Ep. #982 - Accessing Free Founder Perks and Discounts
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, let’s take a peek at founder perks and discounts. Lauren Conaway leads the conversation with Jeff Erickson, head of partnerships at Forecastr. Aside from tips on accessing perks and discounts, they also discuss the value of mentorship and education.
Covered In This Episode
What should early-stage founders take note of? How can you access founder perks and discounts?
Discover the answers from this conversation between Lauren and Jeff. They also give an insightful view of what Forecastr can do for its clients and its methodologies.
Set aside time for this Startup Hustle episode. Hey, saving money is like making money!
- Jeff’s journey into entrepreneurship (02:37)
- Getting the right education and strategies (04:35)
- Transitioning from being an investor to being an employee (07:25)
- Realities of working in a startup environment (09:38)
- The story behind Forecastr (12:17)
- What makes a great founder? (14:45)
- The methodology behind Forecastr (16:10)
- What sets Forecastr apart? (20:23)
- Founder perks and discounts (22:46)
- How did Jeff get to where he is now? (24:40)
- What the future looks like for Jeff Erickson (27:56)
- Tips on how to move forward and grow your business (29:48)
- Taking advantage of the resources available (32:11)
- Where to get dynamic mentors and supporters? (33:55)
- The entrepreneur ecosystem (36:42)
I think a lot of it is that passion, that drive, and that commitment to the vision. Those are the things that are going to get a founder past the hurdles that inevitably come up.– Jeff Erickson
I love helping founders. In both organizations, we could say that we’re trying to increase the likelihood of success for founders. That would be the core of my mission.– Jeff Erickson
None of us have enough money. None of us have enough time or resources. And we’re all kind of scrabbling, but I promise you that if you invest in yourself and in that professional development piece, that networking piece, you’re going to see the payout.– Lauren Conaway
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Lauren Conaway 00:01
And we’re back! Thank you for joining us for yet another episode of the Startup Hustle podcast. I’m your host, Lauren Conaway, founder and CEO of InnovateHER KC. And I gotta tell you about today’s episode sponsor, friends. They have me obsessed. It’s crazy. Today’s episode of Startup Hustle is sponsored by Equip Bids Auctions, your Midwest online auction marketplace to buy and sell stuff. Equip Bid provides dedicated support to affiliates in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa. Join the team and sell everything from heavy machinery to home goods, vehicles and boats to restaurant and kitchen equipment, and tractors to patio furniture. Go to equip-bid.me/startup for details. Or just click the link that we have saved in the show notes! And I gotta tell you, you’re opening a door when you do that, friends, because they have so much cool stuff up for auction. All of those things that you never knew that you needed but you really needed. So definitely check out Equip Bids. Now, today, we have Jeff Erickson with us. And Jeff is the head of partnerships at Forecastr. So a really, really interesting platform was built within the startup and tech space. And he’s going to tell us all about it. Also, we’re going to be talking about things like rewards and perks for founders. We talk about how founders, you know, often the journey is pretty scary. And it’s hard. And, you know, you have those white knuckle lights, but sometimes you get cool shit. And we’re going to be talking about that. So, Jeff, I just want to say thank you so much for taking the time to join us, my friend.
Jeff Erickson 01:40
Oh, man, thank you. I’m honored to be on Startup Hustle. So thanks for having me, Lauren.
Lauren Conaway 01:45
Absolutely. Well, the honor is all ours. And I am gonna go ahead and hop right into it. And I got to ask you, Jeff, would you tell us about your journey?
Jeff Erickson 01:57
My journey? Oh, boy. I don’t know how you go, but maybe I’ll just start by saying I’m from Salt Lake City, Utah, and went to the University of Utah. I had no idea what I really wanted to study. My dad was an accountant. And so, I thought, well, I’ll study accounting because it’s pretty general. And if you’re gonna go into business, everybody says you need to know accounting. So I studied accounting and absolutely hated it. So that was when I started my journey. I got an accounting degree, and I’m like, I know, this is not what I want to do.
Lauren Conaway 02:39
You did the whole thing.
Jeff Erickson 02:42
I went through the whole county degree and finished it. And still didn’t know what I wanted to do. And so, I decided to go get an MBA. Again, it was in business. And so I did an MBA at the University of Utah and enjoyed that much more than you know. You’re the normal class. But I got out of that and really had a love for investing. I found investing in especially small to small-cap stocks and things like that really fun. And that led me to join an investment company, where I kind of cut my teeth on implementing some of the finance and accounting, I guess, that I had been learning. But it was an interesting start to that journey. Because I’m asked a lot of times, what would you do differently? And I probably would have gotten more experience. So I knew what to actually study when I went to school.
Lauren Conaway 03:51
Okay. But yeah, that’s education, right? Internships, shadowing things like mentorship, things like that.
Jeff Erickson 03:57
Yeah. I mean, I got a taste of that and the MBA program, which was really fun and fulfilling. But a lot of the stuff I was learning in my MBA program, I just didn’t have the context for. I mean, I was joking with my son just the other day about, like, when I went through my MBA, I was learning about how to manage people. And I had never managed anybody. And so I think having that experience is something I’ve told him, I’m like, get the experience and then figure out, you know, how the education is applicable?
Lauren Conaway 04:30
Yeah. Well, and I think we all know that within the startup space, that, that entrepreneurial mindset, and you don’t have to be an entrepreneur to have an entrepreneurial mindset. But you know, that problem-solving, creative, resourceful kind of paradigm that a lot of entrepreneurs work within. It’s really cool when you can support that with real knowledge. You know, that accounting background that you have, that MBA, so you’re shoring up a mindset that I’m sure you already possess. But you’re doing so with some really deep knowledge and really important areas? Yeah.
Jeff Erickson 05:06
I think that the accounting degree would have been much more enjoyable if I had had some more context. I mean, learning about auditing credits is not super exciting, but maybe if you have an application for it, yeah, he’s more exciting.
Lauren Conaway 05:20
Well, so it seems like somebody could say to yourself, hey, you know, this is a slog right now. I’m not, you know, loving these classes. But this is going to empower me in my future life as a founder or someone operating in the startup and entrepreneurial space.
Jeff Erickson 05:36
Right, exactly. Yeah, that was really not a context. I didn’t know if I wanted to be a founder, I kind of had these visions that maybe some dad owned my own business, things like that. But it was really, after I was at this investment company for about four years, one of the partners left to go to a small tech startup. And that was my introduction to the startup space. I was like, employee number 15, this little startup company got some stock options, and just absolutely loved it started at the bottom trying to figure out stuff for me to do and ended up just thriving in a way that saw how the startup world works. And that became kind of the platform for what I ended up doing next.
Lauren Conaway 06:33
So yeah, we’ll say so. I think it’s really interesting because you went from a pretty traditional business environment, accounting, and BA to the old deal, and then you worked for an investment firm. And then you ended up within the startup space. So I find it really interesting whenever people are on one side of the investment table and then transition to another. So can you talk to us a little bit about that, like what it was like to go from being an investor to being to working for a company that was probably seeking investment?
Jeff Erickson 07:04
Yeah, for sure. You know, I think from the investment side, I mean, I was doing all the analytics on the deals, and we were looking at different financing opportunities with different companies. And so I got to talk to a lot of founders. And that’s where it got really exciting, you know, talking to these people that are creating businesses and needing financing to kind of get to the next level. And so than jumping into, you know, out of that role of analyzing businesses, to actually being part of a business that is going through the fundraising process became really exciting. Yeah. And, you know, the other thing that I thought was, was kind of fun. I was young at the time and had tons of energy and excitement. But I remember the CEO telling us, it’s like, okay if we’re going to be like the Silicon Valley type companies, everybody’s got to work. I mean, they’re all working 80 hours a week. And so it’s like you’re always on. Yeah. And that wasn’t a detractor to me at that time. And I was like, This is awesome. I remember emailing back and forth with the CEO at, you know, two o’clock in the morning, and I’d send something hit, send it back. And I’m like, Whoa.
Lauren Conaway 08:29
I can’t do that anymore, though.
Jeff Erickson 08:31
No, I know. I’m past that now. But, that was really an exciting time because it was like, Okay, we’re all in this together. And that’s what I loved about the startup world I had equity in this company. And if it succeeded, we all succeeded. And it was so energizing, and it felt like we were a team, and that we all had this common goal of, you know, working to do something great together.
Lauren Conaway 08:58
Absolutely. You know, because when you’re working in startup environments, often, you know, you the shit sometimes hits the fan. And sometimes, as I said, you have those white knuckle 3am nights, and you bolt out of bed just like, Oh, what am I forgetting? And so the people that you work with and surround yourself with, you know, you’re pulling those long hours, and you’re doing all the things like those people become not just your colleagues, but your compatriots like really the folks that kind of keep you were going, you have that, as you said, you have that sense of unified purpose, right. And it’s really amazing. Yeah, I love that feeling so much. And so that turned you on to the startup community ecosystem, kind of the startup ethos and feel. What was that? What was that like for you? You know, you thought when you were going to school for accounting and getting your MBA, you thought that you were going in one direction, and here you end up in a completely, completely different direction?
Jeff Erickson 09:54
Totally, totally. In fact, I wound up on the sell side, which was really interesting because I mean, I remember, I reached out to some folks, I was so passionate about what we were doing, I reached out to some connections I had, and ended up bringing in the biggest deal for the company, just through some connections. And I’m like, this is fun. So I started making more and more sales. And that’s kind of the path I started going down with this company, ended up bringing in a huge percentage of the revenue for the company over the, you know, the course of a few years. But the thing that was different was that I was so excited about this company. If I had been, you know, emailing back and forth the CEO of the investment company at three o’clock in the morning, I probably would have seen it as a grind. It’s like, oh, man, what do I, you know, I’m behind. I have to get this done or something. Here. It was like, No, I want to do this. And that’s what kept me up at night. And so it wasn’t the grind that you might have of a normal job, let’s say.
Lauren Conaway 11:03
Sure. Well, that is awesome. And that’s, I honestly think that that feeling that I have no sense of purpose, sense of excitement and enthusiasm, that passion. You know, that’s what keeps entrepreneurs going. You know, it’s really sometimes it’s the only thing you have, you know, this belief that what you’re doing is important and momentous. And I love that feeling. All right, well, so now I really, really want to know, talk to us about Forecastr.
Jeff Erickson 11:37
So, yeah, Forecastr is an early-stage startup, very similar to probably that company I worked at a Long time ago. Have you drank the Kool Aid? Yeah. And it’s weird, because there was a huge journey in between these two things where, where I had my own company and ran that as a founder for a period of time my wife actually started it. And so I had that experience as a founder, and then ended up going to a company most startups probably are familiar with, called Carta, where we did cap table management for early stage startups when I first joined and, and it’s definitely broadened out to a lot more today. But it was while I was at Carta, that I met the founders of Forecastr. And they were going through the TechStars program. And this was, you know, a few years back, and we just kind of stayed in touch. But, you know, with Carta, I had actually been more on the sell side, I was developing partnerships with accelerators, and venture capital firms and attorneys in the startup space. And again, I was in my element. I loved working with founders. And so as you know, as time went on, the founders of Forecastr eventually reached out and said, Hey, we’re starting to get some traction here. We’re building out our partnerships team, do you know anybody that does what you do at Carta. And we started talking. I’d been at Carta for about four and a half years, and was looking for a smaller company at that point. And it just was the right company at the right time. Forecastr does financial modeling software for early stage startups. So kind of in that same space, I knew a lot of the accelerators, a lot of the venture capital firms, a lot of connections that might be good partners. And I was able to leverage some of that and bring that to Forecastr where it’s been just an amazing journey. One of the things I learned is to look for the founders, who are the founders of the companies. Because while I was at card, I started doing a lot of angel investing as well. And I was always betting on the founders.
Lauren Conaway 14:06
Well, that begs a really, really fascinating question that I have to ask, you know, when you say you’re betting on the founders, what specifically are you betting on? What are you looking for?
Jeff Erickson 14:19
You know, I think a lot of it is that passion, that drive and that commitment, the vision, those are the things that are going to get a founder past the hurdles that inevitably come up, you know, especially an early stage company, you know, there are going to be challenges that could make or break the company, as the founder, and their vision and motivation, their ability to tackle hard problems and figure out solutions. That’s what’s going to help them overcome those things and, and make us determine whether the company survives or dies.
Lauren Conaway 14:59
Yeah, Well, and those are like that kind of, you know, that kind of foundation, you know that core ethic. That’s the kind of thing that you can’t teach, you know, I mean, you can teach a founder process, you can teach a founder optimization, and you know, all of the things but what you can’t teach is that, that passion, that core that says, Nope, can’t stop won’t stop, you know. So I love that. That’s really exciting. Now, talk to us about, talk to us about the methodology behind behind Forecastr. So you’re, you’re helping founders forecast revenue and talk about runway and you’re like really drilling down into their numbers so that they can get funded because No, no funder is going to look at it a startup that doesn’t have a really tight handle and control on their numbers. And think that that’s a good investment. Right, exactly. So what talk to us about how you came to the numbers?
Jeff Erickson 16:01
Yeah. So first off, what happens, what we see happen, a lot of cases is, founders don’t know their numbers, and that can trip them up. And sometimes you can get through. I mean, if you’re pitching to friends and family, or even an early, early stage Angel, maybe they’re going off of your passion, your vision and everything else. But at some point, you have to know your numbers, you have to know that this business actually makes sense on paper. And the earlier you can do that, the better decisions you can make. So what happens quite frequently is a founder will gear up for raising capital. And they’ll realize they need a financial model or something that helps them understand the metrics and the things that they need to be measuring about their business, because that’s what investors are going to start to ask about investors speak in this language of finance, and most founders don’t. And so there’s this learning process that really has to take place where as a founder, if you haven’t been through it, before, you realize that it’s, it’s about the KPIs, um, you’ve got to hit certain numbers, you’ve got to know, you know, what are your costs and certain things, whether it’s your customer acquisition cost, or, you know, your the lifetime value of your customer, those types of things become really important, as you start to really turn this idea and this passion into a real business. And so, building out a financial model becomes a critical element at some point, and hope, and hopefully, early on, because that’s going to make you a better founder. Yeah, well, a lot of times founders will go to a fractional CFO, because I mean, at the early stages, you don’t have money, or you don’t want to give up a huge chunk of the company to bring on a high powered CFO, right, and it’s really experienced in this. So we’ll go to a fractional CFO, they’ll have them build out a financial model for them, they’ll get it back, it’s in a spreadsheet, and it’s got 20 tabs in it. And the founders don’t know how to use it, right, and when they get in there, they play around with it. And all of a sudden, they’ve got circular references happening in Excel and it and then they break their model. And it’s really not that useful. And so what Forecastrs done is we’ve built a financial modeling software, that makes it easy for founders to be able to build out their financial model. But more importantly, we’re helping them on the front end to build their financial model with an analyst that will provide them. So the analysts will go in there and teach them how to build a financial model, teach them what metrics they need to be tracking, and walk through that process. It’s almost an education for the founder. Here’s how my business works on paper. Yeah, we’re in the software. And that becomes a great tool for these early stage founders, where they can now feel confident in the decisions that they’re presenting to investors, but to the decisions that they’re making to run their business.
Lauren Conaway 19:08
Yeah, I feel like to me, it almost seems like the greater benefit actually would be like, hey, you know, this is these are health metrics, like are you doing the right thing was Where do you need to change and, you know, adapt your focus, you know, I so that kind of data is going to be so invaluable to a founder, particularly an early stage founder who might not know all of the levers and all of the, you know, eyes that they have to dot and T’s they have to cross so, so I can’t imagine how astoundingly helpful that would be. Have you gotten really good feedback from users?
Jeff Erickson 19:43
Yeah, that’s what’s amazing. And, and again, when I was looking at Forecastrs, a company, I was looking at the founders. And one of the things that stood out was, well, first, they are a TechStars company that Steve and one of the founders had been through TechStars twice and tech starts as this give first mentality built in. And so that was a key element. But the other element was this, this maniacal customer focus. And we’ve now got 500, over 500 companies using forecasts. And growing very rapidly. I think we’re bringing on about 60 companies a month at this point. F Stephen is still, with every customer that is churning or leaving, he will personally get on the phone with them and talk through, you know, their experience with them. And so it’s that maniacal customer focus that really sets Forecastr apart in terms of every customer matters. It’s been fascinating to see and I’ve learned a ton just watching Steven and Logan, the founders and how they deal with our customers. Yeah, so Yeah, happy customers. I can’t believe how many testimonials we get from customers. And a lot of it comes back to working with the analyst in that first, you know, that first month of service where they’re building out the model with the analyst.
Lauren Conaway 21:19
Yeah, that’s well, that’s incredible. And I have to tell you how much I love the phrase maniacal customer focus. I’m actually like, I’m gonna challenge myself and I’m gonna challenge listeners to try to use that phrase at some point today because man, that was awesome. Do you want to happen speaking of maniacal customer focus, we have an amazing sponsor today for Startup Hustle. Today’s episode of Startup Hustle is brought to you by equip-bid auctions, an online marketplace dedicated to growing small auction businesses. They are solving problems, and they are providing a fun e-commerce or liquidation shopping experience, devalue bitters, go and check out their incredible offerings and sign up at equip dash bid that M E backslash startup or check out the show notes for the link. We made it nice and easy for you. All right. So, Jeff, my friend, I have a question for you. Are you ready? I’m ready. At the top of the episode, we promised our listeners that we were going to talk about some perks. And so I’m gonna put you on the spot a little bit. Talk to us about founder perks, Jeff.
Jeff Erickson 22:26
Okay, I will just say if you’re a startup founder, companies want to serve you. And they’ll make it, they’ll make it easy to sign up for their services. Because if you look at it, they want you to succeed. And if you’re using their products, they’re hoping that you’re the next Google or, you know, unicorns, unicorn, okay. And if you are, they want you to use their services. And if you’re using them early on, hopefully you don’t leave them later on. So you look at a company like AWS, they are famous for helping startups, you know, get free credits, and all kinds of things like that. So that you’re using their services. And as an early stage startup, you don’t really have a lot of capital. And so your every dollar matters, this will give you free credits, and you start using these products for free or these services for free. And then as you start to get, you know, raise capital, or start to bring in revenue and start to become profitable, hopefully you’re still using their services, but now you’re in a position to where you’re actually able to pay for them. And they become more and more valuable to you over time, because they’re ingrained as part of your business. And, you know, I mean, it’s just kind of a great way that startups and service providers can kind of work together. So the reason that we’re probably talking about this subject is a few years back.
Lauren Conaway 24:01
I was gonna say, like, tell us how you’re an expert in this.
Jeff Erickson 24:04
I need to hear even talking about this.
Lauren Conaway 24:07
I just knew that I had to ask the question, because I gotta tell you, Jeff, I want perks. I want to find perks, but tell us how you got here, my friend.
Jeff Erickson 24:17
Okay, so a few years back, I got together with some other folks that were also present, you know, pitching to startups. And we started something called the startup stack. And it was placed where, you know, I was at carta at the time and we could you we were offering startup founders, like free service on carta if you had raised less than a million dollars. And so this was a great perk, and I was shocked at how many founders didn’t know that. And they would pay full price for something that they could get for free. And, and so I was like, Well, where are they? Where do they go to find out about these things? So we put this group together or, and like Dialpad had a startup offer where you get 10 free seats using their software, their software’s Zendesk had an offer. And some folks that I knew, you know, several other companies, they all had these offers that were specifically for early stage startup founders. And so we put together a website, that’s called my startup stack.com. And it’s a place where founders can go and find deals on software or services. They’re specifically for startup founders with big discounts, sometimes free. And so I always tell people, you know, if they’re starting a company, like before you pay for HubSpot, or you know, this software that you’re going to use and buy anyways, go to my startup stack.com. And check to see if there’s probably a discount, I think we’ve now got, it’s coming up on close to $600,000 worth of perks and discounts that are available specifically for early stage founders, through my startups.com.
Lauren Conaway 26:05
Well, I think that one of the key takeaways here, and I’m talking to you founders listening at home, you are valuable. Now, never, ever let it be said that you don’t have value. And you can see the proof in the 1000s of companies and organizations that are trying to attract your business. So just bear that in mind friends. Now, I also want to take a moment to honor and acknowledge something about Jeff in both of your current endeavors, Forecastr and startup stack. You are working in service of founders and entrepreneurs. Is that kind of you? Would you say that? That’s kind of your core.
Jeff Erickson 26:45
I love helping founders. Yes. I, I mean, if our I think in both organizations, if we could say that. We are trying to increase the likelihood of success for founders. That would definitely, you know, go core to my mission.
Lauren Conaway 27:02
Yeah. Well, I certainly sense that about you. And now I’ve got to ask, you know, what are you seeing in the future for, for your various endeavors? What, let’s let’s go five years from now, 10 years from now, what are you seeing for Jeff?
Jeff Erickson 27:19
Yeah, who knows, five years, a long time.
Lauren Conaway 27:23
But I mean, I know you know how to make God laugh, you make a plan, I get it. But let’s dream.
Jeff Erickson 27:28
I mean, honestly, I love what I’m doing right now. And I mentioned, I do a lot of angel investing, I’ve been pretty active. I think I’ve done like 30 deals in the last two and a half years. And so I love again, it gives me an opportunity to work with founders, get to know them, and serve on the advisory board and in some instances. And so again, it goes back to helping founders. I would see that I continue to do that type of stuff here in the, you know, five years out, I’m probably doing the same thing, I would guess. Hopefully, hopefully with a few exits, maybe that might help provide an additional liquidity that would go into additional founders. But yeah, I don’t see me doing a whole lot different.
Lauren Conaway 28:22
Oh, man, that is incredible that means you’ve landed where you need to be really cool.
Jeff Erickson 28:29
Yeah, I guess so.
Lauren Conaway 28:31
I guess. Well, that did you just have an epiphany about your life, Jeff, like right here on Startup Hustle.
Jeff Erickson 28:39
I’m where I need to be. That is awesome.
Lauren Conaway 28:44
Well, so. So talk to us. I do want to talk more about perks. So definitely, you know, sign up at startups stack for sure. But what are some other ways that the founders can kind of take advantage of, I don’t know, programs, discounts, accelerators, like things that can help propel them forward in their business? Can you give us some tips for our listeners at home to take home with them?
Jeff Erickson 29:07
Yeah, for sure. You know, as a startup founder. I mean, don’t be embarrassed to plead the bootstrapping phase. It’s like, look, we don’t have any money. And we, you know, but we’re gonna be a big company. Someday we’re trying to raise capital. So, no, we can’t do a $10,000 sponsorship for this event. I mean, I still plead that with Forecastr, and I mean, we’re raising, we’re getting ready to raise a decent round of capital. And, but still, I mean, every dollar counts. We’re at this phase where, you know, no, I’m not going to pay $10,000 for a sponsorship. Yeah. Can we get in for free? And a lot of times they want you there. And so take advantage of that, that bootstrapping stage or even the early stage of getting deals. Having people have compassion for you, when I talk to the folks that, you know, later stage companies, they always want to pay for everything, because we’re still an early stage startup. And so let them do that. And then I think the other thing I would say to founders is partner up with those, those bigger later stage companies or even more established companies that have big marketing budgets, and you can associate your brands with them. But they’ll pay for, for a lot of the marketing, and they’ll pay for being on, you know, webinars or whatever. So teaming up with some of those, those companies can can also be a great way to kind of get in, then when it comes to perks, I mean, not only software, but even services, I would, I mean, when you’re talking to startup attorneys, I mean, one of the one of the things I always tell founders is make sure you have a good startup attorney. But startup attorneys are expensive. Yeah. And so as an early stage founder, even there, you can, you know, shop around, but also talk to, you know, the startup attorney and say, how do you work with it? Where, you know, how do you work with early stage companies where we don’t have capital to pay you, you know, seven $800 an hour. And a lot of teams, they’ll they’ll openly tell you this, here’s some ways we could potentially work together. Yeah. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge that you don’t have capital and you’re trying to raise and be conservative with your capital.
Lauren Conaway 31:33
Yeah, well, and I want to kind of underscore a point here, because as you were talking, you mentioned, startup attorneys. So here in KC, we have a very well known very active law firm that actually offers pro bono hours to startup founders. Now, specifically, they are looking for founders of color. But that is indicative. There are many programs out there. And there are many resources that you can avail yourself of, you know, I know, some, some attorneys and some finance folks who do office hours, you know, leverage those relationships and take advantage of those offerings whenever you can. And sometimes that requires a lot of Googling, and a lot of asking around and talking to people who’ve done it before to find these, these opportunities. So it’s work, but the ROI, the payoff in the end is going to help you grow your business, craft your business develop and it’s going to help you exponentially, you know, so definitely put some time and some thought into finding those resources that can help you. And really, we’ve kind of had two different conversations here, Jeff, we’ve talked, so I’m gonna go ahead and take a stab at takeaways for our listeners. So even numbers were the first part of the conversation.
Jeff Erickson 32:52
Know your numbers, your numbers.
Lauren Conaway 32:54
And that’s where Forecastr can help. But then that second piece, the conversation we’re having now is to take advantage of the opportunities and the programs and the benefits that are available to you. Right?
Jeff Erickson 33:09
Right on. Yes.
Lauren Conaway 33:15
Well, so I gotta I gotta ask you, Jeff, you know, one of the things that I just find so intriguing, about, about you, specifically, as a founder is how multifaceted your experiences you kind of, you know, started out a little bit more corporate than you were on the investment side than you were at a startup. And so I want to ask you, you know, how can founders, find someone like you find multi-varied, dynamic mentors and supporters and employees? Like, where did the dive go? Well, you don’t even know. I was about to say, diamond in the rough. And I’m like, Wait, you’re not a diamond in the rough. You’re just a diamond man. So how can founders find diamonds like you?
Jeff Erickson 34:00
Oh, you are two kinds. I will say so I did a webinar earlier today with a group called one valley. And I’m a mentor for one valley, for example. And I’m also do mentoring for like skew and some of the accelerator groups for venture capital.org and in different places. And so go seek out some of these programs and a lot of them are free, where if you become a member of the community, you can get tapped into the network. And so you know, the mentoring opportunities I there are people way smarter than me probably more experienced than me that are doing mentoring in different areas that could really benefit your companies. So seek those out. The other thing I’ll mention is, you know, one of the huge benefits of whether it’s part of a community or an accelerator and incubator or whatever is networking with other founders. And Lauren, you mentioned this of where you find some of this stuff, whether it’s, you know, asking other founders, Hey, what did you do when you ran into this situation? Or what software are you using? Or who are you using as a startup attorney, that becomes so valuable. So just that community get involved with your local community, I’m guessing Kansas City probably has a great startup ecosystem, or some we do so.
Lauren Conaway 35:28
So I was gonna say, my organization innovator, it’s a leadership community for women and individuals of marginalized gender experience, but we have a lot of startup folks, small business owners, entrepreneurs, and it’s a really robust community. And one of the easiest things to do is ask someone who’s done it before you know, find your, your local 1 Million Cups chapter, whatever, you know, those entrepreneurial support organizations, find them and follow them. One of the things that I always tell people because I go to a lot of events, Jeff, like I just do, I’m a community builder, and it’s kind of it’s part of the job. But people are always like, how do you find these cool events, and it’s like, I communicate with these organizations, you know, I follow him on social media, I subscribe to the newsletters, I like you have to accept that. Yeah, you just get more mail. Now, if you want to, you know, more email, if you want to figure out how to connect to your local entrepreneurial ecosystem, it takes work and it takes, you know, kind of being pretty vigilant, really just figuring out where the opportunities are, where can I connect with people who can help me? Right, spot on.
Jeff Erickson 36:36
And Lauren, one of the things that you mentioned was going to events. Yeah, and the more events you go to, the more events you hear about, because you’re going to meet people that are also part of the community, and they’re getting to know about other things. That’s right, and be open to that. It just becomes such a wealth of benefit through the connections you make. Some of those connections you make through, you know, just networking can make a huge difference in your business. won’t neglect that, as a founder, make sure you carve out time to be able to network with other founders.
Lauren Conaway 37:13
Yeah. Well, and it’s really like it might sound or feel like we’re having a different conversation from the perks conversation. But the fact is, like, it’s all the flip side of the coin, like the fact is, you have to invest time and attention into finding opportunities for yourself. And often, those opportunities come in the form of discounts and perks, but they also come in the form of people, mentors, and people who can champion you and advocate for you. Just, you know, make sure that you’re, I get it, you know, as founders, we are all tired. None of us have enough money now that none of us have enough time or resources. And we’re all kind of scrambling, but I promise you that if you invest in yourself, and if you invest in that professional development piece, that networking piece, you’re gonna see the payout for sure. Let me one final, you know, one final tactical question, Jeff, like, is there any other advice or any words of encouragement that you would like to share with our founders out there?
Jeff Erickson 38:19
You know, I mean, I already mentioned the startup attorney. Get a good startup attorney. But the other thing I would say, and I got this probably from my days at Carta, but make sure you understand equity and how it works. And keep your cap table up to date. You know, be on top of it. Project out what this means if you raise, you know, a $5 million round, and you’re safe. And convertible notes, convert, know all of that stuff if you’re going into a round of financing. The best book that I would recommend for founders is if you’re raising capital, Venture Deals by Brad Feld. Brad is a must-read for every, you know, a founder that’s going to be raising capital.
Lauren Conaway 39:17
Brad Feld would be one of the co-founders of TechStars. He actually owned a startup house here in the Kansas City Startup Village. So yeah, here in KC, we are very familiar with Brad Feld. We love him a lot, it’s really cool. He also wears crazy shirts, so definitely check that out. But yeah, find those thought leaders. So, Jeff, we have come up with the human question. Are you ready?
Jeff Erickson 39:45
I think so.
Lauren Conaway 39:46
Okay, here it comes. And I’m gonna ask you to tell me what I was like. I’m going to ask him to tell himself because I feel like he could handle this question. I don’t. Generally, I don’t always ask this question. But the question is, what is your guilty pleasure?
Jeff Erickson 40:00
Guilty pleasure. Yeah, you know, I would have to say chocolate almonds from Costco. They come in tens, and I have to be really careful because if I get them, I eat them way too fast.
Lauren Conaway 40:15
Yeah. Like people have to physically go away from you.
Jeff Erickson 40:19
Yes, yes, exactly that. That is what immediately came to mind. And I realized that I’m so yes.
Lauren Conaway 40:29
All right, that is a delicious guilty pleasure. And now I have a craving for it. Thank you for that. Well, Jeff, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today. And friends, do just want to remind you really, really quickly that we owe a huge thing to our episode sponsor. Once again, this episode of Startup Hustle was sponsored by our friends over at Equip-Bid Auctions. Join, sell, earn. It’s that easy with Equip-Bid Auctions. Become an affiliate and start or grow your independent business by visiting equip-bid.me/startup today. Even easier? Head to StartupHustle.XYZ. Click on our partner’s page. You’ll see Equip Bid’s Founder Andy has everything set up for you to go make money. Go build your business within a business! I also want to remind you, friends, that Startup Hustle is powered by you. We love to tell founder stories, but we want to hear what you want to hear. So find us; go to StartupHustle.XYZ. We have a pretty active Startup Hustle chat community on Facebook. You can find us on social media, but reach out to let us know about the topics you want us to cover. Let us know how you feel about the information we’re sharing because we do it all for you. We are also very, very grateful that you keep on coming back to us week after week. We will catch you next time.