Oct. 14, 2020

#98 Hello! You’ve Reached The Pitch Helpline

#98 Hello! You’ve Reached The Pitch Helpline

We're now in a business climate transformed by Covid. And founders need help figuring out how to impress investors, find new customers, and connect with potential cofounders in this uncertain time. We wanted to help out. So we got investors Elizabeth Yin from Hustle Fund and Hunter Walk from Homebrew to hop on The Pitch hotline to take your calls.

The Callers:

  • Rebecca Colett, Calyxeum
  • Graham Hawley, TRID
  • Shwetha Maddur, Catalyst
  • Bryan McGehee, GATR Coolers
  • Jeff Walsh, Illuminent


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From Gimlet. I’m Josh Muccio. And this is The Pitch. 

Right now is a strange time for startup founders. The first rush of pandemic crisis is over, but businesses are now trying to figure out how to handle the long haul of a business climate changed by the coronavirus. So on our show today, founders call in for advice from investors Elizabeth Yin and Hunter Walk. 

Elizabeth Yin:  Hey!

Hunter Walk: [Singing] Hello. Hello. We're about to start giving advice. Hello. Hello.

Elizabeth: [Laughs]

Josh Muccio: [Laughs]

Elizabeth Are you gonna — you should sing your advice. 

Elizabeth Yin is a familiar name on our show. She famously invests in hilariously early startups, and lots of them. Her fund, Hustle Fund, is invested in over 200 companies.

Josh: Elizabeth, it was your idea... 

Hunter: ...to bring Hunter on 

Josh: ….to bring Hunter on the show.

Elizabeth: And now you have to get rid of him.

Josh: Why did you think Hunter would be good? 

Elizabeth: Well, I feel like a lot of VCs kind of tap dance around things. But Hunter is very good about getting to the crux of, you know, the issue or whatever it is. But in a nice, genuine way.

Hunter: I’m hard on the problem, not the person. I'm honored to be here. I like giving advice.

Hunter Walk is with Homebrew VC. And when Hunter’s not investing in startups like AngelList, Wealthfront, and Cheddar! You can find him on Twitter dispensing nuggets of VC wisdom and making jokes.

Hunter: I'm an outlaw roaming the plains of business problems. If you're lucky enough that I walk into your town, I might just solve yours. 

Coming up, Hunter and Elizabeth offer advice to a founder with millions in revenue, and another whose idea is so new, they don’t even have a website. The investors will even bust a few myths while they’re at it.

Stay tuned, the calls will commence, right after this.


Computer: Hello, the Pitch. You have a caller, to accept the call press one, for more options, press star. 

Josh: Hello, this is Josh.

Rebecca: Hi, this is Rebecca calling from Detroit, Michigan.

Josh: Hi, Rebecca. 

Elizabeth: Hi Rebecca. It’s Elizabeth.

Hunter: You’ve got Hunter here too.

Rebecca: Hey. 

Josh: All right, Rebecca, how can we help?

Rebecca: Hey, so I'm a cannabis entrepreneur in the legal cannabis industry in Michigan, and I've been a legal cultivator in Michigan for the last ten years. And just recently acquired some additional licenses to expand to compete with the big boys. So we're building a huge commercial cultivation and processing facility. My partner and I have been funding the whole project. We're half a million dollars in already, and the legal cannabis space is heavily regulated. So you definitely have to have construction completed within a certain time of acquiring a license. So we can't just be sitting on our hands, you know. I have to get this money, But It's been kind of difficult to fundraise, especially, it's a pandemic. So I don't have an opportunity to go to a conference and network with potential investors. So just wanted to kind of get your advice on how do you fundraise remotely from a laptop or via Zoom call, like how do you really get people excited about what you're doing? But you have to do it from a computer screen? 

Josh: Is the question like how to cultivate relationships with investors these days? 

Hunter: Cultivate. For a cannabis startup. 

Rebecca: Yeah. [laughs] 

Elizabeth: Well, I think the good news actually is that during this time, because everyone is largely taking, you know, Zoom meetings or phone calls, it actually in some sense allows you to open up a wider net, because you don't have to go someplace and drive all around town to meet with different investors. You know, I know founders who are taking back to back to back meetings with investors from literally everywhere. So that's the good news. But I think then to answer your question, well, how do you find these people to hop on calls with? And so here are a couple of thoughts. There are funds that specifically do cannabis investments. And I think the other approach is maybe even cold emailing other CEOs of cannabis companies that are doing well, like they may be angel investing, or they certainly know people who invested in their companies. And I think touting some of your credentials because, I mean, you're, you're not new to this space. And you have these licenses. So you're a very credible person in this space. And I would just like tout that with a couple of bullet points and say, you know, “Hey, would love to get 15 minutes of advice. Here's a bit about me. My company is, you know, growing. And, I'm just trying to fundraise a little bit of money to spur on that growth.” 

Rebecca: For sure that's great advice. I'm, I'm often sometimes wary of cold emailing people. But I also have to realize that I have some pretty great accolades. So I could also be of value to them.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Josh: And Elizabeth loves cold emails.

Elizabeth: I love cold email. Just...

Josh: Like she can't get enough of that.

Elizabeth: Do that. No. Cold emails really do work. not everyone will respond, but I think you will get some bites. 

Hunter: Yeah, just to double down on some of the things Elizabeth said. I think when you have very specific knowledge and expertise, you're not just asking, you are already exchanging. Even if they don't need your help right now, like they're adding you as somebody that they might be able to reach out to in the future if they, for example, you know, need to diligence an investment or want your opinion on something or help navigating, you know, sort of a regulatory. So sometimes when you're reaching out to people, you know, I get just the, “Hey, Hunter, I want to pick your brain,” and they don't tell me what the reciprocation is going to be. And obviously, I'm not looking for you know, I'm not purely transactional...

Rebecca: Right. 

Hunter: ...but don't be afraid, I think, of being clear about what you're good at and how, you know, how you can make that available to somebody either during that call or in the future.

Rebecca: Wow, that was great advice

Josh: All right. Rebecca. Thank you so much for calling in.

Rebecca: I definitely appreciated that, so thank you, guys. 

Hunter: Great. Good luck.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Take care.

Rebecca: Thank you. 


Josh: Yeah. So, Elizabeth and Hunter, I'm just curious, like, is there anything else you've noticed about, like taking pitches remotely since Covid? Like, how has it changed pitching and startups?

Elizabeth: Hasn't changed anything for me. We've always taken pitches remotely. 

Hunter: The challenge, I think sometimes, especially when you're talking to, you know, teams that are two or three founders, is I really care about the dynamics between those founders and sometimes it's harder to read those across three different Zoom windows than it is when they're all in the same room together. So I've had to sort of try to figure out how to ask different types of questions or be a little bit more provocative to get them interacting with each other. 

Josh: Huh.

Hunter: I'm curious to see, you know, is the whole greater than the sum of its parts. And that's more than just looking at three resumes. It's understanding do they trust each other? How do they make decisions? How do they resolve disagreements? 

Josh: Yeah.

Hunter: You just get a sense for how comfortable people are talking about themselves as opposed to just pitching their business. And, you know, at the stage at which we invest. you try to focus on understanding those people and that, you know, sometimes that is harder when it's all being done virtual. 

JOSH: Yeah totally. Alright alright, turning back on the phone line.

Robot Voice: Hello The Pitch. You have a caller. To accept the call, Press one. For more options….


Josh: Hello, this is Josh.


Elizabeth: And Elizabeth


Hunter: Hey. 


Graham: Hi. 


Josh: Hi. Who’s calling?


Graham: This is Graham. 


Josh: Hi Graham. What are you calling in for?


Graham: I am a non-technical founder.  I recently about two or three, I think about three weeks ago was part of an LGBTQ hackathon. And my idea won the top prize and fan favorite. So now I'm trying to figure out where to go with my next steps.


Elizabeth: Nice.


Josh: Congrats.


Hunter: Wait, you're non-technical? But you won a hackathon? That doesn't sound non-technical.


Graham: Because, I mean, they paired me up with technical people, so I was able to make that happen.


Elizabeth: Oh great. 


Josh: What's the idea?


Graham: It is a subscription clothing service similar to like Stitch Fix or Trunk Club, but it's more geared toward the LGBTQ community, especially towards trans, gender nonconforming and nonbinary people, because the typical brick and mortar shopping experience isn't necessarily as accepting, as you have the gendered men's and women's sections. So this allows people to, in the safety of their own home, try on clothing.


Josh: Oh. Yeah, I can see why that won. 


Elizabeth: That's a cool idea.


Graham: Thank you.


Hunter: So what's the problem? You're a winner. 


Elizabeth: Great we’re done.


Graham: Well I won that. And they did give me a little bit of money, which, you know, putting into account on the side to hopefully allow it to grow a little bit. But now figuring out, because there is a fairly high entry like monetarily into the field a bit because you have to have all of this inventory of clothing. So I need to figure out a way to show investors that what I am bringing to them is valuable and that I have data that proves that. And I'm thinking the best way, the most low cost way right now is to build out the online questionnaire that asks people, you know, their identity. All of those things, what their style is, what their sizing is. And then have that to be able to show to investors that there are people out there interested in this. I just don't have the money myself to bootstrap it.


Josh: So you want to collect a bunch of responses using the style quiz and then go to investors, “Hey, I've got all these people. This is what they want. Let's go make it happen.”


Graham: Yeah.


Elizabeth: I think that sounds great. And actually, that is exactly what Stitch Fix did. 


Josh: Graham, what's your timeline on this? Like, have you quit your job and everything?


Graham: No. I am still working full time. So the amount of time I have to put towards this isn't a lot right now. But this was something I started developing in grad school about a year and a half ago. Put it away for a little bit. Then, you know, the hackathon opportunity came up, and I was like, let me put this, you know, toward people who will either love it or hate it. And the amount of positive responses that I got was really great, which makes you want to push it more.


Josh: Yeah. There’s nothing like that feedback when you're like, “Oh, this is thing, it might work.” And then people are like, “No, no, we want it. Do it.”


Graham: Yeah. 


Elizabeth: I mean, in all honesty, actually, you can really get this going in a concierge type of way. Right. This is basically a personal shopping service. So if you do have people even who want to volunteer, like you don't need inventory. Like, every weekend they can just go and personally shop for your customers who are paying you that $20 dollars or whatever.


Graham:  Kinda like how Zappos started out a little bit.


Elizabeth: Yeah. Well, actually, Stitch Fix started out this way as well. They didn't actually have any tech for a long time. So the important thing is just continue to collect the data around what people like or what they didn't like or whatever their tastes are...


Josh: And then they just go to Macy's, buy the clothing and ship it to them? To their customers?


Elizabeth: Yeah. Exactly. And then you collect data on whether that shipment went well or didn't. And then over time you collect all this data and then eventually can run models against it and build out a site and all this other stuff. But you don't actually need any tech to get going. You just need personal shopping.


Graham: Yeah. Thinking about the leanest way of doing it, yeah...


Elizabeth: Yeah. So, I mean, just I guess like since you're working full time, just every Saturday, I guess you're gonna be shopping.


Josh: [Laughs]


Graham: I mean, I love to shop so that works well for me.


Josh: Graham, if somebody is like interested in in like filling out this form and or getting involved, like, is there a way they can get in touch?


Graham:  Oh. Probably the best way right now would just be to email me directly.


Josh:  No website yet. 


Graham: No.


Hunter: Josh, when is this going to air. He can make up a website right now. And at the time it publishes...


Josh: Two weeks. You've got two weeks from today. 


Hunter: There you go. 


Josh: The timeline just started. 


Hunter: Can you get it? If he can get it to you, then can we can dubb that in?


Graham: Yes. Hopefully we'll get this thing moving forward. 


Josh: Graham, thanks for calling in. Best of luck on everything. 


Elizabeth: Yeah. Take care.


Graham: You, too. Thanks for the help. 





OK, here we are, just like Hunter said - Graham got his website spun up in time. We put a link to it in the show notes. OK, back to the call in.


Robot Voice: Hello The Pitch. You have a caller. To accept the call, press one. For more options, press star.


Josh: Hello, this is Josh 


Elizabeth: And Elizabeth. 


Shwetha: Hi my name is Shwetha.


Hunter: Hi Shwetha, this is Hunter. 


Shwetha: Hi Hunter.


Josh: What are you calling in for?


Shwetha So I'm the founder and CEO of a company called Catalyst, and we're a very early stage startup. My background is in engineering, so I’m a technical founder, and I'm in the process of searching for a business co-founder. And I ran into some trouble because of COVID getting in the way of networking and meeting people organically. But I have an opportunity that is coming up in the next couple weeks to pitch a VC. And I know I'm at a disadvantage being a single founder. And so my question is, how can I instill confidence in the investor as a single founder that I still have what it takes to execute on my vision. 


Elizabeth So first of all, I do think that is a myth that goes around. There are certainly many VCs and investors and angels who believe that. But there are also many others who don't care. So definitely don't sell yourself short. I think if you think there is an immediate need to bring someone on board, I think my recommendation would not be to force a co-founder relationship and certainly not for the meeting. But you may want to consider starting to work with people to get to know them. Maybe it's on a contractor basis, maybe it's on a volunteer basis and just slowly get to know people.


Shwetha: Okay. 


Hunter Yeah, I'd agree with that. I actually think that while, of course, many of the companies we invest in have, you know, founder teams of two or three people already together. We've also made investments where it's a single founder who is then going to build what they call a founding team around them. 


Shwetha: Okay. 


Hunter: And is setting aside, you know, enough equity to make it worth those people's while to join. All sorts of red sort of alarms go off for me when I think it's a co-founder that just sort of like grabbed somebody after knowing them for a little while and, you know, made them partners in their company. And I just think it's gonna make it difficult for for you. So what I'm really looking for is I'm looking for somebody who can attract talent towards them and recruit them. Have they started to pull people into their orbit as advisors, as references and so forth? Those can often be, you know, pillars that hold up a story, you know, and support it even ahead of being able to hire a team. 


Shwetha: Gotcha.


Josh: Shwetha, I'm curious, what are the skills that you need to find a co-founder for? 


Shwetha: Where I struggle, is answering questions around our financial projections and kind of detailing our business model. I think I have enough of an understanding because of previous experience with my first startup that I can kind of navigate this initially. But my concern is raising my initial round of funding, whether I'm going to be able to field enough of those questions appropriately to kind of explain how I'm going to to execute and grow my business.


Hunter: You probably know more than you realize. 


Elizabeth: Yeah, don’t sell yourself short.


Hunter: Just go in confident. 


Elizabeth: Go get em. 


Hunter: If, and if you don't know an answer, it's always okay to say, you know, I don't know. It’s something I’m figuring out.


Elizabeth: I’ll get back to you


Hunter: Yeah. 


Shwetha: All right. Thanks so much, guys. This is really helpful. 


Elizabeth: Take care. 


Josh: Awesome Shwetha. Bye 


Shwetha: Bye.




Josh: That's a different one, but it's like a pretty basic question. Do I really need a co-founder? 


Hunter: The worst are the people who, like, think that you have to and they do like two weeks of founder dating and then become equal partners, it's, it's horrible. Is there like a midway? Do we pause for midway bathroom break or something like that?


Josh: [laughs] Okay, we haven't done that in the past. But if you need one we can pause.


Hunter: Wow. I’m so hungry


Elizabeth: Me too.


JOSH: You didn’t bring snacks to this


Hunter: I’m a rookie. I told you. I just brought water, not knowing there's no pee breaks.


Josh: [laughs]


Elizabeth: I have snacks here.


Okay, while Hunter takes a snack break. We’ll take an ad break. When we come back, more callers — who want to keep your beer cold and your coffee hot.




Welcome back. The next caller has a question about convertible notes. Convertible notes often get mentioned on our show in passing. But here’s what you need to know: Typically an angel investor gives a founder some money, and the founder gives the investor an “I owe you” — that’s the note. And here’s the convertible part: Later on, the IOU for cash can convert into equity. That’s when the investor gets a piece of the company. 


It can get complicated! And our next caller is trying to figure it out, too. 


Robot Voice: Hello The Pitch. 


Hunter: Oh here we go. Ready. Ready.


Robot Voice: You have a caller. To accept the call press one. For more options, press star. 


Josh: Hello this is Josh. 


Elizabeth: And Elizabeth. 


Hunter: And Hunter. 


Josh: Who is this? 


Bryan: Oh, my gosh. I made it through. 


Josh: You made it through. 


Bryan: This is Bryan. 


Josh: Thanks for calling in, Bryan. 


Bryan: Wow. This is crazy. Awesome. I've been trying. 


Josh:  What industry is your business in and what's your problem? 


Bryan: We’re an outdoor brand. I own gator coolers. We are, we started off, candidly, just as a drunk text message joke between me and my brothers. My brother’s working offshore. And I'm working and living in a camper for 10 years, looking for a way to get out of the oil field, boom or bust type of situation. We went through prototyping and we said, “OK, well, we'll sell a couple ice chests and pay for a family vacation this year, maybe pay our wives cars off.” And then we get a container in and we sold out within 2-3 weeks. We looked at each other and said, “Holy crap. And let's get another container.” We get it and we sold out within two or three weeks. And it's not our family and friends, you know, like when you extend past your token, like, “oh, I'll buy it because you're my cousin,” people. Yeah, it's exciting. And then we grew from, you know, just three containers to eight containers to just now we can't keep up. So we went from, started off to my brother’s shed to a storage unit and now we have a 12,000 square foot building we just bought. And it's exciting.


Elizabeth: That’s great. 


Hunter: I’m getting fired up 


Josh: [Laughing] I want some coolers. 


Elizabeth: That doesn't sound like a problem. 


Josh: What’s the problem, exactly?


Bryan:  We primarily focus on corporate and nonprofit customers, which isn't bad, but it is postdated checks or long net terms. We have some great margins with them and it's a huge market, so we can't really tell them no. When you have somebody that spends annually as a group 20 million dollars a year, you don't tell them no. But it also isn't easy for us to float several hundred thousand dollars for months at a time. 


Elizabeth: Mmhmm. 


Josh: So Bryan, if you don’t solve this, what happens? 


Bryan: To be frank, we continue to slow walk this. I mean, I quit my quarter million dollar a year job to do this full time in January, and my brother's not necessarily needing to quit, but he's able to quit if we wanted to. We can continue to kind of slowly grow it the we've done. We've done a couple of million dollars in sales since 2017, but we see the opportunity to be 50 million plus within the next three to five years if we can solve the problem. It's more or less missing a boat. Not necessarily that the boat that you're on is terrible, but it's a much bigger, better boat that you're missing out on. 


Hunter: Is this an opportunity where, even though you hate to have to sell off equity just to solve a cash flow problem, but getting a one time infusion of, you know, half a million dollars of working capital gives you the ability to level up?


Bryan: That is exactly the position we're in right now. And that was the conversation me and my brother’s had a hundred times and it's, you know, we'd rather be 80 percent owners of a 50 million dollar business than 100 percent owners of a two million dollar business. And we just met someone by chance that opened our minds to convertible notes. I didn't even know. I guess I should've let off with I'm not a business guy. I'm just a dumb oil field worker that's winging it. So I didn't know what a convertible note was. My brother's never heard of it. I've never heard of it. Nobody's ever told us about that. I've been researching a lot and listening to every podcast that I can about it. I've listened to this podcast a ton but nobody really touches on convertible notes enough to where I feel super comfortable with it. I guess my main concern is. In yall’s opinion, are you familiar with convertible notes. Is there something that I'm missing here that I should be concerned about or look into further? 


Hunter: Um yeah look, convertible notes we usually see used in our business in an early fundraise and as opposed to sort of, you know, herding sheep, rounding up all the investors at once and doing a single close. It gives the entrepreneurs a little bit more of a flexible, you know, rolling close type of thing. Twenty five thousand hours here, then I got some more meetings. I get another hundred thousand dollars there. It allows the entrepreneur to put that money in the bank account incrementally as opposed to having to get everybody together. And so it's a really quick instrument to put money into a company. The tradeoff is, you know, you're sort of you're selling something that converts at a later date. Right? So nobody really understands exactly what you're owning yet. And so, I think it's perfectly fine to go down that path just, you know, anybody who wants to invest in you should be excited about the long term potential for the business. You know, this is still an early business. Somebody should be willing to take the risk for the, for the reward. 


Bryan: Right. Okay.


Elizabeth:  I think the last thing that I would add to that is: depending on how the convertible note is written, I have seen before where, you know, technically a convertible note actually is debt. It is technically an IOU. And sometimes there is this option to take your money back, plus interest. And that can often harm the company if you know, you're raising a lot on convertible notes. So I think the details of that are important. And as Hunter said, I think the more that you can push the language towards “this is definitely converting into equity” as opposed to “you get your money back plus interest.” I think the better for everyone. 


Bryan: Yeah, I think that’s kind of the main thing I was hearing too. 


Hunter: Yeah if the investor themselves, you know, sometimes we see confusion when it's less about the entrepreneur, and maybe more about the investor using something like this for the first time and not being as familiar with the risk in angel investment. So if the person has used the sort of instrument before, it might not be a bad idea to maybe talk to an entrepreneur or that they have backed and make sure that, when they commit to this, that they're committing to, you know, helping you build the business, not just looking to protect their piece of it. 


Bryan: Right. OK. The only thing that I've ever taken away from everything I've read so far was just be realistic, because when people aren't realistic, then maybe it can be more expensive than you think and you'll get a big sticker shock at the end. 


Hunter: No, I think you're approaching it really responsibly. It can often feel like free money until it converts. And then you're trying to figure out all these notes with different caps and different discount rates and different interest accrued. Yeah. And all of a sudden you realize you sold off more of your company than you than you thought. But, you're thinking about all this stuff, you know I think you're going down the path correctly. 


Josh: Bryan, do you feel like that answered your question?


Bryan: It did. I'm very appreciative of the input here. 


Josh: Thanks, Bryan, for calling in. 


Bryan: Alright, thank you all very much. 


Elizabeth: Take care. 




Hunter: How excited would you be if he just, if it was actual gators. 


Josh: A cooler that actually fits gators. 


Hunter: Right. 


Josh: Right.  


Hunter: It’s like, I don't think you're understanding me, Josh. I'm in the gator business. Not the cooler business. 


Elizabeth: [laughs] Yeah.


Hunter: Do we have time for one more? 


Josh: Hopefully. I've opened up the floodgates. 


Elizabeth: But no one's calling now.


Josh: But there’s no… oh, there's the flood.


Elizabeth: Oh! Here we go. 


Robot Voice: Hello, The Pitch. You have a caller. To accept the call press one. For more options, press star. 


Josh: Hello, this is Josh.

Jeff: Hey Josh, Jeff Walsh.

Elizabeth: And Elizabeth.

Hunter: And Hunter. Hey Jeff.

Jeff: (laughing)

Hunter: Welcome to The Pitch.

Jeff: Hi, good afternoon. (laughs)

Josh: What're you calling in for?

Jeff: So, I'm the founder, the co-founder of a consumer tech hardware company. Our first product is a, uh, device that keeps coffee hot for up to two hours, And-

Josh: I have one of these. clearly not yours. But I know what you're talking about. I have an Ember Mug.

Jeff: Right and they're actually a competitor. Ours though is a sleeve so rather than pouring coffee into it you actually take your to-go coffee cup and slip it in and so you don't have to wash it. And we're going to do the same for food. 

Josh: That's really smart. And what's your question?

Jeff: So, we've been trying, I've been doing a lot of the LinkedIn connecting and things like that to connect with investors. And we've been able to find someone that's willing to co-invest, we're raising a seed round. . ...

Josh: When you say co-invest, do you just mean an investor?

Jeff: Right. He, uh, it's an investor that's said that they're willing to co-invest once we find the lead investor.

Josh: Oh. Got it.

Jeff: That doesn't help very much. (laughs)

Josh: Yeah. (laughs) if you can find some more money, I'll give you some money. 

Jeff: Exactly. Right there's catch 22 in that. So, um, and the advice I've been given has been to try to attract investors in, versus trying to go after them and I haven't found any good advice on how to do that. How to attract them, them into us.

Josh: People are telling you don't go after investors, attract them in? 

Jeff: Yes. 

Josh: Elizabeth. Hunter. Do you know what he's talking about? I've never heard this.

Elizabeth: Maybe you can elaborate a bit but already I would say red flags, red sirens are going off in my head because anybody who tells you, "oh yeah we're in if you have other investors" just, I would, I would actually be very wary and does not mean that they're in.

Hunter: I would say. That that is usually true. However, what sometimes people fear is that, let's say he needs $500,000, you know, to really, um, accelerate the business and somebody says I'm in for $25,000 just as long as you can get the rest but I don't necessarily want to give you that $25,000 until I know you have the rest because my $25,000 needs that other $475,000 in order to get you to the next milestone. So I, it's definitely, you know, it's a flavor of commitment. Uh, you know, we think of that as like a soft commit as opposed to a hard commit. Although Jeff to- to your point around, you know, is it best to go after investors and, you know, try to pitch them or does that show desperation, you know, should you try to just make yourself, uh, look great and wait for them to come. I think really the former is fine. I have big belief that a good cold email, proof of being the type of entrepreneur who has developed something and even without funding, you know, has started to build a business, goes a long way, in the mind of an investor.

Josh: Yeah you got to plan those seeds. Like… 

Elizabeth: Yup. Otherwise they won’t know.

Hunter: I think at the end of the day, you know, these first rounds are about, you know, the 100 noes before you get the five yeses and it is about speed right? It’s about getting through those noes to find the yeses. And if you wait back, it just slows everything down in my mind.

Jeff: Right. And I think that's a good, good approach. and, I've gotten a few noes so, you know, that's good, I'm off to that start. (laughs) 

Hunter: Yeah. See? (laughs)

Elizabeth: (laughs) 

Hunter: I sometimes find for these types of businesses, um, late career or retired executives from industries that this might touch are fertile for, you know, um, angel type checks even if they don't think of themselves as angel investors. They're people who usually have made some good money. They are, you know, sometimes very eager to have a little bit of skin back in the game to feel like they're connected to the industry that they succeeded in. And you know they're not typically filling up their LinkedIn bio with all the type of, you know, Silicon Valley words that, you know, angel investor, you know, looking for my next unicorn.

Jeff: Right.

Hunter: Blah. Blah. Blah. But they have the net worth, uh, to do, you know, sometimes they just need the right opportunity and feel like that they're paying it forward to an entrepreneur in the industry that they succeeded in.

Jeff: Oh that's awesome. That's great advice. Thank you both. I appreciate it. 

Josh: Jeff, thanks for calling in.

Jeff: Elizabeth, Josh, Hunter. Thank you very much.

Elizabeth: Take it easy 

Hunter: Good luck Jeff.  

Elizabeth: Bye Jeff.

Josh: Bye.

Jeff: Bye. Bye.


Josh: Okay. 


Elizabeth: Um, unfortunately I have to hop


Hunter: Yeah.


Elizabeth: But thank you all


Hunter: Not me i’ve got the next six hours blocked off so guys let’s just talk.


Josh: Stop it. Don’t mess.


Elizabeth:  I’m gonna tweet out hunter’s phone number, see what happens. 


No actually we’re not gonna tweet hunter’s phone number, but here’s our number, because we’re gonna do more of these. 833-748-2448. You can call-in anytime and leave us a voicemail. As we all are settling in to the longhaul of this pandemic, there will be more questions to answer and we will be here to answer them.


The Pitch is hosted by me, Josh Muccio. Produced by Chris Neary, Heather Rogers and Max Gibson. We are edited by Sara Sarasohn.

Original music in today’s episode from So Wylie, Breakmaster Cylinder, and The Muse Maker. We are mixed by Enoch Kim. 

The Pitch is a Spotify original podcast. You can follow us on Spotify, we’re also on Twitter and Instagram @thepitchshow.

Thank you so much for listening. And we’ll be back with a new episode in three weeks, see you then

Elizabeth Yin // Hustle FundProfile Photo

Elizabeth Yin // Hustle Fund

Investor on The Pitch Seasons 6–10

Elizabeth Yin is the Co-Founder and General Partner at Hustle Fund, a pre-seed fund for software startups. Before founding Hustle Fund, Elizabeth was a partner at 500 Startups, where she invested in seed stage companies and ran the Mountain View accelerator. She’s also an entrepreneur who co-founded the ad-tech company LaunchBit, which was acquired in 2014. Her book is called Democratizing Knowledge: How to Build a Startup, Raise Money, Run a VC Firm, and Everything in Between.