Jack Cornish and Three Entrepreneurs are Funding

Rob (Business: Higher Logic)Rob

Have you sought funding for your organization?

Not initially, but almost a decade in we brought on JMI Equity, a growth equity firm, to work with.

In what ways have you sought funding for your organization? If you have not, how were you able to grow without outside capital?

In 2011 I presented on my company at an investor conference put on by the Mid Atlantic Venture Association (MAVA). I was not looking for funding then but knew that I might want to at some point in the future. Over the next few months, many venture firms reached out to learn more. I ended up keeping in touch with 10 of them over the next few years that fit the type of investment I might want, and in a range of sizes, I thought we would go through.

What funding pursuits OR self-generated efforts have proved most effective and why?

The above worked well. In the end, I was still not looking for funding but got some very good offers from several top firms. All of this I would consider self-generated, stemming from that initial conference. That said, I never reached out to any of these firms myself, it was all inbound. It was very effective. In the end, we narrowed it down to three, then two, then one prospective partner, and closed with the one we liked best.

What three pieces of advice do you have for aspiring arts and creative entrepreneurs?

Do not underestimate the need for Sales and Marketing. We do and always have spent at least as much on sales and marketing as we do on our product.

If you don’t absolutely need money, don’t take it. The longer you wait, the more value you build for yourself. This is true up to a point, and then an investment team is very very helpful to accelerate growth.

Always be honest with yourself. Don’t believe yourself so much that you are blinded to competition. Be confident, but honest.

Why did you start your company?

I am a serial entrepreneur. This is my third company. For the first one, I started it because I wanted to do something different than just going to work every day. I wanted to build something. It’s not the money that drives me, but the constant improvement of everything. It has been very stressful at times, but a lot of fun!

Randy Eisenman (Business: Satori Capital) Randy Eisenman

Have you sought funding for your organization? 

Yes, through individual investors and family offices.

In what ways have you sought funding for your organization?

My team and I have raised capital from many individuals and families with whom we have had long-term relationships.  Many of our investors have referred us to others who are now investors.  In short, we have raised capital from long-term relationships and referrals.

What funding pursuits OR self-generated efforts have proved most effective and why?

Working with people where there is a long history.  I believe this is because there is a high degree of trust present in these relationships, and trust means the most to most people when they think about investing with someone/a team.

What three pieces of advice do you have for aspiring arts and creative entrepreneurs?

1. Get very clear about your individual and the organization’s purpose, long-term vision, and values.  2. Surround yourself with the best and brightest people who are aligned with the organization’s purpose, vision, and values.  3. Never stop learning and growing.

Why did you start your company? I had to start this company.  It was a calling.  It was/is the perfect intersection of my skills, passions, and what I believe the world needs.

Dan Cornish (Business: Cosential)

Have you sought funding for your organization?

Yes. We raised a lot of money last year especially.

In what ways have you sought funding for your organization? If you have not, how were you able to grow without outside capital?

In the beginning of my company in the year 1999, I raised some angel capital and then a round of money. Then I bought out my investors and bootstrapped my company until July of last year.

What funding pursuits OR self-generated efforts have proved most effective and why?

I found that bootstrapping my company, using our profits to grow the company took much more long than raising capital, but it allowed me to build a very strong and disciplined company. We only focused on the important things and did not worry about things that funded companies might have.

What three pieces of advice do you have for aspiring arts and creative entrepreneurs?

My first advice would be to become self-aware and know what you like doing.

My second piece of advice is that raising capital is not an end or an accomplishment. Capital is a tool you use to realize your vision.

My last piece of advice is to not start a business to make a lot of money.

Why did you start your company?

I started my company because I saw a real need to organize information for construction companies. It grew out of my previous consulting practice so I was familiar with it.

The following interviews, conducted by Jack Cornish, seek to understand:

  • If creative entrepreneurs typically seek capital in starting their organizations
    • OR if leaders of nonprofit leaders, how they raise funds
  • What ways they may have done so, if applicable
  • What advice they have for aspiring creative entrepreneurs. 

This interview process is part of SMU Meadows’ class Creative Entrepreneurship and Attracting Capital.

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