Topic: Startup Fundraising
Fall updates: Prota Ventures, AI Layer, Impact Stream, and REST
In this episode of Ventures, I (https://linkedin.com/in/wclittle) walk through a number of updates with my for-profit and nonprofit venture work. I talk about Prota Ventures, our second fund, how we get operationally involved in our portfolio companies, and who we serve. As an example, I discuss my involvement with AI Layer, which is a new company providing AI inference computing services that leverages an upcoming Web3 protocol that will be decentralized and widely available next year. Finally, I talk about updates - and my volunteering involvement - with Impact Stream and Real Escape from the Sex Trade (REST).
Incubator Deep Dive: FAQ and syllabus details of the upcoming startup ideation cohort hosted by Prota Ventures (Oct 4th Start, Apply Today) :: with Mike Anderson
In this episode of Ventures, my guest Mike Anderson (https://twitter.com/MikeyAnderson) and I discuss in much greater detail the syllabus, ideal candidates, and time commitment of the new ideation incubator (https://www.protaventures.com/labs) that we introduced in episode 112 (https://satchel.works/@wclittle/ventures-episode-112). We talk in depth about the range of founders who should apply (from “pre-idea” to “pre-seed” teams), the outcomes of the incubator, info sessions on Fridays leading up to Oct 4th start, the minimal time commitment required, and a short synopsis of each of the 16 sessions of the program in October, November, and December of 2022. As a quick reminder, this incubator is free and 100% remote; we are happy to serve and welcome founders at the idea stage from all over the world.
The past, present, and future of FinTech and DeFi :: with Drew Glover
In this episode of Ventures, my guest Drew Glover (https://www.linkedin.com/in/drewbailerglover/) and I discuss all-things FinTech, growth, venture capital, and Decentralized Finance (DeFi). We cover his background co-founding Fiat Growth (https://www.fiatgrowth.com/), raising a $15m fund w/ Fiat Ventures (https://www.fiat.vc/), the overall FinTech landscape, advice for founders leveling up their growth strategies, and the future of finance technology for entrepreneurs and the rest of the world.
How to start a business :: with Dave Parker, Troy Henikoff, and Alex Giannikoulis
In this episode of Ventures, we pull clips from Ep43 (Dave Parker), Ep14 (Troy Henikoff), and Ep47 (Alex Giannikoulis) to dive into the specific topics surrounding ideation, validation, creation, and early growth of a new business. We talk about market-first vs. team-first, finding a co-founder, financial modeling, and practical advice from the perspective of investors and entrepreneurs on how to build a company from the ground up.
From founder to VC to founder again: practical advice for startups and investors :: with Alex Giannikoulis
In this episode of Ventures, my guest Alex Giannikoulis (https://www.linkedin.com/in/giannikoulis/) and I discuss his journey from startup land, to angel investing, to venture capital, to founding a new company again. His current startup (https://goivee.com/) builds enhanced in-vehicle experiences. We dive into not only the story of IVEE, but how Alex’s experience as an angel investor and VC has informed his leadership style and practical advice for founders, especially regarding fundraising.
The Bird Buddy story, raising over $2m on Kickstarter, and growing an IoT company :: with Franci Zidar and Kyle Buzzard
In this episode of Ventures, my guests Franci Zidar (https://mybirdbuddy.com) and Kyle Buzzard (https://protaventures.com) discuss the Bird Buddy story from an idea to a successful Kickstarter campaign. Bird Buddy is a smart bird feeder that notifies users of visiting birds with a live stream and AI-assisted photo capturing features. We discuss many aspects of the story to date, including early validation work, design interactions, and the incorporation of feedback from interested customers. We also dive into practical advice for aspiring hardware/IoT entrepreneurs considering a Kickstarter campaign as part of their marketing strategy.
Emerging technology, startup funding, and books for entrepreneurs :: with John Biggs
My guest this week (John Biggs, https://twitter.com/johnbiggs, https://www.linkedin.com/in/johndbiggs/) is an entrepreneur, writer, and technologist. He was the east coast editor at TechCrunch for fifteen years, was an editor at Coindesk, and is currently the Editor in Chief at Gizmodo. In this conversation we dive into a wide range of topics including 5G, the future of work, blockchains, recommended books, John’s entrepreneurial ventures, his new book (Get Funded), previous books (https://johnbiggsbooks.com/), and practical advice for entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship, fundraising, and practical advice for startup founders :: with Troy Henikoff
This week I’m excited to share an in-depth conversation with Troy Henikoff (https://www.linkedin.com/in/troyhenikoff/, https://www.mathventurepartners.com/ ) about his entrepreneurial story and path into startup investing. Troy is one of the most amazing and inspiring people I know. I first met him when I moved to Chicago in the mid-2010s, and his generosity, enthusiasm, and support for founders has been consistently admirable and contagious. After an extended introduction where he shares his story, we walk through practical validation, execution, and funding advice for early stage founders.
The VendorHawk story: Idea to successful acquisition within a few years, and the importance of founder worldview alignment :: with Patrick Lowndes and Brian Geihsler
In this episode of Ventures we cover the full spectrum of an amazing startup story: Patrick’s original idea, recruiting a team, landing his first customers, getting into an accelerator (Techstars), raising a $1.2 million seed round, and being acquired by ServiceNow.
Investor pitch deck and communication strategies: pre-seed and seed
For better or worse, the practice of selling anything of significant value in the world of business involves pitch decks. This includes, of course, “selling” your next funding round to investors. While there is no lack of educational content out there recommending an ideal slide order for your deck (e.g. problem, solution, market size, traction, competitors, team, etc…), this article will guide you - an early stage startup CEO - through the nuances and differences of pre-seed and seed pitches, including tips for how to communicate with investors before and after the close. The more efficiently you can get in front of the appropriate angel investors and venture capitalists, the faster you can finish your round and get back to running your business.
Raising your first outside round: How to navigate accelerators, angel investors, and venture capitalists
As 2020 approaches, the market for raising your first round outside of friends and family - traditionally called a “seed” round - has changed dramatically. There are now a wide variety of financial products to fit early stages of your company (i.e. there are no longer standard amounts for early rounds, and a maddeningly large number of accelerators and venture capitalists (VCs) are competing for your attention. In such an environment, the global noise of books, podcasts, videos, and blogs - i.e. marketing material - often steer founders in the wrong direction; i.e. away from local angel investors and micro-VCs who will most likely fill your round.
How to raise and spend "friends & family" money most efficiently for your startup
There is a reason why the earliest round of capital infusion into a startup is often called the Friends, Family, and Fools round: most founders at this stage usually take money from their own savings and/or inexperienced startup investors, burn through cash haphazardly, mess up their cap table by giving away too much equity (often to too many people), literally break the law by violating securities regulations, and/or fall victim to freelancers and agencies that are happy to work for money but don’t advocate for the best interest of the company.