I recently had the opportunity to speak with expert entrepreneur and founder/CEO of Lending Club, Renaud Laplanche.
Renaud is an expert in raising capital, as he has successfully raised multiple rounds of venture and other capital -- totaling over $50 million for both Lending Club and Triple Hop Technologies, of which he was also the founder.
So I was excited to ask him questions about raising capital for one's business and how LendingClub can help individuals and entrepreneurs. In the interview we covered:
Click below to hear excerpts from the interview:
I came across a very interesting advertisement in my Sunday paper the other day.
The ad was from a psychic named Maria that promised to allow you to achieve up to seven of 33 possible wishes.
Now, before I go any further this seemed to be a scam, and in fact, upon checking online, this psychic unfortunately appears to have been scamming people around the world for many years.
However, what I found really interesting was the list of 33 wishes that the advertiser supplied.
I figured that these scammers (since they probably have spent millions in advertising) did some research to ensure that these 33 wishes were universal; that is, that they pretty much sum up the wishes of most people. From a marketing perspective, this is something I found very interesting.
Below are a handful of the wishes on the list that stood out to me the most. Believe it or not, I firmly think that each of us CAN achieve each of these wishes. So, below each wish, I have provided my thoughts regarding how to achieve them -- without psychic assistance.
1) Sell or set up my own business
Start learning now to start, finance, grow, and exit your company.
2) Have a monthly income of $5,000.00
Start a business. Work hard. Make it successful. $5,000/month is nothing if you have a successful business.
3) Win enough money to never have to work again
Build a successful company. Sell it.
4) See my kids do really well in their studies
Work hard in starting and growing your successful company. Because you are the boss, you can spend more time with your kids helping them. Your hard work will also provide the funds to hire a tutor as needed.
5) Be on TV
Once you've started that successful company I've mentioned a couple of times- hire a good PR firm.
6) Attract men/women
Working hard and being successful will give you the confidence to better attract members of the opposite sex.
In fact, the majority of things on this "wish" list...
..can all be attained by starting and growing a successful business. Let me repeat that - You can have virtually everything you want if you work hard and start and/or grow a successful company.
It's that simple. Anyone who falls for Maria the Psychic's scam should be ashamed of themselves. Success simply does not come without hard work.
I have, unfortunately, seen people work very hard for others and not achieve the success they wanted. That is why starting your own company is so critical if you have not already done so.
Work hard. Work smart (I consider working "smart" as investing in expert information that allows you to choose and complete your tasks more effectively and efficiently). And most of those 33 wishes WILL come true.
Several months ago, I came across YouNoodle, a website which offers tools and a platform to help startup companies succeed. What I was initially drawn to was their Startup Predictor tool. The idea of a tool that could help predict the success, or lack thereof, of a new company really intrigued me.
So, I contacted Kirill Makharinsky, one of YouNoodle's co-founders, to learn more. Kirill was gracious enough to do the interview and provided tons of valuable information.
I started by asking Kirill about the Startup Predictor, and specifically about what are the key indicators that a new business will be successful.
Kirill started by explaining that they created the startup predictor after looking at rich data on approximately 3,000 companies. From this data, they determined patterns between initial conditions (particularly in terms of the team and what their intentions were) and the end result.
The results found really strong indicators that the following three factors are key indicators of a venture's future success:
1. The quality of the team in terms their experience and accomplishments, and how well the team members know each other.
2. The amount of commitment the team has in terms of their opportunity cost - specifically how much they are giving up to be in the venture (e.g., leaving a steady, high-paying job) and how much skin they have in the game (e.g., how much of their personal funds have they committed).
3. Having advisors. YouNoodle found that having the right advisors, even if they provide minimal amounts of time contributing to the business, strongly impact the future success of the business.
Kirill went on to discuss fundraising. He explained how allowing two advisors to take part in forming and modifying YouNoodle's business idea helped secure them as angel investors. He also gave a great case regarding why you should contact investors BEFORE you have a concrete business idea when raising funding.
Kirill also discussed why the quality of your business idea is over-rated, and provided a great answer to my question regarding the top 5 things entrepreneurs really need to know in order to be successful.
To listen to excerpts of this interview click the blue triangle on the player below.
To listen to the full interview and/or read the transcript, click here: http://www.growthinkuniversity.com/members/326.cfm
To visit YouNoodle, click here.
I'll be the first to admit that this fundraising strategy isn't for me. But I have a wife and kids, so maybe, a few years back, I would have given this one a shot.
The strategy: renting out the extra space in my apartment or house to travelers on a budget.
For three entrepreneurs, this fundraising strategy took on a life of its own. The three entrepreneurs, Joe Gebbia, Brian Chesky, and Nathan Blecharczyk, used this creative fundraising strategy (renting out the extra space in their apartments) to generate revenue after they quit their jobs to become entrepreneurs.
But, interestingly, they found the strategy so successful, that that turned it into a business that is now thriving.
The business, Airbnb is essentially the "eBay of space." It works like this...People list their apartments and houses (if they aren't going to be home), and even spare guest rooms, futons, and couches on the site and set a price per night. And then travelers who are looking for a place to stay search the listings for an accommodation that's right for them.
So, real estate owners and renters earn money, travelers get a discount, and Airbnb earns a 10% fee on all transactions. A true win-win-win. As you might imagine, Airbnb is doing very well, and is now in over 1150 cities in 82 countries.
My takeaways/lessons here are two-fold: first, if you have extra space or are traveling, you should consider listing your space on Airbnb to generate some revenues to invest in your business. Second, as this company illustrates, you can never be too creative in coming up with ideas to fund your business.
If you want to see a brief video of the Airbnb team, including their story of how Barry Manilow's drummer is one of their top users, here is a cool clip:
The other day, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brette Simon.
Brette is a partner at Jones Day, a top tier law firm with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, and several major international cities.
Brette advises companies and investors in private equity and venture capital financings, and is on the Venture Capital and Private Equity Committee of the American Bar Association. She is also a member of the Los Angeles Venture Association. And Brette was recently recognized by The Deal - a popular venture capital and private equity publication - as one of the top 13 dealmakers in the country. Very impressive.
So, naturally based on her background, I thought Brette would be the perfect person to interview about the legal aspects of raising capital. I was right.
Brette started the interview by discussing the advantages and disadvantages of certain forms of incorporation, and noted that a C-Corporation is what most venture capitalists prefer. She did note, however, that there are many nuances with regards to the corporate structure with regards to tax treatment, so the choice of your type of entity could become more complex.
We then shifted topics and discussed how entrepreneurs can protect their business ideas and intellectual property. To this, Ms. Simon discussed non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements. She also made the key point that entrepreneurs must make sure to get their employees, consultants and vendors (and everybody else who may be working with them) to sign PIIAAs (Proprietary Information and Invention Assignment Agreements), in order to make sure that the company owns all the intellectual property that is being created.
Ms. Simon went on to discuss other items that can help protect one's intellectual property such as patents and staging diligence.
We then discussed several other key topics including:
* Some of the main laws and regulations that entrepreneurs need to know about and act in accordance with when raising capital
* The documentation needed to raise capital
* What you should be focusing on when you look at a VC's term sheet
* Misconceptions that entrepreneurs often have about the legal process
* The right time for the entrepreneur or management team to hire legal counsel during the process of raising capital
I really enjoyed conducting this interview. Brette Simon obviously knows the legal issues with regards to raising capital inside and out and is a wealth of knowledge! This is definitely information that all entrepreneurs must know when raising funding, particularly venture capital.
To listen to excerpts of this interview click the blue triangle on the player below.
To listen to the full interview and/or read the transcript, click here.