- Startup fundraising can be brutal. Foundersuite’s software provides founders with tools to help find and pitch investors, track the outreach and develop pitch decks, cap tables and term sheets based on a range of helpful templates.
- While venture-backed startups are frequently criticized for homogenous leadership teams, Foundersuite CEO Nathan Beckord says that is changing: “There’s not one cookie-cutter, Harvard Business School graduate who worked at Goldman or McKinsey and then started a company.”
- As a podcast host, Nathan says he learned more about fundraising from one year of interviews than he did while working with startups for 12 years.
Getting investors to part with their money can be an uphill battle. It’s extra challenging if you’re not organized.
For years, Foundersuite CEO Nathan Beckord was a finance guy who helped startups get their fundraising documents in a row. All that time, he secretly longed to build his own business: He just needed a good idea. “And then one day I’m like, why not build tools for startups raising capital?” he says.
That epiphany led to the creation of Foundersuite, a software and set of tools that help startups streamline corporate housekeeping, finance, hiring, planning and investor tasks. It also has templates of essential documents like cap tables and term sheets. “I call it a full stack of funding tools, all aimed at startups raising money,” Nathan summarizes.
And hey, since you clearly have exceptional taste in entrepreneurship podcasts, you might also know Nathan from Foundersuite’s podcast How I Raised It.
Nathan joined the podcast to talk about what entrepreneurs have in common, what makes them different and how his podcast guests have confirmed that Foundersuite is on the right track.
Interview Highlights — Nathan Beckord from Foundersuite
From startup finance guy to founder
My first job was in an investment bank, working with companies going public. Later I spent time with JP Morgan and then hung out a shingle as a consultant, helping startups raise capital.
I really loved startups, but didn’t have an idea of my own. I was just the finance guy, but in the back of my head I was thinking, someday I’m going to start my own business. And then one day I’m like, why not build tools for startups raising capital? That’s what I know. That’s what I’m passionate about.
We launched our first product in 2016, which was a customer relationship management tool (CRM) for managing an investor pipeline. We also make investor update tools for your ongoing communication, and we’ve got a pitch deck hosting tool to put your deck up online and track which investors are looking at it. We’ve got a collection of templates, documents, term sheets, cap tables and pitch decks that you can download. I call it a full stack of funding tools, all aimed at startups raising money.
‘How I Raised It,’ the podcast, is born
I have a really small marketing team — it’s basically three of us — and we try to do one big new marketing experiment every year. About a year and a half ago, we decided let’s try a podcast. So we launched How I Raised It and we’re up to about 150 episodes. It’s me interviewing founders about how they raised capital and unpacking their experiences.
It’s been interesting. I’ve been fundraising for startups for over 12 years, and in one year of doing this podcast I learned more about how to raise capital than I did from all those years of actually doing it.
Founders are a bunch of super-efficient ‘oddballs’
I’ve learned that most founders are super driven, they’re upbeat, they’re optimistic. They’ve almost always got a positive energy and internal motivation that sets them apart from others. I don’t know if that’s something they’re born with or if you can cultivate it, but that’s the commonality that’s interesting to watch.
They’re also pretty efficient and organized. When they’re going to attack something like fundraising, they spend a lot of time putting in the research, building that target list of investors. They have a disciplined process for getting in touch with investors and working their network to get intros. It corroborates what we do. We built this software to help manage the fundraising process, and people who successfully raised ran a really efficient process.
One of the surprising things is the diversity of people — not only by age, race, geographic location, but personality types. We get all kinds of oddballs on the show and that seems to work in their favor. There’s not one cookie-cutter, Harvard Business School graduate who worked at Goldman or McKinsey and then started a company. It’s a really diverse set of backgrounds, which is encouraging.
Accelerating towards accelerators
We are extending beyond startups to also serve what I call intermediaries: consultants, investment bankers and even venture funds are starting to become customers now. We’re looking at the broader pool of entities that either raise money or help companies raise money.
We launched a product called Agent Model for these intermediaries, including investment bankers, fractional CFOs, consultants and broker dealers. The product lets you set up one master account and then run multiple deals or companies under that account. We’re going to be building that out more, I think that’s an interesting market.
We’re also looking at both VCs and accelerators. If you’re an accelerator and you want to track a portfolio of your alumni, one of the challenges is that you’re churning out 20 to 200 startups a year, taking, say, 6 percent equity in each one. Accelerators have a hard time tracking all those companies. We’ve got an application programming interface (API) we’re just about to release that will be helpful for them.
In the long term, if we were serving the whole value chain of startups, accelerators, VCs and intermediaries, we’d be doing pretty good.
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