Hitting The Mark

Hitting The Mark

Conversations with founders and investors about the intersection of brand clarity and startup success with your host, brand strategist and author Fabian Geyrhalter.

Fabian

EP082 – Foundersuite: Nathan Beckord, Founder & CEO

Strategic Clarity

Nathan Beckord founded Foundersuite, a brand that pretty much every founder heard of, used, or referenced.

 

Nathan and I discuss if infusing brand into early-stage startup pitch decks is of importance, if a catchy or descriptive tagline suits a startup better, the power of community in brand building and we talk about Foundersuite’s Teddy Talks which involves a ginormous teddy bear. Yep, a rather varied and fun conversation that any startup founder, VC, or those working with startups should listen to.

Notes

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Welcome to the show, Nathan.

Nathan Beckord:

Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Oh, it’s fantastic having you. So I’m quite involved in the startup world, having been a mentor at Founder Institute for, gosh, over nine years now across the globe. So I’ve talked with thousands of early-stage founders. I even invested in some as usually is the case. I’m on the advisory board of a couple of them. Recently, I launched my own product startup called Toneoptic, which was a pretty big leap of faith on my part. Regardless of where I am in this universe of startups, in which I’m always in one way or the other acting, it is impossible not to stumble across Foundersuite. Sophia Amoruso of Girl Boss, she noted that Foundersuite has been paramount to her fundraising process. The founder of Startup Grind, he said about your brand that all startups need it. How did it all begin, I guess, seven and a half years ago or so? Where did it start? How did it start?

Nathan Beckord:

Where did it start? It’s kind of shocking to me when you give an age to it, because it doesn’t feel that long. It feels like it’s been two or three years, but we’re kind of, I guess, old in startup years. It’s like dog years.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

So you haven’t been doing the startup grind then enough, because seven years should feel like 14 years in startup world.

Nathan Beckord:

Yeah. It goes faster. It goes faster when you’re having fun, and so I think that’s why it’s tracking. How did it start? So kind of like what you just described with your product launch, I was a consultant, first, an investment banker, helping companies raise later-stage rounds of capital, and then I was a consultant under my own brand Shingle called Venture Archetypes that I formed with a couple friends. We were helping early-stage companies raise capital. It was fun to be a consultant and work with lots of different companies, lots of different startup founders, but I always wanted to build a product. Eventually, we just came up with this idea like, “Let’s just build software for raising capital. We know this space really, really well.”

And so, it started as a little side project, kind of a little, hired some offshore developers to build an MVP and put it out there and get some feedback. It just took on a bit of a life of its own enough to spin it out into its own company, Foundersuite Inc., Foundersuite.com and it’s been off to the races ever since. So that’s the short genesis story.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

I’m interested. This is kind of like the on-the-nose question, but did you take any funding yourself with Foundersuite in the beginning with your MVP version?

Nathan Beckord:

Sure. No, it’s a great question. We did raise a seed round with one venture firm out of New York called FFVC, John Frankel, great team there, and then a bunch of angels, pretty great angels. We had the first COO of Twitter, the first finance person of Facebook coming in as angels writing us smaller, medium-sized checks. So yeah, we did. It was not easy though to raise our own capital. It was a big struggle for five, six months. Of course, speaking of branding, I was really worried that if we were not able to raise capital, given the fact that we sell software for raising capital, that would immediately tank the brand.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Obviously, that’s the on-the-nose question, right?

Nathan Beckord:

Yeah.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

That’s number one. And then number two, is, did you already at that time have the MVP built and did you already use it to actually find and reach out to those early-stage investors?

Nathan Beckord:

So we did with a little asterisk. We had an MVP built, but it was actually a slightly different product. The original vision was to build this comprehensive suite of tools for founders, hence name Foundersuite. And so, we actually had other products in there as well. We had our Investor CRM, but we had a media PR tool. We had a competitive tracker. We had an idea validation tool. Our branding, our tagline at that point was, “Tools to get startup shit done.” Our thought process was like, “Let’s build this umbrella of products to help founders with all kinds of different stuff.” But then we changed. Then we pivoted. We used that to raise money, raise that seed round, then we pivoted and really focused, doubled down, triple down just on the raising capital piece and killed off everything else, changed our tagline, changed our branding, kind of pivoted the company, I guess, you could say.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

How involved were the investors in opening up that pivotal moment for you? Did they provide a lot of that input in saying, “Wait a minute, but this is where it really hurts”?

Nathan Beckord:

No, almost the opposite in some ways. I don’t want to say I felt like I gave them a bait and switch, but I pitched them on this vision of this broad set of tools. And then six months or eight, I don’t know, a year later, eight months later, maybe, I came back to them like, “Hey guys, thanks for your money. I know you invested in this vision, but these tools aren’t really working. The only thing people are really using is this fundraising tool called Investor CRM, so I really want to just double down on that.” Yeah.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

And the Foundersuite name, it’s still kept working for you because it still is suite of tools that just happen to be very focused, right?

Nathan Beckord:

Yeah. Yeah. Fortunately, I mean, it’s a friendly name, even though… It’s funny. My European engineers call it Founder Suit, which is fine.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

So, hold that thought right there, right? Because you’re talking to someone with a pretty strong German accent. I can’t help it, right? My listeners, most of them are already used to that abuse, but it’s so interesting because it is a problem. And so, when I prepped for the podcast, I literally, next to Foundersuite, I wrote them brackets, sweet, that I don’t screw it up because it is something that we all like to screw up. I don’t know why, but it is true. Yeah. But that’s not really a problem for your brand name. That’s more a problem for us Europeans.

Nathan Beckord:

Yeah. The previous business was called Venture Archetypes, which I thought it was a good, clever name, but I’d had to spell the word archetype seven times a day, seven days a week. It was a horrible name for having to try and spell it and people could never remember it. Yeah.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

It’s a big one and it’s a lofty name too, right? What does archetype stand for, right? I mean, it kind of like with Foundersuite, you know this is for founders and there’s a suite of some sort of tools, right? And then the rest you do in your brand messaging and all of that stuff. Let me ask you about the chicken or egg situation, because obviously you’re a two-sided marketplace, right? You have, I guess, 200,000 investors, maybe more, I mean, a super impressive number, but how did you build up the database? I mean, without investors, you obviously had no company to launch, but how do you get investors if you have no company to show?

Nathan Beckord:

Well, so I’ll try to not get too deep into the weeds, but we originally launched with a CRM for managing investor pipeline. So after we raised some money, we did our pivot and we rebuilt. We threw out all the code, threw out all the products, started from scratch to rebuild. Our first launch with an Investor CRM. So this is a CRM like Salesforce or Pipedrive or HubSpot, but it’s really used to just manage and track an investor pipeline. At the time, we actually had a plug into AngelList API, they had an API at that point, where we could pull in investor data from AngelList.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

I see.

Nathan Beckord:

Yeah. So that was how we got off the ground. It was a pretty nice little, I don’t know, hack or work around, but then they decided to close that API. They killed it off completely so we had to start from scratch to build our own database.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

But at that point, you already had all of that data, right? So you had something to build upon.

Nathan Beckord:

Sort of. We didn’t extract or vacuum up all of AngelList database that was not allowed or available to us, but we did start to have some pretty good sources of data by that point. To make a long story short, we started to build this database by doing some automated data gathering, some spidering, crawling. We had some MBA interns going page by page on venture firm websites, gathering information. We still are doing that actually. I mean, we still have a very human component doing a lot of that. And then we also purchased some data sets from… There was a private equity recruiter that was retiring so we bought his entire database. So, we started to pull data from a few different sources.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

I see. Okay. Makes tons of sense. I mean, now we’re talking about you starting this seven and a half years ago. Obviously, by now, you’re a household name in the startup world. But I mean, how are things changing now, right? Because I mean, there must be so many more competitors, where before there were none. There are new models, like Wefunder on the horizon and I’m sure there are more to come. How are things changing for you as a brand? Are you constantly innovating? Are you already so strong as a brand that you feel like you have enough market share? How do you see that market changing?

Nathan Beckord:

Yeah, it’s a good question. There’s a lot to that. You’re absolutely right. There’s a new competitor launching every week, it feels like. It’s kind of crazy. When we launched, there was very few, pretty much no one. There was AngelList. I think PitchBook was around. There was a small number of folks in this space. We were almost too early, right? People are telling us back then like, “You’re too early. Why are you going after this market?” Now, it’s validated it, that decision years ago because there’s so many people coming at this space, but there’s basically almost identical clones or people trying to do the same sort of thing. We have a pretty healthy head start on both brand, customer awareness and product feature set. It’s non-trivial to build a suite of tools with all the functionality. So we’ve got direct clones coming after us. We have alternative fundraising sources, like you mentioned, Wefunder, crowdfunding. We’re partners with most crowdfunding. We’re actually pretty close with Wefunder. I was on Wefunder’s podcast last week.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Oh, that’s fantastic. Embrace them, right? Embrace the competitors.

Nathan Beckord:

Well, that could be a whole topic on its own because-

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Oh, I’m sure.

Nathan Beckord:

… I do think there’s definitely a little overlap, but there’s also some complimentary use cases. Just for example, you’re a startup, you want to raise capital. Maybe I’m thinking and seeing this more and more where maybe you go use Foundersuite to raise angel and venture, but at the same time you activate your community, your customer base and do a crowdfunding campaign, right? So you could do both in parallel because they really-

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Different goals. Yeah.

Nathan Beckord:

… to reach your audience. Yeah.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Yeah. Exactly. I mean, that’s what’s happening so much now, right? It’s building a tribe. It’s not so much about the money that you get with a lot of these crowdfunding campaigns.

Nathan Beckord:

Yeah. The very short summary as I see it in today’s world, if you have an audience and you want to tap that audience for their marketing promotional skills, crowdfunding’s great. Or if you don’t have an audience, but you really need more strategic advice, advice from people who are going to sit on your board and be advisors, and usually, it’s guys and gals who have founded companies, exited companies, that’s where angel and venture capital is really good. So it’s kind of like do you need little marketing promotion boost or do you need deep strategic advice? Frankly, you can go for both, right? It just takes some work.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Yeah. No, exactly. I was just about to say, well, if you’re a startup, you need both.

Nathan Beckord:

Yeah.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

I mean, the reason why you exist is because finding funding is a humongous pain. You don’t alleviate the pain, you make it less painful, but it is a lot of work. It’s a hustle and it takes a long time. I, myself, with my startup, I’ve been bootstrapping it. I’ve been lucky to be able to fund it myself so far, but after like 20, 30, $40,000, at some point you’re like, “All right. Should I actually start looking for an investment?” I understand what it takes and it takes quite a lot. It’s not an easy place to go to.

Nathan Beckord:

It’s very hard. It’s way harder than people think it’s going to be, which it actually proves our use case because we, like you said, do make it a little bit easier, take away some of the friction pain points. We get founders coming to us all the time like, “Holy crap, I didn’t realize how hard this is. I need some help on this.” It’s way harder than, I think, the media portrays it because you are reading constantly of all these startups, raising these massive rounds on a back-of-a-napkin idea, which it does happen, but that’s the one in 10,000 scenario, right?

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Oh, totally. Totally. I mean, you often read them on LinkedIn. It’s like, “Finally, we can have this news. We raised XX.” But you know by the finally that means, “Boy, they’ve been working on this for 6, 12, whatever, 18 months.” Something that you said before reminded me of my own journey here that’s really only been six months in my product startup world. You talked about, well, if you want investors, if you want angels, if you want that board of directors and if you want that advice, that strategic advice along the way, this is a really good way to go. Something that I’ve done from literally day one, I mean, far before I had a product, when I was still in the R&D phase, when I was still kind of like setting up the whole brand, I created an advisory board and I put advisors on the board that knew all of the things I didn’t know.

So they were in the product space. They were in the audio space. They were in the music space because that’s where my startup functions, but I’m not in that space, right? I’m the consumer. I’m on that side. So even if you don’t go and actually have a board of directors, you can still have an advisory board and they’re usually pretty easy to please. It’s like there’s a way because they want to help and as long as you don’t take advantage of the relationship. But to me, that was insanely important to have this board and to have this people to just every month come with 15 questions like, “Oh my God, we only have 60 minutes. Let’s go.” Right? It’s like, “Here are all my questions.” For them, it’s super easy. They’re like, “Yeah, we’ve been through that 10 times. Here’s what you should do.” I’m like, “Oh my God, thank you. You just saved me another five days of researching.”

Nathan Beckord:

Yeah.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Absolutely. Well, let’s go back to Foundersuite from a journey. So, at what point did you feel there was this big breakthrough where you felt like… Well, obviously, it was when you actually got investment, when you had a round. But besides that, when did you feel like, “You know what, at this point, this is less of a transactional platform, but it’s turning into a brand. The name is being used by a lot of people. People understand what Foundersuite is in the industry”? Was there a pivotal moment where you said, “Well, there was this one day when I was at South by Southwest and this and this happened,” or in the news? Was there one pivotal moment where you’re like, “Oh my God, this is it. We’re turning into a brand”?

Nathan Beckord:

Yeah, that’s funny. I love it. The crazy thing is I have had those moments. I remember even maybe just two years into it, I was shopping at Target down in South of Market on Howard and 2nd or 3rd Street. I had a Foundersuite T-shirt on and some guy walked up to me. He is like, “Hey, Foundersuite. I downloaded some of your templates and it saved me all this money.” I’m like, “Oh, cool. Great. Did you subscribe?” “No, I didn’t subscribe, but you know…”

Fabian Geyrhalter:

And you’re like, “Goodbye.”

Nathan Beckord:

Okay. Well, I guess that’s better than nothing. Yeah. We’ve had a few of those recognition moments and that’s really fun, but there really isn’t this big pivotal moment. It’s been a lot of just small incremental steps, I have to say. And then frankly, it matches the product development, where even for the first, call it, two years, I mean, the product was really basic. We’d lose a lot of people because it didn’t have X, Y, Z in it, or is missing this functionality or you couldn’t invite team members very… I mean, there’s a thousand things, right?

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Right. Right. Yeah.

Nathan Beckord:

Incrementally, every week, every two weeks, you’re doing a code release, where you’re addressing these bugs, you’re addressing some of these issues. That’s the beauty of software is that it incrementally gets better and better every two weeks on a code release. The product is getting incrementally better. You add that up over a period of years. I think it was maybe almost like three or four years into it, I sort of had that pivotal moment just to myself, not from an external user, where I’m like, “The product is actually pretty good now.” It’s like it’s actually legit.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

You send the tweet out, “Hey guys, after a couple of years now, we actually have a good product.”

Nathan Beckord:

Yeah. It’s actually legitimately, I’m not just… I think almost all founders have this reality distortion field attitude, where you’re believing your own bullshit and you’re promoting your own bullshit like, “Hey, this is…”

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Oh, sure. I mean, not me, but everyone else. Sure. Yeah.

Nathan Beckord:

Not you, Fabian, but obviously reality has to catch up to that. I mean, think of all the great promoters, Steve Jobs and everyone else, that have had that selling the vision. The product ultimately has to catch up to that and it finally did after three or four years and that was beautiful, and so that’s nice.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Well, and that’s the whole idea of vision, to write it down and to then afterwards chase it, right? It shouldn’t be that far-fetched. It should be aspirational and inspirational, but it should still be something that you know you can actually achieve if you work your butt off.

Nathan Beckord:

Yep. Yep. But geez, there’s so much pain along the way, just like people canceling, yelling at you because something didn’t work right. I mean, there’s a lot of like-

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Oh yeah. Yeah.

Nathan Beckord:

Yeah.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

I mean, I’m into product startup and product space now, but the product is not digital. It’s a physical thing that I’m building and it’s the exact same thing with software actually. It’s like every two weeks we also make it better, right? Because there are things where you feel like, “Oh, this can be improved upon,” or “Wouldn’t it be nice if,” right? And so, I think with any product, that’s what happens 100%. From a branding level, besides Foundersuite very nicely owning the orange colors, it looks to me that creating valuable content for founders and nourishing these personal connections within the startup space, building that community, those really seem to me from the outside looking into your brand, that those are some of the key ways in which you create that brand bond with your people. Is that a fairly correct assertion?

Nathan Beckord:

I think so. I think so. I really wish we could have more of a true dedicated community. I think we have a loose community. In the past, we used to hold events semi-regularly, mostly in San Francisco, but also in New York. We’ve done them in Austin, where we’d actually get together with our users and that was just magical. Of course, that all went away for a couple years.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Sure.

Nathan Beckord:

Hopefully, we’ll bring it back. I think, in a former life, I lived on a hippie commune or something, where everyone just loved each other because I would love to create that on an island somewhere where all the founders go and live and create.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Well, I think that island is called the Interweb and I think there’s a space and place for that. I mean, I do feel that you are uniquely in a space to actually do that, right? Because you already have that entry point, right? You already have to kind of like pay an entrance price to be part of Foundersuite. And then within there, it is actually more than just the tools. It’s actually a community that you might be able to find in the future, which even if it’s a self-run community, because we all know communities are very difficult because you have to actually play police in it, but that idea that all the founders who are using Foundersuite, they all have the same problems, right? They have the same goals. They have the same aspirations. They fall into the same traps. It would be a pretty nice thing to do.

Nathan Beckord:

We’re taking baby steps in that direction. We, not too long ago, just a month or so ago, released a feature called user generated, or I think we call it crowdsource feedback or user-generated reviews. Basically, if you have just went and pitched to an investor, we’ll prompt you to just leave some positive notes about that investor, or even just tips about that investor. Maybe you learn that that investor is really looking for companies that have $50,000 monthly recurring revenue, or they only invest in Austin-based startups. They don’t invest outside the region. Whatever the little piece of intel you’ve been able to gather, we’re trying to capture that from our field army, meaning our customers. Even in the little title of this review section we’ve created, it’s like, “Why should I do this?” Because founder karma is real and you pay it forward. You get it back to you. And so, we’re trying to create that user-generated layer from our community and I think we can take that even in a few other directions eventually.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Absolutely. No, I think that’s fantastic. I see Foundersuite doing things like that from the outside, where it feels like there’s content being generated. You’ve got a very specific tribe with specific pain points. So it is very on-the-nose to do that, but I’m glad to see you do that. Talking about investors and pitching, how important do you see a kick-ass pitch deck being that is not only well thought through and well designed and has the right slides to answer all the questions, but also that goes into the brand, so pitch deck where you feel like… And don’t feel on the spot because it’s a brand guy talking, so don’t worry about that. We’re not going to get suddenly disconnected and I’m like, “Sorry, Nathan suddenly left.” But how important do you think if there’s startup A that has a lousy brand that didn’t spend any time on the name and on the logo and on the vision, mission, values, none of that and it’s just kind of like a very bare bones idea deck, versus one where they go big into the brand, do you think that’s important for investors of early-stage startups today or not?

Nathan Beckord:

I think I haven’t seen startups really put a slide in their deck. I have not seen them put in a slide saying, “This is our brand. This is what it stands for,” so and so forth, but I do think the overall look, feel, impression, emotional connection that the pitch deck has, and that can be colors, fonts, everything, the way your tone in the titles of each slide, I think that all does reflect and is really, really important. I like to tell founders, your pitch deck should do a couple things. If you present it or even if I just read it, it should spark something in me on an emotional level. It should move me emotionally and also move me, my left brain or right brain, I forget which, on a financial basis too, right? I should also get greedy looking at your deck. Right?

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Right. Right. Totally. Of course, that’s what it’s about.

Nathan Beckord:

But especially on that emotional piece, yeah, the brand is super critical. A lot of decks make the mistake of being just too dry-

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Clinical.

Nathan Beckord:

… boring, too cluttered, et cetera.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Yeah. No, I love that you say that because it doesn’t need to go to the extreme of like, “Here our core values and here’s our mission.” Right? I personally think it would be amazing if we would get that insight of like, “Look, we are already thinking deep on a brand and culture level about our company.” I think it’s wonderful if it would happen. It can only be a positive as long as you answer all the other questions, not leave them out, but what you said is important. It’s not just the design, but it’s also that you have a very specific voice, that when people go through the deck, they’re not just seeing an idea, but they actually get a feeling for the humans behind it and how they would be represented in the company and what voice the brand would have. I think it’s important when you invest to get a feel of like, “Oh, this is how it works.” I mean, if you think about a company like Liquid Death, I mean, it’s like it wouldn’t be a deck that says, “Let’s put water into cans and be the responsible, sustainable company and we just don’t have a name yet.” No, it would be crazy, the deck, because it has to be one to one with that philosophy and I think that philosophy should come out early on.

Nathan Beckord:

I would love to see their deck, by the way. I think that would be really, really interesting because they raised some money.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Oh, totally. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I interviewed the founder a long time ago. It was kind of like it’s one of my most played shows because he’s from L.A. He’s from Pasadena. He went to the same school that I did. I read about him here in the local business journal right before anyone knew what they are and who they are. And so, I got a legs up with him and it’s amazing. I mean, really, really great story. So, Nathan, you see startups growing to brands. You created your own brand over years and not only one, right? But what does branding mean to you? I know it’s a big question. It can be philosophical. It doesn’t need to. But branding very often, everyone just says, “Oh, it’s a logo.” Right? But we know there’s more, but what does it mean to you?

Nathan Beckord:

To me, it goes back to what we just talked about with the deck, where it’s that emotional feeling I get when interacting with the business, when looking at their materials, when looking at their website, when hearing the founders or other key employees speak about it, about the business. It’s that feeling I get. I know that’s fuzzy and intangible.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

No, it is. No, I think that’s exactly what it is. I mean, I sometimes even call it, it’s a vibe, right? It’s a certain vibe you get. You get a different vibe from one company over the other, even though the product is identical.

Nathan Beckord:

Absolutely. Yep.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

That’s kind of at the heart of it. I totally agree with that. Nothing fuzzy about that because that’s branding. It’s kind of like this weird thing, which is really hard to describe. That’s why I love to ask the questions because I like to ask difficult questions, like the next one, where I’m trying and I ask it all the time, so my listeners know that, what is one word that can describe your brand? If you think about companies, they usually want to portray one or two emotions, right? And so, when you think about Foundersuite, if you would have to funnel it down to one or two words, what would they be to describe holistically overall your brand?

Nathan Beckord:

I am going to do two words because they were the first two words that popped in my head, but it’s optimistic and future. I’m happy to elaborate.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

No, that’s at the heart of it, right? Because if you’re not an optimist, don’t start fundraising, right?

Nathan Beckord:

Yeah.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Because I mean, if you walk in with a negative attitude, you are going to get less than zero back. Future is what you provide, right? You help founders build a future company because you provide the channel to investment.

Nathan Beckord:

Yep, exactly. That’s right. You nailed it. Yep, I can elaborate on that, but you nailed it right there. The people that are on our platform, these are people who have aspirations. They have a dream. They have a dream. They’re thinking about the future. They’re optimistic. They can make this dream happen. They have a lot of hopes coming in. They’re probably still a little naive, not jaded yet because they haven’t been beat down, which is why they can be optimistic, but that’s also the beauty of it, I think.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Totally. Totally. If you would give early-stage founders any brand advice, where you say, “Look, this is what I’ve seen over my years building my own brand and in the marketplace,” any advice you would give them to say, “Look, from a branding perspective, here’s one thing that I think is important or here’s one thing that I wish I would’ve done differently” or it could also be one of your fails where you felt like, “Oh shoot, I could have done that differently”?

Nathan Beckord:

So, I’ll go back to our little story in our pivot. When we launched the first version of Foundersuite, our tagline, I think, I mentioned was, “Tools to get startup shit done.” We would put that on our T-shirts and we would have a demo booth at TechCrunch Disrupt. We would go to Jason Calacanis’ LAUNCH festival and have a booth there. We even had that on stickers. We had that all over the place. People loved that tagline, “Tools to get startup shit done.” It’s funny. It’s cheeky. The problem we had is it doesn’t mean anything. So you could love our logo and our tagline, but if you ask someone, “So, what does Foundersuite actually do?” you have no clue what we actually do.

So we changed it begrudgingly because people would… It had such a reaction because people would walk by the booth and almost like a fly to a light or something, they would get drawn over to the booth, right? But because it didn’t mean anything, it created a lot of confusion and so we changed it to, “Software for raising capital,” which I know is quite boring, but it also is descriptive enough that people get it, what we do. If you are an entrepreneur and you’re raising capital, the light bulb goes off in a much easier way. So in a perfect world, you’ve got some logo or tagline, or even just overall brand that both has that fun, playful connection and also describes what you do.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Listen, I think this is such great advice. One that I often give founders too, where I say, “Look, it’s great to have something fun, but as a startup in the very early stages, meaning literally the first year or two, it is much better to have something that’s more descriptive because people just need to get to know you, like what do you do?” Right? And then afterwards, as you go on, at some point, you can become the Just Do It in your segment, but in the beginning you want to spell it out because you knew no one knows what the heck you’re doing, right?

Nathan Beckord:

Yeah, I like it. Yeah, I love that. I love that. Nike’s Just Do It, that is a perfect example. I would be curious if they had an original slogan, because I think they started making track shoes…

Fabian Geyrhalter:

I think so too. Exactly. I’m sure, I mean, I’m almost certain that was pre-agency work, where at that point they must probably… Maybe they didn’t even have a tagline, right? That’s an interesting thing. I’m sure some of our listeners are going to be very opinionated and quickly set us straight of how it actually went down. So, that’s good. It’s funny that you said that you talked about Jason and we talked about board members. I’m actually on the advisory board of his LAUNCH Growth University-

Nathan Beckord:

Cool.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

… which now is Velocity Growth and another name change. It’s all on topic here. I love that. Listen, we’re coming close to our time, so I’ve got one last question. How was schlepping a ginormous teddy bear for your teddy talks through South by Southwest this year? Was it rewarding?

Nathan Beckord:

So, fortunately, I never had to carry the bear. So for people listening, just picture a teddy bear that, I think, it is like seven feet tall.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

It’s almost real-life bear.

Nathan Beckord:

It is truly ginormous. It’s very, very large. It’s shockingly large. We got this custom printed with a Foundersuite T-shirt on. What Fabian’s talking about is we would go around and my marketing gals, Hilde and Ingvild, who are from Norway, would carry this thing around. They would find entrepreneurs and they’d sit down with them. One would film while the other used the microphone and interviews these entrepreneurs and founders usually about like, “Hey, do you have a little funding hack or tip for audience?” So it would be like a TED talk, but it was teddy talk, so kind of stealing the… It was really fun. It got a lot of attention. It’s friendly. People would come up and just want to cuddle with the bear because it’s warm and welcoming, not too edgy. It was fun. So it feels a little bit sorry for Hilde who carried that bear almost everywhere.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Oh, that’s what they get paid the big bucks for, right?

Nathan Beckord:

It was her idea, for the record. It wasn’t like Nathan-

Fabian Geyrhalter:

There you go. It wasn’t abuse. Okay.

Nathan Beckord:

It wasn’t abuse. It wasn’t Nathan saying, “Hilde, I’m assigning you to…” It was her idea from the starts and it was a great idea.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

A great idea that she regretted within 20 minutes of schlepping that thing around most probably.

Nathan Beckord:

Well, to be totally fair, she actually had this idea in 2019 when we went to South by Southwest and she repeated it. So again, I can exonerate myself because she did it again for 2022.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

It’s a fun idea and it’s perfect for South by Southwest, where it stands out and it’s leisurely. No, it was really fun. I was cracking up when I saw it. Hey, what’s next for the Foundersuite brand? What are you excited about the next six months that you can share with us?

Nathan Beckord:

Yeah. We’re doing a pretty big redesign of the platform since we are six years old. It’s been a few years since we’ve done a major redesign, changing color patterns and just freshening everything up. That’s pretty exciting.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Nice.

Nathan Beckord:

And then kind of like what we discussed a little bit, really trying to get more community involvement in this. Fundraising is still really hard. Going back to that crowdsourced tips and insights, if you just pitched Bill Gurley at Benchmark and you’ve got a little bit of insight for me as the next person to go pitch him, that’s hugely valuable. So I think we’re going to keep working on that. In terms of the brand, I think the brand will stay. It’s funny because we are debating changing up the logo right now. There’s a lot of debate about that.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Do it, go for it.

Nathan Beckord:

The color patterns.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Push forward.

Nathan Beckord:

Yeah.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Do it. Nothing better than change after six years.

Nathan Beckord:

Yeah. It’s hard though. It’s hard when you’re…

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Well, my wise piece of advice is there’s always a way to bring an old logo into the now and keeping some resemblance and some of the colors that nicely own in the space. There’s a way to get past that shock, the founder shock of something new, right? Because for you, it’s been forever, but there’s a way to keep pushing forward without losing some of the brand legacy that you built over all those years.

Nathan Beckord:

That’s interesting. Yeah. Good. Good.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Go for it. Go for it. We’ll be excited to follow it and to see it happen or not happen, but hopefully happen at some point. How can my listeners follow you either personally, not creepily as I’m following you, but online or get to know Foundersuite?

Nathan Beckord:

Yeah, I’ll start with that. Foundersuite is simply at www.F-O-U-N-D-E-R-S-U-I-T-E.com, Foundersuite.com.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

That’s not complex. You spelled it out for Europeans. I know what you did there.

Nathan Beckord:

Yeah. Exactly.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

So for people like Fabian, this is how Foundersuite is spelled.

Nathan Beckord:

Exactly. And then I’m pretty active on LinkedIn. Reach out, mention you heard about us on Hitting The Mark podcast and happy to connect with you. We put a lot of good startup focus content about once or twice a week we’ll post sample investor list or sample cap table or term sheet, like really pretty good stuff on LinkedIn, so that’s good. And then I guess just last thing I’d mention really quick is we do have our own podcast called How I Raised It, which is on iTunes and Spotify. It’s just interviews with founders, getting into the weeds of how they raised capital basically.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

I listened to it and I thought it was really, really interesting, and I will keep listening to it. So I’m glad you actually mentioned it because I forgot to do that.

Nathan Beckord:

Well, I’m excited to listen to Shit That I Knit, one of your episodes. Yeah, I’m going to.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Well, you have to catch up. Everyone else who’s listening and who hasn’t listened to those two episodes, Shit That I Knit and Liquid Death, if you want to do something differently, listen to those two because it’s really, really inspirational. And I don’t have to tell you to listen to this episode because you already did, so everything is good. All right. Nathan, thank you so much for taking the time. I know you’re a busy man, lots of things going on, but it was really, really delightful for you to share some of your insights and your journey and a little bit about how your brand has been built over the last, I said, seven and a half, but it’s really only six years.

Nathan Beckord:

Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. This was a fun episode. I’d love to do it again sometime, perhaps.

Fabian Geyrhalter:

Absolutely. My pleasure.


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