Funding 101: Actionable Advice For Astute Investors and Ambitious Early Stage Startups Featuring Hall T. Martin
Funding 101: Actionable Advice. Whether you are a seasoned investor or a novice. An early-stage startup or mature business needing a capital infusion. Hall T. Martin provides a wealth of information in the latest episode of The Business of Business Podcast
Table of contents
- Funding 101: Actionable Advice For Astute Investors and Ambitious Early Stage Startups Featuring Hall T. Martin
- Full Transcript Below
Hall T. Martin is the Founder and CEO of TEN Capital and Host of the Investor Connect podcast program
He launched the firm as the Texas Entrepreneur Networks in 2009. Today, TEN Capital has over 12,000 investors in its network, and has helped startups raise over $900M.
Mr. Martin serves as the Vice-Chair of the Baylor Angel Network. He previously led the Central Texas Angel Network (CTAN) as its first Executive Director.
Mr. Martin is the Host of the Investor Connect podcast program. He is the founder and director of Investor Connect which is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to the education of startup investors.
Mr. Martin is a Founder and initial Managing Director of SKU (Incubation Station), a consumer product goods accelerator based in Austin, Texas, and the former Managing Director of AccelerateNFC, an accelerator based in Dallas, Texas, focusing on Near Field Communication.
Mr. Martin serves as an adjunct professor for the University of Texas leading the Idea to IP program which fosters startups from the engineering program.
Full Transcript Below
Funding 101: Actionable Advice For Astute Investors and Ambitious Early Stage Startups Featuring Hall T. Martin
Sun, 7/18 2:32PM • 38:01
Estimated reading time: 36 minutes
investors, people, vcs, crowdfunding, startups, founder, product, angels, raise, angel, market, money, investor, invest, company, valuation, funding, austin, business, consumer product goods, Funding 101: Actionable Advice
Hall, Roy Barker
Roy Barker 00:03
Hello, and welcome to another episode of The Business of Business Podcast. I’m your host Roy. Of course, we are the podcast that brings you a wide variety of guest. That speak to a lot of diverse topics. Today is no different. We’re excited and been waiting quite a couple months here to get Hall T. Martin on the show.
And I do appreciate all the patience in this. But Hall is the founder and CEO of TEN Capital and host of the Investor Connect podcast. He launched the firm as the Texas Entrepreneur Networks in 2009. Today, TEN Capital has over 12,000 investors in its network and has helped startups raise over $900 million. Mr. Martin serves as the Vice-Chairman of the Baylor Angel Network. He previously led the Central Texas Angel Network (CTAN) as its first Executive Director. Mr. Martin is also host of the investor Connect podcast. He is the founder and director of Investor Connect. Which is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit dedicated to the education of startup investors.
He is also the founder and initial marketing, excuse me, Managing Director of SKU (Incubation Station). A consumer product goods accelerator based in Austin, Texas, and the former Managing Director of Accelerate NFC, an accelerator based in Dallas, Texas focused on near field communication. Mr. Martin also serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas. Leading the idea to IP program which fosters startups from the engineering program. Hall, Thanks so much for taking time out of your day to be with us. I certainly do appreciate it.
Great, Roy, thanks for having me here. Looking forward to our discussion.
Roy Barker 01:50
You bet. So what is led you? Funding 101: Actionable Advice. You know, I guess what is your background? And kind of what how did you find yourself in this position? What led you to, I guess, be be an investor. And want to help others grow their businesses through the accelerators and everything else?
Sure. Well, I’ve always been an early stage startup guy. And I went to work for a company in Austin, back in 1986. Then they went IPO in 1995. I started doing angel investing after that. Had a lot of fun with it made have made an investment in an Austin company. And probably lost all my money and discovered it’s harder than it looks. But still, like the early stage. Then we had an angel network in Austin called the Capitol Network that ran from 1995 to 2002.
And then they were tied to the dot com world. When that went away, they went away with it. And so we didn’t have a group 2006, the city did a restart. They called it the central Texas Angel Network. And I said, I want to be a part of that. So I was the first member to sign up. And when you’re the first member to join. You’re automatically on the board in charge of membership, and it’s a great honor. No pay was great honor.
So we did that. And after a couple of months, we lost our director. I became the director and I led it for the first two years. We got about, you know, 50 members recruited. Five million vested in 20 deals. And we got a we ended up getting a 40x return out of two deals. It turned out to be a great win and propelled it forward. Did my undergrad Baylor in Baylor University in Waco. Wanted an Angel Network. So I helped them set it up. And I’m still a member there. And then Wayne County one an Angel Network.
So I just had a lot of fun putting these Angel networks together. And so 2009 I started the Texas Entrepreneurs Network. To help startups connect with investors. Because I saw that the challenge they had in getting introductions. Doing the process and over the years just kept growing. The network of investors from just within Texas to across the country, not only angels, but now venture capital and family offices and started doing our program on a national scale in 2017, when we changed the name to TEN capital, and been going ever since I just like early-stage companies. And I like working with investors and startups.
Roy Barker 04:00
Yeah, I mean, that’s an exciting place to be I mean, I’m sure that you even if you don’t invest in them, I’m sure you get to see a lot of great products and services that come across your desk in the very early stages Funding 101: Actionable Advice .
Absolutely seal, see all the new technologies, see the new businesses coming up. It’s great to see companies grow and mature over time. And, and help them as well love love to mentor and network with startups and founders to help them succeed.
Roy Barker 04:28
So funding companies, you know. We don’t want to take a whole lot of time. But I think for some of us novices. Maybe you could just explain some of the different you know. We have, you could just go to the bank and get a loan. Usually backed by the SBA. But then we have angel investing. Venture capitalists. And then crowdfunding has become a much bigger player on the streaming. But can you just kind of give us a little brief description of all of those different vehicles of investment?
Sure. You So when you get an SBA loan, you’re primarily taking on debt, and you have to pay it back. And once you pay it back, you’re done. And then there’s some businesses that are higher value. Maybe higher growth rates. More scalable, and they can be sold for a nice amount of money. So those go into the venture world. Which are led by angel investors. People investing their own money. Or venture capital, which are people that are running funds. Where they’re investing other people’s money into it.
They’re taking equity. Not taking debt. They’re putting money in because we’re trying to make this business as big as possible. To sell it in five to seven years. As a target to make a good payout for the founders. As well as all of the investors as well. So we’ve been working into those models for many years. And the angel groups I started were in that dinner club model in 2006. Seven and eight, where 40/50 investors come together. They look at a deal. They decide to invest in it. And then they’re, they’re on the equity side of it.
Then along comes crowdfunding. Early on crowdfunding was to Kickstarter. Indiegogo was where it was. Just rewards and prepayment weren’t really getting a stake. You were just pre paying for the product. Which is a form of crowdfunding. And then now we have what’s called reg CF. Or title three crowdfunding. Where you’re actually getting an equity stake, and anybody can invest. Not just accredited investors. Like the angels and the VCs were. But anybody can put money in. Average investment today is around $500 per investor.
At that rate, you can get quite a few people. It’s all online. The crowdfunding world has been doubling year over year for the last three years. Keeps going up, because everything’s going online. Not just, you know, standard, you know, technologies and so forth. But also, fundraising is going online, email and websites are now the first place people go. And so it’s it was well positioned, especially during the COVID times, to accept funds and so forth.
Because everybody wants to be a part of the startup world, post COVID. You know, it’s an ideal time to start up a new business, we have a whole new set of care abouts we’re starting a whole new startup cycle, interest rates are zero stock market’s all time high, a lot of money looking for a place to go. So it’s a great time to start a business and raise funding from either angels and VCs or the crowdfunders. Now, and,
Funding 101: Actionable Advice
Roy Barker 07:20
again, I know that this isn’t really your wheelhouse, but on the crowdfunding how to like a VC or Angel, usually, they come in and take a piece of that business. And so, you know, there’s some negotiation, I guess, with how much control how much percentages that they may take, but like the crowdfunding issue, is how does that work? Is there somebody that’s kind of in charge of what what is raised for that certain piece? Or how does that work? Exactly?
Well, the way it works now, with the title three crowdfunding is you go to a portal is basically a broker dealer license portal, there’s about 50 licenses out there. But I’d say 95% of all activity goes through three to five portals. So it’s pretty well concentrated, and you set up on their portal and you put your investor documents together, you go through the compliance issues, you have to fill out a form See, you have to do an audit on your financials, in some cases, because you’re basically going public in the eyes of the SEC, you’re now a public company, when you go on a crowdfunding portal, and then you set the valuation.
You bring up a good point, I see a wide range of valuations, what my company is worth, when I see deals coming from the title three world, in some cases, I think they had very good guidance on what their company was realistically worth. In other cases, I think people got a bigger idea than they thought it was. They come out with valuations that are not quite on target. And I see those all the time when they come to me. And they come to me when they want to go to the angels and the VCs after the title three, it used to be you could raise up to a million dollars now you can raise up to $5 million on the title three.
So we see a lot of parallel activity between crowdfunding and angel investing because we’re at the same level there. The problem is, is that if you went and set the valuation on your own in a title three, reg CF crowdfunding portal, you may have not put enough market reality into that. And then when you leave and go to the rest of the world, angels and VCs are the first stop, you’ll quickly find out if you are market rate or if you are not.
And so we see that quite a bit. That that’s that is a major issue is how do you make sure the terms are going to be relevant to everybody, not just the title three, I’ll be candid crowd crowdfunders primarily look at the product. Is it interesting? Do I think it’s cool? Do I like it? And they don’t look at valuations and metrics and those types of things, which angels and VCs when we look at in a business, yeah.
Roy Barker 09:49
So yeah, I guess, you know, in my limited knowledge, I think with the angel and the VC, you get a lot more help that they’re going to get I guess the, I’ll ask you what is the typical goal of the angel or VC as far as the length of hold, and, you know, is it to take it public, or is it mainly just to, you know, raise the increase the value and then sell it in the open market?
I’d say that for the angel and VC, the goal is to take a company, hold it for five, seven years, and then sell it for 10x, what you put into it is a rough cut there. And very few companies go public anymore, they stay private, much longer, there’s so many more funding options privately, you can actually sell the shares after 567 years on the secondary markets and companies stay private, so much longer, you really don’t see many IPOs you do some, especially in the life science case, in angels are the same thing. You know, they want three to five times your money in three to five years was the mantra in the angel world itself.
And so they’re looking to make a good gain as well on it. angels bring expertise, there’s a lot of startups and founders that need more experience and knowledge about how to run and grow a business and about how to hire team members. Angels are very helpful with that. And then VCs are also helpful with that plus, they also can help you raise follow on funding, if you’re continuing to grow up the curve and need more funding, they can be very helpful in that direction, the crowdfunding world, people go to them, because they want the brand to get to a broader group of people, they want customers, they want people to support them, but they don’t usually lean on crowdfunders for team or expertise like they do with angels and venture capital. Yeah.
Roy Barker 11:38
So who is suited, you know, to come to you the we’ll talk about the paperwork and kind of get ready for that in a minute. But just, you know, the average guy out there, he’s either develop, I guess, you’ve probably developed a really cool product that’s thinks has some potential or has had a little bit of potential in the smaller market. And then, so they want to come to you to try to take this to a larger market. And then also assume to get that expertise that need to go from, you know, smaller, maybe one or two, not necessarily one or two. But sometimes it goes from the founder to, you know, really a huge type environment, like a corporate environment.
Sure. So when they come to angels, angels are what we call go to market money, you’re in the market and you’re starting to grow, and you need some funding to carry it forward. That’s where angels come in. Once you have a little bit more traction, and now you’re growing in the market, that’s when you find venture capital will come into it. So in our program, if you have revenue, come on in, let’s talk about if you’re pre revenue, it may be a little bit too soon for the angels.
And we get into this place where startups would come to me and say, well, in two months, we’re going to the market, and I find that that’s many, many investors are just very skeptical about that, because they’ve invested in a deal before that was going to market in two months. And it turned out to be two years, they really weren’t in the market. So my coaching is to startups get to the market as fast as you can, if you have to come up with a smaller product or a lower price product or a discounted product, you know, sell something and get in the market. And then we get past that, are you in the market, you you want to be in the market, and then you can access angels and VCs much more readily.
Roy Barker 13:23
So now, we’ve had an initial conversation, you kind of like, you know, I’m in the market doing some stuff. Now I’m like, a, I’m ready to do this. You know, what are some things that how do I need to get my house in order to you know, to go to the angel or the VC? What are some specifics that we need to do there?
Well, the first step is make sure you’re ready for fundraising, because when you take on outside investors, you have to have your documents in order. So make sure your accounting is up to speed, make sure everything that you put off is now done before you get to the investor. And we look for a pitch deck and what we call a data room data room are 1015 documents that most investors will look for like an income statement balance sheet, five year forecasts, you know, some of the basic things are already put together in one in one place. And then put together your plan. If you’re raising money, how much are you raising, you need to have some vision of what that is and what you can accomplish with it.
And then your your pitch deck needs to show the story how this is going to play out for the investor. My coaching is always it’s it’s one team one product one fundraising one outcome. You don’t want to play the multiple scenario game with the investors and we see that quite a bit. Yes, we know you have lots of choices, but what we’d really like to manage ones let’s start with one later we’ll we’ll pivot if we need to. But the idea is get your story together, get your documents together and then start looking talking to your friends and contacts and colleagues people that you know, it’s always a great story to say I went to my family and friends and they gave me some money versus I went to my family and friends. They wouldn’t give me money.
How about you I get that quite a bit. And I say, Well, if your family friends don’t believe you, I’m not sure I will either. So show demonstrate support from everybody you work with along the way you put money in your teens put money, everybody’s supporting this, and you’re just growing to support. Some people do go on to Kickstarter campaigns, they said when on Kickstarter raised $20,000, in three days, that that’s great market validation, that’s great product validation. And some people use crowdfunding to show traction and growth.
And it’s not a bad idea. So make sure you’re using those things to demonstrate support, because that’s what investors are looking for is, who else is in the deal? Who else is validating this, and you want to show that customers are the best validation, having customer buy the product is the absolute best, because it now shows you got market validation and product validation, the product works and people will pay for it.
Roy Barker 15:52
So what is the difference between people, Pete, I guess, on the investors interest between, I’m coming to you with this brand new product that I’ve just cooked up in my basement versus maybe have streamlined or refined another product that’s out there, is there really any difference?
Well, it just goes to the market that you’re going after, if you’re in a brand new market, it may be okay to come up with your own product for it, and so forth. If you’re going to an existing market, then you’ll probably be doing a product that other people have done and and both have pros and cons. If you’re the first one in the market, well, then you’re having to establish the market and educate everybody about what’s going on.
But you’re the main player. So there’s extra work, but there’s an extra benefit to going into an existing market, then you have to differentiate yourself and show how you’re different from the others can’t say there’s no competition, there is competition, you just have to show how you’re better than the competition. And in in a very heavily marketed comp market like that, what you need to do is, is show a 10x improvement.
If you’re going if you’re only 10%, better, nobody’s switching from what they’re doing now to yours. But if you’re 10x, better, that’s both cost and productivity, then you can actually get people to switch over because you have a much more compelling solution. So it really has to be a step above then, as opposed to just a slight change or advantage over something. Something else.
Roy Barker 17:21
Yeah. So how long does this process take? And I guess, kind of what is that preparation? If I’ve just gone to market with something that, you know, I’m finally getting this a little bit of revenue coming in. But you know, do we need to think about this. I know we can’t reach out until we kind of get to that point, like you were talking about. But we should really be thinking if we feel like we’ve got a great idea, we should probably really be thinking about this a lot earlier than, you know, waking up on Monday morning saying, Wow, I think I probably need to really see if I can’t get some capital in here by this afternoon.
You know, I mean, I know that’s a little bit you know, kind of a little play on words there. But it does take a process. And it does take time, because I’m sure that the investors, they want to do their due diligence to they’re going to probably do it on not only you the product, but the market that you’re trying to go into as well.
Right. We always coach people, you know, six months before you start your fundraise, you want to sit down and start planning it, get the documents ready, make sure the teams on board, get your lawyer in place, start circling up family and friends to say I’m going to be raising funding just to let you know that I’m looking for your support there. So you need to put some time into preparing for it. And you’ll learn a lot along the way, you know, what valuation we set is a big one, how much we raise is a big one.
So there’s questions you have to sort out and it does take a little bit of time and input from people before you can really finalize that. Once you have that you can go out and start to raise money from people and start to bring it in. My rule is for every $1 million you’re trying to raise it will take you one calendar year to raise it. So those who want to raise a million dollars at the seed level my coaching is, let’s start with 250.
And let’s go raise 2/51 because you’re giving up ownership of the company and your valuation is not so great at the beginning, it gets better, that’s the valuation is what your company is worth before the money goes into it. And then the higher that valuation, then the less ownership you’re giving away. So if you raise a million dollars at the seed level, you’re probably giving away too much equity. Start with 250. That’s the minimum. You can go raise from an angel group or any angel investor if you try to raise less than 250. They’ll wonder if you have enough money to really accomplish what you say you’re going to accomplish. 500 is a good number for sea level raise as well.
But raise that money, deploy it, get the results coming back and as you demonstrate more products and revenue and team. Your evaluation takes a stair step function up and you can raise bigger amounts of money. Later on not not such a bad bad number. And so that’s that’s the coaching is start small, tranche it out and milestone it and goes stepwise up the curve there. Because you often find that sometimes you just don’t need to raise money, you just need to spend your time doing it. And you can save the dilution from that as well.
Roy Barker 20:20
Okay. Yeah. So how complicated does that structure become, as we, you know, we start taking on the invite are people start investing money? Are there pitfalls that we should watch out that, you know, maybe not from the professionals as much as you know, Uncle, uncle Joe’s loaning me some money, and then being careful about you know, how much or how much of that company we give away, are structuring in a way that they that they can be bought out very easily any things like that we should be watching for?
Sure, you know, the valuation needs to go up on every fundraise. And one mistake people make is they want to give family and friends a better deal. So maybe my company’s worth $5 million, but I give my family and friends a $10 million valuation, this becomes a problem later, when you go to angels who are at the five that $5 million level wondering, why would I pay 10, this is worth five. And so you end up reducing the ownership that the family and friends got to bring in other investors.
So you want to keep the big picture in mind, I have to stair step function this up from a family of friends, to angels to VCs. And when you you have to have a certain amount of revenue at each level to get that so the question I always ask is not Can I raise this round of money at that valuation, but if I do, so, will I be able to raise the next round at the next valuation. So keep the bigger picture in mind as you put the valuations out there. One way to handle this is with convertible notes or safe notes, we don’t set the valuation, we set a limit on the valuation but not the valuation.
And we’ll figure that part out later, when we get to investors that are putting money in for equity. At the very early stage, we it can be hard to figure out what this thing is really worth and get agreement on it. So we can move that down the road, that decision down the road a little bit. And there’s a lot of veterans that just want to be in the deal. And we’ll figure out valuation later. So convertible notes and safe notes are often tools used at this level.
Roy Barker 22:19
Okay Funding 101: Actionable Advice. So what about giving away ownership or in not giving it away, but somebody is purchasing it? Are they’re, you know, kind of rules that a lot because a lot of people don’t want to give up control. They don’t want partners that are, you know, too heavy handed. But the reality is, if people are going to invest money in your company, they’re going to want to have a say, how do you have a balancing act between you know, not given what, because a lot of times to these companies or the younger ones that are growing, it’s dynamic, and there’s a lot of excitement. And we don’t want to tamp that down as well.
Right? Well, in the end, it’s a negotiation, as you go through each round of major funding, it’s about 20 25% of the ownership is going to go away. So you’re up for some dilution as you go through this process. But the terms are usually a separate negotiation from the valuation. And as you go forward, you’re going to need a bigger team, and you’re going to need investors who can help you with the business, they will, you’ll be going into areas you’ll need more support with you’ll need additional money.
You have to think along the lines that I will have to go through dilution, I will have to bring other people and treat them as part of the team as opposed to not part of the team, I have been at the end of exits, many times where the founders zone, maybe 10 15% of the company at that point and no more. So realize, you know, the further up the curve you go, the less ownership you have, but then the value of the business is so much greater. You have to keep both in mind, not just my ownership, but what is the value of the company, because you’re getting a slight smaller slice of the pie, but the pie is much bigger as you go up the curve.
Roy Barker 23:59
Yeah, if you have, like a real home run, going to do DC that the the founders do get to stay in and have their still run the business and still have, you know, somewhat autonomy and control or does at some point when it gets to be too, you know, a certain size or certain, you know, I don’t know how you would gauge it but more you know, the professional start stepping in and kind of moving the founder over.
Yes, as the company gets bigger, you will also find that as a founder, you’re going to need many more skills many more hours. And it really is a balancing act. What is the vision of the founder Do you like working at the early stage, you want to work at the later stage, you want to learn new skills, you want to be on the road this much and you have to start thinking through what it takes to really run a company at a much higher level.
And I find many founders really have a passion for innovation and other things where they’re happy to step out. Others want to stay in and so forth. And that’s fine, you’re going to have to start to take on other roles and bigger roles and so forth that you haven’t before. So it really depends, I think, on what the founders vision is about what they want to do. So and but you’re right is as company gets bigger VCs are going to be expecting higher level skill sets, different activities to grow the business. And if you’re signing up for it, that’s great. If not, then we’ll probably need to bring somebody else in. It’s certainly we need to expand the team itself or supporting that growth.
Get Your House In Order
Roy Barker 25:33
Yeah, the other thing, I guess, Funding 101: Actionable Advice, it’s also good when we talk about getting our house in order, that’s probably a good time to be have professionals brought in we need to probably get our lawyer that’s going to be watching out for our interest. But we also probably need to have a CPA or somebody that is doing our books, not just, you know, I’ve been I guess once you get to this level, it’s not going to be okay that I’ve got a you know, a scratch sheet here down with our revenues and expenditures from last year.
That’s a good point, you know, we one of the issues we get into is, you know, companies when they first start off, and they’re very small, and so forth, there are certain things you have to do when you run a business, you have to pay your payroll taxes, you have to pay your income taxes, and many startups, especially in Texas, are thinking me pay taxes, why would I have to do that? And the answer is, well, we all have to pay taxes, if we’re earning revenue, and making income and so forth.
And you want that part to be clean and done properly. So the books have to be cleaned to show you know that we’re actually complying with the laws and so forth. And that’s one thing investors will look for is that we’re got this part taken care of, it may not be the most sophisticated system in the world. But if we’re getting meaningful numbers, we can manage the business and we’re compliant with the legal then then we’re in good shape.
Roy Barker 26:55
So what do you help with on through Investor Connect, I know that it says that you’re dedicated to the education of startups, and startup investors. So you’re helping the people that are going to be the investors, investing, you kind of help them navigate the pitfalls of being an early, early stage investor. Sure,
I talked to a lot of accredited investors who are from other industries, like real estate, oil and gas and other things. And they say, Oh, I’d love to invest in a startup. I just don’t know how I don’t know what this pre money thing is people keep talking about. And so I actually started this with a, an event, it was a lunch and learn I did an Austin, once a month, where I invite investors to come out we have 50 investors have sandwiches and have investors talk about how you invest in startups give some experience and examples and some case studies. Unfortunately, that model didn’t really scale. It just was a physical thing.
And you know, the camera in the back of the room doesn’t really capture it. So I took it took a step back and said, Well, how do I get this thing online? So podcasting was at the fourth that point, this was in 2013. I said, well, let’s just do podcast interviews with the investors, and then post it and then we’re, we’re natively online and we can get it further.
And it’s to help investors learn how to invest in best way is to listen to other investors talk about what they look for and how they invest. About half the audience are investors. The other half are startups. startups are trying to figure out what what investors are looking for investors trying to figure out, well, how are other people doing this, and found that that was a great way to do education was through the podcast program.
One of the best things I ever listened to when I was becoming an angel investor was what was called the Frank Peter show. Brian Peters was a tech coast Angel out of Southern California that did over 450 interviews, and they were hour long interviews. They’re beautifully prepared. And he interviewed VCs, angels and others about how they did diligence and how they screened deals and so forth. Then, I learned more from that than anything else. And thought, well, podcasting is a great medium for education. So I went ahead and formed the 501 c three and said, Well, this is just going to be about education. And so make clear. So we are promoting things, you know, better off from that. We’re really here just to learn. And that’s how we came up with it.
Roy Barker 29:18
Yeah, and I guess on the flip side of that, Funding 101: Actionable Advice the accelerators, you’ve got one that the SKU Incubation Station that you’re involved with, and then you’d previously been involved one with Dallas, who were those designed for when when would I want to come? You know, is it like, do you do you need to have the product service or whatever, before you come or can you just come like, Hey, I’m interested in starting something up, this would be a good, good place to learn.
Sure. So in Austin, I had an attorney named Sherry when wrestling Academy saying she wanted to help the startup scene in Austin. And we looked around and all of the tech things were pretty well being done. It didn’t feel like we needed yet another one, but I noticed when I’d ran this CTN grew up in Austin, that half the investments were in consumer product goods. And I thought that’s interesting.
They all said they were tech investors, but yet they’re really ncpg. Tthat was an area that was coming up that was new millennials wanting their own brands and new innovations in food were really taken to the fore. So I suggested, let’s do this consumer product goods. You put that program together under the name eq bation station. And we later renamed it to skew for what they you know, the categorization of products on the shelf. It really took off. Today, they’ve got 35 companies per semester going through the program, it’s national, and what it does, and we had some great returns and exits from the early days, when we put it together, we built a great group of mentors that came in and gave the education for it.
So somebody has a product and they, they they actually have a product that was one rule we had is you had to have sold it. Most of them had bolted and the stove at home in the kitchen. And then they were selling it in the local farmers market that counts. But you’re you’re out there with a product. And now in the program, we were helping rebrand, repackage it, get them on the shelf at Whole Foods and other groceries and so forth. Most of them are food and beverage products of the time. It’s later grown to include health, wellness, and other aspects as well. So it’s for people that have an initial product, but they really need some education and putting their plans together.
They’re the same one in Dallas, the NFC accelerate was a near field communication, it was great technology came together and help companies come and put their their product together for it also, and get it out to new applications and so forth. So accelerators are great, but it’s best to show up with a product of some kind. So you get real real benefit. Otherwise, you’re it’s hard to get much traction with sales and marketing and so forth without that.
Roy Barker 31:50
Okay. Funding 101: Actionable Advice. Yeah, and those are great, because it’s like you said, it’s easy to go so far with your product, it’s taking it to that next level is where all the all these things can really help the founders out.
Absolutely. There’s a lot to be learned to learn in a business. And it’s great to learn from people that are in your industry and sector in skew, we were spending a lot of time making introductions to buyers and brokers for different distribution channels explaining how the the the fees work, and so forth. Talking about fundraising had many people come in, say, Well, I just want to raise once be done with it. But in the CPG deal, you’re raising every 24 months, whether you need it or not, because that’s how you grow the business, you had to find more inventory to go on more shelves and add new products to the line. So it was it’s gonna be part of everybody’s job is to raise funding. So let’s go ahead and get good at it.
Roy Barker 32:48
Yeah, I guess. What about location? if, you know, in our state, of course, Austin has become such a hotbed for you know, it’s kind of this, I guess, the Silicon Valley of Texas now from what I understand, you know, a lot of startups and things going on, but does proximity have anything to do if I’m, you know, way out in West Texas somewhere? Am I going to need to like probably relocate to a city center to get more traction or with virtual environment cannot really do a lot of this online as well.
So after COVID, I’d say the answer is you probably does doesn’t matter where you are, at this point, you can be anywhere and go raise funding first. Meetings are always on online calls like this one. And so it’s a great way to get out and meet people my coaching is you need to have a national perspective on your fundraise from day one. It’s great to get money from your local community and family and friends and so forth. But very quickly, you’re going to be looking national with it. So where you’re located is not quite as important. Some products need to benefit from one location or another based on how close you are to the resources, how close you are to the customer. But from an investor point of view, it really is a it doesn’t matter anymore where you’re located.
Roy Barker 34:05
That’s awesome Funding 101: Actionable Advice. Well, Hall, I certainly appreciate you taking time out of your day to come and talk with us anything else that you want to leave the listeners with to talk about them angel or VC investing.
I say now’s a great time to if you haven’t be come an angel investor but want to now’s a great time to get out there. There’s a lot of great deals. COVID has given us a whole new startup cycle that’s beginning now a whole new set of care abouts. And that’s when startups really thrive stock markets at an all time high, the interest rates are near zero. So there’s plenty of funding going out for startups these days. We see a tremendous rush we hear about the big tech companies going under regulatory and breaking up at some level.
There’s going to be even more opportunity coming from the spaces that that leaves open to new startups. So I think we’re in a startup mode and we’ll be I think for the next five years. Kicking off this new cycle. So if you have a thought about it, now’s the time 25% of the people that were employed before COVID are talking about finding a new job afterwards. And oftentimes that means finding you’re starting your own business. So if you have a business and you want to raise funding of glad to work with anybody, just let me know and glad to talk with you about how to raise funding our website, TEN Capital Group has quite a bit of information as well, you guys, calculators etc, to help as well.
Roy Barker 35:31
Okay, great. Before we get away Funding 101: Actionable Advice, a couple questions, first off, do you have Is there a tool or a habit, something that you do every day or use every day in your life professional or personal, that really adds a lot of value.
I do a podcast every day called the startup Funding Express. So it’s a two minute podcast that I put together. It’s a great educational tool. It’s very granular, you can either read it or listen to it. But it’s a tool that teaches you something about startup funding and investing and Investor Connect site. We have a you can listen to it there. But we also put it you can subscribe it to it in an email, will it where it shows up where you can read or listen to it Monday through Friday is one to two minute read. And it’s something that you can learn about that really helps you with the startup funding world over time, it’ll build your knowledge base in a nice way. Okay.
Roy Barker 36:23
So let’s tell people, of course, who do you like to work with? How can you help them? How they can reach out, get a hold of you. And then also tell us where we can find the podcast at?
Sure, So we like to work with entrepreneurs who are in the market and growing their business. And we love to work with people that have a growth story, things are moving forward. If you need help with like from an accelerator, whatever, it’s best to go to accelerators. But if it’s just we’re just doing well and we just need funding to go forward. That’s who we look to work with. And the best way to reach us is through Ten Capital. Group. And the podcast is on the investorconnect.org websites we have two websites there and investor Connect.org is the podcast site itself.
Roy Barker 37:09
Okay, great. Well, again, thanks so much for taking time out of your day. If you’re on the investor side if you’re on if you’re a founder and thinking about looking for some money, reach out to Hall lead and see what he can do for you. Again, that’s going to do it for us on this episode. You can find us at thebusinessofbusinesspodcast.com we’re on all the major podcast platforms iTunes, Stitcher, Google Spotify, we’re not a one that you listened to.
If you’ll reach out I’d be glad to add so you can listen easier. Also, we’re on all the major social media platforms probably tend to hang out on Instagram a little bit more so you can reach out to us there. A video of this interview will go to our YouTube channel when the episode goes live. So until next time, take care of yourself and take care of your business Funding 101: Actionable Advice.
Thank you Roy