Lucas: Every single time we've raised,
there was a point where we thought
going to raise. it's a roller coaster for sure. Like, it was really
Jason: This is funded a show where founders who raised millions in venture capital share the gritty side of what it actually took to get that money in the bank.
Jason: I'm Jason Yeh. Not too long ago. I was trying to get my ideas funded. And back in the day, I was a VC listening to founders, pitch me for money.
Jason: It can be all too easy to get caught up, making it through college, to get that stable job. Most parents wish for us to have. Next thing, you know, you graduate find a corporate job and realize that dream you were sold. It was more like a nightmare. That daily grind eats at you. Some of you might even want to walk out on your first day. For today's guest Lucas' [00:01:00] Martinez, founder and CEO of talent.com. That's exactly what happened. A lot of the founders I interview grew up knowing they want to be an entrepreneur. For Lucas. He was never really that interested in being a founder. Or even living an entrepreneurial lifestyle. But what he did have was a competitive drive to be the best in whatever it was that he was doing. And that it turns out it can be just enough to light the entrepreneurial fire.
Lucas: So, I'm a son of Spanish immigrants in Switzerland. A lot of immigrants, leaving to Switzerland in the 50 60, 70s. It is even as well. And I was, born and grew up in Geneva, in Switzerland. It's an amazing country to grow up. There's a lot of social mobility.
I worked, you know, like a son of a working class family. And I was a very happy kid.
Like I was being a very happy kid and very extroverted kid, never been attracted [00:02:00] to money whatsoever. The only thing that I was attracted to were experiences, and I played a lot of table tennis,
I traveled all around Europe and in other countries, you know, as well around the world to play tournaments And and so since a very young age, I've been more driven
towards, you know, cultures and languages, and new experiences. I had a very strong
competitive drive, but never really thought about entrepreneurship or, you know, like sales or money. And it's really one I to, went to college and in Switzerland and, I studied accounts, accounting, believe it or not.
And you know, my, co-founder still likes to joke about it. my first job was at PWC and he said seriously, man, what are you going to do there? You know, that's not who you are. So I did one day and I started sweating after one day at the office there and I quit after one day already, right after college.
but I think at that moment in time already, like, I didn't even, I didn't really know who I was. I think when I was like, after graduation at 23 it was really, I think it was weird that
period. I got out of my parent's house,
And [00:03:00] this is when life started,
Jason: Yeah. Well, you know, it's interesting we talk a little bit about the transition to at some point entrepreneurship, but I'm pretty impressed that you would even start going down the path of what people expect of you, which a lot of, I think immigrant parents would want you to get a good stable job
and it feels like you were getting pulled into that.
But one day into the job,
you knew and , you had at least the gumption to step away from that. Do you remember what was going through your head? Like you obviously didn't have anything lined up after that. So, what were you quitting to do?
Lucas: That's a I think this is a very strong trader personality that I have
is I don't care what people think, like as long as I believe it's the right thing to do, I'll do it, you know? And I remember
when I was growing up,
being a kid and liking Backstreet boys was like not cool, you know, and I still remember saying to everyone, you know, I really liked Backstreet boys. I loved the music and stuff. I know, and they was laughing at me, but I didn't care. And so I think I just kept that. [00:04:00] And so, what happened is that yeah,
after graduation, you know, as you said,a lot of expectations from
my family as well to get a good job, like I was the first person in my family to
actually study college and I went to college and so, when I get to top PWC and
I do this first day, and I just realized that, oh my God, auditing Swiss
banks is just not for me.
Like I can't see myself
doing this for the next few years. And I started sweating and
just like, I just didn't know what I wanted to do. I just like the idea of working for this large company. And so I quit and I was very fine. I was actually super happy, that I did this extremely fast.
And think it's like an entrepreneurship, fail fast, you know, like as long as you fail fast and keep learning, it's a lot about knowing who you are, and the learnings of who you are is by knowing also what you don't like, you know, in life and when you're young, you don't know. Right. So, and so then I got a job at Proctor & Gamble and in logistics and seriously not me, again, logistics wasn't for me. I did two days [00:05:00] there and then I quit. And so by that time, I think my family was like, man, what are you doing? My friends as well. And this is when I found a job
that I didn't even know what it was. It was a job as an ERP consultant. An Oracle consultant basically implementing, the financial suite of Oracle for a full, larger Swiss company. And they relocated me to the UK, to London. So I was like, this is for me. And, you know, just, I just want to move out,
and have an experience abroad.
And that's what I did. So I moved to the, to,
to the UK.
Jason: Yeah, well, look, it seems like there's a pattern here of, one not doing what people expect of you or what's cool, which is, I think a concept that I'll
bring up later, I'll at least reference when we talk about how you've raised money and just the belief in what you're doing. Right. And whether or not people are saying this is bad, this is dumb, or embarrassing that you like the Backstreet boys, which by the way I was, I think I was more of an NSYNC guy.
Lucas: Oh, yeah. Give me something. Get me started. I didn't [00:06:00] see
Jason: No, but I think it's really interesting. It sounds like at least the first
opportunity to be exposed to technology, sort of peaked your interest. And then obviously the adventure of moving to the UK.
I won't spend too much time on, on the story that you probably tell on a lot of different interviews about the starting of Talent, but, we'd love to hear a little bit about,
you know, as you transition to entrepreneurship, I read that this is something that you did out of grad
And so when you started the company, was it always meant to be a venture backed endeavor or were
you just starting a business that, you know, you might bootstrap?
Lucas: Yeah. So I think that our level of sophistication was you know, with three co-founders, right. our level of sophistication was pretty low, you know, we European guys, two living in London, but originally from Switzerland, one
from Montreal and actually living in Montreal. What the original idea and so the idea first,
you just asked, like Maxime was actually working and the guy in London as well, working
in a hedge fund in the [00:07:00] UK and put some of his, savings into
this startup so that we could get going, but the idea was to get started and, Maxime
thought like, "Hey, maybe we could raise money," but like, because we knew that we needed this money to make it happen, but raising money at this stage for us was so hard that, it took
us literally more than a year, I would say like 15 months or so to get it going. We were that close to,
To go bankrupt and stop that, we decided once we raise, we gotta be profitable, you know,
that's we don't want to go back to our jobs, we're having
too much fun.
And so, yeah,
this is how it started.
Jason: Well, I want to make sure that you don't glaze over something that's important to us and these conversations, which is, you know, you started this company, you wanted to put up a few dollars in a cofounder savings to get going. But when you talked about the first attempt or the first push to go raise, you quickly said it's just, it was so hard.
Tell me more about what that meant to you.
Like. [00:08:00] What was so hard about it?
and feel free to go into the details if you can put yourself back. And this is we're talking like, 2011 or 20
11, 20 12.
Jason: yeah. Tell me what this is so
hard meant to you.
Lucas: Well, the thing is I think in 2012 first of all, again, we were not very sophisticated, so we didn't really know how to start. I remember like, there was Maxime was doing an MBA in Madrid at I E and basically using every single you know, like, school, class basically to just talk about, you know, Neuvoo, now Talent, obviously at the time.
And you're bothering everyone and trying to meet the business angels all around and like, didn't want to know, they don't want to hear anything from him. And I seen in Montreal with with Ben who started like
Ben and the technology me on the sales side, and going to these events and I remember.
Like going to those venture events,
talking to investors like we have a very poor deck that we created.
And so just being told, Hey
guys, you need to go to the valley. You know, like if you want to raise
[00:09:00] money or things like that, or I remember going to an
event as well to, to a venture event,
For startups and,
Going to, you know, like we would straight to talk to every single business angel. And you have to remember
maybe in 20 10, 20 11 aggregators we're not really in, you know, I think after what happened in, in that, during the bubble and year two thousands of things that like maybe investors were very, not really keen into in, in investing into aggregators. And so, you know, no one really wanted to talk to us.
No one really believed in what we were doing basically in the business model. And you have to think that at that time, you know, like not that now people click is the way to monetize in the job recruitment space, but at that time it wasn't clear, it was still a paper post model, either monster or like you're a builder.
And so when we, I remember going back to this about, to this vc events and basically trying to talk to every single investor, including one from China, that seemed to be investing a lot and like, it was nice. And talking to a lot of older, all the [00:10:00] startups and I went to the restroom because the guy was actually going to the restroom and arriving there, I just started pitching him while he was actually taking a pee, you know, and, there was a Twitter feeds right there, in front of the main events.
And it just said, like, I'd just been pitched by Neuvoo in the restroom.
And that's where it is still there.
Jason: Oh, my gosh. Amazing. Well, you know, I wanted to take a pause
here and call something out, which is you lightly referenced the backgrounds
of your co-founders and yourself. Right. And I love that you were you're being pretty honest with me. Like
when you started, you said we were really unsophisticated except for
you were MBAs from MBAs, from top programs or grad school
students from top programs, you had worked
at some great companies, you a day at some pretty big companies, twice in a row. And then, you know, obviously some great experience. and so
I think it's worth hearing from someone who has made it this far, that even in the beginning,
[00:11:00] It's a hard game to feel sophisticated at, right? Like you just don't know, until you jump into it. So even a group like you, started with the feeling of being, you know, a fish out of water very green.
Lucas: a hundred percent.
Jason: and then you know, you talked a little bit about the mistakes you made, it looks like you were able to
raise a little bit of money, but if you were head of what to remember, all this stuff you did,
What do you think was like your biggest mistake in the beginning?
Lucas: Oh, there were so many mistakes. But the
reality, I think that those mistakes are the ones that, made us who we are. The reality is that we were three, three guys that were not from
the industry. So the only way to learn was to actually make a lot of mistakes.
Jason: like pitching people in the bathroom.
Lucas: Yeah, that wasn't probably the right thing to do looking back at it. But yeah, I think that what we did right for sure and that first year was to like fail fast. So I
remember changing the
business model, like [00:12:00] every single month to the point that, you know, our clients were like, okay, we don't even know
who these, who these people are, you know, like until we don't get it right.
We won't get right with pivot until that key will, you know, will open the door, you know? But I think,
you know, like the biggest
mistake, you know, many times we've been told by, by,
people that know more than you, more than
we're most sophisticated. And we were like, Hey, you
need to come with a problem, solve that problem.
And and you know, come and start
a light and it will catch a light and that fire will, will grow and, you know, then it will grow. And the reality is that we casted a super wide net, and then we saw what, what could work, you know, and what stuck, you know? And so we did it in a completely different approach and what you usually told nowadays.
And so that stuck. And then we were like, okay, we have something here. Okay. Let's keep working on this and let's keep working on this and tried many things. And I think by not being close to the industry, it forced us to really question ourselves [00:13:00] all the time. And so there is not a single day today and that's still, I think, is very present in the company is that
we don't mind to fail. Like we keep failing every single day, but I think what's key is that to recognize it, don't have egos ego in the ideas you implement, because most of the time they will fail. And once you realize that it fails, you know, like you will learn something in the process and then
move on to what works.
And I think this is why we've been able to slowly grow and get to where we are today.
Jason: No, It's cool. It's kind of like your biggest mistakes were also your biggest
opportunities to grow and improve, which is a cool way to think about things.
and so in those early days in 2012, when you were messing up as you were trying to raise money, you were able to raise a little bit of money. Do you remember how much were you able to raise in the very beginning?
Lucas: I think at the time, the first round it was you know, business angels. It was 600,000 Canadian dollars at the time. And so then those same business angel reinvested, maybe 18 months later, another 500,000.
Jason: And then you held your [00:14:00] breath for how many years after
Lucas: that was in 2012, then another year round in 2013 and then until 2018. And the company pretty much was profitable. We had no choice, you know, it's just like, and we were growing but mean not at the
rate that you would expect, but we were doubling every
single year. So, we were happy
with that, but at some point you know, business angels wanted to see the color of the money.
And so we needed to run a process.
Jason: okay. amazing. So, you raised maybe a million dollars over a year, which you know, is it an okay amount, but not a spectacular hall by any means? Even back then, and then, so, you ran for another six years before deciding to raise more capital.
Tell me a little bit about the dynamics in the company at that point, because I always love asking founders, cause there are different trigger points, right?
When you're like, we should raise money. We need to raise money. Yours would have been different, I would say than a lot of startups where, when we talk about it, freshly raised around a capital, especially when you're on the venture treadmill, [00:15:00] it's oftentimes triggered by when cash out is going to be.
Right. But you were running a profitable company that?
was. Systematically doubling every year. Like
not crazy hockey stick growth, but growth, nonetheless. In 2018, when you knew you had to raise money,
talk us through a little bit more about what you were
deciding between, and why you said, okay, let's go run a
Lucas: so, yeah. So, we've been told by, I've been asked by, the business angels that also wanted to retire and saw that they could actually make good money from their investment. If we could run a process, I think this is when Max, Ben, and I sit down and decide, okay.
So where do you
want to take the company? And you know what, by the time, you know, the fun thing about our industry is that the job board industry, it's not a
one player takes it all market. And so when we started, we're probably
there, you know, like a hundredth best product, you know, like that's,
It wasn't that good, but we were getting better every,
single day, every day.
And so. The idea was like, okay, [00:16:00] so we, are we getting better, like, we're getting stronger. Like we, you know,
biking and we slowly overtaking a lot of players, and
that's what that actually funding imagining what would happen if we would actually fund.
And so, we said we decided, okay let's run a process and professionalize the company to really try to go
For, you know, like to become Pepsi to Coke, Indeed.com being, being Coke
and us being Pepsi in the future,
ideally. And so this is one where he started to say, okay, let's do this and that was in 20, in 2018 when we decided this. The
company is, we were three, very close. So like it's pretty much like a family owned
Jason: Even six years in still friends.
Lucas: even six years old living even 11 years in right now. And that's and it's not easy.
Right. But you've got to think through, and like, we closer than ever. That's the reality, because at the end we went through so much. And so
at that moment on we decided, so, okay. Let's professionalize the company, let's get to that next level
and let's become a brand and let's try to you know, to compete [00:17:00] with the best because
one thing we love is to compete.
Jason: So how much money did you want to raise in 2018?
Lucas: So at the time we didn't really have it very clear, and that was a problem. That was a problem with our raise that we were not clear with what we wanted, and that's because what triggered the raise was, or the process was really like business angels wanting to go out. And so we were pretty much talking to everyone, you know, including strategic players, you know, like, Hey, we're raising we don't know how much, you know, like, and we just know that these, they want out the business angels, but we don't really know how many, how much you want
we don't have a very strong plan, you know?
We don't have business plans here that says like a waiting that much, you get
Do this and
Jason: Yeah. Lucas let's pause here because this is a interesting dynamic that we haven't actually talked about before. So, what you're describing and you can correct me where I'm wrong is that you had, angels that had funded the company from the beginning. And these are, you know, these are individuals that put money in, and six years in, [00:18:00] realize that they had funded a business, had grown significantly and were looking for liquidity, right.
They were looking to see if they could realize their investment. And this is interesting because you're like, we didn't have a plan. Right? So the dynamics of going out to raise a round of capital were a big chunk of, it would actually just be to take out existing investors is actually a fairly
interesting dynamic where, an investor doesn't
want to just see money, go out the door, right.
Like, and not fund growth otherwise, like what are they buying? So tell me a little bit about like the lack of plan and how that impacted your raise
at the time.
Lucas: Yeah, I think it's, we never had the chance, like, you know, because we always had to, we're always growing,
like in like doubling we lead a means,
We always short-term focus like, okay, well, where do
we go next? Okay. This is next. You know, we didn't have that product roadmap. We couldn't afford three years prog
[00:19:00] It was like, really like, okay, we're going there. We're going there now. We want to be there in a year. That's pretty much as far as well, we would go, that's pretty much where we were. When we, when I say we didn't have a plan, we didn't have
this like very
clear five-year plan for the company. And
so we had this long-term vision, well, I had a long-term.
vision, but we didn't have a long-term plan. The plan
was always short term. We always had to
think short term because we needed
to put food on the table. And so I think
Was a mistake going in, into the raise because it definitely,
like we, we came out with a weaker hand.
and the reason why we
managed to raise a think was because of our passion and knowledge of the industry and our
execution for the last few, for all these years. And obviously I'm pretty sure we could have had a better valuation and all of this.
You're like, you know, like many more offers on the table. If we were better prepared and I think this is something that when looking at back, it. have we done something different, probably, but at the [00:20:00] same time, our hands were tied and our knowledge also was. We didn't have the knowledge that we have right now.
So it's so much easier to say, you know, like now,
you know, I would have done this way with the realities,
but you didn't,
Jason: When we come back, Lucas shares with us the results of his 2018 res. That pretty much came together without a plan.
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I tell founders this all the time. you know, you can tell [00:21:00] somebody the way it's supposed to
go or the things that they're supposed to do or the way it's going to feel. and it's just so hard
to really internalize that. You're like hearing
the advice and you're hearing people tell you, but until you go through it
yourself, it's so hard to be like,
That's how it's going to go.
Or the planning and the understanding of this sort of strategic vision of the company will be so impactful
way an investor perceives
you. And then you go through it once without having that. And you're like, ah, I see. Oh, okay.
And this is going to be fun to connect the dots because, your most recent raise was significantly different.
Can you tell me a little bit, well, tell me how much you raised in that
Lucas: So it was 53 million Canadian dollars the time.
Jason: Okay. And how much of it
and how much of that was
Lucas: On the 12th, the rest was in the,
Jason: Oh, wow. Very cool. So you were able to give 40 million to
investors. Great outcome for them over six years [00:22:00] and then 12 million to
Lucas: Exactly, but it wasn't that much because we were already at a, at that time, we were probably already
like at I would say 50 million run rates or 60 million run rate in terms of our revenues. So it wasn't that much. And I think the investors that came in we also, okay.
We understand what are the dynamics and what are the shortcomings right now,
we think we can help. We can, as long as they here for the long run, we think we can help. And that was the thing also is like, are they here for the long run? And we were here for the long run, you know? And so, and that played out well for them because then they're like, they really helped us
to get to that next level and prepare us for the round
that came after.
Jason: Yeah. Okay. So, the dynamics of the company significantly changed because now you have some real institutional investors that expect, you know, a 10 X, maybe more at that stage. And so this is when you start really spending right spending, spending ahead of profits, which [00:23:00] would bring you to a point, I would guess sometime in
2011, sorry, 20, 21.
Where there is another decision point or there's another trigger of, Hey, we're going to go raise
again. So, this one is different, right? 2018 was
a lot of existing investors asking
you, Hey, can you go raise,
like we love liquidity.
Tell me a little bit about 2021. And when
you looked around the table and said, Hey we're going to have to do this.
W do you
Yeah. So, so, so what happened exactly is like when investors arrive in 2018, they said, okay, let's, you know, and we were ready for this, you know, like, like we needed to professionalize the company and they said, well, the first thing we've got to do here is find a and
the finance function because
it's it's, you know, it's not where it needs to be.
Let's put it this way,
it in nice
Jason: it's a nice way to say it.
Lucas: And and so at first they felt we needed a CFO, but then they said, no,
You need a controller first. And so, you know, we, we did all of that. We hired a CFO, was very strong
CFO in an, [00:24:00] in Montreal. And you know, like,
We started talking a
lotabout the industry and the vision.
To the investors and the CFO. And I think everyone embarked in the vision and where we want it to be and who we want it to become.
And everyone loved that, but everyone was like, Hey, you can't do this with
you know, with 12 million
in a bank, you know, like the company is growing fast right now.
If you want to do this, you need liquidity. And
triggered the raise. Like, okay, now,
Let's do the raise and likes to do a proper raise, a primary round just to give you the means to, To execute on the vision.
Jason: right. So was the plan to go out and raise over a hundred million
dollars or always. Okay. And where you burning capital at the time? Did you have a cash out position bearing
Lucas: on you? No. We were literally like, we were like always flat,
basically the idea of to just reinvest that
Jason: Awesome. So, I mean, that's a really great place to, be because that's a, It's a [00:25:00] very, it's a team on the offense, right? It's like we can take as long as we want, but we know we have this big vision.
And so, tell me what it means to plan for. A fundraise that is going to be a nine figure fundraise.
That's like a, that's a massive fundraise. And you had been through now two different types of fundraises, one very small scale with individuals and other one where, you know, you wanted to bring institutions on, but really didn't
plan for it. Here now,
have a team behind you, a set of investors that understand
the game. What did planning for
this new fundraise feel like, and you remember some of the biggest, most important
Lucas: Yeah, no, a hundred percent nine. This is something we've done a few times now. So, I think that, well, the first thing is the last in 2018, we use an investment bank. So, it was hard
because since we were
not we were not, very
sophisticated in finance. Plus we were using
sampling data [00:26:00] talking, you know, like, wouldn't that ducting to them.
So there was never the, the right data when talking with them. And
so they were doing investment bank was extremely frustrated because of our, lack of sophistication in finance and
they struggled to us understand that we were doing, but they put us in front of a lot of
people. But again, we had very little support, internally
To, get things going. But this time it was a different
game. So we're their original investor is they pretty much
know everyone, there are LPs in all around in all the largest
funds in, in the U S and around the world. And so they've put us
in front of a lot of people.
So that w that barter
Was done. You know, they could actually put us in front of people, which is not easy. Right. Then, you know, having the CFO with an
experience in public companies, a lot of buys and, you know, working with a lot of investment banks understood the process. So he pretty much orchestrated the entire process.
So that was the, there was a lot of work there. We actually also had in place a CLO a chief legal officer [00:27:00] not to have, Illegal fields go to the roof. They still went to the roof, but for the reasons, but yes, so I think that was coming in. We were already like stronger.
And then, you know, we knew our weaknesses. You know, like, in specifically in understanding, I think more product marketing, like understanding who our clients are. What are differentiators? What problems do you solve? I think there's, we've always been struggled with those kind of elements, specifically in a world where job boards are like different, but at the same time, kind of similar, you know, they don't bring that much differentiation between them.
And so this is something that we're struggling with. We still struggle throughout the process. But I think that knowing this, got us better than last time, and I think there's a lot of progress that needs to be done like I think we're going to get better.
The thing is we didn't have, you know, the right leaders in place internally to help us there because we didn't, we just didn't have knowledge in, in, in house. But in the rest, and I think all the preparation in terms of the financial model [00:28:00] the deck, the vision. showing that we'd been amazing at executing and showing that, we had a plan, a very strong plan to become Pepsi to Coke.
I think mattered a lot. And I think that, and showing that between the founders, we had clear, you know, mandates and, you know,
functions that we take
care of. I think that has been a winner for us.
Jason: Yeah. So, I wanted to ask, you know, there's a distinction here that
I'd love your commentary on, which is in 2018, when you went to go out and raise. And like we said, you're trying to help existing investors get liquidity. And then also have a little bit of growth capital in there. You use an investment banker, and this time around you get to use your existing institutional investors to help. I don't want to go too much into it, but I do want to like paint a picture here. what was the difference like? How did that feel in terms of your ability to execute the fundraise?
I assumed the investment banker
was you just didn't have any other connections. so, like you wanted to go with a service [00:29:00] provider.
Do you have any words on how it felt? Like the difference between working with an investment banker versus
an existing network where you're
Lucas: I guess it depends if you are someone very anxious. So I'm someone very anxious. And so, I would always wait for, you know like, with the investment bankers, I would always wait for like them sending an email about you know, like what was going on. You know, like every week they would send like this rundown of like who they talk to and what they said.
So it really felt like we were a bit disconnected from the process somehow because we really
wanted to be closer, but we were not. But, they, they ran a tight schedule.
Investment bankers always ran a tight schedule, like, okay, this is the time you
have to put offers in
And what we realize is that's a lot of VCs don't really like working with with investment bankers and we didn't know, you know,
and so this time our institutional investor, they said no need, don't worry.
So the good thing is that we were, we were closer to the to anything that was going on between the CFO and I, we were like always talking with
different [00:30:00] funds and,
Keeping a close eye, we basically,
we were the CRM,
you know. Like we knew everything that was going on there. And we didn't have to have
much of a tight schedule with with the VC. So we could, if a VC would say, listen, give me two weeks, because I need those two weeks. I'm working on a different deal. We would obviously say yes.
And so they gave us. Yeah. And so they gave us a bit of more flexibility. And the reality, I think that the. there. It was super easy
for us to get like first meetings with like a lot of them just because they were so well-connected and so
it really facilitated
Jason: No, I that is my expectation, but I wanted to hear it come from you. It's a. Yeah. Venture capitalists don't love the signal of having to talk to an investment banker, but for someone who didn't know for a team that didn't know, and didn't have the connections, sometimes that's the way you have to get it done.
And, I'm glad to hear that you got through that period and then were able to get to the other side and kind of learn even more sophistication
around what's important and how you make connections.
[00:31:00] Do you remember what your top of the funnel, as in like, how many funds did you have on your list that you'd have to talk to in this most recent round, the a hundred plus million dollar
Lucas: I think this is actually, this is a
good question. And I think we again, talking about sophistication, we didn't know which fund would be better for marketplaces or job boards, or, you know, like this or that. And I think that was a mistake. We should have gone straight to the qualified leads, you know, like a bit like in sales.
And so we really went for the ones where our institutional investor had a lot of contacts. And I think overall, we contacted like 30 of them, total, so not too many. And we we pretty much
stuck to all of them all, like 95% of
Jason: Yeah, that'd be up. That's actually a fairly small
number. But it is good to point out that like at this point, how much revenue are you doing?
Lucas: we have a run rate of around like 150 million per month.
Jason: Yeah. So
this is a big business at that point, and I think it's important to
know that we're [00:32:00] both saying that 30 firms is still a fairly
small number. And it's just a good learning. It's something good to hear because you were doing over a hundred million, right? So if you're a seed stage company or pre-seed stage company, you have to imagine like your top of funnel has to be quite a
bit bigger than. Talent.com that's doing tons of revenue.
It can point to years and years of data to then go after. And let's just talk to like 30 focused funds and get to the end. If you're a pre-seed company, that number has got to be quite a bit larger, you know, five times larger in order to even feel like you're talking to enough companies, enough firms to get to the promised
Lucas: I needed to be pitching
Jason: pitching everywhere.
And now we're in this zoom world, right? I always like
hearing you know, $120
million raise, incredible outcome.
But that doesn't mean it was all easy. Right. Do you remember some of the harder conversations or
that the things, the low points in the last raise, anything that comes from.
Lucas: oh [00:33:00] yeah. I think at some points you know, like, Yeah. Every time you raise in there and these PR who wants sees that
and she's like, oh my God, it's been amazing. The reality is that there's so many things happen in between. And at some point you've been thinking that is gonna happen.
not going to raise,
it's not going to happen right then. So I remember being always
like Christmas Eve destroyed like literally like I'm with
family and I'm supposed to have a good dinner and be happy. And I
can't, you know, it's my daughters birthday as well. And like, and I'm not there just because
it's not going to happen.
And just because, you know there's, some things that
we needed to change in the financial model in the way we presented things that didn't work. And we were able to turn around and make it happen so that people would come back. But the reality is that
listen, every single time we've raised, there was this point.
So there was a point where we thought
going to raise. And,
And so, it's a roller coaster for sure. Like, it was really
Jason: yeah, [00:34:00] I've had many conversations, with founders, either for interviews or just behind closed doors. And there are these fantastic outcomes, you know, Parker Tracey, the founder and CEO of Cobli raised like 35 million from SoftBank, which like you said, the media is just an incredible headline.
And there are these periods of time when he was like, I don't think this is going to happen. Like we're not going to land a deal. So it's always great to just make sure that the reality of what this process feels like is shared. So thanks for, pulling back the curtains a little bit. Now on the flip side,
You are able to get it done, right?
million, led by a fantastic Canadian fund. I know via who I've known some partners at. Do you remember where you were when you, you got the indication that they were going to give you a term
Jason: Tell me, tell me about that.
Lucas: Well, I was I was actually here in in Barcelona, like in this office, and one,
one we've realized that this was going to happen. I mean, [00:35:00] again, like you don't want. You don't want to get too crazy about it, but it's
like, we definitely. Yeah. You know, it's just like you, you are extremely happy.
And you use, would you just wait. And the moment you signed the moment it's done. You know, like I remember because I was in, beds, you know, and like we had to sign everything. Did you deal took a bit
of time as well? But at that moment, you know,
like the day when it's over,
like you feel like it extremely happy, but like a wounded soldier as well. Like you feel beaten up because it's
been tough. Right. And then you're like,
okay, great. Now here's the Mount Everest. I need to climb. And you feel like you're like a wounded soldier, so you get
to take time to recharge your batteries right after that.
Jason: Before the episode ended, I asked Lucas to share one piece of advice that he would have given to younger Lucas. Or future founders going out to raise. Here's what he said.
Lucas: I think trust a bit more the process it's supposed to be a rollercoaster. I wish I could be a bit [00:36:00] more, you know, like I always say like good enterprise salespeople are the
ones that go through the lows and the ups, and just focus on what needs to be done, head down, work hard. And it happens, you know, like it always happens if you do the right things and be ready to pivot when you need to pivot, be smart enough to pivot when you have to.
But I think trusting the process and not getting too excited. And when you don't have to get too excited and don't get too down when things get hard, I think is is something that I wish I would have done that a bit more. And I think we, in retrospect, I think the three of us would have done more,
it's also part of the learning curve. it's
easier said than done because when you live it, it hard.
Jason: well, I think the, also the superpower you had is
that belief in things, that you cared about, even though other people might think they're silly, like going back to the whole Backstreet boys thing, I'm sure you pitched Talent.com to many people that were like, why would you ever compete with Indeed?
You know, like, as it as a silly thing to like the Backstreet boys, but you know, [00:37:00] here you are. So,
That was my conversation with Lucas Martinez, founder of talent.com the platform connecting the world to work.
When we come back, I'm curious to see what questions my producer page has for me today.
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When I heard people talk about magic, mind, this super productivity drink. I was really skeptical, but a friend convinced me to try it and totally changed my mind. When you drink magic mind, you just have this focus kind of wash over you. Like those distractions that normally make you do the things that you don't want to do.
Those are gone and it's been kind of amazing for me.
[00:38:00] I'm a fan of magic mind and they've been awesome enough to give a crazy discount to my listeners. My discount code funded last forever and we'll get you 20% off your purchase but if you get to the site magic mind.co/funded. Within 10 days of this episode airing your total discount will be 50% off check it out it's awesome
Jason: Paige, how are you?
Paige: I am doing well. How about you, Jason?
Jason: Good, good.
Paige: Lucas was an interesting guy, huh?
Yeah, he was. And just wanted to start off by saying I just love the beginning to this episode. In the beginning to his story of how, you know, he realized right away, right out of college that the corporate world was not for him.
And the fact that he had the courage to leave his job on his first day. And when you asked him if that was scary for him because he comes from a background of immigrants, he was like, no, I usually just trust myself. If I wanna do something, I'll go for [00:39:00] it. And.
Jason: I am. I'm super impressed with that too because I think a lot of immigrants, sons of immigrants or immigrants themselves have a very like sort of scarcity mindset around having to protect what they have, not risk what they have in order to go out bigger. I mean, I'll just speak for myself. It's like. Took me 30 years to start venturing out of the warm confines of corporate America.
So for sure, and the fact that he did that multiple times very impressive guy.
yes, definitely. I totally agree with that. And not to mention the fact that he also had the courage to pitch a VC in the bathroom. Yeah, I mean, I, I don't know if I had the right time and space or relationship with him to dive into that deeper, but you know, that wouldn't work for everyone. But I feel like Lucas is a bold guy.
Paige: I love it, but I did wanna ask you some things that, you know, I don't even know, these might be well known answers, but I was just personally curious about them when he was talking about, you know, how his first [00:40:00] round raising was all angels and it was pretty successful. They raised a few a hundred k and then, you know, talent started doing really well and the investors wanted to pull out.
I was just curious, does that create a negative or positive impression when going out to raise and talking to firms? Because on one hand, it shows that you're making a decent amount of revenue enough that the investors can pull out, but at the same time, does that make them wonder, like if it's stable or not?
I just have so many questions about that.
Jason: Really good question. Also, I love how your instincts are developing around this 'cause this is a nuanced topic because it's it's not a consistent answer. It really depends on the type of investor that's pulling out. So your spidey sense tingling around this is accurate. And this is what I'll say is angel investors are angels.
They're not professional investors. Generally speaking, which means that they are doing it [00:41:00] out mostly outta the goodness of their heart, and hopefully they'll make money off of it. They don't have like professional guidelines around the way they're putting money in. And so when it comes to the signal of whether or not an investor is pulling out, if an angel is saying, look I kind of need this money, or, you know, I just don't want it locked up in this company, it's way less of a negative signal than if it were.
A, an investment firm, like a traditional formal investment firm that has sort of longer term horizons outlooks on businesses, the way we, they think about companies. If that type of investor is pulling out, you're right, that does kind of indicate something is, it's like there has to be some kind of story wrapped around it otherwise, Just by looking at it at face value, it means that they don't think there is more upside in the future.
And if a company that is close to the business and close to the founder is pulling out, they know more than outsiders know. So if you ever see that signal, it [00:42:00] can be very negative. Now I'll just give additional detail. You can manage that story by saying, look, A lot of different things could happen for a traditional venture capital firm that needs their money back.
They're like, look, they're at the end of their fund, as in their funds are already the fund has already been fully invested and they don't need to max out the dollars there. They just want liquidity. That could be a story that gives a relatively safe answer for why Affirm is pulling out. But at a high level, pulling out of an investment is a bad signal.
With angels, it's less impactful because they're like, look, they're just kind of putting money here and there willy-nilly, and I'm sure Lucas did a great, obviously Lucas did a good job of going out to the market saying, Hey, my angel investors want liquidity. This is an opportunity for us to bring in new blood, new investors.
We're gonna buy out in existing angel investors, and then put more money into the company to grow even further. And here's the story of why. Does that make sense?
Paige: Yeah, I think so. And I mean, you did [00:43:00] talk about when you started talking about, oh, they max out their fund. I'm like, okay, you lost me. But I wanna save that for another time But I do think, you know, then it seems like I. Angels just wanted their, they just wanted to exchange and get their dollar
Paige: And VCs you know, they put more effort into the relationship they have with the company where angels are just like, Hey, I'll give you my money 'cause I wanna support you, and maybe I'll make some more money off of it. So, honestly, that makes sense.
Jason: I think it was like a blessing in disguise for Lucas in talent.com because they probably wouldn't have forced themselves to go become more formal, get more formal investors, push for more growth if their existing investors weren't like, Hey, like, we want out. So
Paige: and they were able to
Jason: win for everyone.
Paige: they were able to get a C F O because the firms were like, Hey, you guys are not that good at managing your financial. So they were able to get help from it and advice and, like mentors, which is honestly really cool. And that probably helped push them forward.
Jason: Yeah. It's a great [00:44:00] illustration of something like I share a lot founders, sometimes bristle at the idea of having formal venture capitalists on their boards and looking over them and. Requiring them to report and do all these different things, these expectations, they're like, oh God, VCs, they're terrible.
They fire founders or whatever. The reality is, the VC is not trying to just fire people or Implement really tough restrictions on a company just for fun or just to be cruel. They're trying to make the business as big as possible. So a lot of times when you bring on formal investors and they start implementing these requirements and they're like asking you to do these things, it's because they wanna drive the business forward and upwards.
And so bringing on formal investors, It means that they're gonna do things like, Hey, you need to upgrade your financial planning, your financial leadership, get a C F O, do all these things. And obviously now that we are firstname.lastname@example.org has gone since then, it's worked.
Paige: Yeah. And [00:45:00] now that we're like toying around with this topic of how VCs can be beneficial, Which I find to be interesting and true, but you know, there has been a lot of things that maybe I've noticed within the founder community where they'll label VCs and VC firms as bad when, I mean, I guess in some ways they can be harsh.
But really it's all for the benefit of the company and the founders. But now that we're on this topic, I was curious to ask you, 'cause Lucas also touched on how working with these different VC firms opened a lot of doors for him and his team. talent.com in general, and networking and making connections.
And I know something else that we talk about is that you don't have to be a venture backed company in order to be successful, but is there some things that you get from a VC firm, like networking and making these different connections and doors opening all over, which seems impossible if you're not working with them.
Do you think it's harder to grow your network as a founder if you're not venture backable? Or is it just different?[00:46:00]
Jason: I wanna shy away from like completely blanket answers, but more or less it is harder. Yeah, I think the more nuanced answer is that it's different and it depends on the founder and what networks the founder is already in. But for sure, a venture capital firm comes in and whether you're a tiny firm or one of the top firms you bring alongside your dollars as a venture capital invest investor, network.
Awareness and expertise in different spaces and sort of pattern matching and data, all these different things that you get dollars and then that additional layer of value should get plugged into the company. And I don't think a lot of entrepreneurs like to hear this, but I do think venture capital in a lot of ways is a king making industry.
Like there are companies that. Just the sheer force of effort and capital and push and, you know, sort of bear hug of a venture capital firm's efforts [00:47:00] can take relatively good companies, not amazing companies, and bring them up to the next level. It's because like you have all this pressure and people are expecting more of you and raising the bar and then giving you the resources to get there.
So it's, if I'm not trying to invest in you page and make you the best company possible, I'm gonna give you dollars.
Jason: The expectations that you're gonna spend those dollars in a really smart way to grow your business, but you don't know how to do that. So if I were to just give you dollars, you would be like, I'm not really sure.
Like, not you, but anyone.
Paige: Do they
Jason: It'd be
Paige: how you spend your dollars? Do
Jason: they don't, I mean, initially when they don't, if they don't control the board not like technically they can't tell you exactly what to do, but further and further along, as they get more control of a company, they can tell you what to do. And. In a way that's like, if you don't do what we say, we're just going to fire you.
But initially, in the first rounds, the VCs usually don't control the board and can't fire the the c e O. And [00:48:00] so their influence is more sort of suggestive and social pressure related. It's like, Paige, you have to do this, and I guess you could be like, I don't wanna do this, Jason. And it just makes it uncomfortable.
Paige: It reminds me of Silicon Valley when the c e O of Pied Piper got fired because too much of the board had power. See, I love watching that show. I'm learning
Jason: It is a very, honestly, it's a weirdly accurate representation of venture capital and startups, people outside of the industry when they watch that show, because it's so. Comedic driven, assume that it's extreme exaggerations, and my friends and I, in the world of startups and venture capital, we're often like, ah, it's like maybe a five to 10% exaggeration, not the a hundred percent exaggeration that many people think.
Paige: I do feel like each time we do one of these I get smarter, but you did bring up a bunch of topics earlier about maxing out the fund and all these fund terms that I have no idea what [00:49:00] they are. But I do wanna save that for another time because I wanna keep the focus on Lucas and his company today.
Jason: You know it's a good idea. We might have to do a spinoff episode where it's just all the additional questions that have come up from these debriefs. We do a rapid fire, separate one, and you just ask me, 'cause this is always fun
Paige: Yeah. Are you a beginner and you want to have someone ask these beginner questions for you? Listen to this episode with Paige.
Jason: Exactly Paige's problems. We'll
Paige: Yes. Oh my God. Okay.
Jason: get on the same page,
Paige: Did we just.
Jason: new funded show, get on the same page. I
If you're looking for more insights, strategies, and support around fundraising, subscribe to our weekly email@example.com slash newsletter.
And find me on social I'm at J Ja that's J a Y E H on almost every platform. I respond to newsletter replies and [00:50:00] DMS. So hit me up.
This episode was produced by page Randall.
Paige: Hey guys.
Jason: Thanks also to John or Lee from adamant.
And thanks to Lucas Martinez for sharing with us, all the ups and downs of his journey. From what I can tell talent.com is on its way to becoming the Pepsi. To indeed Coke.
As always one last thanks to our fantastic sponsor. Vanta the leading automated security and compliance platform.