If you’ve been reading this blog for the past few weeks — then you already know that I’m writing a book for startup founders raising seed capital (particularly those that are outside of a traditional startup tech community). For those of you that are just finding this out for the first time, you can learn a few more details here.
Aside from reflecting on my own experiences, it’s been incredibly insightful (and selfishly, fun) to interview and profile 14 other entrepreneurs and investors from all throughout the United States. In fact, these individuals come from as far west as Silicon Valley all the way to Washington D.C. There are first-time founders, Venture Capital luminaries, Super Angels, and all sorts of others “in between.”
Previously, I’ve given you a glimpse at four of the people I’ll be profiling for the book. In this post, I’ll be revealing four other investors and entrepreneurs that will be profiled:
David Cohen, Founder + Managing Partner + CEO of TechStars
Investor: Boulder, Colorado
David Cohen’s track record as an investor — both as an individual angel investor and through his TechStars brand of accelerators — is second to none. While many individuals can’t say that they’ve invested in dozens of companies, David has seen dozens of his portfolio companies acquired. David has plenty of other active investments — including “rocket ship” companies like Uber, Twilio, and SendGrid. His glowing reputation as an investor comes after he experienced success as an entrepreneur, after starting and selling two companies from scratch. Like another investor profiled in this book, Randy Komisar, David is no stranger to the writing process, as he’s credited for co-authoring Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup.
Excerpt from my conversation with David:
“Assuming that there’s an awesome team in place, I need to at least see a prototype in order to consider investing. I prefer that I can actually use the product – even if it’s just an early, functional version. But a prototype, at minimum, shows me that the team knows how to create something.”
Robert Hatta, Talent Partner of Drive Capital
Investor: Columbus, Ohio
If you’re a startup founder that is trying to solve the problem of adding the right people to your team, Robert Hatta is a person you want to get to know. As the Talent Partner for Drive Capital, the upstart and largest early stage venture capital fund in the Midwest, his energy is focused at making sure that Drive Capital’s portfolio companies are armed with the best startup teams possible. While not every venture capital firm employs a Talent Partner, helping startups find talent is nothing new for Hatta. He served as the Vice President of Entrepreneurial Talent for Cleveland, Ohio’s JumpStart after living the life of an early stage startup employee / executive for Tackk, Findaway World, Virgin Mobile, Apple, and Netflix.
Excerpt from my conversation with Robert:
“It’s easy for founders to get caught up in the allure of fundraising, but remember that raising capital isn’t the ultimate destination. It’s simply one form of fuel to help get you there. Raising seed capital can be stressful — especially when you’re trying to run your business at the same time. However, it doesn’t really deserve much celebration. True entrepreneurs know that this is the time to roll up their sleeves and focus on building the business into the successful venture it was intended to be, as that’s the destination they’re trying to reach.”
Tanisha Robinson, Co-Founder + CEO of Print Syndicate
Entrepreneur: Columbus, Ohio
If you’re leaving the office of Drive Capital in Columbus, Ohio — you don’t need to go very far to find Print Syndicate, the company that Tanisha Robinson co-founded and helps lead as CEO. While Print Syndicate may not be a household brand name, her Human, Activate Apparel, and Merica Made brands are becoming just that. She’s attracted millions of dollars in investment from investors who made their money bringing major e-commerce brands like Zappos and Living Social to life. Of course, she didn’t necessarily need to raise the money that she did. Print Syndicate has been generating lots of cash — profitably — nearly from the very beginning.
Excerpt from my conversation with Tanisha:
“We were growing so fast, but there was stuff that was happening that we just hadn’t seen before. We didn’t necessarily need money. We needed insights. We were starting to build relationships with people from the Zappos team – and that helped a lot. But it made us realize that if we were tied even closer together, it could help even more. That’s when we decided to raise our first big round of funding, specifically from people who have been in our shoes before.”
Ed Buchholz, Co-Founder + CEO of ExpenseBot
Entrepreneur: Cleveland, Ohio
Ed Buchholz’s story isn’t the typical startup story you read or hear about. He isn’t a Stanford college dropout. In fact, he attended a state school in Ohio (the same one I attended — Bowling Green State University). He wasn’t attracted to the startup world by reading about Silicon Valley luminaries. He was simply fascinated by computers and spent as much time as he could learning about them. He didn’t land his first job by networking at a startup meetup. He simply found a job posting in the local newspaper. Yet, before he knew it, he was learning first-hand how to build and scale a company as an early employee — and later, as a co-founder of two of his own startups. Ed personally knows David Cohen, one of the investors profiled in this book, namely because he’s now an investor as ExpenseBot was a recent graduate from TechStars’s Boulder class.
Excerpt from my conversation with Ed:
“One of the first investments we received for 60mo (another company Ed started) was with LightBank — one of the largest early stage investors in the midwest. We didn’t have an ‘in’ to anybody at LightBank. So we had to make an in ourselves. We tweeted them. And that very tweet led to a meeting, which ultimately led to them investing in our company. That meeting wouldn’t have happened if we just rested on our laurels and relied solely on the relationships we already had. We had to work to build new relationships – even from a distance. Today, my current company, ExpenseBot, has investors from Ohio, Colorado, and even Israel. Even though we now have a solid network, we’re constantly trying to build upon that.”
I’ll continue to highlight some of the 14 investors and entrepreneurs I’ve interviewed for the book over the next few weeks.
If you’re interested in getting a sneak peek into the process I’m going through to write the book, simply share your details below. Each week I’ll be sharing more about the process, what I’ve been able to accomplish, and my goals for the week ahead. Even better, for those that decide to sign up — I’ll make sure that you’ll have access to download a free version of the book once it’s ready.