Throughout my career, I’ve observed that the best work partnerships are built over time. However, in startup fundraising, time is of the essence. Nurturing and building working relationships with investors may have to happen quickly, without the benefit of multiple interactions and mutual experiences.

So how did we, as a small startup team, quickly understand whether a potential investor would turn into a Partner?

We observed. For our own purposes, we categorized investors into five tribes: Partners, Speculators, Condescenders, Predators and Pirates.

What did we learn? One key learning was that inconsistent behavior, 1-on-1 versus in a group meeting, was a strong indicator of a potential non partner. …

I am so inspired by organizations and individuals working to solve critical social problems, social entrepreneurs. I read about them, model our CEO WATTAGE efforts on how they quantify data and set smart targets, starting the journey to real change.

Imagine my surprise when I recently found myself in a surreal summer camp setting. Not reading about, but actually surrounded by, real life superheroes. And these amazing people are using their superpowers to help think about and solve critical social problems. IRL, each one striving to make the world a better place.

This was Foo Camp 2016.

Foo, short for Friends of O’Reilly, is an annual curated gathering brought together by legendary community builder Tim O’Reilly, powerhouse lady President Laura Baldwin, and their talented teams. The O’Reilly org provides space, food, limited infrastructure, and step back to watch what happens when the nodes of these superheroes collide. …

and Not Regret It

As we began fundraising for a Series A in early 2015, a mentor wisely reminded me that each pitch is a lesson.

A year and a quarter later — and 250 pitches wiser — we decided not to take on investors.

We went back to bootstrapping.

And before we get all “the pitch or the pitcher/s, must be terrible,” please allow for some additional context.

We had enough funds committed, twice. More important than the money was choosing our investment partners wisely. …

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