Originally Answered: What are the typical milestones and timeline for an internet startup?
Here are the major milestones for an internet startup, from what is typically the first to what is typically the last. How you approach each of these steps will determine the fate of your company.
Gather a team. You can’t go it alone, so you need to partner with at least one friend. This is a very important decision because your relationship with him, her or them for the foreseeable future will be akin to a marriage. This milestone will shape your company’s future more than any other. Choosing well leaves open the possibility of creating something amazing. Choosing poorly shuts the door on your company’s future.
Decide what you want to build. Brainstorm something the world needs. The more the world needs it, the better. Once you have all agreed on the idea, celebrate with a beer, then move into one of your parents’ garages.
Build v1.0 of your product. Just delivering something to the world is a major milestone.
Raise money. Having someone – even family or close friends – believe in you enough to give you some cash is a major milestone. It is also a major milestone to believe in yourself enough to ask for cash from other people.
Demonstrate that people want your product. With enough twisting and turning, you should be able to build something that people want. You should celebrate once 100 people who are not your friends and family tell you that using your product was useful. If you don’t reach that milestone within 4 months of building v1.0 and raising money, find something new to build. Hopefully you build something that people want before you run out of money.
Figure out how to scale. Lots of promising, buzz-worthy startups die here. Scaling is very difficult and takes much more than being written about in TechCrunch. There are lots of large, entrenched players trying to stop your innovation. Of all the non-glamorous things it takes to create a real company out of a startup, scaling is the least glamorous. Only the strong achieve this milestone.
a. Go broke (very likely), b. become cash-flow positive (unlikely), c. get bought (very unlikely), or d. IPO (extremely unlikely).