The market has come down from a venture capital–funding manic high. The year of the billion-dollar-plus valuation in 2015 has given way to the lowest level of VC funding in two years in the third quarter 2016, according to CB Insights and KPMG. Still, start-up founders are advised to pursue growth at any cost.
"Everyone has Andreessen Horowitz-itis — if you're $5 million in revenue now, you have to be $25 million in the next three years and have to sell," said Ben Rudman, director at M&A advisory firm SDR Ventures in Denver.
But some small companies have spurned the "grow or die" mantra of Silicon Valley that prioritizes expansion above all else. These owners and founders don't think rapid expansion is a sustainable or even preferable way to run a business. Not every entrepreneur wants to answer to investors and be attractive to the highest bidder.
"Not everyone has to be an Airbnb — you can still be something incredible for your family, business and employees … even if you're not an ultra-rapid-growth unicorn," Rudman said.
Here are six small businesses that found multimillion-dollar success by taking a slower, more thoughtful approach to growth and by staying away from venture capital.