Corporations typically run on annual budget cycles, but new ventures can’t. They need money when they need money-typically, a commitment of funding should come every few months. Those commitments should come only after the venture has reached clearly defined milestones. Poker players will tell you that, in seven-card stud, most of the money is lost on the fourth and fifth cards, as players indulge the unreasonable hope that an uninspiring hand might turn into something good. The same is true of [new] ventures: Companies should place new bets on them only if, at each stage, they are able to show real prospects for success.