The fundraising experience

There is so much emphasis on user experience and design these days, it’s no surprise that this emphasis would make it’s way into how companies get funded.

I owe Mike McDerment, co-founder and CEO of FreshBooks for this insight. Together, we raised FreshBooks’ 1st and only institutional funding round last year. Mike has some very particular views on the importance of “experience”. In fact, the company’s manta is “execute extraordinary experiences everyday”. This saying impacts everything, big and small, throughout the company.

Back to fundraising: Investors see more opportunities than ever before. How do you stand out? First and foremost, have traction. This more than anything else gets investor attention. But assuming you have the three Ps (Product, People and Progress – aka traction), then I believe that the experience of raising makes all the difference. Read More

The end of bootstrapping

I was talking with the founder of a very successful startup this week. His company has been around for almost 10 years. With over 100 people, it’s well on it’s way to being a market leader. They have achieved that success without raising a penny of outside capital. But that’s about to change.

For the first time ever, this company will be raising capital. The obvious question is why. He had several good reasons. Wanting to be the clear market leader was one. But a big driver is that his company competes with other well-funded companies for talent.

As he said, “talent is everything”. In the current environment, startups and large tech companies alike are fighting over the best talent like never before. Developer salaries are climbing. Benefits like free meals are becoming more and more commonplace.

How do you compete with companies that have all this funny money lying around? And with valuations being as high as they are now, selling shares in your company is relatively cheap. Read More

3 traits of a great financial model

Founders and non financial people in general usually hate building financial forecasts. But, every startup needs one. You need one in order to raise capital. You need one every year thereafter to present to your board.

For me, financial models are very powerful. The numbers in them are rarely right. It’s not like you need to hit the revenue target that you set for 36 months out. But, the thinking into how your business works, how you grow users, revenue and staff is invaluable.

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The Beginner’s Mind


There’s a concept in Zen Buddhism, called “Shoshin” – beginner’s mind (no, I’m not a zen Buddhist…). This is about always having an attitude of openness and being willing to learn. We can learn from every moment, no matter how old or experienced we are.

Today, I have a new associate starting at SurePath. He already has some great experience, including working on a startup, getting his CPA designation and working in the M & A practice at KPMG. But relatively speaking, he’s at the beginning of his career path.

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