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Acting like a master fundraiser

Jason Yeh
February 16, 2021
60
 MIN
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New
February 16, 2021
60
 MIN

Acting like a master fundraiser

Before starting Yac, Justin Mitchell had zero network in venture capital, didn’t know the insider terms, and was based out of small town Florida. None of this would point to someday raising a Series A round of funding from a top venture capital firm, but that’s what he did. The key he tells us was focusing on meeting the right people, building great product, and leaning on his thespian roots.

Episode Summary

Before starting Yac, Justin Mitchell had zero network in venture capital, didn’t know the insider terms, and was based out of small town Florida. None of this would point to someday raising a Series A round of funding from a top venture capital firm, but that’s what he did.  The key he tells us was focusing on meeting the right people, building great product, and leaning on his thespian roots.

Remember to grab the insights pack on this episode at fundedpod.com/yac.

Topics Discussed

  • What exactly is Yac? [2:23]
  • Justin’s roots as an actor [3:32]
  • How Justin’s drama teacher’s improv game made him a more dynamic speaker  [5:19]
  • Jason explains the difference between a salesmen and a zealot [7:52]
  • Justin explains Yac’s strategy toward fundraising narrative [9:33]
  • How Twitter led to money and a strong network [13:52]
  • Justin talks about opportunistically raising a round when the market was frothy [19:48]
  • Justin talks about raising a Series A despite not having the most robust metrics in hand [24:58]
  • How all founders should handle getting a “no” from a VC [29:26]
  • Justin talks about how he doesn’t actually use a deck on investor calls! [35:47]
  • Hear the actual call where GGV let the Yac team know that they’d be leading their Series A [41:56]
  • Justin’s advice to other founders out there [45:52]
  • Jason breaks down the episode and discussion concepts with show producer, Olivia Reingold [49:57]

Resources Mentioned

Follow Us

Justin Mitchell
Yac
Funded
Jason Yeh (host)
Contact Us
  • Reach out to us on social or email me directly at jason@fundedpod.com if you have any questions or would like to share your story with us!
  • Subscribe to the Funded newsletter at funded.substack.com
  • If you’re fundraising, make sure you send your materials via a document sharing tool. Even if they weren’t our presenting sponsor, we’d still recommend you use DocSend - www.docsend.com    
  • Vanta helps companies get SOC2 certified with an automated platform trusted by over 800 SaaS companies. Cut down this complex and time consuming process from months to weeks by using Vanta. Funded listeners get $1000 off their service by going to vanta.com/funded

Episode Transcript

Jason (host): [00:00:00] So, wow. This is the season one finale of Funded. Six months ago, this was just an idea and itch that I needed to scratch my work with founders gave me the opportunity to hear so many crazy stories filled with struggles, doubts, incredible joy, and then doubt again. I just felt like someone needed to share these stories.

And I was going to do it on a shoestring budget with amateur zoom recordings and zero knowledge of podcasting, just because, well, just because. That was until I connected with my friend Russ Heddleston the founder of DocSend. In a short conversation, he immediately understood why I wanted to showcase these amazing fundraising stories and full on wanted to support it because that's actually what Decsend does as well.

It helps founders tell their stories. Anyway, with that support, we brought together a killer team with real experience and created something that I think does justice to the stories that we feature. Funding wouldn't be possible without DocSend and the Funded team. So I wanted to extend my heartfelt thanks to all involved and also announced that we are already hard at work on season two with tons of fun surprises planned.

Okay, enough of this emotional stalling, let's get to the show.

Justin Mitchell: [00:01:18] Adam Draper slid into my DMs instantly said, what's your cell phone number? I'll give you a call. Literally like five minutes later, calls me and says how much money do you need? And I'm like, okay, uh, well, I don't know, we also don't have a company. We don't have a pitch deck. You know, I have no idea.

Jason (host): [00:01:40] 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. 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. There's a frustratingly common stereotype of founders who raise venture capital. People at the top of their game in this industry, usually graduated from Stanford and worked at Facebook before launching their own startup in the heart of Silicon Valley to major fanfare.

For years, that's been a narrative that felt like the only way to attract VC funding, but the world is changing quickly. And Justin Mitchell, founder and CEO of Yac is a shining example of that first, a quick primer on his company. Yac is an audio messaging app designed to supercharge communications in a remote work environment.

Whereas the prevailing wisdom of how to do remote work well has been the ad as much real time. Digital communication as possible through things like Zoom and Slack, Yac breaks those rules by focusing on asynchronous communication or voice messaging to effectively collaborate while respecting teammates time and focus. Justin's path to raising capital also seems to break a lot of old rules. 

First he runs his company out of Kissimmee, Florida. Population, 71,000, where the nearest Apple store is over a hundred miles away in Sarasota. And when it comes to fundraising, he doesn't use a deck. Full stop. Much more than that later. And one more thing that breaks the Silicon Valley mold, he didn't grow up wanting to be Steve Jobs.

His eyes were more on the guy. Who would play Steve in a movie?

Justin Mitchell: [00:03:32] You know, I wanted to go acting, I loved being on stage. I like being in front of people. I love to talk. So podcasts, like these are very fun for me. And so, yeah I was going towards this like Savannah School of Art and Design and want to be, you know, on a stage in front of people. And it's funny how that translated into my startup life, for sure.

Because especially as a CEO, you do a lot of these. So I'm on a stage of sorts. It's a podcast stage, but it's a stage. I talked to lots of investors. I talked to lots of customers. I was on a five hour Clubhouse room last night, which was very long and draining. But I enjoy doing those kinds of things. And so what I thought was hey I am going to go work for Disney

cause I'm here in central Florida really turned into, okay, I'm going to use my skills of improvisation and the ability to feel comfortable in front of people in a startup environment versus being in a TV or a movie. And, you know, I think that's very interesting how that evolves, but yeah, I was dead set on that.

My drama teacher in high school, she loved me. She put me as a lead in every single play. And I told her this and she just goes, well, you're probably going to sleep on a bench for a really long time. And I was like, well, that's not going to work for me. I have way too many large ambitions for my lifestyle.

So how do I make money? How do I make it big? And that's kind of how I, like, I guess, changed my path a little bit there. 

Jason (host): [00:04:54] That's super interesting. And I, and I didn't really know what we'd take away from that part of the conversation. But I have to imagine that problem solving actually goes into improv work.

Like what is the next thing that makes sense from here on out? And I don't have an improv background. I have a background in computer science, but you know, it's a logic tree. It's like what is the next thing? What do you do next? And so I wonder if you've ever drawn that parallel in your department. 

Justin Mitchell: [00:05:18] So many parallels.

I tell the story all the time that my drama teachers, the reason why I'm good at sales is because we used to play this game called expert, where she would give us a random subject. She'd be like African pygmy worms. And you're going to go talk about African pygmy worms for five minutes on stage. And we'd be like, but we don't know anything about that.

She's like, right. Convince us that you are an expert about that. So I would go up on stage and for five minutes, I would just have to tell everybody about the mating habits and the climates and the environments they live in. And you know, how they're, you know, offspring are born and you know, what they eat and what they drink.

Right. And just for five minutes, just tell them facts about something that I knew literally nothing about. And what that translated into is. I'm a very good bullshit artist, right? Like I'm very good at it. And sometimes I think that there's like a negative connotation that comes out of that in the industry of like, man, he just knows how to lie or he's really good at like smoke and mirrors.

But what it really means is inside of a sales conversation or an investor conversation, right. Always have an answer to every single question. And sometimes that answer might be, I don't know, I'll go find out, but no one ever catches me with my tongue tied. I never end up in a situation where I'm like, uh, uh, you know, I don't know, right?

Like I always am like, well, actually I don't know the number to that, but I will go find out and I'll let you know, and it's fast and it's efficient. And I get back to that person immediately, which keeps the conversation flowing. It means it's a very natural conversation. A lot of times I'm able to dominate a conversation because I'm so good at this, which when you're on a call with an investor, a lot of times translates to, I get to tell them what I want them to hear.

And they don't get to trap me because I'm dominating the conversation. So they get, it translated so well into entrepreneurship because I was able to just talk for 30 minutes straight uninterrupted and make the conversation blissful for everyone involved. 

Jason (host): [00:07:08] Sure. And you know, for listeners, what I want to pull out of here is.

It's not that someone to be successful fundraising should be a bullshit artist or a pure salesperson. What I'd actually highlight here is what happens when someone that has the skills that you have and you place them on top of a real excitement for a product in passion. So that itself is a multiplier effect.

And you know, you talk about Clubhouse. We did our. We did our first Funded after show on clubhouse with Sam Corcos has actually, and one of his investors is Andre Iguodala of the Miami Heat now NBA champion. And you know, he, we, we asked them a little bit about like what he's looking for when he, when he's trying to invest.

And he had this comment that I, and I sort of like summarized into sales person versus zealot. He's like, I am trying to find out who the passion passionate people are, who the zealots are and I'm trying to weed through the salespeople. And so I think it's really important to note and we'll get into this a little bit about, you know, where you started the product that you built, that it, that it's not just smoke and mirrors with you.

It just happens to be a layer of skill. That you apply on top of that core passion that I think a lot of investors are looking for. So 

Justin Mitchell: [00:08:26] I think you nailed it there. Like one of the most important things that I'm telling other founders right now is especially at early stages before you have massive traction or massive ARR whatever those metrics are that VCs love to see.

They're investing in the team, not really the product, because you might even be pre-product when you're trying to raise funds. And for me, what that translated to is that when I got on a call, I had to sell myself and part of selling myself was being able to hold that conversation to hold their attention.

But also just like you said, show that there is such a passion and a knowledge of the marketplace that I am the right person to be building whatever this is. 

Jason (host): [00:09:02] Yes. Okay. So it's a good time for us to reset and really think about. Yac and, you know, fixate on the topic that we love talking about fundraising.

But what I think is interesting is the story that you might share around how Yac raised its first round is actually pretty close to how it got started. So can you tell me a little bit about the starting point for Yac and then raising that pre-seed round that I looked up online? 

Justin Mitchell: [00:09:30] Yeah, absolutely. In general though.

I always like to point this out. Our strategy around fundraising has always been storytelling. And so this story is not only instrumental to our story, but really instrumental to our success. We love telling the story of how we started and we use that as a jumping off point, whenever we're talking to investors.

So, you know, we. You know, this story begins years ago, you know, go all the way back to 11th grade, I'm working in this startup. What does that mean for us as a company? That means I didn't go into an office. Right? I've never worked in an office since my first job in 11th grade. I was in high school. I can't show up to an office every day.

So I've been working remote. For my entire career, 15 plus years now. Right. And that gave me a certain way of working and I've carried that through all of my different companies. And so I had a biometric startup that years and years ago, after it went public, I took an exit and I started a design agency called So Friendly and I brought over our first intern from that design agency Hunter who's actually now co-founder in Yac to start that design agency with me, we wanted to help other startups build products that were user-friendly that their customers would fall in love with that we put in front of customers early on, and we didn't just make a ton of assumptions about what the market needed. And that was kind of the crux of So Friendly and yeah. Yac actually started as a marketing funnel for So Friendly. We were trying to drum up business, Product Hunt, heading maker's festival that they were putting on.

They said, Hey, here's a bunch of categories, build something in one of these categories and you know, we'll have a contest. And one of the categories was remote work. And I, you know, I saw the category and went well, duh, like I don't, I, that is my expertise. I've worked remote my whole life. We know how to do this.

And I'd already kind of been looking at what was out on the market. And I was pretty unhappy with what was already out there. Right. And if you look at just like a classic definition of, as an entrepreneur, it's, you know, someone who sees what the world should be like and then makes it like that. Right. So I saw the landscape of remote work and I thought everyone's doing it wrong.

They've got a different and wrong idea of how remote should work. I have this unique spin on it. So let's build a product around that. And at that time it was this concept of like, let's build this. We know that we're great at building. We know that we're great at branding. We'll win. Like there's no way we won't win.

So let's just put this thing out here so that we do win. And then everybody has all eyeballs on us. And the idea there being that they would come to So Friendly and say, Oh, well you obviously know how to build good product, because we saw what you built with Yac, which at the time it's called yelling across cubicles.

That's a big part of our story. There. Yac actually stands for yelling across cubicles and we actually built it as a funnel to get people into our design agency. Well, we launched it. We won the contest. I think there might've actually been a large miscommunication on my end that we were supposed to build a real product. I think a lot of other people in the contest just put like landing pages up with like fake images, but I actually cranked out like a fully functioning web app and desktop app over a four day weekend Thanksgiving break. So, you know, props my team for rallying around that. We won the contest.

Obviously we were a standout because of the fact that I think we'd kind of accidentally gone above and beyond. And that meant a feature in their newsletter, a feature on their blog feature on the homepage, a Facebook post, a Twitter post, right? So we're getting all this free press out of product hunt and that translated a thousands of people downloading this app.

And the cool thing about that is the people that were downloading it were not. Basecamp and InVision, you know, these like classic remote companies, it was like ABC television studios and Roche healthcare. And like CVS Pharmacy, like these like larger fortune 500 companies were downloading it. Yeah. We kind of had this moment of, huh, maybe this is a product marketing funnel and that's kind of the kickstart to our entire story.

Jason (host): [00:13:12] And it's interesting because I think part of the story that we're uncovering here is just how much has changed within fundraising. And you know, the quick question I wanted to ask you is before you, I meant you guys actually haven't started raising yet in this point in the story, but before Yac, had you ever formally fundraised from, you know, the venture capital community?

Justin Mitchell: [00:13:34] No, never. 

Jason (host): [00:13:35] Okay. So this is, you know, someone. You know, and in this case it's not even flying blind, you didn't set out to do this, right? Like you stumbled across really interesting pain point. You built a product for it. You started iterating and then what happened? 

Justin Mitchell: [00:13:52] Well, then I got mentioned on Twitter.

So we were actually in Vegas for CES, which we've taken our team to every year until the pandemic hit as kind of a, Hey, I want to know what the latest and greatest are. We would use it as kind of like a way to talk to new startups. Maybe get some business out of people setting up booths. And we're sitting at our hotel room, just chilling.

And I get mentioned on Twitter, which at that time, like I did not have a very popular Twitter. So it was rare that I got a notification and it was a random guy that had downloaded the app. Aiden Wolf had downloaded the app during the maker's festival. He's mentioning Adam Draper and he says, Hey, I think this would be a really good pivot for Justin

and Yac and I looked at it and I went, okay, this is interesting. Let me reply. I said, yeah, we'd love to chat. Adam Draper slid into my DMs instantly said, what's your cell phone number? I'll give you a call, literally like five minutes later, calls me and says, I'm super into this. How much money do you need?

And I'm like, Okay. Well, I don't know. We also don't have a company. We don't have a pitch deck. We don't have a website. Like these are things that you typically would have before you go raise venture capital. So it, basically, we told them like, I don't know, like a hundred grand would go a long way. You know, I have no idea.

It's so funny. I mean, talking about just kind of the crux of this podcast and what you want to talk about here, but I can tell every other founder here, like the amount of money that you get at the beginning, it just, it's a totally different sense in your brain. Like to me, a hundred thousand dollars was just like a ridiculous amount of money.

Now, a hundred thousand dollars check comes in from an angel and we're like, eh, we're waiting for the million dollar check. You know, it's a devout, right? Like it's just, it's so different. How like concepts of scale change over time. But at that time, a hundred K was just like, life-changing money to us.

Jason (host): [00:15:33] Let me interrupt you there too.

Because concepts of scale in terms of amounts of money are one thing. Concepts of scale in terms of who people are in the industry is also very similar, right? Like similarly to not really knowing what a a hundred K was in the grand scheme of things. Can you tell us a little bit about who Adam Draper is?

Because I don't know if that's a name that all listeners 

will know. 

Justin Mitchell: [00:15:55] Yeah. So the Drapers are all VCs. Basically every single person of their family. Billy is, is really awesome we love Billy as well. Tim, their dad has a whole thing in San Mateo, like a S. Like a school you can go to or where they like give you housing and they take care of you and fund your startup.

It's crazy. So Adam runsBboost VC, they are what he likes to call a scifi VC firm. So they, they back things like AI and crypto and AR and VR, it's like future tech. So we actually didn't really fall into his typical investment strategy. This was something that he kind of like personally wanted to see happen.

And so when we got on the call with them, this was exciting. Cause Draper, we recognize the last name, but we don't really know who Adam is. We don't know who Boost is at that time. I don't think I could have named a single VC to be honest. Like it's just not, it was just not something I had in my Rolodex.

I didn't know these people. And the thing that really happened here was on our like third or fourth call. Adam said, well, I'm going to introduce you to Betaworks. And at that time we all went, Ooh. Okay. We know that name. Why did we know that name? It just because Gimlet just had their startup podcasts and we knew that they had just got bought by Spotify at this time.

So we knew that Betaworks had been an investor in not only anchor, but also in Gimlet. And so for us like audio, we were like, Oh, my gosh, these are the Kings of audio. Like we have to get in here and you know, it was cool getting an intro because again, and this is part of the story that I always liked to tell, like relatively speaking, I'm a nobody, right?

Like it didn't work for Stripe. I didn't work for Dropbox. I didn't go to Stanford. I don't have a previous exit that everybody can look at and say like, Justin, he did that. Like he's backable, he's a known quantity. I didn't have that. And I didn't have the network either. I didn't know any of these people.

So through that random tweet, we got introduced to Adam. Adam introduced us to Betaworks through another random tweet. I got introduced to Tyler Tringas at Earnest Capital. You know, these were all like brand new interactions that I'd never had before. And it was all just because we were very loud and proud on Twitter.

And we were telling everybody what we were building. And people were paying attention. 

Jason (host): [00:17:54] And I think that's a really good idea lesson to pull out of here. We talk to founders of all types of backgrounds, some in our previous episode, Laura Del Beccaro from Sora comes from the sparkling resume, like had the network built in, and then we talk to others like Topper Luciani from good fair, who was sleeping on the floor of airports in order to get his first, first angel check.

But the story that you describe is something that everyone can aspire to. You can start with zero network and when the first domino falls, then they all start following. So the introduction into the Draper family, and I'll highlight underline that one more time, essentially royalty within venture capital DFJ Adam's father's firm is, is a well-known established old firm, but

to be able to penetrate one layer of networking, opens the doors for everything else. So when I talk to founders from a marketing point of view of just telling people to be starting companies and thinking about raising capital, if they need to, part of the story we tell, we try to tell is that you may think that you're nobody.

And you may think that you don't have a network, but everyone can build a network. Everyone can get to everyone. It just takes that first step. So I love that you, that you started that story off that way. 

Justin Mitchell: [00:19:17] Yeah, definitely mean the domino effect is so strong. 

Jason (host): [00:19:19] Yep. So I think what's really interesting to then get to is fast forwarding to your Series A, which you just announced seven and a half million dollars raised from a really top firm GGV capital.

Can you tell me a little bit about where your head was at, what your mindset was? When you started thinking about raising money, like, what was the story you were going to tell? Why did you think you needed to go raise money? 

Justin Mitchell: [00:19:48] Yeah. You know, this is interesting for sure, because we didn't need the money.

Quote unquote, we had over a year of runway left. We are, well, I used to call myself cheap, but I guess the VC term for that is capital efficient. So a little bit fancier there. But, you know, we're very capital efficient. We've built a fully remote team. You know, we don't pay crazy, you know, rental space for offices.

We don't have a bunch of Silicon Valley engineers. So we've just always been really good with our funds. And so it didn't come out of a desperation or like a need for more money, but it came out of is really just market timing. Audio is obviously really hot right now. We've got Clubhouse, we've got all the other apps that are kind of dominating in this audio centric space.

And that had a lot to do with raising is not only was it really hot, but we also wanted to get in before some other random unknown came in. Swooped up all the VC money and beat us to market because they just had more money for advertising. You know, to be honest, we put a lot of our money into product.

We hadn't focused on growth at all. We hadn't focused on advertising at all. I think we've been six grand into like Facebook ads over the course of three years now. Like not a lot, right? Like we're really not spending a lot on advertising. And so it was mostly a market timing thing we thought now is the time to raise.

We've hit a point in our company where we know the product is sticky. We know that it works. The functionality is there. People are using it daily since March when we launched in 2020. So, you know, we know that the product is at a point where it's ready. The question now is what's the next step. And for us, the next step was we need to go.

You know, all out everywhere we can on ads, growth, marketing, you know, retention, customer success, anything that we could. And that meant money because we have to hire for those roles. We had to put money into those advertising campaigns. And so that was a lot of the logic behind, it was just timing on our own internal company, as well as that happening to coincide with some market timing.

Jason (host): [00:21:37] Okay. So yeah. Great set up then for me to really dig in and ask some fascinating questions for me, I nerd out on all this stuff, but this is how I'll set the stage you had raised just probably 18 months or less than that a year prior to that. 

No, no, no, no. 

Justin Mitchell: [00:21:54] Not even that. We finished the raise

Jason (host): [00:21:56] 10 months prior 

to when you're going out and you still had a year of runway left, which means that if done properly, you had planned what it would take in order to get to the milestones that would traditionally be required to raise the next round of capital.

So doing that, call it six to 12 months early, let's say six months early probably meant that you didn't have like the numbers or the things that you thought you would have in place in order to raise comfortably raised a round then of a capital. So I wonder if you can talk through that because it's a, it's a really fascinating topic for a lot of people to hear, because some people may be thinking about executing what you did because of the same reasoning of market timing and things are happening now. And we should go raise now, you know, strike while the iron's hot. Other founders may need to do something similar because they just have to right. Like the gun to the head. Numbers aren't there. So maybe walk through, what was your thought process?

What you had. The cards you try to play as you went out to raise money six to 12 months before you originally thought you had to. 

Justin Mitchell: [00:23:13] Yeah. You know, I said this earlier, we've always relied on, on heavy storytelling and you know, I'd heard over and over and over again from other VCs, other advisors like series A's metrics driven, you have to have your metrics to get your series A.

Jason (host): [00:23:27] When we come back, what to do, when everyone's saying you have to have metrics to get your series A.

I spend most of my days, one-on-one with founders, helping them understand strategies that make a difference in fundraising. One super important tip I always stress with founders is to make sure they send their decks and materials using a document sharing tool. And for that, I always recommend DocSend. DocSend lets you know, what's happening with your deck after you send it along with real-time analytics and notifications.

Did the VCs actually open it? What slides do they spend the most time on? And if you think it got shared with the wrong people, or maybe you made a mistake and sent it to quickly, DocSend lets you control access and make updates to the content. Even after sending sign up for a free two-week trial at docsend.com/funded that's D O C S E N D.com/funded.

So most advice you find around raising a series A is that you do it when you're ready to dump fuel on the fire. Usually that means having the metrics to demonstrate you're at a stage where it's less about figuring out product market fit and more about preparing to grow, but maybe there are other ways to show you're ready, especially in a super hot market.

Justin Mitchell: [00:24:58] You know, I don't think this was a metrics driven series A, you know, we certainly have really great traction and tons of interest in the product. And I think we've done an amazing job of being top of mind. You know, if someone's talking about remote work, audio Yac is in there, right? Like we've had countless articles written that we've never initiated.

We don't know who these people are. They just found us online and wrote a whole article about us because we're the people that are top of mind in this space. So, you know, we'd done a bunch of pre-work to ensure that when we entered into a series, A, this was not a, well, I've never heard of you, you know, show me what you've got or, you know, I haven't heard of you.

I hope your metrics make it worth, you know, reading this deck. Right. And so a lot of what we did was really based around telling our story and how we've dominated the market and how we've built our brand. And we did, you know, I guess relied on our skillset. Right. And our skillset was branding, getting yac.com, getting @yac on Twitter.

Like we have made ourselves look like a billion dollar company from the outside in, and it just is always helped not only with market, you know, positioning, like just consumers looking at it and saying, wow, this company, it must be huge, but also investors. Right. They come in and they just, they have a predisposition towards the company because they think that we are just so much further than we are, because it looks like a company that's been around for 10 years.

So yeah. Coming into this race, it was certainly, we have to tell a different story. The story's not going to be that we're $10 million ARR. We need to, you know, figure out the other way of convincing someone to give us money. You know, there's a lot of tips and tricks that we had. One of which is because I think

series A tend to be very data-driven. We didn't send a deck to any investors. Every investor asks for a deck, but a deck is typically an opportunity to show a lot of data metrics, charts, graphs, numbers. So what I would do is I put our deck at a short URL, which actually anyone listening to this can go see our deck.

We've open sourced it. Anybody can clone it. Yac.media/deck. And what I would do is I would get on the call first and I would have an opportunity to sell that VC on me, my team. Our knowledge, our positioning, our product, why we're the right people to be building this. And then if they would ask for a deck, I would say, Oh yeah, yeah, just type in this URL.

And I would give it to them. And they would just kind of pull it up on the side and they would have it as kind of ancillary content that they could look at while I was talking. But I got to drive that discussion instead of going slide by slide through a deck where they're looking at a screen, I wanted them to connect with me as a founder.

And, you know, that was a strategic decision in some ways, but it was also kind of the only decision we had, right. If we're not going to sell on data and metrics, You gotta buy me, like, we're the ones that are gonna win in this space, get on the train or don't get on the train. And that's not me being pompous or overstated or anything.

I think it's just, it was my mindset of, I'm not going to come into this begging for money. I'm going to come into this say, Hey, if you want to give us money. Great. If you don't, we will just do it later. And I think that changed the dynamic a little bit. So yeah, going into it, we literally closed within 30 days of finishing our pitch deck, which is insane.

And I think most startups don't remotely get those kinds of, that kind of success rate. And I don't think that that's a testament to me being amazing. I think it's a testament to a, you know, GGV and who backed us and Slack and like having these connections in this space and GGV really having this like very global mindset of yeah.

Voice messaging. It's literally popular everywhere else except for America. Yeah. 

Jason (host): [00:28:16] And I think like, I like the fact that you talked about how quickly it came together, but everyone should recognize that it's abnormal and you aspire to things like that. But if, if you're, if your round takes months, like you don't go, Oh my God, Justin Mitchell for Yac did it in 30 days.

I'm a failure. You try to pick away the things that worked for you that could potentially work for other founders. And you know, the one thing I'd say is just to rewind a little bit, that mindset of we don't need you if you'd like to invest. That's great. The train's moving regardless is something that I repeat to people all the time.

And I'm going to guess a little bit, you wanted to raise the money like you. So, so there was, yeah, so there was a bit of anxiety behind it, but you did everything you could to set yourself up in a way where like you would go into those meetings and you would set things up so that if it didn't happen, you really knew it didn't, you know, didn't matter, but everyone wants it to work out.

You want to be successful. So no one has to come into the listening to this interview thinking, but I'm so nervous. Like it's natural for everyone. Can you disagree or disagree? Did you have the butterflies? 

Justin Mitchell: [00:29:26] I'll just add something to that to say. If you're listening to this, and you're a first time founder, or this is the first time that you're raising.

There's a couple things that I would say first off is no matter how you are in your professional career, how long you are, how successful you are, you know, wherever you're at in your professional career. A no from a VC sucks, no matter what. And you get a lot of nos, you know, we didn't do hundreds and hundreds of calls.

I think we maybe did like maybe 50 VC calls, but that clearly means that like 49 of those were no's. I never really did calls with anyone who wasn't a lead, because I just was chasing that lead. That was my strategy was I'm only going to get that lead because once you get the lead, it's a lot easier.

But I can tell you as someone who raised around in 30 days, like. It sucks when someone says, no, it hurts because it it's like this weird personal affront to like who you are, because I think you identify a lot with your startups. So, you know, as you guys are hearing those no's, just to understand, like I heard the same no's and, like, it messes with you, it gets in your head.

Jason (host): [00:30:24] I was going to ask this later, but since you're on the topic, Do you remember any of the worst no's anything in particular that really cut deep? 

Justin Mitchell: [00:30:31] I would abstract that out and say none of them cut deep in a specific way. I think some of them made me change a little bit. Like we had a no very early on that said you're just a feature.

And I went okay. Okay. That's bad. That's really bad. If you is just a feature, how do we make us not a feature? And then I had to like pivot the product to a point. And I think a lot of like, even getting in with Slack was part of my cognizance of like, I have to be, if I'm going to be a feature, then I should be a feature of Slack and they should pay me to be that feature.

And so like, it, it did change my strategy a little bit. For me, the abstracted feeling of getting a no was I took every single no I've never responded to a no email, by the way. That's a weird strategy that I have that I've told other VCs, like anytime a VC sends me a no, like I don't send a, okay is there anything I can do to change your mind?

Or I appreciate it. I just, it sits in my inbox and I don't reply to it. And I think that's a conscious decision on my end to just like, get the negativity out of my way. But for me, the no equals like you won't be successful. It wasn't like, Hey, we're not a fan of this. It was this weird personal affront of like, you won't be successful.

And, you know, rewinding back to that conversation where we're saying like, yeah, in every not everything's as easy as Justin makes it out to be, you know, it sucks and it hurts when someone tells you that. For me, it came down to, as a founder, I told myself internally I will be successful no matter what. So going into these conversations and saying, I don't need your money.

That wasn't hubris. That was internal goal setting, right? Like that was me saying like, I will make my investors insanely happy, no matter what. I will make this, the biggest product you can possibly be, no matter what. So the money for me, wasn't like, I don't need it. It was just like, I've already made a goal and I'm gonna hit that goal.

It doesn't really matter. How I hit that goal, going to hit it. And I think that that translates into every time someone told me, no, I took that and went, okay, so that is someone's opinion. How do I change that opinion? Okay. Let me make some tweaks to the product. Let me tweak, make some tweaks to the messaging so that the next person who hears the exact same thing, because to some degree,

you kind of repeat the same thing over and over again to every one of these investors, that they don't get that. So I took each of those n'os as like a, a failed sale. Now, how do I tweak my pitch to not get that exact same response from the next person? So, you know, we've never taken them personally, as much as we've taken them as a reason to adjust our messaging and maybe even the product's future.

Jason (host): [00:32:55] Yeah. The best fundraisers think about no's like that, you know, it's more, an opportunity to gain feedback and tell you what to do next. So I'd be curious in terms of tactics. So we're talking about some no's that you, that you listened to and received early on. Tactically speaking, when you went out to raise, were you like I'm going to go out to raise seven and a half million dollars and I'm telling the market.

Whenever, when someone talks to me, I'm like I'm raising seven and a half. Was that your strategy going forward or did you execute something different? 

Justin Mitchell: [00:33:29] We were super transparent. So, I mean, I always tell this story from our seed round where we raised a million was we were short 50 K for the round and it was just driving me nuts that we couldn't close paperwork because we're short $50,000 on the round.

So I literally went on Twitter, saw conversation. This guy says, man, don't you hate it? When a startup says they're oversubscribed and they can't let you into the round. And I replied to that guy and I said, Hey, we're under subscribed. We'd love your money. And he laughed. And he was like, ha ha, very funny, you know, sorry, I can't invest in a competitor or something like that.

But another guy saw my reply, DM'd me immediately. He said, I'm in how much do you need? And I said, we need 50 K. And he closed in 24 hours. Right. So we were just super, super transparent about the fact that like, Hey, we need money. I think that that's, you know, I just got off a super pure call helping another founder raise.

And it was the one thing that I told her to like, maybe tweak on her, I guess, perception of the market is like, this is their literal job to give you money. Like, you're not begging, you're not stooping to a new level. Like this is not like you shouldn't feel bad about asking for money. You it's very hard to build a startup without some sort of capital.

And this is their actual job is to find people to give capital to. So for me, it was less about like, should I worry about like pounding my chest and be like, I don't need your money or so just be like, yeah, dude, we need your money. Like, we'd love money. Money's great. And it makes the world go round. And so, you know, I guess having that perspective of like, I'm not losing any of my pride, but just admitting that I need cash helped make those conversations a little bit easier.

You know, there's a lot of tactics that I think, you know, I could talk about one is definitely the short URL. We built our entire pitch deck on pitch.com. They actually just did a whole expose on us. It's really cool. Definitely go read that. But we've also open-sourced our deck, so you can even clone it and you can use the same format that we use, but I put our deck at a short URL so that I could just drop it into an email.

Which also made it very shareable. They didn't have to forward an email. They didn't have to get someone's email. They could just drop it into a DM. They could drop it into Slack. You could drop into Zoom. So it was like a very portable way for me to share my deck, which meant that it got passed around through a lot of VCs very easily.

So people were reaching out saying, Hey, I got a copy of your deck. Like, I'd love to talk to you. And I'm like, Oh, cool. Like how I didn't forward it to you. Right. So it just made it this very portable thing. So that's like one tactic was making sure that your deck is something that's like just very easy to share.

The other is never going over a deck. I've never presented a deck ever. I think that it's a very boring way of doing it. I think that it doesn't give you as a founder or a team, an opportunity to shine. I think it ruins storytelling and makes your product very like ABCD, just very data-driven and like start to finish.

So I've always sent a deck, but I've never, ever presented one. The third thing, and this is more of a sales process is I would very purposefully dominate the phone call. So I would start the call. I would start, Hey, how should we make the best use of our time? Would it be cool if you just told me a little bit about your firm and then I could give you kind of my background. Every call, seriously.

It was almost identical. Like it's crazy how duplicative the processes. Another tactic that I think is strong was like took every single call from the very, very beginning, all the way to the end now I still take calls even though I'm not fundraising, because like we said, at the top of this call, I didn't have a network.

So I'm building my network and this may not even be applicable to Yac, but I'm going to do startups for the rest of my life. And I need to have everyone knew who I am, have my contact info and have some kind of personal connection to me. So I take every call, no matter how big or small the person is. 

Jason (host): [00:36:58] The last two things there, tactics that you, you executed, but, and I've executed in the past too.

I've spent the last eight months deconstructing the things that I've done and trying to understand why they're important. So dominating the call, setting an agenda. Of course, it helps you drive where the call goes and that email etiquette, you talked about never trying to change people change people's mind.

That was good for your mindset and your conf and your confidence. But the other side of it that you and other people should know is that the perception of a founder that comes in and says, Hey, Justin, I'm glad we could find some time. Let's try to. Use this time as efficiently as possible. Do you mind if you start out with this and then we'll go here and then I'll tell you a little bit more about Yac.

You know what that says? It says. This founder doesn't have a lot of time for this. There are a lot of investors that have packed his schedule and he has had to evolve in order to become efficient. I'm not the only game in town, you know, it's, it's very FOMO and like, it's funny. It's like I talk about this a lot, perception or reality perception or

reality, perception becomes reality. So your very first call, when you say, Hey, Justin, thanks for finding time for me. I'd love to make this call as efficient as possible. You don't have any other meetings around, but like the perception is so strong that it really drives reality. So I think that's really important.

I did want to see if you would be willing to share, just tactically speaking, going out to raise a seven and a half million dollar round. Was that a very clear indication to the market that's seven and a half was what you were trying to raise or was there a smaller number that you went out with first? 

Justin Mitchell: [00:38:37] That's actually, we went out with a larger number and we talked to a number of firms.

And when we started talking about these large numbers, we started to realize what our dilution would be. And so we actually had a larger number from GGV of, at the beginning and she came back to me with this number. And then I came back and I was like, Hey, so like we ran some math on this. Could we actually raise less?

And she was like, Oh, thank God. We were actually thinking about asking if you could raise less. And I was like, okay, mind share. Good. Like, I'm glad we're on the same page. So yeah, we actually had thrown 10 out there at the beginning. And then when we did like kind of dilution math, because we lost a lot of equity and our very first pre-seed round, which, you know, it doesn't put a knock to Adam or beta works any of these guys again, I was a nobody, you know, I deserve that.

Right. But we just we've had to make up for that. Large loss, you know, over the course of the next two rounds. And so, yeah, we actually went out with a larger number, came back with a smaller number and then even lower that number a little bit more. So. You know, for us, we've always been capital efficient.

So the bigger number doesn't make a huge difference to us because it's not lifeline support. It's more like stupid spending support. Like, yes, we could spend like idiots and be comfortable or we could just spend, like, we always spend it, just do it longer. And that's really, you know, kind of where our minds were at.

Jason (host): [00:39:55] Right. Okay. So another question that I really, really love asking founders, especially leading up all this, all the stuff you've told us up to this point. Do you remember when you call, you got the call, do you remember when you got the call from, GGV saying Justin we'd like to lead your round. 

Justin Mitchell: [00:40:12] So it was a Yac.

Jason (host): [00:40:14] The cool  thing about Yac, your audio messages are archived.

Early on at my last company Tape, we had the opportunity to sell into a large public company. At the time we were only selling into SMBs. So our investors would only be supportive if we could ensure it wouldn't be a distraction. We were stoked. Our software solved a big problem for the company. And the only thing standing between us and a game changing contract was getting it SOC2 certified.

After weeks of trying to Google, how to get SOC2 certified and interviewing expensive consultants, we ended up abandoning the deal because it had already become too much of a distraction. When I learned about Vanta, the YC backed company used by hundreds of SaaS startups to get SOC2 certified. I was so annoyed because I wish they had been around back then.

Vanta makes it super easy to get SOC2 certified by integrating with your cloud provider and other tools you already use to automate the stupidly complex and time-consuming process of preparing for a SOC2 audit. Something like that would have been amazing because I remember drawing straws with my co-founder to see who would have to do the work.

Anyway, if you'd like to drop a months long process down to weeks and get to those major contracts, you should check out Vanta. Also I'm super happy to share that listeners of Funded can get $1,000 off their service by going to vanta.com/funded. That's V A N T A.com/funded.

One of my favorite things about interviewing founders around their fundraise stories is asking them to reflect on what it felt like to get the call that they would be funded. Even if the call came many years ago, it's such a monumental moment that every founder can travel back in time and vividly recount what that call felt like.

But if you're Justin. That call was a yac and you still have it saved in your files. That means we have it for you now. Yacs lead investor, Tiffany Luck from GGV capital yac'ing, Justin, I think that's how you say it. Tell him she was all in. 

Tiffany Luck (GGV): [00:42:37] Hey Justin. Sorry. It took me a little bit longer than I would have liked, but I'm very excited to say that I have a term sheet in front of me that I'm getting ready to send you, uh, for your series A.

Um, I really enjoy getting to know you. I, I, I'm super excited for the future. I would love to work with you, and I think you're going to build a really big company. Um, and I know that Hans Glenn, Jeff and Graham all feel the same. And Jen, um, so we're all super excited. Um, And, uh, I would plan on joining the board to help you guys, um, would be super excited about that.

Um, and like I said, like just in general, everyone's super excited and we really enjoyed spending time with you and really want to help you build a big company. 

Jason (host): [00:43:23] Back to Justin to hear his side of things. 

Justin Mitchell: [00:43:26] Cause it's a Yac. I get to read the transcription first. So I saw like the first few lines and I was like, Oh, that's good news.

Let me play this. But you know, I've been talking about this a lot with other founder friends is I definitely felt like this sense of relief of like, wow, I have job security. I don't have to stress as much anymore. You know, one thing that Hunter, like one of my co-founders here has always talked about that I've actually railed against, which has been like paying ourselves enough.

To live comfortably. I've actually always underpaid myself because I want to do invest the rest of the money in my team or the longevity of the company. Like this is a very bad mathematical solution, but you know, I'd rather pay myself 20 K a year for 10 years, so that I have 10 years of 20 K than paying myself 200 K a year so that I can live comfortably for one year.

Right. Like, that's just been my mindset, but Hunter has always been the opposite, which is to say like, you know, You stressing about money is a huge distraction from day-to-day work and you're picking up freelance contracts. You're working other jobs. You're trying to do all these things to support your family, that we should just pay you enough that you don't have to be distracted.

So that's like one thing that I've always had to kind of break myself of as a bad habit is thinking that I don't deserve to be paid, but I can tell you that my first reaction was the money. It was like, Oh my God, like, this is such a sigh of relief. And then about like a week later, the opposite hit, which was, Oh my God,

somebody gave me $7.5 million. I owe them like a Wookie life debt now. Right. Like I have to make them wealthy. I have to like show up. I have to perform, Oh my God. That's way more money than a million dollars. You know? So it's funny how, like the initial reaction was this like, you know, soothing wave of like calm and now after the money is in our bank account, we're like, crap.

All right. Well now we really have to deliver, which is not like it's changed at all, but now there's more people involved and there's more money on the table and more eyes on us. So suddenly it becomes, you know, even more stressful.

Jason (host): [00:45:21] I think now that's amazing. Okay. Well really a great ending to that story.

Obviously, seven and a half million dollars led by a top global firm. We touched on it a little bit, but if there is one or two things that you've learned along this journey that you tried to pass along very specifically around fundraising. But if there are a couple of nuggets in, in sort of general startup life, but if there were a couple of things that you've learned that you wish you could tell a younger version of Justin, or maybe the next founder that's coming up.

What would that be? 

Justin Mitchell: [00:45:52] Yeah. So a couple of very easy ones. First off, I knew nothing coming into this, just about VC terminology. Post-money, pre money, safe, convertible note, like none of this stuff meant anything to me. Right? Like I had no idea what this meant. So Holloway has the Holloway guide to venture capital, highly, highly suggested I've got a coupon code.

We can even maybe put it in the, you know, podcast notes or something like that, that takes 30 bucks off. I absolutely recommend new founders who have never raised before read that book. It was absolutely instrumental in me getting to a point where I could competently walk through a conversation and answer a question yeah.

About what what's your pre money valuation or what's your post-money value. I didn't know what any of that meant. And so reading that book totally helped. The other one, which I think is a life lesson, as much as it is venture capital is, to always have a conversation, you know, the Slack money that Slack actually doubled their investment in us this round.

We're so thankful to have them on board. They've been amazing investors. We love Dylan and Jason, they've just been so cool to us. That came from a random LinkedIn inbound from a guy who had offered me nothing. He said, I built a similar startup years ago. It, you know, did its thing, you know, you're doing your thing.

I just want to like jam and talk and like trade, you know, thoughts and feelings. And maybe just kind of like be friends to talk about audio startups. And so I was like, dude, yeah, sure. Sounds cool. Like let's hop on a call. So we hopped on a call and we chatted and you know, this happened three or four times.

We would just like every once in a while be like, Hey, catch me up. Like, what's the latest, how can I help you? You know? Tell me what's new with your life. And then I think four calls deep. He was like, Hey, do you want an intro to the Slack fund? They actually invested in us, you know, way back in the day. And I was like, yeah, dude, I'll take that.

We closed Slack fund after seven days after getting that intro. Right. And that was just from a serendipitous, random online friendship that started that. You know, I immediately didn't get any value out of, right? Like, you know, when you look at something like he wasn't selling me something, I wasn't selling him something, he wasn't going to give me money.

I wasn't going to give him money. It was just talking, just chatting and enjoying each other's company. And it translated into actually even GGV came from an intro from Slack. So like a lot of where we're at today is based off of just serendipitous, online meeting people and having those conversations. And if you look at.

You know, if you go back in time and you look at like our mentions for the, for the last week, when we had our big PR push, you look at every single person that is tweeting about us telling to vote for us and the golden kitty awards, you know, tweeting out our articles way to go team, whatever. We didn't know

any of those people a year ago, they are all just random internet connections of people that we've helped that we've talked to, that we've become friends with. And it's amazing how much that's returned in force. Just having all these people rally behind us and put opportunities in front of us, because we were nice to them.

Jason (host): [00:48:38] What a rallying cry for everyone out there with, with startup dreams, with entrepreneurial dreams, no matter where you come from, especially with the internet, the, the ultimate equalizer that a lot of these things can happen. Last question. Maybe you've already answered it, but you have a presence on Twitter.

You're very active in the community. And like you said, that you're into networking and meeting people. Who is a founder that's coming up that you think deserves to be funded? 

Justin Mitchell: [00:49:04] Ooh, that is a very good question. So Garrett Scott, is building pipes underneath the ground to deliver packages, I really like his startup a lot.

Anthony is building 1V1me. Which is a like tournaments for gaming and prizes and like this whole network on like doing, you know, online e-sports, which I really think is cool. I've talked to two brand new founders that don't even have pitch decks yet. And one is building basically like a smart mat for exercises, which I think is just going to be huge.

And the other one's building a heated jacket that uses like wireless charging to charge is really neat. So I'm talking to founders all the time. I can't just pick one. 

Jason (host): [00:49:42] Right? I love it. Love it. Justin Mitchell. Co-founder CEO of Yac. Thanks so much for this time. Talking with me, I'll use yac.com/jaymitch to talk to you in the future.

Thank you so much. 

Justin Mitchell: [00:49:54] Yeah, absolutely. Man. 

Jason (host): [00:49:57] That was my conversation with Justin Mitchell, founder of Yac, the audio messaging app, taking the world of remote work by storm.

Well, Olivia, that was one of my favorite interviews that we've done because Justin comes from a very different background and had some really interesting stories. And what'd you think? 

Olivia: [00:50:17] Super cool guy. He clearly does his own thing. Like, there are just a lot of interesting things about him, like how he was a trained actor growing up.

Just a lot of crazy tidbits. 

Jason (host): [00:50:28] Yeah. The, the trained actor part was so fun to hear. Mostly because, you know, I love connecting things to how people are able to get their fundraising done. And that might be a side note for other people, but I really, really honed in on it because you know what you do. And we talk a lot about how important narrative is.

And I just think that the ability to. Present in front of somebody with passion and excitement and get people leaning in is such a important skill and not one that everyone is a natural at. And so for him to be not only natural at it, but having had the training growing up, I mean, I totally saw it in the interview and I'm sure it played a major part in his success in that fundraise.

Olivia: [00:51:10] Yeah. I imagine it must be super helpful for keeping your composure like reflecting the, I don't know, narrative that you want to come across. Like, if you can tell it's being perceived differently, like sticking to the narrative, you're trying to get across if it's not going your way. 

Jason (host): [00:51:27] Yeah. And then, you know, it was funny for him to talk even more specifically about improv and the improv training that he went through.

I think that's totally something that. He's leveraged whether or not he knows it or not, and being successful at fundraising. And it even kind of ties into one of the things that he talked about, which is a little bit weird to me, at least. So like he doesn't use a deck or he doesn't like using a deck.

Did you catch that? 

Olivia: [00:51:50] Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, no, I. I just knew like, okay, so this is a Testament to my growth as a little investee because probably a few months ago, I wouldn't even have known what that meant. I just knew I was like, Jason is going to freak out when he hears this. Yeah, this is crazy. No, I still don't really understand why it's so crazy, but I just, I knew it was going to be big news.

Jason (host): [00:52:15] Yeah, definitely big news. And I think it's worth us spending a couple minutes. Just this. Connecting the dots. So he had really good reasons for why he doesn't like using a deck. And I'm glad we covered all those things. I mean, I think the thing to really take away from it is that fundraising, fundraising approaches from fundraising strategies are not one size fits all.

Right. Uh, w we're we're always trying to sell a narrative. We're always trying to get people excited, but different people are able to do different things. I still really, really recommend without knowing exactly who's going to do it. I still really recommend using a deck as an organizing tool because not everyone grew up, uh, with acting, you know, it was a trained improv

uh, practitioner and can hold a room and can, can direct a narrative the way Justin Mitchell can. And so for him, I can see why he wasn't and using deck. He likes really connecting with the person on the other side of the zoom, or maybe in real. In a, in a, in an IRL situation on the other side of the table, and he's really good at it.

And doesn't need a deck and understands how to practice presenting, um, without a deck, I would say, not everyone has those skills and when you don't have those skills, It can be very, very helpful to have an organizing tool, like a deck to focus the conversation, to, to drive people, to thinking about the topics that you want to get across.

So, you know, I, for some people out there that strategy is going to work really well for others. You know, I'd still recommend a deck as something that. Um, people can lean on, but I'm glad that you picked up on the fact that I was going to be like what. 

Olivia: [00:53:53] Yeah, no, I knew that was, was going to be a big deal. And when you say organizing tool, do you mean just for people to get their thoughts in order like it's, um, some sort of, and they don't necessarily have to use it, but it's a good way to figure out maybe the structure and main points of your pitch.

Jason (host): [00:54:10] Exactly. Like, so what I recommend people do is in zoom or in real life in a real room is like, you're, you're referencing the deck, it's in the background, but you're, you're not reading the deck. And when someone isn't as adept at controlling the conversation or improving to the questions that get asked to them, it can be helpful to be able to redirect back to the deck.

If you feel like you're going off in a direction that that is hard to control. So you can be like, you know, referencing this slide and say, you know, actually here's, I would love to talk about competition or, um, let's get back to, I want to get back to the deck here, because this is really important.

Justin would never do that. He thinks that's, he would think that that's unnatural, but, but that's only because he's so he's probably so good at bobbing and weaving to the conversation. Directing it to the, the, the narrative that he wants to get across. 

Olivia: [00:55:03] Yeah. It sounds like he also really maximized, like when people did come into his network, like maximizing the opportunity, it sounds like he just totally made the most of what was available to him.

Jason (host): [00:55:16] Oh, totally. I mean, it's such an impressive story. For him to talk about, you know, not really having any experience fundraising, not really having any access to the network yet when, when he had an opportunity to present a product that he didn't have any idea where we would go. And when someone mentioned him on Twitter, like he takes those opportunities and really leans into them and makes the most of them.

So I definitely thought. His whole story was impressive. 

Olivia: [00:55:41] Yeah. Did that blow your mind that he was able to nab this big investor just via Twitter? Or is that like a thing?

Jason (host): [00:55:49] Five years ago I would have said something like that, that was highly unusual. Even today. I would say it's unusual, but not crazy. I think, um, especially in pandemic times, When people are trying to meet people, you know, people aren't able to go to conferences or meet people

organically, digital run-ins are really a thing now. So yeah, exactly. I mean, yeah. Put out a note on Twitter. Got connected to you. I mean, it is a thing right now, so I think it's something we all need to be aware of whether you're fundraising or not. 

Olivia: [00:56:18] Let's see what else we've got here. Oh yeah, yeah. Okay.

Another, Oh yeah. You, you go ahead. 

Jason (host): [00:56:24] Uh, you know, one thing that we were dancing around, it wasn't fully explicit that I thought was just interesting to point out here was, was how much they raised relative to how far along they were. So that, that conversation was interesting. Right? He, he didn't need the money.

Right. Um, but he did, he was successful and he did decide to go out, but like, I think it's, as I reflect on it, what's really interesting, um, for him and anyone else that is in hot markets is like, when we talk about fundraising, we talk about having a very specific narrative and going to talk to as many people as possible until you find the investors that understand your narrative and resonate with your story.

And when you're, when you're, when you're building something that people haven't heard about or in a space that is brand new, Um, it can take some time. Right? And, and that's why I encourage founders to have such a large top of funnel when it comes to how many investors they're going to talk to. But then every once in a while, all the stars align and you get a founder like Justin, who, uh, two years ago started this voice messaging app focused on audio.

Um, In a nascent space of remote work, which is just like, you know, cool that he started building that a couple of years ago. Yeah. But for him to pop his head up in 2020, and realize that one, because of the pandemic remote work was just not only like an exciting growing thing, but a necessity for people to be able to solve for and then two,

just the buzzy, buzzy as tech company of all time or of recent memory Clubhouse focused on audio was just lighting up the headlines. There couldn't have been a better time for him to decide to go fundraising because in his situation he's still doing the same thing. You're still telling a story, a very specific story, but whereas

in years past, he might've had to continue talking for months and months until he found the people that understood. Oh yeah. You know, remote work might be cool. And oh yeah I kind of like audio, everyone was thinking about those two things. So the timing really couldn't have been any better. 

Olivia: [00:58:33] No. So serendipitous. Um, and as an audio producer, I'm so into it was also so cool that because of Yac, like we got to hear that call, that investor call.

Yeah. Okay. I must admit like, it was not what I was expecting. Oh yeah. Well, okay. A few things. One, the woman was the investment. What is her name? Tiffany. Yeah. It was like really kind of like formal, like, and I wasn't expecting that, but it definitely had this formality to it where it was, it was like all business, which makes sense.

It totally is a business call, but just it, there was this contrast because the way people have talked about it on the show, it's been like, I don't know, just this like highly emotional moment. So I was like kind of surprised to hear it from her and where it like really is a business deal, but I can imagine Justin on the other end, like freaking out. 

Jason (host): [00:59:26] The reaction to the formality is, is an interesting one, right?

Like the way we talk about it on the funded, it is a very personal dynamic of meeting, uh, investors and connecting with them. But the, and, and, you know, like VCs try to be the most casual version of financiers you know, they are close cousins to investment bankers and private equity and investors, but the cool cousins, you know, that wear, wear, uh, you know, vests and jeans and stuff like that.

But at the end of the day, she is still talking about offering to invest millions of dollars into a company. So, um, the the juxtaposition between how cool they try to be in and what it actually is, you know, deciding put millions of dollars into a company is it's something that I think they try to balance, right.

They tried to be personable, but at the end of the day, it's like, Hey, I have this term sheet in front of you in front of me that I'm excited to send to you. So now I was. I was over the moon happy when I realized that we would have a chance to give listeners an insight into. Yeah. And to what that all feels like.

And sounds like so, I was excited for that. 

Olivia: [01:00:37] Oh yeah. I loved it. Like, are you kidding as an audio producer? I lit like, when you tell me there's tape, I live for that.

Jason (host): [01:00:49] Since Justin is the King of audio. I wondered if he had any other cool audio startup ideas. 

Justin Mitchell: [01:00:54] Yes. The dating app that would be audio driven. So instead of texting back and forth and exchanging pictures, you'd be very intimate by sending voice messages back and forth 

Jason (host): [01:01:02] What a time to be alive. I think this is a good idea, but it does make me laugh to think that this would be an app essentially focused around pickup lines.

How you doing, how you doing? Thanks a bunch for listening. There are tons of insights that each founder recover on funded has around startups, fundraising and life. And we don't have time to cover it all. So if you'd like to get a free insight pack based on Justin Mitchell from Yac, go to fundedpod.com/yac,  spelled Y A C.

Also because lots of questions pop up after we air each episode, we now have our live after shows on Clubhouse. So make sure you follow the show on social where we announce dates and times. Our account is at @fundedpod. If you have any questions about today's show, or maybe you're raising money yourself and want some help problem solving.

If so, find me on social I'm @jayyeh that's J A Y Y E H or shoot me an email at jason@fundedpod.com. I'd love to hear from you. This episode was produced by Olivia Rheingold. What's up. Thanks also to Jordan Pascasio from Adamant Ventures. Hey guys, and thanks to Justin Mitchell for being an amazing guest to close out

season one with. We're so excited to continue sharing incredible fundraising stories in season two. So please subscribe and stay tuned. By the way, if you're a fan of the show and have any interest in working on it, we're hiring a part-time intern. The project is super fun and the exposure to amazing entrepreneurs and investors is awesome. As always one last thanks to our fantastic sponsor without which this season would not be possible.

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