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Authentic Business Relationships Authentic Deal-Making Deal-Driven Growth

A Capital Raising Journey

Sherisse Hawkins is a multi-talented builder, learner, risk taker, motivator, rainmaker, and speaker. She has a strong engineering background. Beyond that, she is the creative minded CEO & founder of Pagedip. Sherisse also has a proven record of meeting impossible deadlines, delighting customers, and re-imagining how things can be done. She believes anything is possible in the digital world, and is passionate about driving innovative content. She’s appeared in Vanity Fair and on Shark Tank. In this interview she shares more about her capital raising journey and other business experiences.

Early Deal-Making Experiences

Sherisse notes that she didn’t think of deals or deal-making until she became an entrepreneur. In her earlier work experience she had thought of decisions and deals pertaining to technology usage as being more technical. You examined which systems were most sound and used those. Pretty clear cut!

Moving into the entrepreneurial world and becoming a founder & CEO revealed how many other factors come into play. There are so many factors beyond “by the book” choices. Even when dealing with the objective facts of technology and science, things weren’t as clear as they had once seemed.

Becoming an Entrepreneur 

Not everyone is cut out for entrepreneurship. This isn’t just about having the dream, or being financially set up for success. Instead, there is a necessary personal mindset shift that must be experienced. This shift is what allows some people to make entrepreneurship a reality. 

Having worked in very large organizations, such as Walt Disney Imagineers, Sherisse hadn’t had the experience of working in a small company prior to starting her own. She understood that there were going to be financial risks. But she also knew there were going to be risks of not following her dream. She recognized that she liked starting things, and enjoyed getting things into the state they needed to be. That might be connected to her engineering background.

Sherisse shared that, throughout her life, she’s found that it’s intensely satisfying to take things apart and put them back together. There is a sense of exhilaration when a set of code works, or something comes together for the first time.

She found that same exhilaration in entrepreneurship. Although she had a great title, a corner office, and a bonus system at her role, she had a pull within her heart. She knew she could not deny the call to entrepreneurship. The field of communication and the development of digital tools held huge potential, and Sherisse knew she could make an impact. Finally, she took the leap.

You often hear of people in their young 20’s and even late teens starting companies and becoming millionaires. However, the average entrepreneur starts their business in the 30’s, 40’s, and later. There is no real time in life that it’s too early OR too late to become an entrepreneur.

Seeking a Co-Founder 

With Pagedip, Sherisse shares that she feels they’ve created what Microsoft Word might have been if they had created a word processor in the time of the internet. Essentially, they’ve created an editor that allows the user to marry core content with other elements. This combination creates a narrative flow that compels the reader to actually use the content you create. (Unlike traditional documents or PowerPoints!) Additional information can be added into what you’re sharing, all while allowing readers to stay on one page. 

As a result, materials can be kept up to date. Analytics are possible, so you can see where readers spend the most time, and which addition information mattered to them. Best of all, everything can live in one place. Pagedips are interact-able, measurable, engaging, and secure documents that create experiences for their users.

In terms of raising capital, Sherisse shares that she initially started the company with her own money. She was hoping for a technical co-founder, but had a bit of trouble finding the perfect person. Many of her peers didn’t want to take the risk. Eventually, she found a new graduate who seemed like a good fit.

Shortly after, they headed to an accelerator in Australia to get things moving! (She learned of this from Jen Matthews, who she had connected with after hearing her speak.) With her co-founder, she was able to further incubate the idea and started to understand the role capital raising could play in getting the organization off the ground. Sherisse sees that bootstrapping likely makes sense in some instances. For Pagedip, however, it was clear that bringing in outside capital made the most sense.

Notes on Capital Raising

After their first pitch, there were a number of investors interested in their idea. Not surprisingly, since that initial pitch, Pagedips has pivoted, as most businesses do. That initial interest was a great early start!

Sherisse shares that if she had known everything she knew about how difficult fundraising can be, she might not have taken the leap. (So she’s glad she didn’t know!) Raising money can be really hard. It’s made even more difficult for women and people of color. When she looks back at those early experiences now, she sees that the data supports the experience she had.

The company has now had two rounds of seed investments. Sherisse notes that fundraising takes longer than you think. It really is a full time job. There is a tension between wanting to move the company forward and invest time there, and needing to devote a huge amount of time to actually fundraising.

Along the way she’s had feedback that the company is thinking too small. Some investors have said they should be aiming to be much bigger and larger. She’s also gotten feedback that the idea is too big. This advice is usually paired with a warning that they need to think more reasonably. Between the two, “too small” is most common. Investors want to invest in something that will earn them back the largest possible dividend. That means more income, more markets, and larger numbers. It means casting a bigger vision with more dollar signs.

Want to hear about Sherisse’s appearance on Shark Tank? Curious as to why many companies DON’T need to seek investors? Listen in to the full episode!

Capital Raising as a Woman, a Person of Color, and Engineer

Sherisse shares that she approached this journey as an entrepreneur, a woman, and a person of color. Those identities came into play throughout her business building and fundraising journey. Although you cannot know what your experience would be if you did not possess those identities, she did feel that there were still some stereotypes. This was especially true about what technologists and professionals in the space were expected to look like.

She knew that her company was changing how people would experience information sharing forevermore. That’s a bold statement and huge undertaking! In a five minute pitch for that level of technology, there’s not time to dig into your background, prowess, and ability to pull that off. (And still share about the actual idea you’re presenting).

You don’t have the opportunity to share about the relevant experience you’ve had throughout your 20+ year career. You don’t have time to combat stereotypes AND establish your ability to succeed with a new venture.

Somehow you have to find ways to convey that experience and expertise. You can do this through non-verbal communication to save time. In addition, Sherisse noted that it was essential to bring that background to the forefront. Sometimes that did mean spending a bit more time on those areas than others who more apparently fit the funded founder check-boxes might need to. (Which also means less time to spend on pitching the actual idea itself.)

Sherisse found it was vital that she was able to own the fact that she is a technologist and a visionary in her field. That ownership was a key element in her ability to create a compelling pitch with confidence.

Studies have shown that perceptions about gender and race create huge assumptions about a person’s ability and capability. Everything from music auditions (read about the impact of blind orchestra auditions here), being considered for a Ph.D. program  (read about the impact of name and gender here), to the weight that GPA, professional experience, race, and gender play in hiring (read about the impact of these and other factors here) can be impacted by a person’s perceived race and gender. Appearance can immediately play a role in whether you can even secure the opportunity to show what you’re capable of. (Not only “can”….studies show that it most definitely DOES.)

Personal Growth and the Internal Journey

Sherisse shares that she is tenacious to a fault. Something she’s grappled with in her journey is when (and if) there is a time to say, “This is enough.” She hasn’t found that place yet! Instead, she keeps on pushing forward and growing.

One thing that fuels her is the belief that if you can see it, you can be it. She knows that there aren’t a lot of women, or women of color, within her field. Years ago, Vanity Fair brought Sherisse, as well as other women of color who had raised over a million dollars in capital, together in one place. They all fit in a really small room. There just weren’t that many people in those categories to invite! As someone who knows what it is to be one of the first, Sherisse notes there can be a lot of doubt about what is possible.

She also shares that she would be remiss not to mention that there IS a little part of her brain always processing what is possible in our time and within her industry. There aren’t a lot of people who look like her who have experienced a large amount of success in her industry. That’s a big undertaking, and an interesting journey!

In general, founders raising capital are a small group of entrepreneurs. Capital raising and making over a million dollars, an even smaller group. Among these small groups, white men continue to make up a majority. This means we still have this picture of representation that validates that we belong in the space, and that we can succeed.

As someone who has benefited from some of those privileges and has been committed to use that privilege to promote equity, provide opportunities and stand for representation of people of all backgrounds, I appreciate Sherisse sharing her journey with authenticity. Her commitment and drive to overcome the challenges of not fitting the mold and breakthrough and reshape the mold for her own benefit and that of others inspires me. 

Learn More

To learn more about Sherisse, Pagedip, and the capital raising journey, listen in the full episode! You can connect with Sherisse directly by emailing [email protected].

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.
If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

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Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Negotiating Deal-Driven Growth

Deal-Making Lessons

Jay Hummel is an author, speaker, and financial services executive. He specializes in leading through change and  building strategic relationships internally and externally. Jay also excels at articulating complex items in simple terms. He is the co-founder of Wealth Advisor Growth Network (WAGN), where he strives to bring growth to the independent adviser space. On today’s show, we dive deep to explore Jay’s deal-making lessons and experience.

An Early Start to a Financial Future

Jay shares that he would put on a clip-on tie at the age of 8, bring his calculator to the dining room table, and play with numbers. One of his earliest deals involved asking his grandfather how much it would be to “take that clock off his hands”. Even though he wasn’t able to make that deal, it signaled what was to come. Since then Jay has grown into his interest, pursuing higher education and moving into accounting and later wealth management. 

Now he works with WAGN, which is a consulting and deal-making firm. There, he strives to keep wealth management services connected with new developments in technology. Ultimately, he believes in the value of continual growth in an industry that can easily get a bit stagnant. WAGN specializes in minority stakes, which they acquire in order to become managing partners. From that position, the goal is to create an ecosystem of great people who are serving their clients and staying ahead of the technology curve.

Deal-Making Lessons from a Billionaire 

Jay’s first real job was as an intern for the Lindner’s, a billionaire family. He was able to work for their CFO and witness a lot of deal-making, including the purchase of amusement parks and the rolling up of insurance companies. They told him that as long as he stayed quiet, he was welcome to sit in the room and observe. What a deal for Jay!

He shares that he had a lot of respect for Mr. Lindner’s philosophy that you never take anyone to the wall with a deal. After all, the world is a small place! Even when Jay knew that his side was holding all the cards, he saw that they didn’t always play them all. When he asked about that, Mr. Lindner shared that just because you can doesn’t mean you should. You never know when you’ll be sitting at the table and be the one who doesn’t have the advantage…and you might be sitting across from the very same people you’re making deals with today.

Every negotiation in business is either the start of a new relationship, or the continuation of an old relationship. Just because you could beat someone down and walk away doesn’t mean you can do so without consequences. People build reputations, and you become known for the way you conduct yourself. A massive win that cuts someone else down may benefit you for a moment, but the long term impact of creating a reputation that makes others not want to do deals with you anymore is hard to overcome.

Powerful Deals Done Right

Today’s deal isn’t about tomorrow; it’s about the next 5, 10, 15 years. Take the long view, and think beyond simple financial profits. How can you make deals that are good for everyone: partners, employees, clients, and anyone else?

Jay shares that one reason he’s pleased to be out of the public sector and fully private is because he feels there is more leeway to really consider that long term view.

He also notes that when you sit down at the table to make deals, you need to understand why you’re there. What outcome are you seeking, and for what reason? When you lack clarity, it’s hard to bring a deal to completion. 

Even when he’s been part of a deal that fails, Jay has seen that showing up and being willing to fail is a key part of becoming a successful deal-maker. Know what you want, treat others with respect, and know how to walk away from the table with both success and failure. They are both part of the deal-making process, and you’ll experience them both if you’re serious about making deals throughout your career.

The second principle in my Authentic Negotiating book is detachment for this very reason! Of course you’ll have a preference that the deal gets done; but you also have to be able to release expectations and accept what happens during the negotiation. 

WAGN Deal-Making Lessons & Growth

WAGN started their deal-making with capital formation at the beginning of their company. However, they weren’t looking for only capital. Having the right partners around the table was of more importance than dollar amounts.

Jay and his co-founding partner John believe that the best deal people in the long run are “smaller pieces of the bigger pie” types. Understanding how each element comes together to create something better than any one part is a key part of becoming an expert deal-maker.

This also connects to shared vision. No matter how lucrative a deal appears on the outset, if it is not backed with shared vision, it will not serve the parties involved in the long term. In fact, beyond the capital partner deals, Jay and John founded WAGN by creating a shared vision and building a deal together at the outset. Without that shared view of themselves as smaller pieces in a bigger picture, as well as for where they could take a wealth management group, they would not be seeing the success they’ve seen.

Deal-Making Uncertainty

A lot of deal-making success isn’t about finances or strategy; it’s about timing. Jay shares that once he and John knew what they wanted to build, they could see that the window was closing. They needed to act with certainty to get in, and they did. Since starting last October (2019) they’ve completed four deals and are off to a strong start.

Early on, they invested in a Denver-based firm that they believed in, with plans to build out an entirely new firm. The break date? March 20th, 2020. That was the bottom of the equity market as a result of Covid-19, and things in the market were unstable. However, they knew they had planned and prepared for this. Yes, there was uncertainty. But there was also a great deal of vision and clarity for what could be achieved. 

Ultimately, WAGN was ready and they knew that clients needed what they were going to build. Since then they’ve done three acquisitions and are on their way to building a billion dollar firm. There are only 330 billion dollar independent firms in the country (with 330,000 independent firms in existence), and Jay shares that WAGN may reach that level in less than 10 months.

Deal-Making Lessons From Jay

So many deal-making lessons have fueled WAGN’s growth and drive along the way. 

Jay notes that you never want to chase a bad deal. He also comments that it can be really easy to get tempted into jumping into a bad deal in the “top of the 9th inning” because you feel like you need it. 

He reminds leaders that clarity around what you’re building and why is essential. If you pause a deal, you need to know what factor is going to allow you to reinitiate the process. Is it the stock market? An internal factor? If you hit pause and don’t know when you’ll be restarting, you end up in limbo land, which is painful for everyone.

To hear more about Jay’s thoughts on the future of the deal-making industry in the financial sector, listen in to the full episode!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

 

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Authentic Deal-Making Deal-Driven Growth

Seed Stage Venture Capital Funds

Today’s guest, Nick Adams, has a background in tech companies and deal-making. Now he’s a Managing Partner and co-founder at Differential Ventures, a seed stage venture capital fund. His group invests early in the process, which gives him a bird’s eye view of mistakes and innovations in the field. In addition, Nick’s been part of growth and deals connected to scaling from two million to ten, or ten million to twenty-five. He’s seen how deals and decision making can make or break a business.

Getting Into Venture Capital

Nick shares that, as a kid, he wanted to be a major league baseball shortstop. Although he did play ball throughout college, his career ended there. At age 22 he played his last official game, and moved on with his future.

One of Nick’s earliest memorable deals involved early software sales. He remembers closing the deal with the A&P supermarket chain and being elated. Now he’s in the venture capital field. His focus is in investing in companies in their earliest stages. This is usually a step beyond “idea stages”, but pre-revenue.

Often when companies raise money, early rounds include family and friends. This is also where angel investors might get involved. After this you’ll find seed stage investors, followed by series B, C, D and so on until fundraising is done or the company is placed on the market for public buy ins.

Differential Ventures often comes in with investments between $250,000 and 1.2 million as part of a seed room. In exchange they usually receive a board seat, and work with founders to build out the company. This involves everything from product development to finding those first few customers. Nick finds that each company’s needs vary greatly. Often, his team tends to pick up more technically based founders, so one thing they look for is whether there is going to be an ability for the founder or founding team to build a product all the way out to being saleable.

To learn which is more essential: team, technology, or market, listen to the full episode!

Do Venture Capitalists Eliminate Founders?

Nick notes that his sort of venture capital work isn’t for everyone. First and foremost, founders need to have an awareness of whether their company warrants outside investment at a higher level, as well as what that sort of increase in funds will mean for their organizations. Out of curiosity, I asked him to share more about what happens when VC money comes in, and founders get pushed out.

In my experience, founders and CEOs who leave their companies after investments are granted are usually looked on favorably. The public seems ready to take their side, and venture capitalists can end up looking like the “bad guys”. Although Nick acknowledges that things do go wildly sideways sometimes, that tends to be the exception, not the rule.

He does share that sometimes founders get pushed out, but this can happen for a variety of reasons. Timing, personality, growth needs, or even a founder no longer wanting to be part of the deal. Sometimes technical founders loved creating and building, but have little desire to take on a CEO role. In that case, they may initiate their own transition. However, it’s rare for a VC to come into a business and actually force a founder or CEO out of their role.

In his opinion, Nick finds that most VC’s are pretty good actors. Their funding and outcomes are very much attached to a start-ups success and needs. There are long holding periods, things move slow, and there is a strenuous process involved in really making a profit. In fact, he finds that angel investors can sometimes put more pressure on a young business simply because they don’t understand the nature of the slow game that investing can be.

Is Venture Capital Funding For You?

The percentage of companies that are really right for VC funding is small. For one thing, they need to be ready for massive growth, and to take the market by storm. For another, they should actually need the money as an avenue for growth.

Nick shares that he recently had a potential client who shared that he wouldn’t be bothered with an early exit from the fund if taken on. The rejoinder: Nick knew immediately his company wasn’t interested. In order for VC funding to make sense, there needs to be a large return that can pay off investors and create profit. Although the potential client was shocked to be turned down so quickly, Nicks’ been in VC funding long enough to know that short term thinking doesn’t work well.

He also knows that this kind of long term, high dollar deal isn’t for everybody. Neither is venture capital funding! Unlike angel investors (who are using their own money), a fund mathematically requires a high return to pay back each party involved.

The Ideal Founder

If you’re considering approaching a venture capital fund, Nick suggests that the best founding teams combine leaders who have:

+ Strong technical differential and skills (academic background, work history, etc)
+ Entrepreneurial by nature
+ Experience working with both engineers/creators and customers
+ Product management ability

In addition, Nick shares that their best founders who seem to be most successful are usually in it for some reason larger than just “being” a founder. They often have some deep sense of obligation to a family member, friend, community, or other group that they want to prove themselves to. When someone has believed in you and invested in you, you’re highly motivated to make good in their name.

Having a deeper drive and purpose is a key part of pushing through hardship and delivering the best possible outcome. This is true for any entrepreneurial group, but especially so for founders who want to bring on venture capital funds!

There is a risk calculation here: how far are you willing to go to bring your idea to life? Depending on your savings, your family’s needs, and your ability to handle risk, your answer might be quite different from someone else’s. There are no wrong answers, but it’s vital that you’re honest with yourself about what those answers are for you.

Nick encourages founders to establish the amount of risk they’re willing and able to take on for themselves prior to seeking funding.

Venture Capital Funding and Covid-19

Nick shares that he believes there has been too much capital in too many startups across the market. Leading up to February, the market was fairly overheated, and it contained a number of startups and investors who probably didn’t belong in the market for the long haul.

When Covid-19 broke out and businesses started to close, a great deal of capital either froze or dried up. After a slow March and April and a brutal adjustment period, Nick has seen changes taking place. They completed their first completely remote deal in which they hadn’t known the founder in any capacity beforehand at the end of June.

They negotiated the terms sheet at 6pm, and the founder’s 6-year old was present for the end of the call, staring into the Zoom screen and watching the proceedings. The market is still moving along, and Nick is optimistic about the direction it’s taking.

You can connect with Nick by emailing him at [email protected]. He encourages you to be able to succinctly communicate:

What are you doing?
Why is it important?
Why are you uniquely qualified?
What proof points do you have?

Listen to the full episode here!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

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Authentic Business Relationships Authentic Conversations About Difference Authentic Leadership Authentic Negotiating

A Different View of Deals & Negotiations

My guest today is Zoltan Istvan, who is a world leader in the field of Transhumanism. He’s also a vice presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party in 2020. I’m excited to have Zoltan on. He brings a different view of deals and negotiations, and how that plays out in the political realm.

More About Transhumanism

Transhumanism is a social movement. It contains many millions of people around the world that want to use science and technology to radically modify humans and the human experience. This can include anything from exoskeleton suits that will allow elderly or disabled people who have lost mobility to walk again, or chips implanted in either your brain or in your hand.

It can also include things like genetic editing, where we try to eliminate cancer through radical types of genetic therapies. Transhumanism is about applying radical science to human beings and our lives.

In 2016, Zoltan was nominated to run for as a Transhumansim presidential candidate. Zoltan believes that America actually received a science-based candidate really well. Although he acknowledges that the party never had a chance to win, they did get their message out, with over 100 million views of their content, 6th best of all candidates.

Deals & Negotiating in Politics & Journalism

Zoltan shares that he has several businesses and has been an entrepreneur for years. However, politics takes the cake in terms of deal-making. There are constant divisions, factions, and differences in opinion. If you want to be nominated as a candidate, you have to be able to combine factions, make deals, and bring people together.

The complexity of political deal-making in today’s divisive social atmosphere is intense. Zoltan noted that political deals often differ from business deals in that they tend to be less directly about money. Instead, they are about positioning and leverage.

The person who best masters compromise often ends up the winner.

Zoltan’s work in journalism required similar negotiation skills. When a journalist wants to create a story based on a certain person or group, it’s necessary to find ways to help people feel safe in revealing their truest selves. It really comes down to trust, and your ability to build trust with the other person as part of creating a deal together.

Building Trust as Part of Deal-Making

Because deals always involve people at some level, the power of trust cannot be overstated. No matter how amazing a deal might seem, it’s incredibly hard to get someone to put their signature on something if they don’t trust you.

In journalism, you have to be able to show someone that opening up to you and sharing their story is going to be better for them and their lives in the long run. And that can be a hard sell if trust has not been established.

So, politics and business share the same truth: Without some level of trust, it’s really hard to get a deal done.

Zoltan’s background includes reporting in a lot of war zones. As a result, he’s seen that generals and military commanders are very hesitant to speak with reporters. He had to prove that he would report the facts and create stories that were accurate. The modern, “click-bait” style reports that are common on social sites today do the exact opposite. They may be entertaining and compelling — but they do not build the sort of trust necessary to get to a deeper, bigger story.

Existential Risk & Transhumansim

Zoltan shares that transhumanism focuses quite strongly on the reality of existential risks in the world. There are plagues, health problems, and nuclear threats. He believes that reallocating government money into researching and addressing these existential threats is vital. In addition, it would be a foundational role for transhumanist political leaders in the future. This would clearly require a great deal of political deal-making. This would also involve the boundary-pushing science transhumanism is known for. Because of this, there are likely going to be conflicts with more conservative or traditional religious leaders.

For example, artificial wombs are reaching a place of viability that means they will be an option in the upcoming years. The Catholic Church has long held a position against abortion. Their perspective here will be interesting. What if they could see artificial wombs as an abortion alternative that allows a woman to opt-out of pregnancy while also protecting the babies life and making it possible for the child to be born full term and adopted?

Zoltan points out that innovations in science and technology almost always signal new deals on the horizon. From what will be accepted, to how something will be funded, produced, marketed, and used: deals are a necessity.

Building trust will continue to be a key element of allowing various sectors and factions to come together. This is necessary in order to create the best world for us all.

Listen in to the full episode here!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

Categories
Authentic Business Relationships Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Negotiating

Deals in a New Industry

Although Neil Rosen started his career as a teacher, he would later be driven to serial entrepreneurship by fate. Neil’s passions culminated in his first business, a children’s furniture store, which grew into five locations that were immensely successful.

The chain of stores provided Neil with the financial means to pursue his next great endeavor, which he ultimately achieved by selling the store to his employees. That was the first major deal Neil did, and it laid the foundation for his next businesses, while also teaching him the fundamentals of dealmaking.

Neil was able to keep the skilled management team on staff while receiving payouts over time, and it was a great deal for every party involved. But nothing would prepare him for doing deals as a pioneer of internet companies.

The School Report

Neil’s next business, The School Report, designed a program to gather 3rd party data about public school districts. That information was then sold to real estate brokerages and shared with potential homebuyers for a win-win-win. Although Neil started the business with his wife in their basement, it grew rapidly and brought a lot of new deals to the table.

He had technical experts providing services for equity. He used a participation interest vehicle to raise more capital without losing equity. He then raised venture capital. There were many different types of deals that Neil had to navigate throughout the lifespan of the business. But the difficulty of doing deals as an early-stage internet company prepared him for every challenge he would face moving forward.

Raising Capital

From the early days of commercial internet, through the boom and bust of the late 90’s and early 2000’s the landscape was changing and the learning curve was getting much steeper. When you are working with venture capitalists, there is an expectation of rapid growth. However, it is much more difficult to sell your ability to deliver in an industry that is just getting on its feet.

VCs were hesitant to work with internet companies at the time and it posed a lot of problems for Neil and his team. They had to pivot numerous times and even renegotiated with their VC to reduce its stake in the company before selling it a short time later. But a lot of valuable lessons came out of the experience, which Neil brought forth into his future endeavors with eWayDirect and Certain Source.

If you want to learn more about Neil’s journey, listen to his episode here: https://www.coreykupfer.com/podcasts/neil-rosen/. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

Categories
Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Negotiating

How to Be a Great Negotiator

If you listened to my last solocast, you already know the primary reasons why negotiations fail. In this episode, we are going to take it a step further and discuss the top five ways to be a great negotiator.

Create and stay connected to a powerful context: Who are you when you walk into that deal? What is your energy? People can read your tone, body language, and micro-expressions, so focus less on ‘doing’ and more on ‘being.’

Be willing to do whatever it takes to get to your truth: It is a lot easier to put on a fake sense of bravado than to acknowledge you’re coming from a place of fear or scarcity. Do everything in your power to get the most out of your internal preparation so you can achieve a state of connection to truth and authenticity.

Identify and fully own your value: When you discuss pricing in a negotiation, you will have much greater success if you truly believe you are worth the number you are asking for.

Always be in integrity: Always make sure you are aligned with your inner truth. Great negotiators listen to their instincts and can tune into them on demand.

Have high expectations: If you go into a negotiation with high expectations, it may or may not work out, but your chances are a lot better. Holding high expectations directly affects your energy and context and is scientifically proven to improve results, so make sure to set the bar high.

Mastering the fundamental principles of dealmaking will turn you into a stellar negotiator; learning tactics and counter-tactics will not. Pragmatic methods and technical skills will help, but they are only supplementary. You need to become a deal maker at your core and negotiate from a place of clarity, detachment, and equilibrium. Following these five steps will help you get there.

If you are interested in learning more about why negotiations fail and want to hear examples, listen to my podcast episode, The Top 5 Practices of a Great Negotiator.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

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Authentic Deal-Making

Current Trends in the Financial Services Industry

Custodian BNY Mellon | Pershing, headed by Mark Tibergien, is primarily responsible for ensuring the safety of clients’ financial assets. But his firm also supports financial advisors in their growth. Since custody is highly commoditized in the financial services industry, Mark’s focus is value enrichment. He looks at the business of financial advice as the core proposition, which encompasses strategy and structure, people and processes, and managing the profitability.

In that context, Mark weighs the costs and benefits of a merger or acquisition, identifies the challenges of integration, and determines if there are any insights that will help buyers and sellers make informed decisions about the transaction. Mark and his associates at BNY Mellon | Pershing deliver higher value to their clients by serving as a resource and a trusted partner.

What to Look for When You’re Doing Deals

The reality is, some deals should be avoided entirely and you have to keep an eye out for key indicators. The market is booming right now because sellers are looking for liquidity and buyers want growth. Mark recognizes the extremely opportunistic scenario, but a lot of details are being overlooked due to the volume of deals. Buyers are drawn to a shiny lure and they fail to address important factors that drastically impact the health of the final product. Are you able to digest everything that is happening in order to create synergy and build a brand? Are the employees going to stay with the organization or move to a new firm? At the end of the day, the client comes first in a service-based industry, so you need to determine whether or not they will be better off post-transaction.

Beyond the Core Proposition

BNY Mellon | Pershing’s business model has value beyond the management of financial assets and they practice what they preach. The financial services industry is comprised primarily of small, closely-held businesses that underestimate the process. Many firms have not built businesses to last so they are seeking liquidity instead of investing in an enduring business. Succession is a growth strategy, not an exit strategy, and Mark is helping people open their eyes to that notion. Evaluating deals, the reasons for doing them and the impact of private equity, market cycle and other factors in this maturing industry are crucial as is expanding the diversity (including age, gender and race) is hugely important to the future of financial services.

Click here to listen to the episode of Fueling Deals where you will learn key indicators for determining whether or not you should do a deal and what Mark has brought from other industries into the financial services space.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

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Authentic Deal-Making

The Origins of Barefoot Wine

Today, Barefoot Wine is an iconic household name, but founders Bonnie Harvey and Michael Houlihan had no lineage in the wine industry when they started the company. At the time, one of Bonnie’s clients was owed $300,000 for grapes provided on a handshake deal. Michael went to track down the payment and discovered the debtor’s winery had folded. So, instead of escalating the dispute, Bonnie and Michael took payment in the form of wine. The deal was contingent on their ability to brand and market the wine themselves—something they knew nothing about. However, Bonnie and Michael designed a brand with the input of the common man and produced a product that kept people coming back.

Listen to the Market

When Bonnie and Michael started pushing cases, they overcame significant hurdles by listening to the market. Their initial strategy did not go according to plan, but Bonnie and Michael detached themselves from the brand to achieve a sense of clarity and equilibrium in their deal negotiations. Instead of sending pallets to supermarkets, they started hand-delivering cases to mom and pop shops in the area. Instead of spending millions on commercial advertising, they built a brand through community outreach and pioneered ‘worthy cause marketing.’ Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of falling in love with their products; Bonnie and Michael took feedback with a sense of objectivity and delivered much more than the market had asked for.

Leverage Strategic Partnerships

Who are your strategic allies? Who gets rich when you get rich? Those are the questions you should think about when you wake up in the morning. Barefoot entered a massive distribution deal with Trader Joe’s, they incentivized their employees to align their goals and grow the company organically, and they joined forces with E&J Gallo to take the company to an entirely new level. Bonnie and Michael even found a trusted partner to give them industry financing without a need for venture capital or investors. Strategic partnerships are the lifeblood of Barefoot, and they continue to propel the brand forward.

Learn about their new audiobook, The Barefoot Spirit and if you are interested in hearing more from Bonnie and Michael, listen to my podcast episode, The Deals That Made Barefoot Wine a Household Name, with Bonnie Harvey and Michael Houlihan.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

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Authentic Deal-Making

Wipe the Slate Clean and Meet Your Goals

With the holidays upon us, we are looking forward to unwinding with our family and friends. But since we are also rounding out the year, the holidays are an opportunity to do a few deals with yourself before closing things out. Many of us fail to live out our New Years’ resolutions and goals because we fail to identify, address and complete the failures, unresolved challenges and limiting beliefs from the previous year. Those things roll over—and each time, the baggage gets heavier, making it harder to carry across the finish line if and when you re-up.

Take Stock of Everything

I have a completion exercise that I perform every year at the end of the year where I reflect on everything that’s happened. We need to take stock of all of our success, all of our failures, and get complete with ourselves about areas where we fell short. Before you re-up, I strongly recommend you do this so you can start with a clean slate. This includes the circumstances and relationships surrounding the unattained goals as well. Shed your limiting beliefs and get complete with yourself because you don’t want to bring any unnecessary baggage into 2020.

Celebrate No Matter What

Everything that happened—good or bad—served you in some way. Celebrate all of it because you deserve to honor yourself for everything you’ve accomplished and learned. By celebrating these events, you subconsciously shift your energy, focus on the wins and lessons, acknowledge yourself and clear the way to start planning and visioning for the next year. Then, it becomes more and more effortless to do visioning exercises from a clear and clean place. By creating an experiential mental image of your ideal future, your mind will start to work backward and figure out the steps you need to take to get there.

Click here to listen to my solocast where I explain more about the year-end deals I encourage you to make with yourself.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

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Authentic Deal-Making

A Leap Forward With One Deal

Matt Wavro’s company, Skyline Engineering, has a unique business model that sets it apart from other AEC (Application Engineering Company) firms in New York City. It is an MEP design firm (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing) operating in the building construction space, but they have four divisions that cover a full spectrum of services. Matt’s firm can take an entire project from start to finish including the concept phase, design, construction, materials testing, and quality control. It is only possible for them to offer such a wide range of specialties because Matt has done deals and strategic alignments to grow the business inorganically.

The Acquisition of Skyline Engineering

Believe it or not, Matt came across the opportunity to acquire an MEP firm on LinkedIn of all places. At the time, he was doing a lot of third-party inspection work, but his roots were in MEP so it piqued his interest. Every MEP project in New York City requires a special inspection, commissioning, and concrete testing, so Matt realized that there was a huge synergistic opportunity. Since he did not have the necessary capital to purchase Skyline outright, Matt approached the SBA, which helped him with a loan that only required a small down-payment and he negotiated an earn-out for the rest. It enabled Matt to tap into Skyline’s existing talent and client roster, while maintaining the former owners and provide them with a succession opportunity when they were ready to retire. Never assume you can’t get a deal done because you are too small or don’t have the capital – especially with a strategic acquisition, like Matt did, you can get creative and find a way to get the deal done.

Skyline’s Strategic Alliances

Skyline’s acquisition is a perfect example of why you should do these types of deals earlier; you will find there are a lot more options on the table. But the industry is primarily relationship-based. So, Matt formed a valuable strategic alliance as well. MWBE (Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises) are given special access to some opportunities, and other times it is even required. By partnering with businesses that meet the MWBE criteria, Matt can acquire new business opportunities he couldn’t access otherwise, and the MWBE businesses benefit as well. Matt’s deals enabled him to acquire Skyline and hit the ground running, so if you are interested in hearing more of the deals he’s done, listen to our podcast episode, Acquisitions and Strategic Alliances in the Design and Construction Industry, with Matt Wavro.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!