The Startup Journey - powered by Precursa

EPISODE 19

Entrepreneur Defined: The Optimistic Realist

Thanks to our business model pivot, we’ve been re-working the pitch and the deck, and we’ve been re-hashing previous conversations with investors to get them up to speed. In the process, we’ve learned some incredibly valuable lessons about what it means to be an entrepreneur and the true (sometimes hidden) value of asking for money.

In today’s episode, she discusses the importance of being open to feedback and how to be thoughtful in your conversations with potential investors.

First, we hear about the consequential shifts that have followed Precursa’s business model change discussed in the previous episode. Even a small tweak in your startup could force you to reexamine the other parts of your business, including your pitch. Cynthia reaffirms that this can be frustrating to encounter when you feel you have your pitch down. However, as we have learned along this journey, you must be prepared for your plan to unfold differently than how you expected. Throughout all of this, the most important thing is to be able to have meaningful and engaging conversations about what you are doing.

Founders must truly believe that their idea is huge in order to be successful. All the time and effort put into this idea wouldn’t be worth it if you didn’t believe in your mission. Cynthia reveals what she has found to be the secret sauce for a successful entrepreneur: a balance of healthy skepticism and full-throated belief. Talking to others about what you’re doing is an opportunity to learn more and de-risk your idea from a fresh, outside perspective. The ability for a founder to have confidence but be coachable and open to critique is the skepticism piece and should not be considered a step backwards.

Developing thick skin isn’t just about hearing no without being disappointed. It’s more about building up your capacity to hear objections and really consider this feedback as an opportunity to improve what you’re doing and work through previously unforeseen obstacles. Know when to pivot and when to stand firm. Cynthia offers her own anecdotal advice on the benefit of transforming your relationship with mistakes made in the past. The opportunity to hear other people’s perspective is an opportunity to de-risk what you’re doing. Learn to respond to questions in a way that is authentic, vulnerable, and real and you will never worry about it coming up again.

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Email us with any questions or comments (startup@precursa.com). Check out our website (https://www.precursa.com) for more information on getting your startup rolling.

Straight to you from Denver, Colorado, this is Precursa: The Startup Journey. We share the ins and outs of building a tech startup from inception to launch to revenue and beyond. If you’ve ever wondered what building a startup from scratch really looks like, you’re in the right place. With full transparency and honesty, we reveal it all about Precursa on our ride from idea to exit: the wins, the lessons learned, and the unexpected twists and turns. Hello everyone. Welcome back. This is Precursa: The Startup Journey, where we are taking you along for the ride building our startup. And, uh, our goal with this is always that, you know, you as an entrepreneur, um, or a founder, who’s building something now, or you, as someone who’s thought about potentially being an entrepreneur or a founder, you are getting something out of seeing the journey that we’re going through. And the only way that you can do that is not if I paint it always as this, you know, moonbeams and you re you know, rainbows and unicorns and you know, it because that’s just not realistic and it’s not the journey. Right? And so, um, that’s why on this podcast, we are, uh, fair, very transparent telling the truth and what’s going on and how’s it working and what’s working and what’s not working and all the things. So, um, this week, actually the last two weeks. So, uh, we were out of the studio for two weeks. Um, and so we are, uh, back in the studio now. So it’s been a couple of weeks. And in that time, the last time we talked, actually two episodes ago, we were talking about the switch and the business model. And, you know, if you didn’t get a chance to listen to that episode, please go back and listen to it. I think that’s episode 17 because we pivoted in a way that opened up our market beyond the direct to consumer model. Right? And so part of, and I’m not going to go back into all of that because, um, you can go listen to up soda if you’re interested. But one of the side effects of doing that is there’s all these things in our pitch and all of these things in our plan that had to change. Now, you’ve heard Paige say this a few times on the, on the podcast, which is you have to have a plan, but it almost never goes to plan. So, you know, I did a lot of work to learn the pitch, to start talking to people, you know, saying, yes, we need, we need money. We need capital, but we also need someone who knows direct to consumer marketing and how to do that and how to access those channels on a volume basis. And, you know, we need that expertise in our team because we’re all B2B salespeople. And when we made this pivot, the whole thing sorta shifts, right? Like even from even the perspective of the problem or solving, although the problem we’re solving, hasn’t really changed the way we talk about the problem, the way we talk about the people who have the problem, the way we tell the story that gives the investors, the, that sort of visceral feel about why this matters and why this is important and why this needs to exist. That definitely has to change. Um, and not only that, our go to market strategy has to change because now we’re less focused on directing consumer or direct to consumer, uh, uh, what am I a strategy, uh, is now more about building brand awareness, building brand trust so that when an incubator or accelerator or an investor, some, some, you know, some other early stage stakeholder says to a company, well, have you done Precursa or are we, you know, this is what we offer, you know, so that you can apply again. Or we know when to invite you to apply or whatever that is, right. If they’ve heard of it, they’re much more likely to say, oh, I know what that is. And, and jump on board. Right? So we have to do our part from that angle, just as much as we’re asking our, our customers, our incubators and accelerators to bring the users right. And giving them the opportunity to do that. Yeah. So the go-to-market strategies changed the actually our Tam, Sam and Sam have really changed. So total addressable market serviceable, addressable market, serviceable, obtainable market. There it is. You know, when you use acronyms so much, you forget what they mean, you know what they mean, but you forget what they stand for. So, so what happens when your pitch changes? It’s not that this is the thing it’s not even like, this is a huge pivot or a dramatic change. It’s a, it’s a small shift, but the shift means that we have to go through and address all of these different points. So I’ve been doing this weird kind of, what do I want to say, like hybrid pitching for the last couple of weeks where I am literally talking to people who I’ve talked to before and saying, Hey, remember that thing that we built, we came up with a B2B model. 05:18 Let me tell you how that is. This is how it affects our go to market. This is what our TAM, SAM and SOM looks like. This is what our potential evaluation looks like down the road. This is what our project, like all that stuff. Right. But then I’m also pitching brand new to cut, to, to, to brand new investors who haven’t heard any of it in. What’s interesting. I did a pitch yesterday morning, two days ago in the morning to a very, very good friend of ours who happens to also be our neighbor who has been involved with startups. He’s been a CFO. He’s now taking on a CEO role in a startup that’s here in Denver. And I was like, you know what? You’re talking like, I want you to put on your investor hat. I want you to let me pitch to you. And then I want you to, in your very sweet, like, happy go lucky, Canadian way. I want you to bring me the objections and tell me what you see and offer me feedback and help because he’s been involved with small startups, with huge startups, like LifeLock and paychecks. I mean, this guy knows, he knows his stuff. And so he did that. And what I realized is I still don’t have the new pitch down because I was reading my notes a lot. And he was like, what’s interesting is when you’re reading it, you’re much less confident than you are when we’re just talking. And he’s like, so if you need to give yourself like, just words to remind you what comes next and it doesn’t have to be perfect every time. He’s like, I’d much rather you just have the conversation. You’re just better that way. And I know that, but sometimes it’s hard, you know, you have to get confident with that, right? Like, I don’t want to miss any piece that’s going to be really important. But then the other things, you know, I totally screwed up our Tams. You know, he asked about the total addressable market and how do you make this thing big and how do you get to those numbers? And I didn’t have the math down really well. Now what’s crazy is I did the majority of the math on this. Although Sarah jolly fixed a bunch of it and validated it. And you know, we’re going to have another conversation about that in our next, um, in our next meeting, uh, you know, our next, a weekly meeting on Monday. But, um, so I should know these numbers cold. The reality is when you change the model, the way that we changed the model, it means the numbers are different, right? So I don’t know the new numbers cold, which means I ha I had less confidence and it showed because I flubbed it up. And Chris obviously, you know, is a very good friend. And so he was like, okay, work, work this back with me. And we eventually got there and he was like, okay, now I see where, and I was like, yeah, I totally missed the middle part of that. Um, and so, so I’m telling you all this because the pitch has changed. And that can be really frustrating because for the last two weeks, I have not been pitching with the cadence and the speed and the rhythm that we intended to be pitching with at this point, which kind of starts to feel like, oh my gosh, we’re behind, right? Like we can’t, we haven’t raised the money that we should have raised by now yet. You know what we really need as a lead investor. Cause we’ve got a bunch of friends and family that are like, we’ll put money in. As soon as you have smart money, right. They don’t want to be first because they don’t know enough about what we’re doing, because they’re just not in the space. But if someone who is in this space got interested and invested the first 25 or 50 or a hundred thousand, then our friends and family would be confident coming on. And because they want to back us, they just don’t know what they don’t know. Right. So it’s frustrating. But the reality is you have to make a plan, but almost never goes to plan. And so, you know, we’re finding creative ways to continue to bootstrap. We’re giving ourselves the, the room and the freedom and the time to figure out what we don’t know. We don’t know still, you know, we’re just starting to get into conversations with incubators and accelerators. I’ve got a couple of investors that I want to have conversations with, you know, like customer validation conversations and say, let’s say you had a tool like this. What are your concerns? Like one of the things that Chris brought up the other day that I had never, never really considered, right? He said, well, as an investor, I would be worried that these people are going through this process. And maybe, maybe they’re even part of my platform and I’m paying for them to go through this process. And now somebody else is going to see the opportunity and snag it up and I’m going to miss out. Right. So he was worried about paying for users to refine their idea on his dime or, you know, and I said, well, you would monetize that. And he said, well, either way, if I have done the work and they’re in my platform and now somebody else snags them up because, you know, they have the ability to see that. It’s almost like if I’m going to do this, I want the first right of refusal before otherwise people can go in and pay for it themselves, you know, retail. And then they can come back to me and, and we can talk, but so I kinda got where he was coming from. And it was interesting. Cause it was the first time I’d heard that particular objection and I didn’t really have an answer for it. I was like, huh, I don’t know. And so what I said was, that’s actually a really good point. I don’t know. And I said, but what I’m going to do is I’m going to talk to some investors I’m going to, I’m going to add this, this line of inquiry into our customer validation, with incubators accelerators and, and, uh, investors to try and understand like, how do they relate to that? 10:47 Is that, is that a big thing? Is that gonna, is that going to be, is that potentially going to be problematic? Like I need to understand more because if he’s raising it as an objection, he’s not going to be the only one. So in some ways over the last couple of weeks, even though it’s been very weird and I’m still trying, I don’t even have a deck that goes with this pitch yet. Like we’re still working through that. We don’t have a send away deck that has the full model in it. We’re still working through that. Like it there’s all these pieces. Right. And, and so, but even in the midst of all of that, I’m still able to have conversations with people and get value out of those conversations. And ultimately I’m still able to make offers to invest because the conversations lead somewhere, I know enough about what I’m doing and I can Intel have an intelligent and engaged conversation. And here’s one of the things that happened. So David actually sat in on this pitch with Chris the other day. And I asked him to do that because first of all, it’s one of the only times he’s ever actually been available when I’ve been pitching. Um, he’s also invested in Precursa. So my company, Rick attack is, is, uh, is the majority owner of Precursa. And David is an investor in architect. So he owns a portion of Precursa. He’s also made a short term loan, uh, to Recurse it to kind of keep us going here over the next few months while we’re, while we’re raising money. So he has an interest in how this goes, right? And so I said, why don’t you sit in on the pitch with us? You know, Chris, he, you know, they’re actually working together and you can kind of, I’d be interested in your perspective as well as someone who has an, you know, already has an investment in his company. So what was interesting is, is, you know, we were talking about it later in the day at lunch, you know, actually miss a day later at lunch. And he said, you know what I really liked about when you were pitching? He’s like every time Chris brought something up, he said it didn’t happen often, but when he would bring something up and you didn’t know the answer, what you actually said to him was say more about that. Or tell me more or explain that to me. And he said, I really liked that because you were always willing to say, I don’t know, but I’ll go find out. And he’s like, and, and tell me more is a way of getting to what are, what is the investor looking for? What does the person across the table looking for out of the question, if you don’t understand deep enough, right. And he said, so your ability to be confident, like supremely confident about what you’re doing, but also to be able to say, I don’t know, or to be able to ask questions, to get clarifying answers, to be able to say whether, you know, or not, he’s like, that’s, that’s really powerful. And it just made me, it made me really lies something. Okay. Founders have to believe that their idea is huge, right? Otherwise going through all the things that we go through as an entrepreneur, the late nights, the working all the time, the, you know, con juggling all the balls. I mean, all the things that we’ve talked about so many times on the podcast, right? None of that would be worth it. If you didn’t believe in what you were doing, what you have to do is the trick here and what David was pointing out and how I interact with people when I’m having, when you know, when I’m pitching, when I’m talking to investors, you want, I’m talking about what I do. There is a balance of a healthy level of skepticism for your own idea. And balancing that with full throated belief in what you’re doing, the balance of that is actually the secret sauce to being a successful entrepreneur. And why, because the chance to, to talk to people, the opportunity to talk about what you’re doing is an opportunity to learn what you don’t know. You don’t know about what you’re doing. And every time you learn something, you didn’t know, you didn’t know, you get a chance grow as a founder, you get a chance to learn more. And de-risk your idea. And you potentially get a chance to identify pivots that open up your market even more, or that lead to easier traction or easier acquisition of money or customers or whatever that is. Right? So that secret sauce is having a healthy enough level of skepticism for your own idea, that you can hear the objections and you can hear when something new comes to light, but having the confidence and the, the knowingness of what you are building, that, those objections and those new things, and, and those things you didn’t know, you didn’t know coming to light, doesn’t completely derail you. 15:40 Right? So there, there are a lot of founders that I have seen pitch. And when they do a pitch that doesn’t go, well, there’s lots of objections, or they don’t raise capital in that particular picture, whatever it is I’ve seen founders was heart. And the problem with that is it’s one conversation, first of all. But second of all, if you don’t, if you aren’t realizing that everything, isn’t always going to go your way and everything isn’t as perfectly designed as perfectly laid out for you to accomplish this thing, as you, as you think that it is objections are going to derail you, and you’re going to be like, what? This is perfect. What are you talking about? So that’s why I’m saying the secret sauce to going the distance. And, and I really got this in a visceral way, not only in the conversation with Chris, but also when David gave that feedback. And then in another conversation I had with another mentor of mine, which I’m gonna talk about in a minute, but I got this in a visceral way. The secret sauce, the thing that makes an entrepreneur successful or not is that balance of healthy skepticism, which is what has you not be thrown off when somebody presents something you hadn’t thought of or not be thrown off when someone presents an objection you’ve never heard before. And that full throated, there is, there’s no doubt in my mind, this needs to exist in the world. And that I’m the founder to make it happen. And it seems like those two things are at odds, but they’re not. And the reason they’re not is coachability. So the ability for a founder to have confidence, to know what they need to know, to be able to keep moving forward, keep executing, hold onto that stretch strategic vision, but also be coachable. That is the skepticism piece. It’s, it’s believing. I have a great idea and believing that I know what I need to in order to execute on it and being open to, and willing to acknowledge as other information comes in, I, the skills and abilities to make the pivots I need to make in order to continue to take steps forward. Sometimes they look like taking step backwards, steps backward, right? Like when we pivot, when we pivot our business model, and now we find ourselves like almost back at square one with our, with our freaking pitch and our pitch deck and all that, it’s easy to feel like, oh my God, like three steps forward, 18,000 steps back has, haven’t been, we’re working on this deck for six weeks. That’s right. But that’s not the case. The opportunity is we act is now a better model. It’s a more attractive model. It’s fits more in line with this, with the skills and talents and abilities of the people on our team. This is better for everyone, which means it’s still a step forward, at least one step forward. Maybe more. So, what I want you to get from this is I want you to believe wholeheartedly, like this is why we talk about the why, and I’m going to bring it back to that again. But your why needs to be big enough that, you know, without a doubt, this is the thing you are the ones on anywhere, any time like this is it, right? But in order to keep that level confidence and keep moving forward, you have to be open to new information. You have to be able to hear when people are telling you something that seems antithetical to what you’re trying to create, or when someone presents you with an objection and shutting yourself off to that, or being surprised by that will cause your why to start to shrink because you’ll lose faith in that rather than recognizing, this is the opportunity to continue to de-risk what I’m doing. And to continue to refine and hone and make it even better than where it was when I started. That’s a great founder and that’s all about coachability. It’s all about, can you take feedback? Can you get new information? And can you do productive things with it? Because that’s your job as a founder. And I can promise you the minute you get investors involved, the minute you get any other kind of stakeholder involved, if you have co-founders that are involved with you, you have to be able to be coachable. You have to be able to see opportunities to pivot. You have to be able to have this skill. So work it now. That’s why, that’s why I tell you. I, you know, I’ve started out pitching to people who know me really well to people who know me back round, who I don’t have to explain a lot too. 20:22 I’m not going for the difficult one. I’m putting difficult quotes because they’re all just conversations with humans. Okay? That’s the thing you got to realize about pitching, but I’m not going for the difficult conversations where somebody doesn’t know me at all yet first, because I need to build up a thick skin and a thick skin. Isn’t just about hearing. No, and not being disappointed. Cause I can promise you every time, every time you meet with someone and there’s a great rapport and you think they really get it. And then you say, you know, so are you in? You want to invest? And they go, yeah, this just isn’t for me, I’m going to pass. Here’s the reasons why it’s it? It feels bad. You’re like, oh man, I really, really thought that was going to be a good one. Right? But if I, if I can building up the thick skin is more about building up my capacity, the city to hear nos, hear objections, and be able to absorb what there is for me to absorb out of that and take that feedback and do whatever’s right with it. Now sometimes, sometimes he will give you feedback and in your gut, you’re like, yeah, I’m not, I’m not going to do that. You know, and it’s fine. And maybe it’s just not a fit or they don’t really get it. And that’s fine, like move on with your life. But a lot of times, especially if you have rapport with someone being able to be coachable, being able to hear, you know, you’ll hear this on, on the pitch podcast all the time. But being able to hear somebody say, you know, your valuation is way too high. What, like, how did you do that? And you know, you’re giving all your reasons and they’re like, yeah, you, you really need to consider that that valuation is way too high. And there’s no way you’re going to be able to raise money at that valuation. If enough people are saying things like that to you, you need to learn how to take that in and say, okay, let’s go back to the drawing board and figure out where have we gone off the rails here, right? That’s coachability. It’s not, I take all the input from everybody and I’m constantly changing what I’m doing. And I’m a chameleon and being everything to everyone. It’s I know the core of my, why I know the core of my problem. I know the heart of my customer who has that problem well enough that I am confident everything that comes at me, every bit of feedback or, or objection or whatever that I get is just an opportunity to find more ways to solidify and get better grounding to solve that problem for that customer who I care about so deeply. And it’s the confidence you’re really looking for is the confidence in yourself to recognize what does that customer need. And as I get new information, how does that impact the way that I view what that customer needs or how I can get it to them in a way that makes the difference that I’m trying to make in the world. And that’s coachability, that’s being able to take feedback, understand it, hash through it and be confident in when do I need to implement something new? When do I need to pivot? When do I need to stand firm? Which brings me to the other conversation that I had with, uh, an investor. And then as a result with a mentor of mine, who I love very dearly and who every time he it’s funny because I, I, I, any time I think, well, I can’t say that to, to this you, this particular guy, like he, he, I don’t think I’m crazy or he won’t get it, or he’ll say Cynthia, you’re being crazy. Or, you know, whatever, every time I actually get vulnerable and say the thing that there is for me to say, the stuff that comes out of his mouth is like, it’s like God level stuff. I mean, it really is like, I B the feedback he gives me, I know how much this man loves me and cares for me. Right. And he’s a mentor of mine. He’s, he’s been in technology for decades and decades and decades. He’s got a couple of startups. He actually started his career, worked his way up, uh, through bank of America, visa global as an executive. He is responsible. He is the, you know, ha he was the CIO of visa global responsible of getting the, the platform in Europe up and running and, and doing its thing. Right. Like, and he, he, as we were talking, he said, you know, one of the things about being a startup entrepreneur, he’s like, in my mid fifties, I had been an executive. All these people would wait outside my door, just hoping to get advice or hoping to hoping to get her, um, you know, a meeting with me. And he’s like, and then the very next day when me and a friend of mine decided to start our first startup, it was like, we were at the bottom of the barrel and none of our background mattered. And we even had an investor say to us, okay. So you’ve been executives at huge companies, 800 million to a billion dollar budgets. What are you going to do with $2 million? Do you even know how to make that money, do what you needed to do? When, so he even was like, with all of that pedigree and all of that background and all of that, that proof of my ability day one being an entrepreneur, I’m still at the bottom fruit proving myself. So the reason we started having this conversation and that, that just gives you a little bit of, uh, an insight into who this person is and why, why sometimes it’s very difficult to be vulnerable, but why it’s so meaningful when I am, I had a conversation with an investor and actually it was over, it was over an email and we’re still actually trying to find a time to talk in person because I, I’m actually really excited to answer this question now, but I wasn’t, when I first got it, one of the things he asked and I’ve talked about my background in previous podcasts and other podcasts that we’ve done, um, I’m not going to rehash the whole thing here, but suffice it to say, I’ve made a lot of money in my career. 26:13 And I lost all that because in my late twenties, I invested in something I didn’t understand. And I learned the don’t invest in what you don’t understand. Lesson in a very expensive and very painful way. Okay. Invested in commercial real estate. I knew nothing about commercial real estate. I didn’t listen to the mentors that I had in my life at that time who did know something about commercial real estate. And it costs me everything. I literally ended up $650,000 in debt, no assets, retirement, no savings, not a penny to my name and how to climb out of that hole. Right. Which, which I did. So the thing is that in our pitch deck, you know, we talk about our teams. So we talk about Paige and her companies and her achievements are talk about Sarah and her companies and her achievements. And we talk about me, my exits, my achievements, the things that I’ve done. And so this particular investor, he was one of the things that he said was, why aren’t you investing your money? Like you’ve had two exits, how come you aren’t you, aren’t putting in this first round. And I understand that what he’s looking for is, are you invested? Which you’ve heard us talk about, we’re invested. I mean, I’ve got at least let me do some math here real quick. I think Cigna, I’ve got close to $80,000 of my own money either through, you know, profits in my company that I’m investing in a Precursa or, you know, money that I’ve taken out of other investments or other investment accounts and put into Precursa. Right. So I’m definitely invested. And if I could put any more in, I absolutely would. But the thing that I was wrestling with as I’m reading this is, oh my gosh, like, I’m going to have to tell this story and have an investor think, well, if you were that irresponsible with your own money, what are you going to do with my money and blah, blah, blah. And, you know, I, I went into this spiral of shame and this resentment that sort of took hold of me for a couple of days. And we’re sitting at lunch, David and I were sitting at lunch with this mentor who is, who is, uh, in a couple of different business ventures with David right now. Um, I’m actually doing some work, uh, with a couple of my developers on a project for this gentleman. And so we, you know, we’re all, we’re all very close. His, his family is very close to us. I love his wife to death. She’s one of my favorite humans on the planet. His kids are amazing people, really fun to be around, you know, they’re, they’re in their, their, uh, late twenties and early thirties, you know, closer to my age than David’s. Uh, but we, I, we just love being around them and in, in, they love being around us. Right. And so we’re talking to him and David said, you should tell him what you told me about the resentment and why that’s there and ask him the question. And I was like, I’m really uncomfortable being that vulnerable because I think he might think it’s weird. And he was like, and you know, the, our, our friend, he was like, why don’t you try me? So I said, well, here’s the thing. I, I have been feeling really resentful. This, this investor asked me, why are you asking for money? Why aren’t you, why don’t you have the ability to invest yourself? Or why aren’t you investing yourself? And, you know, it’s just driving up for me. I’ve really screwed up and wouldn’t have to be going through this and asking all these people for money and having to questions like this and justify my experiences in my life. If I hadn’t made these, this huge mistake. And it just feels like it’s all right there again. And there’s nothing I can do about it. I sat there for maybe 15 seconds and he says, okay. So the first thing is, if it’s five years from now, and you had invested half a million dollars into Precursa to you had it, and you put it in a Precursa five years from now, it failed, how would you feel? And I was like, well, that would be okay, because I know what I’m doing. Like, I would know why I failed. And the reality is it’s not going to fail because I know how to pivot in technology. And he’s shaking his head. He’s like, yeah. So it’s not the same, right? He’s like, he’s the past is the past. You can’t change it. So you have to stop. You have to stop letting it impact you. 30:33 He said, here’s the other thing I want you to think about. Maybe what you should say to that guy is, believe me, if I didn’t have to be sitting here in front of, of you hearing these really demeaning questions, I wouldn’t be right. Like, if I didn’t need your money, I wouldn’t be here. If I had it, I wouldn’t be here. And he said, not because you want to be an, but because think about what the opportunity of raising money is. And so, and I thought about it for a few minutes. And I said, what you’re saying is, even if I had the money going through the exercise of raising money would still be valuable because of the opportunity to de-risk and learn just like we were talking about earlier, learn about objections and what are the things you didn’t know, you didn’t know. And he goes, exactly. So I get there, there’s a whole bunch, there’s a whole mess of stuff inside of there. Right? The first piece is, you know, you’ve heard me talk about this a couple of times before, and it probably won’t be the last time, but I’m always interested in transforming my relationship to the mistakes I’ve made in the past that, you know, there’s something about, especially, you know, especially for me, I’m someone who’s really driven, really ambitious. I really, I love making money. It’s sort of like the scoreboard, right? And it, it’s not because I like things. I do love experiences. I love going on nice vacations. And I love being able to take a week on a boat in the Mediterranean, doing nothing but laying on a Sunday and reading books. Like those are the things that money buys for me that makes me happy. But ultimately all the things that I do, money’s just the scoreboard, except that I was raised really poor. Right. We didn’t have money. And so knowing that I felt, I feel like there’s a, there is a finiteness or a preciousness to the resource of money. And I had a lot of it and I blew it. I wasted it. God gave me this opportunity. He said, here you go. Good. And faithful, servant, whatever. And I flat blew it. Right? There’s something about it being tied up in money. And the mistake being, you wasted more money in your life, you know, in, in, in that one interaction than most people make in a good career over, over the course of their life. There’s something about that that makes it more difficult to come to terms with, for me then if it had been a mistake with a relationship that I felt like I lost her. It’s that feeling? That what if I never get it back? I blew it and I never have it again. And that’s the thing that has this thing keeps coming up. Right? And so the first thing is having someone on the other side, cause you know, our friend he’s in his seventies, right? Like he, this is not a spring chicken he’s you would never know it meeting him. He’s uh, he’s just brilliant. Absolutely love him, but he’s, he’s not new. And so when he says Cynthia, from this end of it, I can promise you it’s going to work out. I can see that perspective in the way that he got me to kind of shift my thinking and say, you’re just painting the context wrong. Like, he’s asking that question because he doesn’t know you. If he knew you, he’d never asked that question. And he’s like, and you can answer it however you want to. And he’s like, but understand that the opportunity in the question is not for you to drag back up all your resentment and all your, all your feelings of shame and guilt, and you did something wrong. He’s like, it’s an opportunity to tell an investor how you’ve learned from those mistakes. And he is like, you got your MBA the hard way you did the thing that people go to school to try not to do. Now that doesn’t mean they still don’t make those kinds of mistakes. And he’s like, but you did it the hard way. And you came out of it, willing to try again. And he says, that’s what the investors looking for this investor doesn’t know that because he doesn’t know who you are yet. And, and so there there’s so much in there and I’m still kind of parsing through it. And again, I don’t want to make this sound like, oh, I’ve come out the other side. 34:59 And it’s so wonderful, right? Like that’s not the truth. The truth is I am now what I’m feeling is this wrestling of the resentment and the guilt with this revelation that I’m like, oh my gosh, you’re right. Like the opportunity to pitch to investors is one that I, I now have learned. And I know no matter how much money I have in the future, every time I start a venture in the future, I’m going to go raise money. Because the opportunity to see from other people’s perspective is more opportunity to de-risk what you’re doing. And sure. Maybe half a million or a million dollars doesn’t really matter. And if you blow it on something that doesn’t work when you have a few hundred million or a billion or whatever, but that’s not the point, the point is I’m smarter than I’m going to go blow some money and see what comes out of it. That’s why I’ve been successful so much in my career because this is not how I approach things. Any opportunity to de-risk any opportunity to learn more, any opportunity, to get closer, to solving the problem for the people that have a heart for who have the problem. Why wouldn’t I do that? I do it in every other way. The whole, the whole product market fit and idea validation process in Precursa is about that. It’s about this, and this is another cut at that process. And it just, I, I just feel like my mind was blown, right? And then inner said, and if, what you want to say to him is, believe me, if I didn’t have to be here as here asking you for money, I wouldn’t, he’s like, that’s an answer too. And then he tells the story about how he and his, his first co-founder and their first venture, who they both came out of corporate, uh, you know, C suite executives at, at huge companies. Right? And he says, our very first pitch, me and my partner, we sit down in front of this investor. My partner puts his feet up on the table and he’s like, you want to enter what? And he was like, he said, I’m not, I’m not telling you to be that cavalier about it. Certainly. And he’s like, cause that probably wouldn’t fit your personality. I think I have too much of a chip on my shoulder, as it is pitching to investors to be that cavalier. Like I need a healthy balance of confidence, but also humility. Um, but he was like, here’s the thing. There’s always going to be more investors and the ones that get you, they’re not going to care. If you come in and put up, put, put your feet up on their desk, or they’re not going to care. If you come in and grovel, like it’s just going to be about finding that connection and finding that match. And that’s why it kind of takes a long time and we have to pitch to a bunch of people. And he’s like, so learn what there is to learn from the guy asking this question, learn how you would respond to the question in a way that’s authentic and vulnerable and real, because by the way, Cynthia, you’re at your best when you’re vulnerable and authentic. And he’s like, find the way to answer the question like that. And you’ll never worry about it coming up again. And he’s like, and you never have to tell people the whole story, if you don’t want to, the point is you’ve, you’ve made big mistakes and you learn from those mistakes and you got up and try it again. That’s all that matters for an entrepreneur. So I wanted to relay that conversation because I think there’s a lot of value in it. I would really love if you heard something in this, just because I’m still kind of raw with it and I’m still sort of working it all out for myself. I would love it. If you heard something or you got something out of that, or you had a revelation for yourself, email, like send me an email, startup@precursa.com. Let me know what you got. Because like I said, there’s so much here for me and there’s so much, that’s wrapped up in this for me and I’m still trying to figure it out for myself and I am coachable and I am interested in hearing more hearing your stories. How did, how does this relate to you? What did you learn? So this is one where if you have something like that or you just have a story you want to tell me or whatever, please email me because I really am kind of teasing this whole thing apart for myself. And I, my goal is to get to a place where I can honor my experiences and honor my past without letting it bring me down today, because I really did sit in this like resentment and guilt and shame for like two whole days. And I was like, I, this is not the place that I want to be. This is the chip on my shoulder. And I don’t want to be in that place. Right. Actually, that’s kind of funny. I said, send me an email. And I used to work with these guys at an email company. They were an email sender. And you remember that song, send me an angel. We used to sing, send me any mail. And when I said that, I don’t know why to maybe me think of that. I haven’t thought about, I haven’t thought about those guys in years. So shout out, shout out to ed. Um, okay. So next time on our next episode, I want to talk about, uh, in two episodes. So episode 21 is going to be our founder session. Yay. Uh, but in the next episode, I want to talk about this whole idea of strategy versus execution. How do you stay focused and this concept of the squirrel swirl, and this is what we call, you know, you’re an entrepreneur, you’re a founder, probably you have a million great ideas every day. How do you stay focused and, and how does strategy versus execution and like all of that play into that. And how do you teach yourself that, you know, I’ve talked about that a little bit, but I want to kind of dig into that a little bit more just because I think it’s really interesting and I’m kind of dealing with this myself right now. Um, and so I want to, I want to kind of dive in on that with y’all and see where that goes. Um, so until then, happy entrepreneuring, please reach out through social media or through email, through our website, make sure you sign up for our wait list. Um, cause sometime, probably September, October, we’re going to start opening up the platform to, to people on the wait list and the order that you sign up. So make sure you do that. And, um, ultimately, you know, keep founding, keep coming up with great ideas, happy entrepreneuring, and I will see you all next time. Thank you for listening to this episode of Precursa: The Startup Journey. If you have an idea for a startup and you want to explore the proven process of turning your idea into a viable business, check us out at precursa.com. Make sure to subscribe to this podcast wherever you listen to podcasts, so you never miss an episode. Until next time…

Cynthia Del'Aria

Cynthia Del'Aria is a serial entrepreneur and tech startup ninja, specializing in product-market fit and idea validation and helping new entrepreneurs reserve their time and money for the idea with the best shot at success. With two successful exits before 30, an active high-profit-margin SaaS in the commercial airline space, and two additional startups in the works, she knows what it takes to traverse the entrepreneur journey, the highs, and the challenges of turning a vision into a successful, viable business.

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  • Denver, Colorado

  • startup@precursa.com

Copyright © 2021 Precursa  |  All Rights Reserved  |  Site Created by Natalie Jark

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