June 3, 2021

Getting Started in Startups and Reaching an Acquisition - Eddy Badrina on Buzzshift

Getting Started in Startups and Reaching an Acquisition - Eddy Badrina on Buzzshift

Eddy Badrina, CEO of Eden Green, previously the Co-founder of Buzzshift talks about his transition to the startup world and the major lessons he learned along the way. We speak about his first time fundraising and some mistakes that Eddy made. We also speak about the acquisition of Buzzshift and how he got reached that point.


Eddy's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eddybadrina/

Elden Green: https://www.edengreen.com/

Buzzshift: https://www.buzzshift.com/

Episode of FR on investing in Ag-Tech with Grant Newlin: https://www.fundraisingradio.com/Grant-Newlin/

Transcript

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Started all right and today's guest speaker will have Eddie Katrina CEO of in garden.

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In green 2nd try and today's guest speaker will have a off in green and previously the CO founder of bus shift that was acquired just a few months ago,

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and Lisa,

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we'll talk about bus shift how it got to the acquisition,

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how it got to acquisition during.

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They've been dynamic and also we'll talk about it in green, the fundraising for it and.

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A bunch of other topics such as mentoring and Andrew investing. So, Eddie, let's kick it off by you giving us some background on yourself and on boss shift.

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Yeah, absolutely. So, 1, thanks for having me on the show. It's a pleasure to be on.

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It's, it's always interesting to hear from other entrepreneurs and founders about how they started their companies, and just the trials and tribulations of of starting companies and then raising money.

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And so it's a, it's always great to be on the shows like this just to.

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Uh, be able to impart a little bit of my own experience. I wouldn't even call it wisdom. Just my experience of going through that process. So thanks for having me.

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Lovely Hi present. Thanks for your time to participate. So, actually, I'll change my question a little bit, but if we're going to get to it and just a few questions, but 1st, let's talk a little bit more about in green. So you've raised 12Million dollars for it. So far, it's also more about the idea behind it and green.

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What does it do? Sure. So eating greens vision is to change the way that we farm food, and that we feed people and we do that through a patented platform, a greenhouse platform.

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That allows us to grow a lot of greens up to 500 tons of greens in 1 year, ingest an acre and a half of a greenhouse through our vertical farming technology.

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So we're able to shrink 35 traditional farming anchors into an anchor and a half and while we're using that little of land, we're also using 98% less water than a traditional farm.

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So, whereas a traditional farm uses about a 100,000 gallons of water. We only use 90,000 gallons of water.

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And by the way 1 of our households uses about 45,000 gallons of water a year.

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So, in the time that it takes 2 households to brush teeth and flush that we are able to grow close to 80,900,000 pounds, a leafy greens.

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So, it's pretty amazing that we're able to do it so efficiently and then light costs compared to some of the other, a controlled environment.

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Agricultural entities are, like, costs are about a 5th of the electricity costs. That others are so less less land, less water, less electricity and energy all to feed folks locally.

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Uh,

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so,

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you know,

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really,

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uh,

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the,

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the mission is to change the way,

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uh,

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that we read the,

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and change the way that we define locally ground and we redefine it in terms of it,

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uh,

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greens being accessible greens being,

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uh,

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uh,

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consistent year round consistent.

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So, 811 to 13 harvests a year and a, and it's safe.

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Right so food safety is paramount to us and when you're shipping that amount of leafy greens on a,

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every other day,

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you know,

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twice,

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3 times a week basis,

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you're really cutting down on the the safety issues that come about when they're in the supply chain for.

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So long,

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whether that's whether it's rot,

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waste pathogens,

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all all those things are cut down in terms of food safety,

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because it's indoors,

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because it's hydroponic ground because it's the way that the way specific way that we grow it and because it's being harvested.

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So frequently.

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Nice this is a really cool. We'll definitely get back to it closer to the end of that, because we're going to be discussing your current situation what you're currently working on, but 1st, let's talk about shift a little bit more because recent acquisition would just have to address it right away.

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So, 1st question is actually about your background. So you have a degree in psychology in international affairs and question is, do you think it actually helped you running the company.

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It did,

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I'll say my psychology degree,

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I use every day and,

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uh,

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and when you get into into the stage,

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where,

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where I am in terms of founding companies,

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starting companies up and running them,

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and then,

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and then dealing with investor relations and ultimately,

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you know,

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with M,

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a,

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it all comes down to relationships and negotiations and with relationships in negotiations,

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the psychology of this is absolutely key to nail down for you to be successful in sales to be successful in management and to be successful in in,

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in negotiations.

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So.

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For me, psychology is a huge huge deal. Some of the best books on sales. Some of the best books on leadership are all I mean, they're just, they're psychology, right? That's all they are.

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There's tactics for sales and there's tactics for leadership at the end of the day, it's interpersonal relationships and how you manage those. So, the psychology degree was super, super useful.

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And then my master's in international affairs and public administration really taught me the side of, uh, I'll just call it from a sales perspective. Very long sales cycles with the federal and state governments.

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But it also taught me the complexities in all the different stakeholders that are that are evidence in 1 contract, getting through government or Bill or law getting through government. So, dealing with.

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Uh,

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multiple stakeholders in the government really provided me with a perspective on complex sales cycles,

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and how to actually get them to close and,

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you know,

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and when it comes to raising money,

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it's the same thing.

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Right? You've and we'll just jump right into it.

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But in raising in in the in the holes sort of ecosystem of business,

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especially of high growth tech startups and capital,

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you've got to really dissonance,

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different,

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disparate types of groups.

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You've got the capital who obviously have the money. But they're people behind that money and then you've got the operators.

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And most capital,

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uh,

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sources have never operated a business before and so,

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and likewise,

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most operators don't understand the needs and the pressures of the capital and they're,

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they're,

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you know.

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Their ability to raise capital and deploy capital and in their levers and metrics for success.

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So if if neither understands each other, it makes for very, very volatile situations.

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When things go south, everyone loves it when when deals work out but in high growth tech startups.

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Just,

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by the nature of those startups,

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you're going to have a lot of failure you're going to have a lot of businesses that don't make it and the ones that don't make it,

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but the capital,

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and the operators still come out on the other side with good relationships for future Ventures,

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they both understand each other's leavers and metrics for success so that they're able to win,

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lose or draw,

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they're able to come out of it with relationships intact.

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And then to go on to be able to possibly raise funds and then deploy the funds with the same people but just different businesses. Does that make sense?

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100% it surely does finally some positive attitude towards actual education. Not from the perspective of just having the paper. That have a degree in X. Y, Z boy, actually applying it to the real life. Very, very encouraging.

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So, the majority of our listeners are actual early stage startup founders who are mostly just starting their 1st companies. 1st time, entrepreneurs and very frequent question is what should I be focusing on 1? I'm just joined these start worlds.

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You'd be doubling down on increasing my network connection to other founders should be trying to get in touch with other investors just to get to know them. But to actually need be, I'll be raising money from them in here.

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Maybe 2 years from your perspective, you've done it personally.

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A few years ago, what would be your recommendation to those people.

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Well, it, it's hard because I would say all of the above as a, as a startup founder.

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You've got to be able to find product market fit for your idea the, at the very outset right? Uh, you've got a great idea. You've passed it around some friends and family. They think it's a great idea.

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But that doesn't mean to say, it's, it's going to be successful. So you've got to identify product market fit within a broader market beyond your sphere of influence that takes networking.

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Right. So you're working on the product and then you've got to get this word out this idea out to people who are just beyond your sphere of influence. Uh, and then, you know, to do that unless you're independently funded.

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You've gotta figure out how to get funds to, to build that proof of concept. Right and so it takes all 3.

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and that's I mean, that's why being a startup founders very, very difficult, because you're having to wear a lot of different hats.

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So, the 1st thing I would say is find your and identify product market fit and then start to validate that through small tests as a startup.

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You want to make the most mistakes at the, you will make your most mistakes at the earliest part of your of the life of your company. And so you want to spend the least amount of money at that very early stage. Unfortunately.

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Most startup founders go the opposite direction. They want to make a huge blast. They try to make.

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You know, raise a bunch of money. They have these huge vision and so they raise, you know, they try to raise a ton of money on this huge vision when most Capital Partners just want them to take the 1st step to find that proof of concept.

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And come back to me with with some validation, and then we can put more money into it. So.

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That that's where, that is where the ideation and the sort of the futuristic thinking comes in conflict with the practical execution of it.

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So, you really as a startup founder, you really need to be able to balance all that both the relationships as well as that the product itself product management and then the product market fit within the marketplace.

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It's really hard to do that all by yourself, which leads me to my next thing, which is.

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Most solo founders end up failing.

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And it's because they cannot do everything themselves, they don't have all those skill sets and so good startup founders are very self aware of what they're able to do. And.

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What they're not able to do, and they, uh, most most of the capital partners that I know will encourage the 1st thing they'll do with a startup founder is encourage them to find a CO founder.

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Either a technical Co founder, or a CO founder who knows the market really well, or can take things to market right?

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Um, so that is, you know, I think finding a CO founder, uh, who shares the same vision, and who shares, you know, just just common, either interests or common backgrounds.

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Um, but most of all shares the same vision for the product is.

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1 of the 1st things you can do to raise your probability of success as a start up.

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Absolutely, I've seen way too many solo founders just burned now, because his heart Keepers is really hard to pull all this stuff by yourself. So yeah fine.

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Co, founder is extremely important, but that's actually next question that I was not playing chess, but now I'm going to ask you anyways so you've been a founder yourself how did this process look for you personally?

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So when was the moment when you're like, okay, now I'm going to go out search for CO founders, was it you go through are linked in connections and seeing if someone's relevant to this topic, we're going through your personal, actual friends of yours old friends of yours.

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That might be interested in, just emailing them texting them asking to chat about this stuff. How did this process for you specifically? So, for me, it looks like back to your original question about networks. It looks like.

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I just tapped my network, so actually, it was it didn't really start like, most due. So for bus shift, I was.

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Coming I was in Dallas,

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I just come off a technology startup where as a director of communications that failed uh,

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it,

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it was a,

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ironically,

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it was a solo lead a company,

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a solo entrepreneur who had done well,

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and his 1st round or his 1st,

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venture sold it,

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and then started this next 1 and a,

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and he pulled me in to be the director of communications and marketing and as while it was going down hill.

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Slowly. I got my, I call it my school of hard knocks MBA in startups.

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I saw everything from the founders from finance investor relations, operations, sales, product, management, everything and then I realized, I could run a company on my own.

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So I hung my shingle as a consultant in the marketing and strategy world.

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And I was just having I met someone through through just a professional organization here in town and,

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and he and I just met for lunch,

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and he was coming off of an,

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it services business and he was selling off his contracts.

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And he was just sort of done with it, servicing a professional services route of that nature.

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And we were talking about what we were seeing in the marketplace and what people were needing and it quickly became apparent that 1, we saw a real need for a holistic digital agency.

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That wasn't just focused on or social media or website development. But that was looking at things really strategically and holistically and this is back in 2010 and so we saw the need in the marketplace. We're both feeling it and we said, man.

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We see the need, we kind of think about things the same way strategically. Let's see if we can create an agency that is just digitally native and digitally focused and and.

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And so we did, we, we had brought, we brought in clients from our previous relationships and so we were profitable from day 1. and so that's how budget was born. I mean, that's how I met.

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My Co,

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founder was just through networking,

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but then also just talking through market needs,

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and then seeing,

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if there was a product market fit for our for our services,

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and indeed there was a so that was my experience with bus shift and we bootstrapped that thing.

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No loans no lines of credit.

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Um, which is, which is an anomaly.

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And then in 2006, about 6 years later, we had the chance to to be acquired and we weren't looking for it.

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They came looking for us,

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but it was after 6 years of building our brand of having a brand and being known for excellence and being known for innovative,

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creative thinking,

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that,

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that and then honestly,

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some,

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really,

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sort of a precedent work where I think by 2012,

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2013 if you looked up digital strategy,

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we were the original digital strategy agency in the United States.

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And so if you looked at digital strategy on Google, back in the day, we would come up.

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Uh, on on, you know, organic search terms, uh, in the 2nd or 3rd spot. So, uh, that really heightened our brand heightened our biz dev.

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Uh, and we had created a set of core values of not chasing after the money not chasing after certain clients a bit being true. To what we were good at. So, by the time, 2016 rolled around 6 years later, we had grown to a size enough where people started to pay attention.

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Uh, we were acquired in 2016 and then, uh, just through a series of, uh, uh, eliminate snippet and series of unfortunate events through a series of unfortunate events. We're able to purchase the company back a full month.

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Yeah, 11 months later. So.

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I won't get into the specifics of it, but I just will say we sold high and we bought very, very low. Uh, so, uh, had a chance to, to re, acquire. I called it intentional decoupling.

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Uh, but, uh, in 2017, we, we, you know, we continued, we just started it back up. Uh, that was we're profitable within 60 days, and then proceeded to grow it and build it in a slightly different way.

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We called it bad shift.

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2.0 grew that to a, to again to a size where we attracted a potential acquires, and we actually just sold a bus shift again for the 2nd, time in February of 2021.

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so that is that is the story of shift. It was. I'm very, very thankful for my opportunity. They're very thankful for my, my Co founder, uh, you know, if you look at.

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Just the statistics and the probabilities we beat all the odds. Right? We, uh, we were, we made it past the 2 year mark of a business of being profitable and, and solvent.

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We made it past the challenge of being Co, founders and not dissolving over some disagreement.

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And then we made it to a point where, uh, where we are able to be acquired all of those hurdles, if you will are very, very difficult.

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To overcome, and we managed to do that and managed to do it and remain friends and business partners and colleagues and then the fact that we were able to do that twice with the same company is a little bit unheard of.

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Uh, so that's been a shift. Yeah, I mean, it's a double acquisition.

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I've been running fundraising renew for nearly 2 years by now over 280 episodes record, even more than that I've never heard of double acquisition before so definitely definitely. Something special here. Nice work here.

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I mean, it's incredible. Great job. So, let's move on to talk about about the current events about and green. You'll re, describe what you're doing. How you're special is just awesome.

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You know, increase production always makes me happy, because I'm less afraid of starving to death in a big city. So great job saving us all. I guess let's move on to talk about fundraising. So you raised over 2000?

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Not 12,002,000 dollars for it so far. Can you tell us a little more about that fundraising? I mean, I know agricultural technology is really hard for fundraising specifically. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you approach that problem?

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Yeah, so when I came on to eat in green, it had already raised a significant amount of private capital and, uh, it's it's privately held, but we had.

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Uh, uh, built, we had raised enough capital to build a 40, 40, 44,000 square foot R and D facility out, just south of Fort worth.

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So that was what I would say would be the, the technological scale proof of concept right?

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The, the technology itself is patented here in the US and in the number of countries around the world, and then patent pending and a dozen others.

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So so,

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the technology is there the 2 brothers that started invented the technology in the garage in South Africa proved it on a very small scale,

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but then brought it to the United States to to prove it on a larger scale.

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So, 44,000 square feet are indeed greenhouse and in Claiborne and that required quite a bit of funding but then it was enough.

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We had gone through the technological proof of concept and we really needed to prove out the business model and the commercial proof of concept because these greenhouses are economic units themselves.

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It's our vision to have a mesh network of these independently owned and operated greenhouses all around.

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The United States, and around the world that are that are producing greens locally for distributors for retailers for the community that are also working together.

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collaboraty collaboratively in terms of innovation and technology innovation, and then growing innovation. So it all starts with 1 greenhouse.

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So this current raise was for this,

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this commercial proof of concept that these greenhouses actually do what they say they can do from a pro forma basis and so really for us from a fundraising perspective,

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it was just convincing investors to say,

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hey,

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listen,

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the technological proof of concept is there,

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but this business is.

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Only going to grow if we can show people that,

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uh,

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these greenhouses are indeed economic units,

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and that they are profitable at a certain,

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a certain size and then that they increase in profitability when you,

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when you grow and scale these things out.

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So, that's what that was the.

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The message and the narrative around this last fundraise.

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And I think it resonated with with our investors, because it was not just.

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Uh,

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it was not just an incremental type of raise,

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which,

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you know,

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there's,

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there's a time and a place for that,

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but it was really more a big vision of,

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hey,

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this is the big next step to get this company to a scalable level.

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And it proves out is a, is a logical next step in terms of proving out simultaneously the business model as well as some innovations that we made on the technologies and the greenhouse side.

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So behind every fundraise really is is a narrative.

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Now,

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the narrative may take place on a slide deck and you and I,

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and probably your audience has seen a ton of different slide decks on,

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hey,

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here the 15 slides you need in a fundraising deck right here the 4 things you need to hit during a fundraising pitch,

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there's all sorts of tactics and frameworks,

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but at the end of the day,

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fundraising is really about telling a story and and in our world.

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Uh, the best product doesn't necessarily win the best story wins.

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So, he who has the best narrative wins.

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Uh, he or she who has the best narrative wins and so it really comes down to that narrative. And that storyline that you want to tell you want to communicate to your investors. And for us that storyline was.

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A progression, but leaps and bounds progression of, you know, atomic sort of atomic this works at a, at a plant level spot.

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Now, this works at a technological 44,000 square foot spot. Now, this works on a now.

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We are proving out that this works on a commercial, a top line OPX, bottom line, you know, 72,000 square foot.

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A footprint and that's what we take to market.

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Nice good narrative is always the key. That's very true. And yeah converse. I mean, 12Million dollars as a pretty good race. Congrats. On impressing so many investors. That's a big deal.

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So, let's mention actually, nevermind, you've mentioned our Pre interview call that you are using something called redemptive culture within the company or eliminates. Can you elaborate a little bit more?

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Because I took a note.

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Same redemptive culture. That's it. That's the note. Says, can you tell us a little bit more about redemptive culture and what it means.

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Yeah, so so a big part of our story is how we are building this company differently than others.

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And so there's a, there's a group out of New York City called praxis Labs and they really espouse what we call it a redemptive organization. And I'll give you a compare contrast illustration.

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So, most companies that we see most companies that are started up, are what we call exploitative they may not want to admit it, but they are and those are companies where leadership eats.

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1st, and what I mean, by that is, they're taking off the top, right? They're, they're, they're going 1st among their employees and leadership. It's leadership eating.

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1st, is just a simple way of of phrasing that, but it's a exploitive companies where leadership eats.

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1st, where employees are treated unfairly, or they're exploited in terms of the value exchange of services for for salary and benefits.

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Maybe sometimes, and then, lastly, exploitative companies are net negative on the culture and community around them.

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And we see a lot of those all over the place and most people, honestly startup companies, they don't mean to be exploitative, but the way that they position their core values, or lack there of is basically a money grab.

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Right there after profits over everything, right? Uh, some companies are ethical and those are the ones that we see and we lod, whether it be, you know, Patagonia or, um, whole foods or things like that.

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Right and those ethical companies are where leaders eat alongside their employees.

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It's where employees are treated fairly,

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and it's where the community and culture is net neutral,

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or it's advanced because of the,

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the company being in its presence in those companies,

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man,

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those are to be a singled out and congratulated because they're very few of those companies that practically our,

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uh,

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our ethical they may say so,

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in their core values,

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but it's just stuff on a paper.

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Uh, they really practice what they preach and then there's the company that's really hard to find. And it's what we're trying to build with eat in green and that is a redemptive company.

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And it's a company where leaders eat last word leaders are sacrificial. Uh, it's a company where employees are not just treated fairly, but their treat is treated generously and they're blessed because of working for that company.

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And then it's a company where the culture and society is not just advanced because of it. But it is renewed and it's redeemed, uh, because of it.

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And so that is the type of company that we are trying to build that eating green. And that is part and parcel to our story it's part and partial to our narrative where everything that we do is guided by.

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Hey, are we, are we not just adding to the community with 30 jobs per greenhouse but are we are we renewing.

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The the community and society around us by redefining what locally grown means are we,

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are we renewing and and redeeming society by how we treat those 30 employees by how we have set up a,

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a program called the 1st fruits program where we're actually.

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Uh,

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integrating giving back up to 10% of these harvests to the local community at a highly,

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highly subsidized rate,

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and all the while the company is still profitable and generating returns for its investors,

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like those type of things that are integrated into our business model,

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take a lot of work to figure out how to engineer that in,

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but it's at the very beginning,

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it's the very base of the business model.

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So that when this company expands, it's built into the scalability. It's not diminished because of the scalability.

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And it's not like, only achievable once we scale it's built into the scalability of our business, uh, love the culture. I think everyone go that culture and.

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Yeah, I mean, people follow this stuff. It's a mutual beneficial at the end of the story. You know so moving on to the very last 2 questions after these episode. 1st, question being.

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Do you do any annual investing or mentoring because I know a lot of founders who sold their previous companies frequently, go into mentoring a lot and sometimes the occasional angel investments do you do any of that?

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I do so, it's funny once you, once you sell your company or once you have some sort of liquidity that.

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There are a lot of folks who pass deal flow or pass, like, hey, do you need capital for this? And for that and my 1st comment is I need to do, like, 5 years ago when I was growing this company now.

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But then my, my 2nd thought is, yeah, I don't need it necessarily.

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Maybe I do maybe it's a conversation worth having, but I know of folks who who have good business ideas are passing good business ideas around, and, you know, in this stage of the economy.

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Right now, where there's a lot of cash sitting on the sideline and cash said 2 or 3 weeks ago cash is trash right?

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Because just the impending inflation, and then the more of an injection of cash into the economy, you're really seeing investors and cash looking for any sort of yields, which are not a lot right now.

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So, I'm seeing those a lot more capital lining up and saying, hey, we're ready to invest into the marketplace. And then a lot more deals coming where.

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You know, uh, people have great ideas. Uh, the problem is.

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Again, it's the capital versus operator, uh, conflict and tension and so I've been well equipped because of my experience to, to look for both good deals as well as to be able to, uh.

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The come upon capital and filter that out and match them up of capital, you know, the right type of capital that are aligned in the way that they're thinking a line that the way their, you know, their investment thesis are.

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And, uh, and, you know, in terms of what they're looking for, in return with, with deals, that makes sense, you know, for for for what they're looking for.

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Right. Understood so you are facilitating some deals helping people find the founders and connecting them with founders love this kind of indicators.

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So on this positive no moving on to the very last question of today's episode, which is a call to action.

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So, what do you want to do as soon as the episode is over and keep in mind that 95% pull us of hourly centers or early stage startup founders my call to action to them is.

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Is make sure you find your product market fit 1st.

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Uh, before you do anything else, and then to really be cognizant of, uh.

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Of I guess if you create a habit of.

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Small tests and iterations and feedback loops that is that is a very, very good sign to investors that you're going to use their money wisely. Right?

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Because big bets from a founder a don't necessarily tend to work out.

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Well,

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in the context of you have this 1 big idea but within this big idea,

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you have to have small steps to achievement and small steps to validate your decision making and the more that capital can see a and see that validation process.

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That feedback loop process. And the more that they can, that they'll be able to commit capital and then there's just a transparency issue when that happens a transparency. It's not an issue. It's a good thing.

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It's a transparency sort of perspective that when they see the small little feedback loops, it just helps them in terms of trusting you more with the stewardship of their money.

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So would encourage people again.

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And product market fit is found through just an iterative process of a of both feature sets as well,

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as business models and middle,

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little sort of adjustments to the business model.

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Before you are able to say, okay, I think we've got this nailed down as far as, as far as the horizon will take me and this is where I need this next chunk of money.

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And this is what I'm going to use it for, and it's a very measured metrics driven approach to growth that capital partners really, really appreciate in addition to the big vision that you're trying to sell them.

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Nice great call to action.

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Specific oh, that's my competition is going to be much easier, though. Check out the descriptions. This episode. I'm going to leave a bunch of links in there specifically to and his LinkedIn also to, in green.

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So,

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if you're curious to see more about what they're up to,

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what they're doing,

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what they're building,

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how are yields growing,

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check it out,

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and I'm going to leave a link to something else in an inquiry cultural technology,

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probably to an investor in ad tech specifically.

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So, people, if you're interested in ad tech, definitely take a look and the description this episode, some good stuff is going to be there and as usually have a good day.