// OCT 2017 ISSUE

Founder Collaborative

Empowering people to pursue their ambitions,
and challenge conventions.


We can’t really be sure how everything will shake out as a new leader takes charge but here let’s focus on one important question — what Trump means for startups in America?

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If you are both an employee and an owner, then the general answer is that – whether you’re a founder or not – you can be terminated from the company as an employee, but you would remain a majority shareholder. 

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A few months ago, I raised funding for my startup. After months of bootstrapping the business and burning through my savings, I finally got what I needed to push LawTrades into the stratosphere.

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The Premier Event Host.

Convene was launched in 2009, actually under a different name, so we did go through a rebrand about five years ago. I think the simplest way to think about the business is, we..

Read Full Conversation →
A Web Experience Company.

Parents are first-generation in this country. They always wanted us to go to college. I personally always thought college was kind of a waste of time..


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Building modern retail spaces.

We launched this marketplace with the idea of helping e-commerce players to approach your offline market, meaning the physical world with access to retail spaces..

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Sharp Insight. Smart Investing.

I've been in the digital media space since 1998, 1999, when I started working at Double Click. I was a relatively early employee over there..

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Creating Content at Scale.

Typically, whoever’s paying you the money is the side that's harder to get. Whoever is making money, it's a bit easier. I didn't found the company so I wasn't there at the very start, but I've been there the last seven years..

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A Network of 50K+ Entrepreneurs.

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// AUG 17

Whether you’ve just started a brand new company or you’re looking to grow, hiring the right people to help you succeed is very important. Here, you can learn some valuable tips for attracting and retaining the best of the best right from the very start.

// AUG 17 ISSUE

Planting the Seed

What to Expect in the First Round of Funding.


Preparing for and getting through your first round of startup funding is exciting and terrifying all at the same time. 

Fortunately, there’s plenty of advice for making sure you come to the table prepared – and that you receive the funds you need to get things moving.

Firms and individuals who provide seed funding invest in your startup despite the inherent risk. You’ll be asked to provide plenty of information about your proposed business, including your short-term and long-term business plans, the products and services you intend to provide, and even how you intend to use the money you earn to grow your business in the future. Investors may have questions of their own that fall outside of the usual categories. You should be prepared to explain why you got into the business, whether you feel fulfilled, and even if you’ve started businesses in the past.

Your very first round of funding will require plenty of paperwork. Some of the things you’ll want to bring to the table include your business plan, your financial audits, term sheets, preferred stock investments, certificates of incorporation, and anything else that investors might want to see in order to make a decision about whether they want to invest capital in your startup. It may feel intrusive at times, but keep in mind that the people who are providing you with funding want to make sure they’re making the best decisions for themselves or their firms.

There are many ways in which you can receive seed funding. For example, if an investor is providing you with funds, you may be required to provide that person with a percentage of your business in the form of stock, which ensures that the investor receives a portion of your overall profits. It also ensures that the investor’s net worth grows alongside the success of your company – just like yours. On the other hand, if you’re being provided a loan, you’ll need to negotiate the terms of repayment, interest rates, and what happens if you default.

Finally, once the negotiations are complete, contracts will be drawn up for each party to sign that details his or her rights and responsibilities as they relate to the seed funding agreement. This contract will contain a vast amount if information, so it is important to read it very carefully. In fact, you should take your contract to your attorney (or better yet, ask your attorney to be present for funding negotiations) before you agree to anything. This way, you can make sure that you are getting a fair deal. What’s more, you can rest assured that your investors will put everything through their lawyers, too. While getting funding for your startup through a loan or an investor is incredibly exciting and marks a huge turning point in your business success, it’s vital that you protect yourself along the way. Finding a lawyer who specializes in seed funding and startup companies is a great way to give yourself some extra peace of mind.

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// AUG 17

Immigration is deeply intertwined with American startups as many highly successful companies were founded by immigrants. 

// AUG 17

There’s no doubt about it – employers control the American workplace. From deciding when you have to arrive at work...

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// conversations

We asked Elizabeth a few questions about raising venture capital in the Valley. Elizabeth is a Partner at 500 Startups, investor in seed-stage companies & in charge of the Mountain View Accelerator.
Jason Lemkin The founder of two successful startups, Jason is now a Venture Capitalist and just raised a fund of $70 million based on his famous SaaStr brand. Jason Lemkin is a rock star in the startup world.
“Once a company has established a clear market need and ability to solve that need the rest is all execution.” As Founder of Grasshopper (acq’d by Citrix) and Chargify, David Hauser was one of the youngest founders to lead a company to the Inc.
On Season 8 of Shark Tank, Ben accepted a $250,000 offer from Robert Herjavec. PupBox is a startup that changes the way people raise puppies by delivering toys, treats, accessories and training information to new puppy parents every month. 

// AUG 17 issue

4 lessons learned at an
elite accelerator

There’s no shortage of discussion in
the startup world about accelerators—why?


"If a good one lets you in, you do it."

There’s no shortage of discussion in the startup world about accelerators—why to work with one, how to get in, life after demo day, whether they’re sort of a scam, and so on, ad nauseam. But the bottom line—from my experience and in the opinions of many entrepreneurs—remains that if a good one lets you in, you do it. 

Everybody Knows Something You Don't

The fact is that many of the most successful startups today didn’t require technical expertise to get off the ground. Especially in the tech world, many people will push you to learn code, but I think that’s one of the worst ways to spend your time in the early days—whether you’re in an accelerator or not. Many people will push you to learn code, but I think that’s one of the worst ways to spend your time in the early days. The most badass software companies solve huge human problems using boring technology. And what drives their innovation is a deeper understanding than anyone else of what humans (your customers) desire. That’s why they’re delivering a better solution than anyone else—not their technical chops. How can you you do that in your business? Start the analog way by talking to people who run their own companies. When you speak with them, pick up on bits and pieces that can test your assumptions: How are they getting their customers (versus how you’re getting yours)? What’s keeping those customers from leaving? Which feature caused the most push-back? So they’re a transactional-based marketplace. How do they keep users from going around the platform? What percentage does the company take from each transaction? Why? But don’t just talk to investors and fellow entrepreneurs. Solicit some input from professors, teenagers, mentors, you name it. Treat each conversation as a learning opportunity about how your product and business is seen from the outside, and you’ll start making better business decisions by improving your intuition.

Know What Your "A" Looks Like

Most companies will probably plan to raise a Series A. That being the case, one of the first questions you should be asking yourself at the pre-seed/seed level is what traction you need in order to reach that fundraising milestone. For e-commerce startups, it might be $1 million in monthly recurring revenue. For consumer apps, maybe the benchmark is 50,000 daily active users. There are a lot of numbers floating around the Internet, but I’d recommend taking your best guess on what yours might be, and sharing that with investors to see if it squares with their own expectations. Next, be realistic about how long it will take to get you there. You’re a startup, so it’ll probably take you longer than you think—even if you are in a top-notch accelerator. Connecting these dots for investors will lead to a more productive conversation and better results.

Growth Over Everything

Most companies will probably plan to raise a Series A. That being the case, one of the first questions you should be asking yourself at the pre-seed/seed level is what traction you need in order to reach that fundraising milestone. For e-commerce startups, it might be $1 million in monthly recurring revenue. For consumer apps, maybe the benchmark is 50,000 daily active users. There are a lot of numbers floating around the Internet, but I’d recommend taking your best guess on what yours might be, and sharing that with investors to see if it squares with their own expectations. Next, be realistic about how long it will take to get you there. You’re a startup, so it’ll probably take you longer than you think—even if you are in a top-notch accelerator. Connecting these dots for investors will lead to a more productive conversation and better results.

Default To Positive

What I love about 500 Startups and Silicon Valley in general is the unparalleled level of positivity around here. Our office is filled with posters like “Follow your gut,” “Experiment, fail, learn, repeat,” “Believe in your fucking self,” and dozens more. Sure, that kind of thing can turn some people off—every startup has its own style and culture—but as a rule of thumb, positivity is entrepreneurs’ default setting. And I think that’s pretty cool. It’s probably one of the reasons why so many startups flock to the Valley in the first place. The biggest hater you probably have out here is the one that lives in your head. And that hints at something else I’ve learned while working with a top accelerator: if you don’t get into one, or don’t get into the one or two or three you like best, your business isn’t necessarily dead in the water—far from it. What arguably matters more is how well you remember that. After all, if anyone’s ever told you that your idea sucks, you know how far a little bit of positivity goes. Even if it is just a stupid poster on a wall.

// AUG 17

Hiring a lawyer for any reason can be a confusing and often frustrating task, but hiring an attorney to represent and protect your startup is even tougher.

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