the start. Many models to suit your business

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startups/investors/incubators need to hear this

great book for accelerators, incubators, investors,Angel's and most of all entrepreneurs. they all need to read this

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One of the Best business book I've come across

This book is full of great examples and advice. It keeps you engaged until the end

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must have for lean startups

This is a monster book. A must read before wasting time and money. The case studies insight and validation was well worth the money.

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Not convincing

Failed to see the correlation between the claim and the evidence author tried to present

1 person found this helpful

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I didn't learn nothing

I didn't learn nothing from listening to this book. I should of purchase a better book.

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  • Mike
  • 06-29-19

great insight to different types of funding

Great narration. some good points had not considered before. I like the fact hood percentage of case studies were for emerging markets.

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  • Famiii
  • 02-26-17

alternative to VC centric startup narrative

great and more balanced alternative to VC centric startup narrative. important reading for anyone on the entrepreneurial journey

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  • David
  • 08-26-16

Great case studies well commented

Great case studies well commented.
The question list at the end of each chapter is paticularly useful.

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  • Georgina
  • 05-06-16

Fantastic book

Extremely informative, clear, a great guide to know how to grow your business with and for your customers.

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  • Sheree Cusack
  • 04-28-20

Good with a few excellent points.

I listened to this on Audible and was impressed. I had taken on board some of the other comments surrounding the repetitive nature of some of the content but I am always happy to judge by my own opinion.

While I agree in some respects with other reviewers who raised the repetition and the singular focus on a few companies this is one area I do agree I would have liked to have seen more real life examples of application.

That said, I work in this field. And having a customer funded model is almost first test case to see whether an idea would work. There are some unicorns that need a large cash burn upfront to prove the model, but my preference lies on those that can demonstrate customer demand via actual purchase from customers. There are a lot of promises for commitment but having a customer part with cash changes the game. I personally would have really liked to see an exploration of many more customer funded alternatives that shows a different style of thinking in their approach to getting their business off the ground without requiring external capital. Obviously there are limits to growth when using internally generated revenue, I mean there is a Harvard article that shows how to actually calculate the amount of internal growth you can expect from internal working capital.

There were some key takeaways that I will use in the future, and there were a couple of examples that I wasn't aware of that I will definately use in the future - for example the local ambassador for Banana Republic for market penetration in new geographic areas and some of the other guerilla marketing tactics that they deployed. These are almost basic business fundamentals that seem to have been lost in the tidal wave of Other Peoples Money.

I liked it and I will listen to it again to pick up any new nuggets of information that I may have missed the first time around.