Investor Connect Podcast

In this episode, Hall welcomes Gary Madsen of ProTransit Nanotherapy. Gary Madsen, Ph.D., has over 30 years of experience in developing and launching biotechnology products in a wide variety of markets at companies of various sizes. He spent 17 years at Abbott Laboratories in product support, new product development and business development. His expertise in product commercialization has helped him to success building new technologies; today that has led him to a promising new technology -- nanoparticle drug delivery.

Gary advises that potential investors in biotechnology make sure that the technology is workable, scalable, and that it has good supporting data beyond just slick advertising. Gary explains some of the technology behind nanoparticle drug delivery, and its potential applications. In addition, Gary touches on why skincare is a good entry point for new technology, as well as some of the technical challenges in scaling production. Finally, Gary outlines some of things that ProTransit has done to set themselves up for success as they pursue additional applications for their technology.

Direct download: Gary_Madsen_of_ProTransit_Nanotherapy.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 4:15pm CDT

In raising funding you need to find investors. So how do you get in front of them?

First, identify the right type of investor and build up your network in that area. 

Know your sector, stage, and revenue category and look for those who invest in it. If your target investor funds  biotech then you should skip pursuing investors who fund fin-tech. 

Second, start building a list of your target investor group.

Target specific people and not firms or funds. Compile a list of 20 investors and start building a relationship with them.

Third, start connecting with them online and in person.

In emailing, start with an introduction of who you are and what you’re all about and how it is relevant to them.

You need to bring something to the investor in addition to the ask for funding.

If you have a contact making an email introduction, provide them a short two paragraph summary. Include the following:

-Who you are - demonstrate experience and credibility

-What you are doing - make it interesting

-Why you want to connect - is it about an investment, advice, feedback, etc.

Don’t make your contact do all the work because they won’t be able to provide that information. Write it up for them.

In meeting them in person, bring something interesting to the discussion such as new information about a sector, company, or group that may be useful to the them. It could also be the latest research you have done on a topic of interest.

Keep the dialog going until you build a rapport with the investor.

Thank you for joining us for the Startup Funding Espresso where we help startups and investors connect for funding.

Let’s go startup something today!


Direct download: Startup_Funding_Espresso_--_How_to_get_in_front_of_investors.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 10:26pm CDT

In this episode, Hall welcomes Djalil Reghis of Agroecology Capital. Agroecology Capital is a mission-driven early-stage venture fund that invests in technologies that help agriculture transition toward practices focused on safety, sustainability, productivity, and equitability. Djalil is an AgTech early-stage investor with an experience that spans roles in investment, M&A, Government Affairs, and Board Director. He has held key roles in implementing $1B of strategic international investment projects with a focus on consumer packaged goods. 

In this episode, Djalil talks about how technology is transforming the Ag space, and is helping push Agroecology’s principal values. He also explains how the AgTech space remains a small, nascent market, where sharing between investors in important. He explains how a technical, specialized knowledge is key to unlocking value and potential.

Direct download: Djalil_Reghis_of_Agroecology_Capital.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 2:46pm CDT

Entrepreneurs are often enchanted with the idea behind their business that they think investors will write them a check based on the idea alone.

Many have great ideas but I always say no matter how great your idea is standard startup metrics apply.

New technologies can capture the imagination such as blockchain in 2017 that sent startups through a hyper funding phase, but this only lasts for a short time. Today standard startup metrics apply.

Some have a rockstar team and think that will make the fundraise a slam dunk. But again, I say standard startup metrics apply.

Standard startup metrics means you have a platform setup with users on it and line of sight to revenue. You have market validation and product validation - the user likes the product and will pay for it at some point.

You too may be excited about your idea, product, team, or more but standard startup metrics apply

Thank you for joining us for the Startup Funding Espresso where we help startups and investors connect for funding.

Let’s go startup something today!


Direct download: Startup_Funding_Espresso_--_Standard_Startup_metrics_Apply.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 10:04pm CDT

In this episode, Hall welcomes Stephanie Campbell of Houston Angel Network and The Artemis Fund. Stephanie is the Managing Director of the Houston Angel Network, one of the most active angel networks in the country. She is also Managing Partner at the Artemis Fund, the first female-founded, female-focused venture fund in Houston, Texas. The Artemis Fund is investing $20M in 15-20 female-led US-based companies that disrupt the Consumer Tech, Life Tech, Fin-Tech, and Energy Infrastructure industries.

Stephanie explains how Artemis Fund focuses on companies that make a difference in the world, solve real-world problems, and solve problems for overlooked communities. She provides advice for female founders and investors and talks about the investing world from a female perspective. She touches on some of the challenges startups face and emphasizes the importance of understanding your customers and how to get to them.

Direct download: Stephanie_Campbell_of_Houston_Angel_Network__The_Artemis_Fund.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 4:23pm CDT

When I ask an entrepreneur what their competitive advantage is, most point to their product and say it's better. Of course, they spend ten minutes citing anecdotal stories to “prove” it.

My definition of a competitive advantage is that it increases revenue by 30% over the competition or is a decrease in cost by 30%.

Here are five sources of competitive advantage:
- Channel access
- Recurring revenue
- Platform based solution instead of singular products.
- Network effects in action -- the value of the product increases with the number of users
- Virality -- users invite other users -- it’s not the same as network effects

These advantages give your business the ability to scale. Scale comes from revenue increasing faster than cost.

In raising funding, competitive advantages can make the difference in closing an investor. The key is to quantify the effects of your advantage in dollars. If you just say you have it then it will convince no one. You must demonstrate with numbers.

Thank you for joining us for the Startup Funding Espresso where we help startups and investors connect for funding.

Let’s go startup something today!

Direct download: 291_--_Startup_Funding_Espresso_--_Five_Competitive_Advantage.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 9:58pm CDT

In this episode, Hall welcomes Manuela de Paula of Babel Ventures. BABEL Ventures is a VC firm based in Silicon Valley that focuses on investing in early-stage startups founded by antifragile entrepreneurs. They focus on innovation and technology, partnering with revolutionary startups.

In this episode, Manuela shares how she got into investing before Babel Ventures. She also shares what she finds most exciting at the moment. According to Manuela early-stage companies and their technology can change the world for good. They’re not only interested in profits. They have a focus on humanity. They're making and building to create solutions to help and to do something big that will improve people's lives.


Direct download: Manuela_de_Paula_of_Babel_Ventures.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:34pm CDT

When I started angel investing over twenty years ago, there were angels, venture capital funds, and accelerators. That was about it. Today there are many more investor types in the early stage funding arena.

Here’s my experience with the investor types including how much they invest and what they expect as a return in general:

Crowdfunders -- Invest $500 to $2500, expect 2X to 3X their investment in five years

Pre-Revenue VCs -- Invest $150K, expect 3X their investment in three to five years

NanoVCs -- those who have a $10M fund,  Invest $100K on the first check and expect 5X their investment in five years

MicroVCs -- those who have a $25M to $50M Invest $150K on the first check, and expect 5X their investment in five years

Traditional VCs -- Invest $150K to $500K on the first check and expect 10X their investment in seven to ten years

VCs with Accelerators  -- Invest $150K to $250K on the first check and expect 3X their investment in five years

Incubators/Accelerators - Invest $25K to $150K, expect 3X their investment in seven years

Angels - Invest $25K to $50K, expect 3X to 5X their investment, in five to seven years

HNI -- Invest $100K, expect 10X their investment in five years

Family Office -- Invest $250K, expect 5 to 10X their investment in five to ten

Hopefully this helps you identify the right investor for your startup.

Let’s go startup something today!

Direct download: 290_--_Startup_Funding_Espresso_--_the_Many_types_of_Startup_Investors.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 12:04am CDT

In this episode, Hall welcomes Rufo Guerreschi CEO and Founder of Rufo is an entrepreneur, activist and researcher in the area of leading-edge IT security and privacy. As a founder of startups and NGOs over the last 20 years, he has strived to radically advance the state-of-the-art of security and privacy of private digital human communications and transactions. is focused on building an ultra-secure social computing platform, that brings real privacy and security to consumers. core philosophy boils down to its untrusting approach to design, fabrication, and software.

Direct download:
Category: -- posted at: 3:20pm CDT

How Investors can find an exit in a Startup Investment.

One of the challenges for investors funding startups is finding the exit.  

Startups typically exit through an IPO or an acquisition by a larger company.

As a startup  investor you have little to no control over the exit and can end up in a deal for ten years or more. 

So how can an investor find an exit?

The solution is to define the exit before investing.

Setup conditions to give you the option of exiting at a prescribed time or stage of company.

You can insert redemption rights and clauses into the terms sheet giving a predefined exit and return.

If the startup is not defining the exit, then you should. 

Thank you for joining us for the Startup Funding Espresso where we help startups and investors connect for funding.

Let’s go startup something today!


In this episode, Hall welcomes Faris Ghawi of Vytalize Health. Vytalize Health enables primary care providers to enhance the scope of care provided for Medicare patients. Their comprehensive services include in-home, remote and brick-and-mortar care, as well as on-demand urgent care.

Faris provides advice for investors coming into the healthcare space and highlights how the space has changed.  As Faris explains, a successful healthcare technology is about "cutting costs, and capturing savings, and sharing savings out of the value that's created in the system". The emphasis is on creating efficiencies and aligning the economics of all the stakeholders. Faris discusses how and why Vytalize focuses on Medicare, and where they fit into the overall landscape. He also touches on the cost savings goals that a value-based startup should be looking for. Finally, Faris talks about how the value-based healthcare is being received by the larger market.

Direct download: Faris_Ghawi_of_Vytalize_Health.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 4:32pm CDT

I meet a great number of entrepreneurs and have seen numerous approaches to raising funding. Some approach it as an opportunity to meet new people and explore another part of the entrepreneur ecosystem. Others see it as a chore that distracts from the real business such as product development, closing sales, creating the next unicorn (take your pick).  

Some bring their sales skills to the process and are quite good at meeting investors, listening to their concerns, and closing the deal. Others expect the investor to be bowled over by the idea, the pitch deck, the rock-star team (again take your pick). When that doesn’t happen they look at it as a failed meeting.

The key is to bring your best game to the meeting and treat it as you would fishing. 

In fishing you have to set the bait and be patient for the right fish to come along.  

Just like you can't rush a fish to take the hook so you can’t rush an investor.

If you don’t get a bite in one place you can move to another location or you can stay where you are and change the bait.

I see entrepreneurs setting specific time schedules for their raise.  This is the same as casting the line and then saying “By 3:25 we will have our first fish”. The fish rarely work on your schedule. Investors won’t either.

While a fisherman can throw a stick of dynamite into the waters to expedite the process, this is where the analogy ends as you can’t do that with Investors.

Fundraising is like fishing. It can be a joyful experience or a terrible one. It takes the right place with the right bait and patience.

Thank you for joining us for the Startup Funding Espresso where we help startups and investors connect for funding.

Let’s go startup something today!

Direct download: Startup_Funding_Espresso_--_How_fundraising_is_like_fishing.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 8:05am CDT

In this episode, Hall welcomes Bader Alam of CAVU Venture Partners. CAVU Venture Partners is a consumer-focused investment firm founded by operators, that aims to partner with operators in building high-growth and disruptive businesses. They are partners and operators first, investors second. Bader is the Senior Vice President at CAVU and has over 10 years of private equity experience, focusing on growth equity and middle-market transactions primarily in the consumer sector.

In this episode, Bader shares his thoughts on how the consumer product sector is growing and his advice to those wanting to invest in consumer brands. According to Bader, as an investor, the consumer-product space is interesting because you have a product you can touch and feel, and it's very easy to just have an affinity for a product. It's important to base decisions on all factors, though, and not just on the product itself.

Direct download: Bader_Alam_of_CAVU_Venture_Partners.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:25pm CDT

There are some statements I’ve never heard a startup Investor ever say.

Here are some of them:

No startup investor ever said:

-I hear way too often from that startup that I invested in.

-There are so many good deals to invest in- where do I start?

-The payback on that startup investment came fast.

-Of course the startup hit their forecast- they all do

-I love leading new investments.

-Due Diligence is fun.

What statements would you add to this list? 

Please send me your suggestions and we’ll add them to the list.

Thank you for joining us for the Startup Funding Espresso where we help startups and investors connect for funding.

Let’s go startup something today!

Direct download: Startup_Funding_Espresso_--_No_Startup_Investor_Said_Ever.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 8:17pm CDT

In this episode, Hall welcomes back Forbes' Top-50 angel investor James Sowers. Since we heard from James last, he has been speaking at several family-office conferences and working with corporations to further educate them on blockchain technology, and whether it is a realistic solution for them. James talks about some of the latest companies he is working with in the blockchain space.
In addition, James discusses some of the challenges in late-stage investing, in particular the problem of valuation. James touches on a few startups he regrets not investing in, and some of the biggest ups and downs he's experienced in startup investing. Finally, James and Hall discuss in depth the current state of the blockchain and cryptocurrency space, focusing on regulatory issues, scalability, and other challenges.

Direct download: James_Sowers_Angel_Investor_follow-up.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 2:55pm CDT

There are some statements I’ve never heard a startup CEO say.

Here are some of them:

-Fundraising just flew by. I didn’t have a chance to really enjoy it.

-Sales is the easiest part of the business.

-All my customers are happy and no one is complaining.

-There are so many good people to choose from for that new position we opened up.

-Why are these terms sheets so simplistic?

-The product features just fly out the door.

-There’s so much revenue, I just don’t know what to do with it all.

What statements would you add to this list? 

Thank you for joining us for the Startup Funding Espresso where we help startups and investors connect for funding.

Let’s go startup something today!

Direct download: Startup_Funding_Espresso_--_No_Startup_Ever_Said.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:02pm CDT

In this episode, Hall welcomes Mark Lesney of Chilligence. Early in his career Mark worked in the retail-automotive space as Vice President of Operations with a large automotive company that was acquired by the Blackstone Group. Mark had colleagues in the entrepreneurship and startup space and was intrigued. He decided to change paths when his partner's father was going through an acquisition and they saw a need that wasn't being filled yet.

Chilligence was then conceptualized to help make due diligence easier. Whether used by a new business owner or a seasoned investor, they wanted to create a product that would eliminate wasted time, money, and stress from people’s lives. They believe that ideas are about forwarding momentum. Chilligence is designed to never hold back opportunity - instead, they want to help it out along the way.

Direct download: Mark_Lesney_of_Chilligence.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 3:57pm CDT

Raising funding can have the same effect as winning the lottery.

Those who raise funding are both exhausted and exuberant. It’s a big win for the team and promises a brighter future for the company.  Just like the lottery, the sudden inflow of cash can change one’s perspective.  

Be careful to keep your spending in line during the times you are flush.  

A leading angel investor once said, “The IQ of a startup is inversely proportional to the size of their bank account.”

Stick to your plan and don't let the influx of cash lead into mission creep or overpaying for standard services.

Stick with your original goals and don’t let the funding change your spending.

Thank you for joining us for the Startup Funding Espresso where we help startups and investors connect for funding.

Let’s go startup something today!


Direct download: Startup_Funding_Espresso_--_Lottery_Effect.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 10:53pm CDT

In this episode, Hall welcomes Flavia de la Fuente of BuildGroup. BuildGroup is an operator-led investment company that provides permanent capital to entrepreneurs building the next generation of technology businesses. Their innovative structure allows them to invest for the long term, so founders can focus on running their companies instead of raising the next round.

Flavia started her career as a community organizer at the Sierra Club, where she worked on the organization’s flagship Beyond Coal campaign, before getting an MBA at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas. After business school, she worked for four years at the Employees Retirement System of Texas, flying back and forth to Asia to invest in technology stocks and lead an initiative on improving Japanese corporate governance policy. Flavia is a builder and senior associate with BuildGroup. She handles due diligence by going through financials, contracts as well as products and technology to see what makes a company great.

Direct download: Flavia_de_la_Fuente_of_BuildGroup.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 3:58pm CDT

The startup world is open to anybody and it seems like everybody comes through it at some time or another.

I receive calls daily from entrepreneurs who are seeking to start a business, raise funding, or hire a team member.

I can always tell who is the serious entrepreneur and who is the pretend-preneur- someone who likes the idea of running a startup but is not committed to the work required to make it a success.  

That’s important because a pretend-preneur who raises funding will ultimately waste it and there are too many good startups to invest money in those who aren’t going to see it through.

Here are some telltale signs of a pretend-preneur

They are more worried about job titles and credit for the work.

They don’t seem too focused on the customer and what it will take to make them happy with the product as that’s ‘a detail to figure out later.’

They focus on the superficialities of the business and not the core functions of building the product and selling it.

They look for ways around the hard work rather than working their way through it.

Problems are the fault of everyone else and there’s nothing that they can do about it.

They don’t know who their customers are and it doesn’t bother them.

They think funding will solve all problems and life will be easier after the raise.

They don’t know their numbers but someone else in their organization does and that’s good enough.

As an investor, be on the lookout for these signs.

Let's go startup something today!

Direct download: _Startup_Funding_Espresso_--_How_to_tell_if_you_have_a_PretendPreneur.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 10:28pm CDT

In this episode, Hall welcomes Gene Wang, CEO of People Power, a developer of consumer and white-label IoT solutions. Gene is a four-time CEO with a history of successful exits. Gene talks about how People Power uses IoT technology in the clean tech and senior care spaces, among others. He also provides advice for investors looking into the home care sector, and how affordability and simplicity are key for any product in that space.

Gene also touches on some of the technical challenges in the healthcare and home care space, from HIPAA compliance to accessibility. Gene also talks about People Power's current place in the market, and where they are headed in the future, with a focus on caregiver support products.

Direct download: Gene_Wang_of_People_Power.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 3:59pm CDT

In the past venture capitalists stood in the shadows of their successful portfolio companies hinting about their contribution using veiled wording in Twitter posts. Today we see VCs stepping up to take more credit for their contribution. There are numerous examples of VCs using successful exits as validation for their investment thesis.

With the explosion of the number of venture capital providers comes the need for VCs to engage in brand marketing. A list of successful portfolio companies burnishes their brand and helps them gain new deal flow as well as limited partner investors.

Just having a fund is no longer a source of attraction for the best deals- there are too many other funds out there. Today VCs have to position themselves as unique in expertise, dealflow, support, and connections.

VCs need to gain market exposure on their unique value proposition to generate deal flow which is the lifeblood of the VC business model. They are now brand managers who in many cases have a business development and marketing team driving the awareness around their fund.  

As venture capital becomes more abundant, the startup has more choices to consider.  

Thank you for joining us for the Startup Funding Espresso where we help startups and investors connect for funding.

Let’s go startup something today!

Direct download: Startup_Funding_Espresso_--_Venture_Capitalists_Engage_in_Brand_Marketing.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 8:23pm CDT

In this episode, Hall welcomes Max Brickman, Managing Director of Heartland Ventures. Max is an entrepreneur and venture capitalist with a passion for expanding technological innovation into smaller, underrepresented Midwestern communities. He founded Heartland Ventures, a $15mm Indiana-based venture fund, to enhance Silicon Valley startups’ access to this market.

Heartland Ventures is a Midwestern-based, venture capital firm. They co-invest alongside top VCs and Micro VCs to add immediate value to high-growth startups disrupting traditional Midwestern industries. Their value is generated by utilizing our board of executives at industry-leading corporations in the Midwest to validate technologies and acquire pilot customers, even before investing.

Direct download: Max_Brinkman_of_Heartland_Ventures.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 1:48pm CDT

I love startup stories. In the startup world everyone has a grand idea and big plans to make it happen.  It’s the venture world so you better have an idea that can be big. The talk around the idea is large and full of hyperbole. The future is going to be so bright that you find yourself reaching for your shades.

But then the startup has to actually build it and show the growth story in progress. 

Scott Adams once wrote - “Losers have goals.  Winners have systems.’”

If the startup has some revenue traction then they probably have some system behind it that makes it grow. But what if they don’t have any meaningful revenue yet?

One technique is to ask questions that identifies the systems they will put in place such as:

Tell me about your system for generating leads. Exactly how will it work?

Tell me about your sales process. What system are you going to use?

Exactly how do you find the right prospect and close them? 

In other words, the startup needs to do more than just tell you their goals in the slide deck. They need to describe the systems they can put into place to accomplish the goal-.  

If the answers are vague and fuzzy, then they probably haven’t figured it out yet. 

If the answers show expertise and experience, then this one has potential for investment.

Thank you for joining us for the Startup Espresso where we help startups and investors connect for funding.

Let’s go startup something today!

Direct download: Startup_Espresso_--_Everyone_talks_a_big_game.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 9:38pm CDT

In this episode, Hall welcomes Ben Jones of Skipcart. Skipcart is an on-demand last-mile delivery company. Retailers, grocers, and local businesses have the option to give their customers same day delivery by utilizing software and a crowdsourced community of drivers. Ben started out as an entrepreneur working on the service side for large companies before breaking out on his own. Skipcart grew out of the Amazon-Whole Foods acquisition, and the emerging space of grocery delivery.


Ben talks about the competition in the space, and the importance of solid technology and innovation to back up your last-mile delivery startup. Ben also discusses the effect of crowdsourcing and how it drives efficiencies in the space. Finally, Ben also touches on some of the challenges in the space, from getting drivers to adopt a gig-based income model, as well as software that maximizes the efficiency of route-planning to ensure drivers remain loyal to the company.


Direct download: Ben_Jones_of_Skipcart.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 2:20pm CDT

When I look through my LinkedIn network these days it appears every fifth contact is a venture capitalist of one kind or another. When I started in the early stage funding world 20 years ago, the VC was a rare breed who had access to venture funding. Most of them were in a handful of tech clusters in the US - Silicon Valley, New York, and Boston to be exact and they were few and far between.

At that time, a typical VC had a $100M fund or greater which they raised from LPs or limited partners - primarily the pension funds. They operated in ten year funding cycles which means they could run a long ways off one good return. They charged 2% management fees and a 20% carry.

In the 2000s angels grew to prominence because the cost of starting a business came down so much, startups no longer needed $5M to start a web business but could now do the same thing for $500K. Angels became attractive financiers because they were more numerous and easier to access.  Today, MicroVC, NanoVC, Venture Studios and Corporate VCs are coming onto the startup scene with new fund sizes and funding models.

MicroVCs raise $25M to $50M fund while NanoVCs raise $10M to $15M funds.  Aside from the size of their fund, the main difference is that Micro and Nano VCs typically target a narrower criteria- either a specific geography or type of deal.  Many use the pledge-fund model which means each deal the VC wants to fund must go through a screening process by the limited partners.  

Because the fund size is small most MicroVCs are taking 3% in management fees and a 20% carry. Given the size of the fund, they can only invest in 5-10 deals. The fund lasts only a few years before it’s time to raise the next one.  They raise primarily from family offices and high net worth individuals.

Then there is the Venture Studio model. This type of VC essentially builds a team from which they launch a startup with an ecosystem of providers. This works well for one stripe zebra startups that provide niche products or services as they can tie into a bigger team with more resources.  

Finally, there is the strategic or corporate VC which seems to be popping up everywhere.  A venture fund provides a competitive advantage for burnishing the company’s brand and selling its product. They invest for strategic reasons rather than financial ones in most cases. 

Thank you for joining us for the Startup Espresso where we help startups and investors connect for funding.

Let’s go startup something today!


Direct download: Startup_Espresso_--_Everyone_is_a_VC.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 8:47pm CDT

In this episode, Hall welcomes Jef Sharp CEO of Qnect. Qnect is an intelligent, cloud-based connection app that gives fabricators, detailers, and engineers fast and flexible connections with significant cost and schedule savings. In minutes, users can connect most steel buildings without capital cost and with minimal initial training. Two important benefits of Qnect include Preference Optimization and Bolt Optimization.

Jef has over 35 years of experience leading and growing tech companies. He has a passion for value creation. Jef is a serial entrepreneur and has co-founded and led many innovative businesses: Qnect (SAAS), Panève (Big Data), Qteros (bio-fuels), Xfinit, (intrusion detection sw), XSCapacity (online exchange for excess capacity), TechCavalry (IT service), and Gravity Graphics (Inc. 500 co) Jef served on the Qteros Board for 5 years, the Panève BoD for 4 years, and is an advisor to PeopleHedge and 5 yr. advisor to Oakridge National Lab.

Direct download: Jef_Sharp_of_Qnect.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 2:48pm CDT

Here are some pointers for startups raising funding

Launching a startup and growing a business is hard.  It's supposed to be hard. 

You need a complete team to start a business – someone building it and someone selling it.  No fair, everyone on the team is building it and no one is selling it.

Being all-in on your startup is step one.  Part-timers need not apply.

Sweat equity is table stakes - not valuation metrics.

Entrepreneurs think investors want big revenue, but what they really want is predictable and repeatable revenue. In an early stage company the revenue is never large, but if it’s predictable based on recurring revenue, repeat revenue or known lead generation funnels, then you have a growth story to tell the investor.

Build and test your funnel so you know it works and can tell the growth story versus telling the ‘we’ll be big someday’ story - which nobody believes.

Funding is an enabler that accelerate what you already have going. Don’t think funding is going to solve all your problems.

Sell it first, build it second. If you can’t sell it in the first place, there’s no need to build it in the second place. Most startups over invest in their tech and then they search for someone to buy it. A better strategy is to sell it and then build out what the customer wants.

Thank you for joining us for the Startup Espresso where we help startups and investors connect for funding.


Let’s go startup something today!


Direct download: Startup_Espresso_--_Key_pointers_for_starters_raising_funding.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 8:50pm CDT

On this episode, Hall welcomes Anton Golub of flovtec, a financial technology company focusing on providing liquidity for digital assets. After exhibiting a talent for mathematics at an early age, Anton eventually entered the high-frequency trading space, in a research position. Later he began working at a hedge fund, before transitioning to the blockchain space. He talks about riding the surge of interest in blockchain as part of a startup, and how he identified the problem of liquidity with digital assets. This realization led him to start flovtec in 2018.

For potential investors in the blockchain and digital asset space, Anton advises a healthy dose of realism, and an understanding that this space is still at the early stages. Anton discusses the future evolution of the digital asset space, and how the next couple of years should bring clarity-particularly on the regulatory front. He expects tremendous growth in the space of the coming years, and points to several cities that he believes will serve as the hubs for this future growth. In addition, Anton emphasizes that an understanding of the "building blocks" of blockchain is critical to investment success. Finally, he discusses the scalability challenges facing the space.


Direct download: Anton_Golub_of_Flovtec.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 2:06pm CDT

Here are three key pointers for investors who are funding startups.

The team is the most important part of a startup. Diligence should focus first on the team, not the product, space, or anything else.

Monitor the startup for three months before investing to gauge momentum and traction.  You need to peel back enough layers of the onion to know what’s there.  Ask lots of questions -- your mantra should be ‘let’s peel the onion.’

The biggest challenge in angel investing is not that the startup goes under but that it turns into a lifestyle business.  Historical returns indicate that 10% of your investments will be home runs, 15% will be singles/doubles, 10% will go out of business, and 65% will turn into a lifestyle business. 

To avoid your investment turning into a lifestyle business, ask for a redemption right at investor sole discretion.  If they go on the payroll exit, you can exit with the redemption right. 

 The Payroll exit, is when a startup gives up trying to make a go at a venture exit and decides to sit back and just take above market salaries for their exit.  This leaves the investor on the equity exit with no clear path for a return.

 Thank you for joining us for the Startup Espresso where we help startups and investors connect for funding.

Let’s go startup something today!


Direct download: Startup_Espresso_--_3_key_pointers_for_investors_funding_startups.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 10:32pm CDT

In this episode, Hall welcomes Trent Simmons, Founder, and CEO of Bess Corporation. BESS Corporation is a private holding company that specializes in lower market business acquisitions.

At Bess, Trent maintains responsibility for strategic direction, capital allocation, and effective communication across an array of majority-owned businesses. He also maintains direct control of M&A sourcing, execution and investment management. Trent leads family investment positions in real estate, minerals, and securities.

Direct download: Trent_Simmons_of_Bess_Corp.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 3:24pm CDT

Design for virality not revenue

I heard a startup CEO once comment, ‘I wish I had designed for virality and not revenue.’

Virality is a key competitive advantage. The more your users share your information with others the more traffic and sales opportunities you will receive.

Most companies set up their product and website for generating revenue.

They include click here to buy buttons and popups that litter the screen.

Virality tools include sharing your results with others. Offering free and easy access, creating groups and fostering sharing will draw others in.

It’s better to design for virality and have your customers connect their network to you than to simply extract revenue only.  

Virality generates engagement, and engagement leads to revenue. If you don’t have virality, then it takes additional time and cost to create engagement.

If you build virality into the product, then it works for you everyday.

Thank you for joining us for the Startup Espresso where we help startups and investors connect for funding.

Let’s go startup something today!


Direct download: Startup_Espresso_--Designing_for_virality_not_revenue.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:06am CDT

In this episode, Hall welcomes Jason Jacobsohn, Managing Partner of Propellant Ventures. Propellant Ventures is filling the funding gap with a powerful investment focus on fast growth early stage opportunities. They invest in “Game-Changing” companies with highly attractive valuations across underserved U.S. regions.

Jason has always been an advocate for the entrepreneur. He has provided trusted counsel, guidance and mentoring for many in the entrepreneurial and business communities. Jason has worked with several hundred emerging businesses with services such as investor readiness preparation and coaching, strategic alignment of resources, business development, strategic advisory services, capital formation, and resource development. In addition, he has worked with firms in more than 14 different industries including Internet, software, consumer products, business services, media, and retail.



Direct download: Jason_Jacobsohn_of_Propellant_Ventures.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 2:01pm CDT

10X rule your Startup

Today, we’ll talk about the 10X rule for Startups.

For startups to displace an incumbent, the offer needs to be 10X better than the current alternatives.

So often, startups go to market promising their customer an ROI of 10, 20, or 30% better.

Unfortunately, that’s not enough to win over customers from an established player.  Your startup is an unknown quantity so you have to make a compelling offer.

A 10X improvement comes through cost reduction and increased productivity.

If I launch a product that is 5X cheaper and provides 5X more value, then I am offering a 10X improvement.

If your business is struggling, then ask yourself, “how is my offering 10x better than the competition?”

If the answer is, ‘I don’t know’ then that may be part of the challenge you have in closing customers.

Try this. Imagine your product is 5X cheaper and 5X better than the competition? What would it look like and at what price?

Now you have a vision of what to build and how to price it.

Thank you for joining us for the Startup Espresso where we help startups and investors connect for funding.

Let’s go startup something today!

Direct download: Startup_Espresso_--_10X_rule_for_startups.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:03am CDT

In this episode, Hall welcomes Richard Raizes, Partner at Plutus21 Capital. Plutus21 is a Dallas-based investment firm focused on alternative assets such as crypto, venture capital, and real estate.

Before early-stage investing, Richard received a finance degree from SMU in Dallas Tx. He then worked in both investment and corporate banking. Richard has worked in a variety of sectors, most recently, oil and gas and commodities. He has always looked at niche assets and alternative assets. Richard comes from a family background in technology, so with the experience of analyzing companies and underwriting different deals over a course of time.

Direct download: Richard_Raizes_of_Plutus21_Capital.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 1:50pm CDT

If they don’t define the exit, then you define the exit.

Today, we’ll talk about how to achieve an exit in a startup investment.

It’s easy to get into a startup investment, but difficult to get out- especially with a positive return.

Most startup exits come when they sell the business to another company or go public on the stock exchange.

It takes seven to ten years to achieve an exit in most cases.

Most investors let the startup define the exit.  If they do, that’s great.

If they don’t then you define an exit for your investment.  

I recommend using a convertible note that has a 3X in 3 year redemption right at investor sole discretion. This provides you the option of exiting at the 3 year mark or staying in for the long haul.

By year 3 it becomes clear where the startup is headed. They are either on the venture path to larger returns or they have left the venture path and moved into payroll mode.  

The problem with leaving the venture path is that most terms sheets give the investor an equity stake. If the company leaves the venture path and turns into a lifestyle business, then the equity is going to be worth at most a small return typically around the ten year mark. 

Define the exit you want and make an offer. Not all startups will take it, but many will.

Thank you for joining us for the Startup Espresso where we help startups and investors connect for funding.

Let’s go startup something today!

Direct download: Startup_Espresso_--_how_to_achieve_an_exit.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:44pm CDT


In this episode, Hall welcomes Gerry Reihsen, Founder and CEO of Coasis Coalition. Coasis Coalition is an organization that builds community and offers a range of services to all participating or interested in participating in Opportunity Zones – investors, fund sponsors, real estate developers, startups and traditional businesses, state and city governments, and public institutions.By helping firms navigate the unique ecosystem of Opportunity Zones, they facilitate economic opportunity and development in disadvantaged geographic areas that brim with the potential of its people.

Gerry is a business building, deal-making and capital raising entrepreneur/consultant/attorney. Gerry is is deeply invested in the success of his clients, pouring his energy, experience and entrepreneurial spirit into every deal and transaction.

Direct download: Gerry_Reihsen_of_Coasis_Coalition.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 2:39pm CDT

In this episode, Hall welcomes Brett Lanuti, CEO and President of Nocimed. Nocimed centers on providing a better approach to low back pain diagnosis and related patient management. Brett has been in the medical device space for 25 years, focusing on providing better outcomes for patients. Brett provides advice to investors looking to break into the medical device and MRI/imaging space. He emphasizes the need to look broadly across the entire segment for investment opportunities. Brett also talks about how the space is evolving, and some of the challenges, particularly as it applies to MRI. Brett also discusses the unique perspective of a startup, SAS software company in the medical space, and the benefits it provides to practitioners.

Direct download: Brett_Lanuti_of_Nocimed.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 1:24pm CDT

Should You Invest in a Startup Fund

Choose broad or narrow investing to meet your goals

Today, we’ll talk about investing in a fund and choosing between a narrow or broad investment thesis.

When does a fund make more sense than direct investments?

A fund works best when you are not familiar with a sector or geography and don’t have the time to research and learn more about it.  

Also if access to the deals is time consuming or difficult, then the fund may be a better approach.

If the funding requirements are greater than your resources, then you may want to invest through a fund. For example, some sectors require several millions of dollars to participate in a deal so it’s a good strategy to pool your funds with others to participate.

Finally, funds provide diversification that can be more difficult to achieve with direct investments. 

Should you take a narrow investment thesis or a broad one?

Start with your investment goal and then ask if a narrow or broad thesis is the best way to accomplish it. In some cases, it makes more sense to become a specialist say in fin-tech payment or medical device companies.  

On the other hand, if you want to invest in startups in your local area to support the community then a broad investment thesis is better. 

Thank you for joining us for the Startup Espresso where we help startups and investors connect for funding.

Let’s go startup something today!

Direct download: Startup_Espresso_-Should_you_invest_in_a_fund.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 9:25pm CDT