Winning the Venture Capital Lottery?

CJ Cornell
Oct 18, 2018 · 3 min read

Your odds of becoming a lottery millionaire are better than raising startup venture capital.

The Salami Scam:

It’s easy money, like becoming a lottery millionaire. It’s a fleeting fantasy of every armchair hacker.

You’ve probably heard about it from a movie or TV show. A techie secretly installs software at a bank or big company that skims 1/100 of a penny from billions of financial transactions. Each amount is too small to notice or matter, but the scammer becomes a millionaire — until they are arrested for embezzlement, and for a dozen other federal and state laws. No easy money there.

Entrepreneurs — how about this scenario:

You’re an entrepreneur working in a garage on the next big tech idea. You fly to Silicon Valley to raise your first money from venture capitalists. After making the rounds with your demo and pitch, you go home empty handed.

Sadly, your odds of becoming a lottery millionaire are better than raising startup venture capital.

What? Yes.

To be clear, we’re talking about:

Startup investment (your first-money in) from Venture Capital firms.

For the past 10–15 years — the number of new ventures that got their first money from a venture capital firms has been hovering around 1,500 per year — or close to 2,000 if you include some of the rare seed investments from VC firms. (#1, #3)

But — according to lottery statistics — the number of people who become lottery millionaires each year in the US — is 2,200 and increasing. (#2)

So, that’s right:

More people win a million dollar lottery ticket than get startup venture capital.

Maybe the salami scam doesn’t sound so crazy after all.

Entrepreneurs — it’s just food for thought. For fun. But please don’t abandon your pitch decks and start buying up lotto tickets. Although — what a cool startup story you’d have, of if you funded your company that way!

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Excerpted from the book: The Age of Metapreneurship — A Journey into the Future of Entrepreneurship, by CJ Cornell (May 2017, Venture Point Press)

For more on the The Land of the Blind, The Paradox of Experience, and other issues in modern entrepreneurship, read The Age of Metapreneurship by CJ Cornell

Author — The Age of Metapreneurship. Educator, Speaker, Advisor: Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Digital Media.Excerpted from the book: The Age of Metapreneurship — A Journey into the Future of Entrepreneurship, by CJ Cornell (May 2017, Venture Point Press)

For more on the The Land of the Blind, The Paradox of Experience, and other issues in modern entrepreneurship, read The Age of Metapreneurship by CJ Cornell

Author — The Age of Metapreneurship. Educator, Speaker, Advisor: Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Digital Media.

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1 PricewaterhouseCoopers. “PwC MoneyTree Report.” PwC. https://www.pwcmoneytree.com/HistoricTrends/CustomQueryHistoricTrend.

PWC Moneytree report — Venture Capital Investments by funding stage (First Money in)

2015:1,519 companies

2014: 1,452 companies

2013: 1,442 companies

2 http://www.naspl.org/, The North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (NASPL): 2,215 Lottery Winners, USA, greater than $1 million (2010)

3 http://www.nvca.org, NVCA (National Aenture Capital Association) 2016 yearbook

First round investments $9,340,233,900 in 1,519 companies

Image: CC0 Creative Commons,

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CJ Cornell

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Professor of #Entrepreneurship & Digital Media. Serial/Parallel Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, Mentor, Angel Investor, #VC. Crowdfunding & #Startups Evangelist