Tag Archives: Startup Superhero Series

Startup Superhero Video Series! – This Week Featuring Marc Kenny on “Selling Your Business”

Stubbs Aderton & Markilstartup superhero series marc kennyes and the Preccelerator Program are proud to announce the launch of their Startup Superhero Video Series – featuring SA&M Attorneys, Preccelerator Mentors, and entrepreneurs on topics specific to entrepreneurship and lessons learned throughout the journey.

This week we’re featuring Stubbs Alderton & Markiles attorney Marc Kenny on “Selling Your Business.”

Marc Kenny is a partner at Stubbs Alderton & Markiles, LLP. Marc’s practice focuses on mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, private securities offerings, cross-border transactions, and other strategic transactions representing private equity funds, independent sponsors, family offices as well as public and private corporations.

 

_____________________

Speaker: Marc Kenny

Moderator: Heidi Hubbeling

Heidi: Talk to me a little bit about your background, how you got to be in mergers and acquisitions and private equity. Also, how you came to be with the firm.

Marc: Sure, I have been practicing for a little over twenty years, specializing in mergers and acquisitions, representing private equity funds, financial sponsors, family offices, corporate strategic and a range of transactions, both here in LA, London and in Silicon Valley. I came to the firm recently after working at another large firm over the years.

Heidi: One of the things we are going to talk about today is with mergers and acquisitions on the seller side, we are going to talk about the ins and outs of that. What are some of the preliminary considerations that a business needs to think about when they go to sell their business.

Marc: I usually start when I meet with an owner who’s interested in selling. I usually start with a series of questions to understand a little more about how they are approaching the process. I ask them “why are you interested in selling?”  “Do you intend to stay with the business after the sale?” “Can the business operate efficiently without you? If not, why not?” “What gaps do you have in managing the team?” “Are there family members or members of the management team who want to continue in the business after the sale?” On the operational side I also ask them, the financial history of the firm over the past 3-5 years of what their growth prospects are going forward. If there is customer concentration, I ask them about that. If they are in a regulated space I ask them regulatory issues they have had over the past few years. Going forward, what kind of regulatory issues they see having in their horizon.

Heidi: It’s a complicated process, a lot of people don’t quite understand. It’s not like selling personal property or your home.  Can a business do this alone? Or do they need a team to back them up?

Marc: Yes, selling your company is a process that is complicated and intense – I often say it’s a marathon that feels like a sprint. The challenge for a business owner is to run an effective sales process and at the same time managing its business. Don’t jeopardize the business because you have been distracted on the sales process. A way for them to do that is two things: one is they have to assemble an internal team at the company – a small group that you can rely on and have confidence in to work with you on the sales process and at the same time.  The goal is for you to keep running your business. The better your business grows during this process the more leverage you have with the buyers. In order to do that, you have to hire outside business advisors. Particularly, outside advisors that have done lots of M&A  transactions. Second, you’d be well advised to hire external advisors who regularly work on M&A transactions. You need an investment banker, accounting firm, wealth management advisor.  For all involved in a sale, it’s important to seek the advice of a wealth management advisor, investment banker – not only will a great banker get you in front of the right prospective buyers (strategic or financial), they’ll also be able to create a story that corresponds with your historical financial performance with your potential for future growth.  And then law firms again, you may have used law firms for real estate, company contracts, but you need to have lawyers who are adept in M&A transactions.

Heidi: Internally what should these businesses do to prepare themselves. Both the owners as well as the team to prepare themselves for this kind of transaction.

Marc: The goal is to become “transaction ready” before engaging with the buyers. By “transaction ready” I mean you have looked both at the good, the bad, the ugly with your business. You should be very honest with yourself about the business, as financial, then as legal, etc. Really the reason for that is if you provide accurate information, to position correctly with your buyer, you will increase the confidence with your prospective buyers and increase the value of your company.  We recommend “sell side” due diligence to basically start as if you were the buyer and you start with your management team and the external counsel or advisors, you start going through the due diligence list. Make sure that all the intellectual property in the business you own, that material customers contracts are all in order and they are not due to be terminated soon, that all regulatory issues have been resolved, confirm you have proper documentation for all stock issuances and equity grants. Again, it is a very exhausting process and that is the reason why you need to have external advisors to help you through the process to help you focus on your business.

_____________________

To learn more about the Preccelerator Program, contact Heidi Hubbeling at hhubbeling@100.26.91.60.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInEmail

Startup Superhero Video Series! – This Week Featuring Caroline Cherkassky on “Convertible Notes vs. SAFES vs. Priced Round”

startup superhero - caroline cherkassky Stubbs Aderton & Markiles and the Preccelerator Program are proud to announce the launch of their Startup Superhero Video Series – featuring SA&M Attorneys, Preccelerator Mentors, and entrepreneurs on topics specific to entrepreneurship and lessons learned throughout the journey.

This week we’re featuring Stubbs Alderton & Markiles attorney Caroline Cherkassky on “Convertible Notes vs. SAFES vs. Priced Round.”

Caroline Cherkassky is senior counsel of the Firm. Caroline’s practice focuses on advising emerging growth, development stage, and middle market companies on a variety of matters, including venture capital and other financings, employee compensation, securities laws compliance, technology transactions, corporate governance, and other general corporate matters. She also advises the funds and other investors that invest in these types of companies.

_____________________

Speaker: Caroline Cherkassky

Moderator: Heidi Hubbeling

Caroline: I started my practice up in Silicon Valley, where there is lots of emerging growth work and I spent a lot of time there in Big Law. I moved to LA a couple of years ago and really enjoy being part of the boutique law scene here. My practice focuses on emerging growth companies from start-up, incorporation, documents for employees, commercial agreements, fundraising and exit and the Venture Capitals and other people who invest in these early growth companies.

Heidi: On the deal side?

Caroline: Yes, exactly.

Heidi:  Okay. Let’s talk a little bit about the fundraising process one of the major lack of education for a lot of startups is the type of vehicle they should use. The type of instrument they should use, when going for funding. There’s a priced round, there’s a convertible note and there is S.A.F.E They are the standard ones for early stage companies, so talk a little bit about the differences and how each is applied.

Caroline: Sure! So, the priced round is really what most people think about when they think about venture financing. The investors in a company agree on a price, the investors write a check, the company gives them shares and they are now equity holders in the company. The investor owns a certain percentage of the company’s capitalization. They also typically get specific investor rights, company applications and lots of negotiation round specific obligations. The convertible note on the other hand is a debt instrument. It means that the investor does not get equity in the company to start with, they get a note which is an obligation that has to be repaid at maturity, but there are certain triggers in there set forth in which the note will convert into equity. Usually some sort of discount to the next round or a cap at evaluation. Last, we have the S.A.F.E which is an acronym for simple agreement for future equity and that’s exactly what it is. It’s document that sets forth the terms on which the investor will get equity in the company in the future. It’s very similar to a note in that it has typically a discount to the next round or some sort of cap in the evaluation in which the S.A.F.E will convert, but its different from a note in the sense that there is no maturity date. There’s no debt obligation and there’s no repayment. So, it is more flexible in that regard.

Heidi: Is one instrument preferred over the other?

Caroline: It really depends on the company and the circumstances. Typically, it comes down to timing and size of the round. The priced round provides a lot of certainty. The investors in the company know exactly how much equity is being exchanged and the amount of money that is being invested. Which is nice for everybody to have that certainty. On the flip side the convertible notes and S.A.F.Es can be really fast. The priced round requires a lot of documentation and often takes much higher fees and timing to negotiate. The notes and the S.A.F.Es on the other hand are pretty quick, but you lose that certainty. So, often we see that there is no hard fast number, but we often see a fluctuation point of around 1 million dollars on the side of financing where it makes sense to do that priced round.

Heidi: Are there certain pit falls that entrepreneurs should look out for each of those?

Caroline: Definitely! One of the big things is the S.A.F.Es and convertible notes they offer a lot of flexibility, but you have these caps and discounts that are negotiated and the investors and the companies don’t do the calculations to figure out how much of the company is being given around. Especially if you do multiple S.A.F.Es or convertible notes and succession, by the time you get to that priced round you may not realize how much equity has been given up. There are some founders who unfortunately, have realized too late that there has been a lot more equity. A lot of dilution.

Heidi: So, this is all important information for start-up companies as they get through their fundraising process so we appreciate you being here.

Caroline: Thanks.

_____________________

To learn more about the Preccelerator Program, contact Heidi Hubbeling at hhubbeling@100.26.91.60.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInEmail

Startup Superhero Video Series! – This Week Featuring Preccelerator Mentor Sue Funkhouser on “Navigating Corporate Culture”

Stubbs Alstartup superhero series derton & Markiles and the Preccelerator Program are proud to announce the launch of their Startup Superhero Video Series – featuring SA&M Attorneys, Preccelerator Mentors, and entrepreneurs on topics specific to entrepreneurship and lessons learned throughout the journey.

This week we’re featuring Preccelerator Mentor Sue Funkhouser on “Navigating Corporate Culture.”

Sue Funkhouser is a management consultant and coach at Pinwheel Performance.  For 15 years, she has helped companies from Fortune 500, Startups and Non-Profits to improve organizational performance. Sue’s passion is helping founders grow their companies by developing leaders, teams and company culture. She mentors entrepreneurs and facilitates team and culture workshops at the SAM Preccelerator and Cross Campus. Sue also speaks to groups such as Young President’s Organization and has authored an e-booklet, Steering Company Culture during Growth. Connect with her on Twitter and Linked-In.


_____________________

Speaker: Sue Funkhouser

Moderator: Heidi Hubbeling

Sue: My background is that I for the last 12 years have been working with company’s leaders on their own leadership style, team effectiveness, and looking at the organization because culture is an organization as a whole. I have Master’s degree from Pepperdine University, the business school and that really taught me how to look at organization through a system’s lens and how does everything work together and that is how I approach my own work.

Heidi: You ‘ve been really beneficial to a lot of companies and we know that corporate culture can be a trigger for great success for a company long term or can be a trigger for failure. It’s one of those foundational items that these startup companies need to know, so why is corporate culture so important?

Sue: It’s your competitive advantage and it’s been proven in the marketplace. There’s research that shows that if you have an effective, greater company culture, you will get greater financial returns. You can look up Money Magazine’s research that shows that there is a 23% financial more return based on having a healthy effect of culture. There’s others if you want to know. Besides the financial research, it is something that can’t be replicated, something that can’t be duplicated not one culture is the same as the next. Your products and your capabilities can be copied, but your company’s culture can’t. The last thing is it acts as a magnet, you want to attract your people so if you have a healthy company culture you’re going to attract your top people as well as retain them.

Heidi: One of things that is a bedrock in company culture is the value systems of the company. How do you work with organization’ to develop your value system?

Sue: Its always helpful to provide a framework for people to look at so, I developed an acronym called WE ARE. Imagine a license plate called WE ARE and its we embody, so what is as a group we embody, and then articulate your values, reinforce your values and evaluate. I want to say one thing about the “we embody” so you have a culture no matter what and you want to find out as a collective what is most important here. I ask founders to please never take a piece of paper with words on it and say, “oh we are this, this and this” ask questions and stories about when have you made the most difficult decisions and what’s been most important. What have you weighed? That’s a way to draw that out. I have processes for each part of the we are, but I think that’s an important way to what do you embody? How do you articulate that value? How do you enforce it? Then later how do you evaluate it?

Heidi: Very important for companies building out that foundation for the long-term strategy of their company. I think that is a very powerful tool. What is some advice you give to companies wanting to build high performing teams?

Sue: One of the things, that I first like to talk to founders about is to understand that teams develop, much like individuals do. There are normal developmental stages for teams. Sometimes, they complain it’s like “this, this, this”, but its natural. Teams form and the they’ll storm and they must settle down and work on how they norm with each other and then they to perform. I remember I was working with a leader and they were prescribing this stuff and I explained that they were just storming. They’re trying to figure out how to work together and you need that if you’re going to get them to perform. That’s the first thing I tell people is to just know that its normal and you need it. Another thing I have found that a lot of people think its interpersonal. That all the problems are personal. As soon as we start working around what is your purpose or mission, what are the role clarities? What are the expectations of each other? A lot of that strife goes away.

Heidi: As a company grows, what do founders struggle with most?

Sue: There’s a lot to struggle. One common theme is about letting go. In a couple of ways, first in kind of a cognitive sense, leaders as they grow, have to let go of control and they have to move from being a technician to a strategist. I was talking to late David Goldberg, the former CEO of Survey Monkey and he said in his first venture when they went from 20 to 50 employees the hardest thing was to let go of the reigns. That’s one thing. The most heart wrenching thing that employers find is that they must let go of their early employees. What happens is as a company grows, some employees can’t scale their capabilities. You may try to develop them and move them around and eventually they just can’t or for a scaling company they don’t fit they’re just not interested in. It is so heart wrenching, every founder I talk to mentions that a person has been with them since day 1, but the fact of the matter is that if you do not let them go, there’s going to be some repercussions. One example, I was working with a company in New York and the CEO, heart of Gold, but when I interviewed his team they mentioned that for two years they had been shuffling people around every single department. The high performers said they didn’t have time to babysit, they’re getting in the way and he just had to cut it. It impedes performance and from what edmunds.com has told me is that you know in your gut. It’s hard but, you have got to do what is right for the company. What I advise people to do is how they let their early people go is do it in a way that shows that you care. You do care! Call-up your buddies and say, “I know this person they’re really good at this, would you meet with that person because you might know someone or you might have an opportunity”. Then go with that person and say “here is a list of 5 people that I have talked to, they’re ready for you and ready to take your call”.

Heidi: Very difficult, but very impactful advice, I think that’s a tough situation when that company gets to that stage of growth. The way that you respond, also affects your company culture overall and it’s a testament.

Sue: Those stories will ripple.

Heidi: You’ve been a mentor of the program for a couple of years now, what is the biggest give back to you, what do you enjoy most!

Sue: I love coming in here and thank you for having me. I just met with this new company whom I have never met before and we were supposed to meet for 20 minutes and we met for like an hour and half. I mean it was fabulous! What I love is that I learn so much. I get to meet with hot entrepreneurs that want to unleash stuff in the world and I get to learn about the new technology, I get my things opened. Just our interactions and the ability in such a short-time even though we expanded it to have fun, to get to know each other, but to have an impact and help them prepare for something, it so great. Thank you so much.

Management Consultant & Coach
Pinwheel Performance
sue@pinwheelperformance.com

_____________________

To learn more about the Preccelerator Program, contact Heidi Hubbeling at hhubbeling@100.26.91.60.

 

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInEmail

Startup Superhero Video Series! – This Week Featuring Preccelerator Mentor Mark Wald on “Mentor Partnerships & Financial Modeling with BallParq.io”

Stubbs Alderton & Markiles and the Preccelerator Program are proud to announce the launch of their Startup Superhero Video Series – featuring SA&M Attorneys, Preccelerator Mentors, and entrepreneurs on topics specific to entrepreneurship and lessons learned throughout the journey.

This week we’re featuring Preccelerator Mentor Mark Wald as he talks about “Mentor Partnership & Financial Modeling with BallParq.io.”

Mark is an innovative problem solver who values simplicity, efficiency, and collaboration between people and organizations, with strong experience in financial modeling and data analytics to inform and support quick decisions on complex issues. Specific experience developing, deploying, and supporting new technologies to thousands of retail locations using 3rd party logistics and service providers.  Professional specialties: Financial strategy & fundraising, sourcing business opportunities, conserving resources, enabling people, satisfying customers, analyzing complex data.

 

_______________________

To learn more about the Preccelerator Program, contact Heidi Hubbeling at hhubbeling@100.26.91.60.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInEmail

Startup Superhero Video Series! – This Week Featuring Preccelerator Mentor Andrey Kudievskiy on “Startup Teams & Tech”

Stubbs Alderton & Markiles and the Preccelerator Program are proud to announce the launch of their Startup Superhero Video Series – featuring SA&M Attorneys, Preccelerator Mentors, and entrepreneurs on topics specific to entrepreneurship and lessons learned throughout the journey.

This week we’re featuring Preccelerator Mentor Andrey Kudievskiy as he talks about “Startup Teams & Tech.”

IT executive, Serial entrepreneur, CEO and Founder at Distillery.com, and named one of the 25 Inspiring Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2017 by Inc. Magazine.  Andrey Kudievskiy started his career in tech at the age of 19 while working on his degree in computer science. Within five years Andrey had established his first company and played a key role in creating a successful cloud synchronization startup that was sold to a Fortune 500 company. A serial entrepreneur and talented developer in his own right, he is currently focused on enabling other entrepreneurs to build businesses and continuing Distillery’s expansion in the U.S. and international markets.

__________________________

Transcript

 

Speaker: Andrey Kudievskiy

Moderator: Heidi Hubbeling

Startup Superhero Series Featuring Andrey Kudievskiy on “Startup Teams & Tech”

Heidi: Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background and a little bit about Distillery.

Andrey: Absolutely! Distillery is a full-service software development company located here in Santa Monica. We like working with startups as well as enterprise clients. Now we are focusing on stack technology design and development. A little bit about myself, you can tell by my accent, that I came from Russia. Just a few years ago, not knowing anyone here in the States, I had a burning desire to build a business and to help other companies succeed in the area where I have a lot of knowledge and assist in technology. That’s how Distillery started  – and so far, we have been successful. This year we got on the Inc. 5000 list for the fastest growing companies in North America. I hope that we position ourselves for the next year as well.

Heidi: Congratulations on that, that’s a huge honor! You are one of the mentors of the program and Distillery, in the Los Angeles tech scene, is one of the premier agencies for startups. What do you like most of working with startups? I know you are one of the mentors of program. Distillery is one of the most well-respected agencies in Los Angeles and you work with a lot of entrepreneurs. What do you like most?

Andrey: Sure, I like working with startups because you can quickly see the value of the work you do. You can see the results of your work. When you meet someone, let’s say your friend on the street and you ask them to “hey can you show me your phone” and see the application I have developed and you can say “wow!” That is just pure happiness. That is when I feel my life is accomplished. Versus working with enterprises when you can work with them for years and years for one of the projects. When it’s released its just a small part of something huge, you don’t really feel like you’ve contributed enough.

Heidi: It doesn’t feel as impactful. When you work with younger stage startup you feel like you become part of their team. On that note, some of the advice that you give with startups. What advice do you give them when they are selecting a stack? What kind of stack do they need to select to be most successful?

Andrey: For technology stack as startups, what I like to say is that they don’t need to overthink it. All the companies who try to build something big in the beginning they go all in. They don’t test the market. They don’t really know what it is. It’s rather important to release something, test the market, see if people use it and then adjust as needed. When people do something enterprise scale for a startup, they spend months and months for development and end up being behind the time curve. So, they are late to the market. We try to build something at a scale you need right now. Something small, go to the market test it. Do the alpha version, the beta version do the public release later. Then at the end when you see that your idea is valuable, its fine to go and rebuild some of the parts. You will lose 50% of your time on building something with the right technology stack, but then this product will do better in the market.

Heidi: What are some of the pros and cons of hiring an internal vertical team versus hiring a team like Distillery, an outside tech team?

Andrey: I think the ideal scenario is when there is a ­­­combination. A tech team that will help you on stuff and you have an extension. A company like Distillery who would just help you move faster. When you don’t have enough resources, you cannot move fast enough or maybe some parts of the projects are simply outside of your core expertise. That’s when bringing an agency would be meaningful. It would help you. Outsourcing everything and giving control to an agency doesn’t seem right to me.

Heidi: I think so, because when you outsource without having a technical strategist that is overseeing development internally. If you don’t have that person that is vested in your idea and you fully outsource then you just have somebody whose just project-based developing it. When they’re done, they walk away from the project and walk away from your idea.

Andrey: You must have a vision. You must be able to provide a clear direction. Of course, the digital part of it that you choose. They need to be comfortable adding something to your idea. Advising, according to their expertise what to do and what not to do. At the same time, I feel that getting a technical co-founder for the team really does miracles.

Heidi: Absolutely, so let’s go back to the Preccelerator a little bit. Not to be self-serving, but we really appreciate you as a mentor and you’ve provided great value thus far with your mentorship. What are some of your favorite things about working with the Preccelerator and working with our companies.

Andrey: Well, first thank you so much for having me. The Preccelerator is an amazing group of people and amazing group of potentially big startups and companies, that I see will really grow. To me the value is talking to those young entrepreneurs, seeing them to be in my shoes 5 years ago maybe three years ago depends on how fast they will grow. And exchange knowledge, bounce some ideas around. I also like helping people. That keeps me motivated. When I see that I prevented one person from making the same mistake that I made 5 years ago. That’s the best I can do.

Heidi: I think that’s the definition of true wisdom. When companies take advice from somebody that has already been through that cycle, through that path. Rather than making those mistakes on their own. That’s very valuable. Appreciate you being here and we will see you all at the next startup superhero series.

Andrey Kudievskiy
Distillery
andrey@distillery.com

 

_____________________

To learn more about the Preccelerator Program, contact Heidi Hubbeling at hhubbeling@100.26.91.60.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInEmail

Startup Superhero Video Series! – This Week Featuring Preccelerator Mentor Lisa Tsou on “Fundraising Tactics”

Stubbs Alderton & Markiles and the Preccelerator Program are proud to announce the launch of their Startup Superhero Video Series – featuring SA&M Attorneys, Preccelerator Mentors, and entrepreneurs on topics specific to entrepreneurship and lessons learned throughout the journey.

This week we’re featuring Preccelerator Mentor Lisa Tsou as she talks about “Fundraising  Tactics.”

Lisa Tsou provides independent strategy and solutions for entrepreneurs so they can grow their businesses to the next level. She is passionate about working with innovative entrepreneurs and startups to develop unique strategies to grow and fund their businesses. Whether you are a startup on the track for traditional venture-capital financing or an entrepreneur on a more offbeat path, she can collaborate with you to develop and implement a creative and practical strategy for success. Lisa also speaks regularly on issues related to startups, tech and women in business. She has been a featured speaker at events including The West Hollywood Women’s Leadership Conference, The SoGal Summit, The USC Graduate Women in Business Summit, Women Founders Network, and Bruin Entrepreneurs, and appeared in publications including The Huffington Post, CNBC, GenHERation and E The Magazine for Today’s Female Executive and the Business Rockstars program.

 

__________________________

Transcript

Speaker: Lisa Tsou

Moderator: Heidi Hubbeling

Startup Superhero Series-Intro with Lisa Tsou “Fundraising Tactics”

Heidi: Today we are featuring Lisa Tsou of the Winning Pitch and Lisa is one of our mentors here at the Preccelerator. She specializes in fundraising, pitch-investor decks, helping companies with their formal presentation as well as other kinds of strategies for fundraising. Tell us a little bit about yourself and thank you for being here.

Lisa: Thanks Heidi. I started working with startups back twenty years ago this year, when I graduated from law school. Spent many years on Wall Street doing Venture Capital, Ipos, mergers and acquisitions, all with tech and startup companies. Spent my whole career on startups and am now concentrating on the part I really enjoy which is the growth part of startups. Working with startups on their fundraising, their investor strategy and positioning for investors.

Heidi: All very important things, especially at this stage within the Preccelerator and other startup companies in this Los Angeles ecosystem. Going back to the fundraising and preparing the pitch presentation, what exactly are investors looking for when companies are starting that fundraising process?

Lisa: I think the best way to think about what investors are looking for is to think of it as a risk reward ratio. Basically, venture capitalists are looking for a really big reward and as small a risk as possible. They’re looking for things with really big markets or things a consumer or a business would be using with a lot of frequency. Something that can get really big and then they are trying to find things with as little risk with the really big as possible. Things that would be considered as something like a risk would be does your product work? Does the consumer like it? Things like what other competition might be out there? I like to think of it as that kind of ratio.

Heidi: That’s a great way to look at it. In a life-cycle of a company, especially with these early stage companies When is the right time to start fundraising? What are those key metrics?

Lisa: I’m going to say something that I know is going to sound really contradictory, but it’s a combination of as late as possible and earlier than you think. A lot of startups go “oh I should go out there and find a venture capitalist to fund me” without thinking through when do they really need the capital? Can they go a little longer? The longer you can go without outside financing, the stronger position you’re in. If you go very early, the venture capitalist is going to take a lot of your company control and you are not going to get as much capital as you would like. So, on one hand think as late as possible on the other hand, from that point start earlier than you think. It’s going to take longer to get in front of investors, get them comfortable with you and build that relationship. From that point when you think you need capital, I would say start certainly start six to nine months earlier than that.

Heidi: The due diligence process by itself once you actually have somebody who is interested in funding you can take four, six, eight months at that point. Also, figuring out whether or not venture capital funding is right for you, versus angel investors versus small business loans. Whatever funding that type of company might need depending on their scalability.

Lisa: Absolutely! Investors are going to ask questions and you may need to think things through or vet some other elements of your business before they will write a check.

Heidi: What are your tactics? What do you suggest to startups when they start looking for funding? How can they get in front of an investor or a VC?

Lisa: It’s a combination of research and somehow wrangling a warm introduction. The research part being finding the right VC or investor depending on their situation. That makes sense for them. How big a check the investor generally writes and the industries they may be comfortable with investing in. Doing that research which will take time and then wrangling your warm introduction to get to them. A lot of investors are not going to be receptive just cold email or blind submissions to them. Working your way through your network, which may be a five or six step process to finding the person who knows a person, who knows a person, who knows a person, to getting in-front of that investor.

Heidi: That’s very important. So, you have been a value and a resource to the Preccelerator program. What are some of your favorite things about being a mentor here, about the program and working with the companies?

Lisa: I really enjoy working with the Preccelerator. As I said I was an attorney at one point doing this kind of work. It’s fun being around really smart people like at Stubbs Alderton and the other mentors who are also awesome. I just love working with the companies. I think you put together a really smart batch of companies who are doing a lot of interesting things in different industries. It’s always fun to come over here and hangout for a couple of hours and see what they’re doing and see if I can help them.

Heidi: I am proud of them! It was great to have you here and we will see you guys next time at the Startup Superhero Series.

Lisa Tsou
The Winning Pitch
lisa@winningpitch.com

 

_____________________

To learn more about the Preccelerator Program, contact Heidi Hubbeling at hhubbeling@100.26.91.60.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInEmail

Startup Superhero Video Series! – This Week Featuring Preccelerator Alumni Andrew Cheeseman on “Empathy in Entrepreneurship”

Stubbs Alderton & Markiles and the Preccelerator Program are proud to announce the launch of their Startup Superhero Video Series – featuring SA&M Attorneys, Preccelerator Mentors, and entrepreneurs on topics specific to entrepreneurship and lessons learned throughout the journey.

This week we’re featuring Preccelerator alumni Andrew Cheeseman, as he talks about “Empathy in Entrepreneurship.”

Andrew is a proven leader in both sales and marketing in startups and large organizations PLUS a successful startup with an exit.  He is passionate about turning customers’ experiences into revenue and retention. He has deep experience in the software market and loves to build relationships.  Andrew’s gift is to inspire leaders to innovate. Combining creativity, leadership, and technology, he also develops game-changing solutions and products with and for industry leaders.  Andrew grows businesses through innovation, partnerships, and sales, to create profitable new revenue.  He creates vision, influences stakeholders to secure funds, and organizes teams to drive business.   He instigates growth through product and market innovation, and through building internal and external networks.

__________________________

Transcript

Speaker: Andrew Cheeseman

Moderator: Heidi Hubbeling 

 

Startup Superhero Series – Empathy in Entpreneurship 

Heidi: So, we want to talk a little bit about your entrepreneurial journey today. What made you take the wild leap into entrepreneurship?  

Andrew: Well, I had been interested in being a creator of things for a long time. Also, I am interested in impact, areas that have a lot of impact. My particular passions are for mind, body, health and community and connectiveness. I was really excited about creating things that could incorporate all these together. 

Heidi: What are some of your favorite things? What do you really love about it?  

Andrew: Apart from those things, the creation the impact and the passions –  I have some interests as well. I love people and what you can do with connecting people. I love creating systems. My belief is that you can’t really grow unless you can delegate. You can’t really delegate unless you have system in place. I just love that stuff. 

Heidi: I think it’s one of those lessons that we all learn. It’s one of those things that can direct us to successes, the organizations and being able to create those systems in place to get you to that next level.  Let’s talk a little bit about Team(You). Talk to us about what Team(You) is and along the journey with Team(You), what was your proudest moment?  

Andrew: Team(You) is a system that addresses one of the issues that is happening in schools. Its widespread. The problem is around learning and apathy and teacher retention. These are all interrelated. Team(You) is a system that addresses those, by creating a culture of empathy vs. apathy. It’s a software based system where students earn points for things like empathy and kindness and service. You asked about what are my most proudest, moments. I think my proudest moment was when we got our first school up and running. Just seeing those points roll in. Realizing, whereas the norm in the industry is about 15% user adoption we had 98% user adoption, we are very proud of that. 

Heidi: You guys really entered a time in the market, where you could really make a difference. It was before there was legislation involved that required incentive based learning as a positive reinforcement. You really had an impact from the start.  

Andrew: Exactly, it was. In fact, we – as of the end last semester, had 30,000 students enrolled who were collectively engaged in the system for 2.2 million hours per month.   

Heidi: Wow, that is very exciting. So, you had those successes. Along your full entrepreneurial journey what’s an important lesson that you learned? What is something you can give back as a lesson of wisdom for other entrepreneurs? 

Andrew: I think the biggest lesson is this lesson around empathy. My company is based on empathy which gave me a particular lens to look at, not just my customers, but the actual business. What I came to realize is how deep the importance of empathy is. Not only for customers, of course and understanding what their journey is, but also for employees. Empathy for developers, meaning when I develop something new for the software, I am thinking of everyone who will have to interact with that change. Customer service, investors, empathy for everybody whose involved. I think the big learning, ultimately, is if you look at business through the lens of empathy you can discover things that you never knew existed. It’s one of many lenses of course, but empathy is the interesting learning that I got from this experience.   

Heidi: Yeah, I think that’s so important, even when it comes to practical aspects such as product development, you mention how users are going to use the platform. Empathy on the side of investors or on the side of other strategic partners that you’re going to have. Other team members, right? Your core employees, I think that, that is such a foundational characteristic. 

Andrew: It is and just to take the customer service example, empathy for the customer service staff is critical. Done the right way, if we position the customer service the right way to customers, investors, partners, and everybody else means that, that role other than just a supporting role becomes the critical role. That means that job is really satisfying because you are executing and carrying out a really important role. It only happens for empathy in that role or people in that role.  

Heidi: Finally, going back to the Preccelerator. You were early, early on in the Preccelerator Program. What is one of the biggest values that a program like the Preccelerator has had for you? 

Andrew: There are, of course many different values. From a place to have meetings, to the expert legal advice, but I would say probably the biggest one is the impact that mentors have had on me. I have had some amazing feedback and support from some of the mentors.

Heidi: Yes, they are a core value of this program, it wouldn’t work without them. We really appreciate you being here.  

Andrew Cheeseman
https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewcheeseman/

 

_____________________

To learn more about the Preccelerator Program, contact Heidi Hubbeling at hhubbeling@100.26.91.60.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInEmail

Startup Superhero Video Series! – This Week Featuring Peter Csathy on “The State of the Digital Media Market”

Stubbs Alderton & Markiles and the Preccelerator Program are proud to announce the launch of their Startup Superhero Video Series – featuring SA&M Attorneys, Preccelerator Mentors, and entrepreneurs on topics specific to entrepreneurship and lessons learned throughout the journey.

This week we’re featuring Preccelerator Mentor and Board Member Peter Csathy, as he talks about the state of the digital media market.

Peter Csathy is a media/digital media/tech advisor, business development executive/dealmaker, strategist, entrepreneur/operator, venture capitalist/investor, and journalist who has consistently led and driven transformative innovation, expansion and enterprise value for both leading public and private companies (including via successful M&A exits and negotiated deals valued in excess of $4 billion). Career equally spans both traditional and digital media/technology (and with significant international experience). Deep senior level decision-maker and influencer contacts and relationships.

He is a recognized thought leader frequently featured in The Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, Venturebeat, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, TheWrap, Billboard, CNBC, BBC, USA Today, Bloomberg, Forbes, Advertising Age, The Huffington Post, Wired, Fast Company and other leading publications/blogs; frequent moderator and guest speaker at leading industry conferences and events (including CES, NAB, Variety Summit, Digital Hollywood, Siemer Summit, Streaming Media); frequent guest columnist for leading media/digital media/tech publications (TechCrunch, Variety, Billboard, Venturebeat, VideoInk) and prolific blogger on own “Digital Media Update” blog; mentor in the Disney Accelerator and the Points of Light Civic Incubator; appointed to commission making recommendations to President Obama; board member and advisor to for-profits and non-profits.

 

 

__________________________

Transcript

Speaker: Peter Csathy. 

Moderator: Heidi Hubbeling 

 

Startup Superhero Series – The State of Digital Media 

Heidi: I would like you to tell us a little bit about Creative Media and what your background is. Tell us about what CREATV Media does as well as why you chose to join the Preccelerator as board member and what value you think the Preccelerator brings to companies? 

Peter: So, I started CREATV Media, a little over a year ago, as to be really a leading digital media focused business development, advisory and investment firm. What that means is that it kind of ties together this network I created. If people go to the website http://www.creatv.media, you’ll see that it is a team of really connected individuals. It’s meant to be a super network of people across traditional media, new media, technology so that we can bridge or bring opportunities for our clients and really identify where to go. Help facilitate these new opportunities, structure deals, get investment into those deals. Also, work with companies on an M&A front, where for larger companies (media as an example), we can identify potential areas of strategic investment. Then for those who are privately held companies they are looking to potentially have a strategic partner, that can eventually be an investment or M&A.  We frequently work with those companies to position themselves, tell their story, identify the partner structure deals. So that there’s ultimately a great result for them.  We do a lot of connecting. We do a lot of business development, identifying opportunities, and then a lot of market intelligence. I have great team of people on the consulting side, who with our unique access and relationships that we have – can get information and market intelligence that nobody else can get. We can bring that to light, to our clients, so that they are smarter and faster and better. That’s on the creative side.

On why I joined the Preccelerator? It’s just this great opportunity to support an organization, Stubbs, and what they are doing here to support entrepreneurs in the LA community.  Accelerators are always interesting because it’s a great place for entrepreneurs to come together and rub shoulders –  the community that comes with that, both within, but also from without when you have market leaders coming in to share their stories. Hopefully, I can bring mine and bring some wisdom of the things I did right and the things that my company did wrong and they can learn from that. Stubbs did a really great thing here because it’s a law firm doing something that is typically not done by law firms. Really being entrepreneurial, creating this space, bringing new opportunities, new mentors, a tremendous package of benefits, as well as this great office space here on Third Street Promenade. That’s a wonderful thing and when they asked me to join, how could I say no?  

Heidi: Now, you provide huge value to the companies with your expertise and your background in digital media. One of the perks in the perks package is consulting services and getting to have your ear, your introductions, and access to your network. What are some of the things in your background, that make you an ideal mentor here? Also, what’s your entrepreneurial story that has brought you to this place.    

Peter: It certainly hasn’t been a straight path which is part of the fun of it all. I started, many many years ago. I’ve been in the media and tech world for over 30 years, which is kind of hard to believe. I started as a media and entertainment lawyer, almost 30 years ago. From that point, I went into the studios. I was at New Line, Universal, Savoy and really transitioned from being a lawyer to a business person and negotiating deals – from a dollar to multi-billion-dollar international joint ventures.  In about 2000, I went to my first entrepreneurial company.  I became a real start-up guy initially where this one was a true start -up where we built up a series B close to $10M round, then moved it to the east coast, I stayed here, then was recruited to go down to San Diego, really the most innovative software, music, and services company at the time. Really the Spotify before Spotify –  so I was an entrepreneur there. We sold that company for $160 million dollars, and then I ran another company that we also sold. I have seen a lot of different things and for the past several years I have been an advisor because I built this network along the way and hopefully I have some war stories that I can bring to help these entrepreneurs.  

Heidi: And then your background is in digital media and technology. Through all your experience, what are your views on the state of digital media and tech market. How do you think LA as an ecosystem fits into where digital media is going? 

Peter: It is such an incredibly exciting time. I have been in the space for more than 30 years, I’ve never been more excited than I am today about just the different opportunities for companies big and small. You have the fundamental traditional media and entertainment business which is completely transitioning or transforming at the hands of technology.  I’ve seen both sides of that which is what makes it particularly fun. You see this transition happening and the media companies need to understand all these new technologies and new ways to engage and reach an audience and create content and monetize it. On the other hand, you have all these technology companies that are becoming media companies. Like the Googles, like Amazon, Facebook, very much these are media companies, they even call themselves media companies which is pretty incredible. All of this is happening at the same time and then you have innovation and it’s becoming a multi-platform world – where its traditional platform and then you have mobile of course which is the first screen. Live events are not going away so that’s another platform. VR, AR immersive platforms are also there, E-sports, and on and on and on. It’s just this really incredible and interesting time and LA is very much the hub of it. When it comes to certainly digital first media companies, absolutely here. When it comes to VR and AR so much of it is happening here. Drone technologies so much of it is happening here in Southern California. So, you have real money being poured into the LA, entrepreneurial community for the first time, really. You are seeing some great exits that flow out of that. Snap is one, where let’s not forget, Snaps right here. Snap of course just recently went public and that’s just one. Oculus of course, was acquired a couple years back and on and on and on.  

Heidi: Right, it’s very an exciting for LA and I think that it’s neat to see all the bourgeoning companies and how the ecosystem here is and how its growing and the neat ideas that are coming out of the space.  

Peter: It’s a really exciting time and now this community is not just able to not to retain the great talent, but actually really for the first time –  attract some of the top talent, both on the creative side, and also on the engineering side – which is great. It’s coming here and fueling innovation all the time. 

Heidi: Right – and I think there’s getting to be more investors that are seeing that this ecosystem is growing and that we really have some solid technology down here too. 

Peter: That’s why we created SAM Creative Ventures, we want to ourselves invest more and more into this tech world. We are primarily focused on LA, but not exclusively. We are going to be taking a very close look at entrepreneurs in this community.  

Heidi: Absolutely, providing a huge value to this ecosystem.  

 Peter: That’s the goal! 

 Heidi: Appreciate you being here and we will learn more about Creative Media and about Peter Csathy and another video upcoming, in the StartUp Superhero Series. Thanks for being here. 

 

Peter Csathy
www.creatv.media

 

_____________________

To learn more about the Preccelerator Program, contact Heidi Hubbeling at hhubbeling@100.26.91.60.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInEmail

Startup Superhero Video Series! – This Week Featuring Christine Perakis on “Three Essential Strategies for Small Business Success”

Stubbs Alderton & Markiles and the Preccelerator Program are proud to announce the launch of their Startup Superhero Video Series – featuring SA&M Attorneys, Preccelerator Mentors, and entrepreneurs on topics specific to entrepreneurship and lessons learned throughout the journey.

This week we’re featuring Preccelerator Mentor Christine Perakis as she chats about “Three Essential Strategies for Small Business Success.”

Christine Perakis has been a lawyer, business adviser, entrepreneur, C-Suite executive, adj professor, and professional boat captain, navigating myriad transactions and businesses across 5 continents.  Her work, expertise and interests have taken her beyond a lucrative legal practice in the entertainment industry over a couple of decades. Christine has run or been a part of a management team in 10 businesses, growing, expanding and achieving results beyond the expectations of all involved. The most recent role being as a COO in a company that went from a 100% equity funded startup to a $10 million/year business in 4 years.

 

 

__________________________

Transcript

Heidi:  What are three mistakes that you see entrepreneurs make when they are first starting out?

Christine:   Well, when we get started, we’re coming up with an idea that we get so excited about. That we end up talking about the features of it way more, then we focus on the benefits to the client. We need to get inside the head of our ideal target audience and understand what is the number one problem they have that they don’t want and the number one result that they want and don’t have and then we can start talking to them. The second thing is to be aware we are on a buyer’s journey. Most of us don’t have a 50-million-dollar branding budget like some of the big brands that we know about and these days with all the information that comes out at us it takes 20-100 touch points to get people’s attention. So, we want to be able to first recognize that we are on a journey. Knowing that 99% of our target audience, are future buyers and less than 1% are now buyers. We want to take them along that journey, using something I call the conversion equation. You want to get their attention with an interrupt, engage with them, educate them and then be able to make an offer. The third thing is to think strategically. Most people will employ tactical marketing. They throw a bunch of tactics at the wall and hope that something sticks. Rather than, recognizing that if they think strategically their marketing is going to be more effective. So, they don’t want to do anything that isn’t something that their target audience wants.

Heidi: So, to achieve success what are the 5 main areas that a startup or an entrepreneur should focus on?

Christine:  Most of us are familiar with the 80/20 rule, Pareto’s law, right? 80% of our outcomes come from 20% of our efforts. So, that overwhelming job of a small business owner really can be reduced down to five basic steps. Something, I call the five-step profit formula.  Small business owners focus on lead generation, lead conversion, transactions, pricing and profitability.  They will achieve exponential results. They really only have to make incremental changes to get there. I have something I call the profit acceleration software that will show you, by plugging in some numbers, how small changes in these 5 areas only, will create exponential success.

Heidi:  All very important things, so what is one thing that every entrepreneur should know before they start their business?

Christine:  Well, I think Simon Sinek said it best in his book “Start with Why.”  Know your why. He knew that Steve Jobs, Wright Brothers and Martin Luther King had very little in common, but they understood one thing; which is people don’t engage with a product, service, movement, or an idea unless they know your why. We want to get people to invest in us, to buy from us, to work for us and follow us, we have to know our why.  You have sat in many rooms with investors as have I and you have heard time and time again we don’t invest in a product or service, we invest in the people. What they’re really investing is people who know their why. That’s how we get investors, our partners, with our clients, our customers, they want to know. They’ll buy from you if they really want to understand your why and your team. These days the millennial workforces are a growing resource that we have these days and they are committed to knowing their why. They don’t want to do anything without knowing they why. You have to enroll them in your why to get them to work hard for you and then they will. Finally, you need to know your why, most importantly because it gets you through the obstacles and challenges that come up in your business all the time. Keeping your eye on that outcome the benefit, the reason for being that you have and why you’re invested in doing. So, there’s that and when you’re in the early goal setting stages, creating your vision, you have your why as a corner stone for the goals that you create. Once you know that your subconscious can start working to achieve that outcome. The goals in it of themselves aren’t as meaningful as knowing that you’re going to get to where you need to go.

Heidi:  Absolutely, the “why me” and the “why now” – also knowing why this is the right time in the market. Both of those are so important for young companies before they get started.

Christine:  That’s right it’s not about widgets. It’s about what you’re going to get for yourself and what they are going to get for themselves.

Heidi: Well, thank you very much it was great to have you here.

Christine Perakis
www.christineperakis.com

 

_____________________

To learn more about the Preccelerator Program, contact Heidi Hubbeling at hhubbeling@100.26.91.60.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInEmail

Introducing the Startup Superhero Video Series! – This Week Featuring Jonathan Tavss on “Utilizing Mentorship”

Stubbs Alderton & Markiles and the Preccelerator Program are proud to announce the launch of their Startup Superhero Video Series – featuring SA&M Attorneys, Preccelerator Mentors, and entrepreneurs on topics specific to entrepreneurship and lessons learned throughout the journey.

This week we’re featuring Preccelerator Mentor Jonathan Tavss of Kaleidoko, Inc. as he chats about “Utilizing Mentorship.” Jonathan Tavss is an award-winning entrepreneur, marketer, strategist, and content creator with more than two decades of experience leading content creation, distribution, product development and global marketing for international entertainment studios, Media firms, CPG brands and service corporations.

 

 

__________________________

Transcript

Heidi: Jonathan, what do you see being the most important benefit to the Preccelerator companies in regards to mentorship? 

Jonathan: I guess the one that just sticks out the most is connections. Right?  It gives you resources that you might not otherwise have. What I have seen, are the companies that really succeed, are the ones that take advantage. It’s almost like a secret thing, the fact that there’s so many mentors here, there’s so many people that you can call upon. That in and of itself is something that people aren’t used to.  A. having the people to talk to and, B. knowing what to ask of them. It’s interesting because in success you will have a lot of people coming in wanting to be an advisor. Can I be on your board? Wanting to do all that kind of stuff and in this secure environment you can work with different advisors on different things, even advisors that do similar things to each other, to really get a sense of how you are going to work best with them.

Heidi: With your personal background, with your professional background what perspectives do you bring as a mentor 

Jonathan: I think it really is tied to what Kaleidoko is all about, which is to brand holistically. How you position, but it’s not just about the marketing. It’s how you set up your company to be able to deal with change that is constant. With Kaleidoko we usually work with later stage companies and so it’s a matter of going in and seeing what fundamental bricks were not placed as they were rushed to deliver to clients’ needs. We go in with that fresh look we really fill in those bricks. What I deal with for these participating companies is to help them be mindful of those fundamental pieces that you need to be able to set up for your company so that you can be successful moving forward into the future. 

Heidi: If you could give one piece of advice to the companies based on your breath of experience, what would that be? 

Jonathan: I think it would be to have your eye’s wide open all the time. As a founder you’re really heads down, running that sprint to get to where you’re trying to go. You have got to keep your eyes open to see what’s happening culturally, what’s happening technologically. Mentors, advisors, board members, or employees will come up with different ideas. So, it’s a matter of really capturing that. Also, something that I find interesting; there’s a lot of companies out there that set off to do a certain thing and as they were developing that certain thing. They found, this pot of gold, that they were just creating to help them deliver, what they thought was a value, but the real value is over here. So, not that you’re trying to go right, left, all over the place. What you want to be doing is to be able to keep your eyes open. What is that IP? What is that certain thing that might be a different direction, but that might be your real winner?

Heidi: One last question. What is your favorite thing about being a mentor at the Preccelerator. What does it give to you?

Jonathan: I got involved because I really wanted to find a way to give back. Being that I am also a university professor you know I have always just been of the “how can I help other people” mindset. This was just a great opportunity to be able to do so and meet a lot of really great people. Both on the company side and the mentor side. There’s some really strong participants all over the place. That’s why I was really excited to be a part of it.

Heidi: Very much appreciate you.

Jonathan: Thanks.

Jonathan Tavss
Kaleidoko, Inc.
www.kaleidoko.com 
jonathan@kaleidoko.com

 

______________________

To learn more about the Preccelerator Program, contact Heidi Hubbeling at hhubbeling@100.26.91.60.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInEmail