InProcess Podcast

Angel and Venture Capital Investing, Part Three: Top Mistakes Companies Should Avoid When Pitching for Capital

In the final installment of our three-part podcast series called "Angel and Venture Capital Investing," show hosts Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon, along with Mike Siavage of Trusted Counsel speak with Brad Feld, an American Entrepreneur and co-founder of the venture capital (VC) firm Foundry Group in Boulder, Colo.

In the final installment of our three-part podcast series called "Angel and Venture Capital Investing," show hosts Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon, along with Mike Siavage of Trusted Counsel speak with Brad Feld, an American Entrepreneur and co-founder of the venture capital (VC) firm Foundry Group in Boulder, Colo.

The amount of capital in the marketplace today has reached extraordinary levels. However, just because there’s new-found money more readily available for entrepreneurs doesn’t mean that VC firms are handing it out like candy. Start-ups come, and start-ups go. In fact, more than 50 percent of companies receiving VC investments still fail. 

Statistics like this allow VC firms to be particular about where they invest their money and compel them to do everything in their power to ensure the right fit when it comes to their investments―for both sides.

In the final installment of our three-part podcast series called “Angel and Venture Capital Investing,” show hosts Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon along with Mike Siavage of Trusted Counsel speak with Brad Feld, an American entrepreneur, author, blogger, and co-founder of the venture capital firm Foundry Group in Boulder, Colo. Brad has been an early-stage investor and entrepreneur for more than 25 years. He began financing technology startups in the early 1990s first as an angel, and later as an institutional investor. He was an early investor in Zynga, MakerBot, and Fitbit. Brad has also directed his knowledge and intent to make entrepreneurs smarter by authoring and coauthoring several books about entrepreneurship, venture capital, and startups. His most recent book is his third edition of “Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist.”

“An important part of growing, building and evolving companies involves doing it in a way that has, maybe to be cliché about it, a lot of emotional IQ,” said Brad. “Real engagement and real involvement with the people, and a view that you're working with each other as partners rather than antagonists is an important part of how we think about working with companies. Our strategy isn’t about investing in every great company. Instead, we want to pick 10 companies a year we think could be great.”

During the course of the podcast, entrepreneurs will learn about the:

  • Importance of the 60-second pitch
  • Top mistakes business founders make when pitching for capital
  • Benefits of using a professional advisor and legal team well versed in VC deals
  • How to prepare for and what to expect in your first meeting with a VC firm
  • Impact of obsession vs. passion

Learn about the other nuances involved with pitching VC firms by streaming the conversation in its entirety in the player below, or download it to your mobile device via iTunes. Don’t miss a single episode, subscribe to our show “In Process Podcast” on iTunes to receive this episode as well as future episodes to your smartphone.

Need a Responsible and Committed Workforce? Hire a Refugee. Here's How and Why You Should.

Happy Warehouse Workers

The city of Clarkston, Ga is a top destination for refugees and the Mayor, along with business leaders, have seized the opportunity to tap into a pool of workers who are responsible, committed and capable. Clarkston  is located  just 10 miles northeast of Atlanta that has earned the nickname “Ellis Island of the South.” In the 1990s, refugee programs in the United States identified Clarkston as a good fit for displaced persons of many different backgrounds based on its housing market and convenient access to public transportation and major highways.

This week in In Process, we speak with Clarkston Mayor Edward “Ted” Terry and Chris Chancey, CEO of Amplio Recruiting, a staffing company for the talented refugee workforce, about the innovative and compassionate things this small Georgia town has done to earn its tagline “Where Possibilities Grow.” 

Mayor Terry, the youngest person to hold this position in Clarkston’s 135-year history, has more than 17 years of experience in public service and is leading Clarkston's vision to become a more welcoming and compassionate community. Earlier in his career, Mayor Terry worked as a consultant for a wide array of legislators, school board members and non-profits. During that time, he helped raise millions of dollars for campaigns and causes, focusing on uniting individuals and businesses behind a common goal of creating a better society. 

“I’m a millennial mayor and have often been called a hipster, which I think is a compliment,” said Mayor Terry. “I came to Clarkston almost seven years ago just as a temporary situation, but got involved politically because I saw there was a need in the community. The more I learned about its 35-year history of refugee settlement, it became apparent to me that this really is the best of what America has to offer.”

For Mayor Terry, he saw an opportunity to build on the microcosm of what a “more peaceful and prosperous world could be like.”

Similarly, Amplio Recruiting’s Chris Chancey sees himself as a social entrepreneur. In 2014, Chris visited Clarkston to learn more about the refugee resettlement process in America. He saw an opportunity to employ these legal and diligent newcomers while providing much-needed resources for companies all over Atlanta.

The dream of staffing Atlanta companies with talented refugee workers became a quick reality. By 2016, refugees placed by Amplio Recruiting were deeply engaged with products and services offered by Wal-Mart, Google, Tesla and dozens of other companies in Atlanta. This year, Amplio Recruiting has launched locations in Raleigh, N.C., Austin, Dallas, and London.

“We've been in the process of opening the London office and have had conference calls with several major companies such as Starbucks and L'Oreal, as well as mom-and-pop stores and manufacturing facilities that are already interested in using our services there,” said Chris. “Clarkston has a good concept so we can look at that and replicate it  in other parts of the world where that same kind of collaboration and cohesiveness is needed to really find a path forward for refugees in need of a new start.”

According to Mayor Terry, refugees who come to America are almost exclusively families, and often three generations in one household. The goal is to help get one of the adults fully employed so the family can afford housing and transportation. To further help its residents, the city is focused on creating affordable housing, access to public transportation, and other refugee resettlement issues such as innovative new models around civilian-led policing, tiny-house development, and micro-farming. As if that’s not enough, Mayor Terry has also committed Clarkston to a goal of 100-percent clean energy by 2050.

“We’re creating a walkable community,” said Mayor Terry. “The grocery store, the schools, the community center, the library, the houses of worship―they're all literally in one square mile within a 10-minute walk.”

He believes there’s good reason why the city is nicknamed “Ellis Island of the South.” According to Mayor Terry, “The average refugee stays two to four years, some a lot longer. Once people gain employment, they are looking for homes to buy or other places to move to and expand, so it's a good entry point for a lot of new Americans.”

At the Intersection of Three Great Needs

Chris started Amplio Recruiting in 2014 after working with an international business in  microfinance. Helping people get capital enabled him to follow that process all the way to his own backyard and find a way to do something for the refugees who needed help getting settled in the United States. Despite the resistance to the refugee influx, and the fears some had about dangerous people coming into the country, Chris forged on with his venture to perform a vital recruiting service.

"Whether or not we agree that these refugees should be resettled in the United States or in Clarkston, they are here. If they can add value to our community and we can pay a living wage to them, then it seems like a great match,” said Chris. “There's one gentleman I recruited, a former Iraqi Air Force General under Saddam Hussein, who is now a property manager at an apartment complex. He resettled in Clarkston almost 15 years ago. Although I don’t think he ever thought he was going to become an Air Force General in the American military, we were able to apply those same skills in managing a really good property.”

According to Chris, most of the refugees are just looking for an opportunity to work, learn quickly, put food on the table and give their children a good education. Many of the golf-course communities in and around Atlanta have cooks, servers and turf maintenance people employed through his services.  

He also partners with The Lantern Project to help train people in construction skills. “Right now there's a ton of electricians who need a good place to work. They’ve been training for a year to go into welding or pipefitting. We have a lot of folks who are stepping into those roles, and as you know Atlanta is booming with opportunities in construction. There's a huge labor shortage, so it's been great to be able to fill in those spots,” Chris added.

Over the years, Chris has witnessed the impact his efforts have had on the business community. For those companies that hire refugees, they learn quickly that a hard work ethic, combined with investments in training, pays off. The business gains a qualified, dedicated employee; the workers are able to give their families stability in an unstable world; and the community becomes more acquainted with the refugees and embraces them―instead of fearing them.

Chris and Mayor Terry are believers in pushing one’s comfort zone. “Chris is connecting people face to face,” said Mayor Terry. “That's what we’ve got to focus on now. Forget the media, forget what's on the Internet, and take that next step out into the real world and see for yourself.”

Stream the conversation in the player below to hear about the interesting ways Mayor Ted Terry and Chris Chancey are helping to build a city that serves as a safe landing spot for refugees, while giving employers access to an eager, dedicated and dependable workforce. You can also subscribe to In Process on iTunes to receive this episode as well as future updates from the show on your smartphone.

Speed up Innovation Success. Dump the Junk

Blast off Innovation

Bluetooth, the Apple iPhone, Facebook, and 4G (the fourth generation of mobile telecommunications), are undoubtedly some of the most important inventions of the 21st century. Colossal ideas of the future that required some serious innovation processes to reach each of their respective launches. This is where end-to-end process comes in, according to innovation strategist Susan Reed. In other words, to reach launch quickly and effectively, organizations need to place decision and success metrics in front of their innovation processes in order succeed.      

In this episode of In Process: Conversations about Business in the 21st Century, hosts Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon of Trusted Counsel speak with strategist Susan Reed about innovation. Reed is the founder and CEO of EdgeDweller, which for 30 years has transformed organizations and individuals through front-end innovation practices that are powerful, practical and proven. She and the team at EdgeDweller have helped launch more than 150 products and services for 122 brands representing more than 25 industries. EdgeDweller  specializes in creating high impact programs for corporations, strategic business units, nonprofits, individuals and small groups. Reed is passionately committed to driving up profitability while sustaining high growth through insightful analytics and intentional creativity.  

Disruptive thinking and making it safe
According to Reed, there is a love-hate relationship about disruptive innovation. She believes the key is actually about learning how to make the planning process and the ultimate launch safe. Businesses can reduce the risks and better develop the ideas by working within the organization, or with consultants such as EdgeDweller, to better formulate those ideas and develop very incremental paths to get to the launch. Reed says, “We create those ideas but show organizations a very incremental path to get there from where they are today. So if you can prove it in step one, you move to step two. That’s the only way, until you see it through.”  

During the course of the interview, Reed discusses how to reach innovation faster. In essence, one needs to get rid of bad innovation habits. Review the below innovation don’ts to effectively speed up your innovation success.  

Innovation Don’ts (according to Susan Reed):

1. Never, ever start with ideation
Starting with ideation is the least effective path to implementation of innovation. And this is very often where we start. “Really?” you ask. Unfortunately, most organizations don’t have success decision metrics in place, hence, there is no agreement on what equals true innovation if you start off with ideation. As a result, little if anything will get implemented.

2. No more one offs
As we all know, things move very quickly in this day and age. So if you believe that you can create an innovation and then give it an incremental upgrade, it’s going to be out of date before it even launches. It’s important to realize that you’ve got to have that long-term plan that requires a series of actions that need to happen behind the first innovation.

3. Forget skills-based or cross-function based teams
The idea behind this statement is that if you use these types of teams, you will only receive incremental ideas, versus real innovative ideas. These teams are working in this space daily; hence they know the rules and boundaries.

4. No more fun fest creative extravaganzas
While clearly not intentional, you are setting up your organization for failure if you don’t have a way to capture ideas and implement the really good ones that are suggested. Having an idea party or meeting will lead to frustration. You’ll end up in a worse place than you were when you started. Reed also refers to this don’t as “the rise and fall of excitement” -  it is just that.  

5. Never tell people that the innovation project starts with R&D or customer insights
Companies are beginning to realize this. A recent study showed that these practices are actually limiting growth and innovation.  So while experts agree that organizations need R&D and customer insights, they recommend that you wait until future states are created, then use it for the feasibility of those ideas, to support them.

So are you ready to innovate or do more of it? Susan Reed recommends the following: Have a serious conversation on how you define innovation, what you’re willing to do and really understand that and communicate it very clearly to your team. Everything is based on that. When you articulate what it is you’re going to do, make sure that it’s going to work. Also remember that most initiatives don’t have a chance of working. “That’s crazy too.”  

Want to get the full conversation on “Speed up Innovation. Dump the Junk?” Stream this episode in the player below. You can also subscribe on iTunes to receive new episodes of In Process Podcast directly on your smartphone.

Don't Be Blue; Make Your Happiness

Make Your Happiness

In the United States, we live in one of the richest, safest and most free countries in the world. Yet according to the “2016 United Nation’s World Happiness Report”, we rank No. 19. Why is this? We spoke to happiness expert Chris Butsch for some answers. 

Millennials and Unhappiness
A millennial himself, Butsch believes that “millennials are a generation suffering from an unhappiness epidemic.” He argues that the American dream is skewed and that it stunts our happiness because the seeds to a happy life simply aren’t engrained into our culture. Affected a year ago by unhappiness, Butsch traveled the world to fully understand what it means to be happy. He interviewed hundreds of people (including millennials), studied positive psychology and read up on many underreported studies by some of the leading universities in the country, all of which forever changed the way he thinks about happiness. Read on for some of his key findings.

Achieving Workplace Harmony with Millennials
“The wrong approach is to treat millennials differently, or to give them special treatment,” Butsch states. “They like to work for well-run businesses and they don’t work well for companies that give them special treatment or hire a special consultant that tells managers to treat them differently…it all comes down to best practices.” Also, according to Butsch, millennials like to receive regular feedback from management. Studies have shown that millennials are seeking affirmation that the work they are doing is moving them in the right direction. Hence, if feedback is provided to millennials and regularly, it should eliminate ‘that’ millennial asking for a promotion shortly after starting a new job, or worse yet, quitting a new position with little explanation.  

Making Happiness
According to The Journal of Happiness Studies, all happiness derives from just two sources: true happiness and pleasure. Confusing the sources of happiness is something that Americans often do. “True happiness and pleasure are very different and the distinction is important to know,” says Butsch. Activities such as dining with a friend, reading, or volunteering lead one towards true happiness. A pleasure, on the other hand, is something that gives you temporary happiness. Drinking a soda is a perfect example of temporary happiness. If you have dinner with a friend versus drink a soda alone, the next morning you’ll actually wake up happier if you’ve done the true happiness activity of dinner with a friend. “You’ve actually increased your baseline happiness, referred to as your hedonic set point.” So the idea here is to do more true happiness activities.  

 Mindfulness: Moment to Moment Happiness
We all know that meditation, a strategy to lower one’s stress and increase the ability to focus, increases happiness levels. But what you may not know is a meditation technique called mindfulness, a practice that has penetrated many Fortune 500 Companies, including Adobe and Google. Mindfulness allows individuals to be able to reengage fully in the present moment without having distractions. In other words, eating mindful, listening mindful, a mindful walk, etc. So how about turning off your computers and cellphones to be more present? It really is that simple.  The idea is to make peace with your present moment to be happier.

In this episode of In Process Podcast, Trusted Counsel interviews Chris Butsch , speaker, meditation instructor, millennial happiness expert and author of the new book “The Millennial’s Guide to Making Happiness.”  

During the course of the podcast you will learn about:

  • What led Chris to write a book specifically for millennials (and that every office should have a copy of the book)
  • The building blocks of happiness: true happiness versus pleasure
  • The problem with social media and its impact on our happiness levels  
  • How to increase your happiness levels over time
  • Why everyone needs to have a sleep app on their phones

Stream the conversation with Chris in the player below to learn more. Don’t miss an episode, subscribe to InProcess Podcast on iTunes to receive this episode as well as future updates from the show to your smartphone.

Managing Your Business: Keeping Cool When Everything is Hot

Trusted Counsel speaks with Rhett Power

Trusted Counsel speaks with Rhett Power

In this episode of InProcess Podcast, Trusted Counsel interviews Rhett Power, the author of “The Entrepreneur’s Book of Actions” and co-founder of Wild Creations, an award-winning startup toy company.

 According to Power, we are operating in a society defined by instant gratification (think status updates on social media and quick online ordering). We expect immediate results in our daily lives, yet find ourselves surprised when quick fixes in the workplace fail to produce lasting change. Power makes the compelling case that success in todays increasingly competitive business environment requires far more than the typical “10 easy steps.” During the course of our interview with Power, he strongly encourages entrepreneurs and leaders to take action daily to break old habits, think in new ways, and to develop a successful new mindset with thinking strategically.    

Powers recounts his experience in turning around a start-up toy company he’d purchased. He states “we were an utter disaster. We had a terrible business model, but it was a wonderful product. The challenge, was figuring out how to scale this product, manufacture it efficiently, and ship it efficiently. We got our lucky break because of our excellent customer service. Also, we were spending all of our time working in the business, not on the business. So when we got that big order, the light bulb went off and it said to us, we have to stop and start thinking strategically. That was our turning point.”  

After succeeding in turning around the toy business, Power tells us “that’s why I wrote the book.” He explains that he never took time in those first couple of years to work on the business. “I realized how important it was every day to take a few minutes to do the strategic things to think about what you’re doing…to take some time and stop making these rapid-fire decisions that aren’t always thought through.”

Power walks us through his favorite chapters in the book and tells us the one thing that busy entrepreneurs will get out of the book. He also briefly touches upon his coaching program and where his clients often need guidance on. 

Rhett Power is the co-founder of the toy company Wild Creations and author of the new book “The Entrepreneur’s Book of Actions,” about daily exercises for becoming wealthier, smarter and more successful. Power travels the globe speaking about entrepreneurship, leadership, and management; he has presented alongside Kiva’s Julie Hanna, AOL Founder Steve Case, and President Barack Obama. He has written for the Huffington Post, Business Insider, Time, and The Wall Street Journal. Power now has a rapidly growing coaching and consulting practice based in Washington, D.C. and Charleston, South Carolina.    

During the course of the podcast, entrepreneurs and business leaders will learn about:

  • Powers impactful story as an entrepreneur- how he saved his toy company from the brink of bankruptcy to become an award winning business
  • What led Powers to write a book specifically for entrepreneurs

  • How to shift your thinking from “rapid-fire” decisions to developing a new mindset (strategic thinking and decision making)

  • Top issues entrepreneurs often need guidance on  

  • Hiring best practices according to Power, when faced with growing a company rapidly

Stream the conversation with Rhett in the player below to learn more about the above business topics. Discover top techniques to improve your strategic thinking when building a business and break your bad habits. Lastly, listen to leadership lessons that Rhett Power learned along his career as an entrepreneur. Don’t miss an episode, subscribe to InProcess Podcast on iTunes to receive this episode as well as future updates from the show to your smartphone.