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May 18, 2020

Claire Fauquier (Highland Capital Partners) - Purchase Behaviors of SMBs, Stretching Consumer and Sourcing at the Series A

Claire Fauquier (Highland Capital Partners) - Purchase Behaviors of SMBs, Stretching Consumer and Sourcing at the Series A

Our guest today is Claire Fauquier a Principal at Highland Capital Partners. Highland Capital Partners is one of the oldest venture capital funds that invests primarily at Series A and focuses on the early growth stage. Some of their investments include Harry's, Rent the Runway, and Clearbanc. In this episode we explore some of the differences and milestones companies typically have at the seed and series A stages. explore the milestones at Series A for technology startups and the purchase behaviors of small-medium businesses.

One book that inspired Claire professionally is Radical Candor by Kim Scott. One book that inspired her personally is The Glass Castle by Jeannette Wells.

You can follow Claire on Twitter @clairefauquier. You can also follow Mike on Twitter @mikegelb. For all episodes, please visit theconsumervc.com. Thanks again for listening.

On this episode we discuss -

  1. What attracted her to finance and venture capital? The differences in criteria from seed to series A? Diligence process at series A. What made her make the jump to Series A/B from Seed? What is hard about Series A/B investing? It seems like with the proliferation of seed-specific funds, it’s easier to track companies from earlier on. 
  2. What are some mistakes she's made as an investor? Coronavirus is very top of mind. Has this impacted how she invests? Is she more focused on current portfolio companies rather than new investments? How does she think about deals broadly; if she had an investment philosophy, how would she characterize it?
  3. In the consumer spectrum, what types of businesses is she focused on? What is her investment criteria for B2C businesses? What does she advise founders to focus on? How does Highland work with consumer businesses once they invest? What is one thing that she would change about Venture Capital?

Full transcript

Mike Gelb 1:08 So let's start out very early back in your career, what initially attracted you to finance and then specifically venture capital?

Claire Fauquier 1:19 Yeah, I kind of want to separate those two things, because I never felt like I was a finance person. And I think that in venture, we're lucky, because we're sort of not finance people. And I've told people that if I must be bucketed, into the finance world, I'm kind of in like, the fun finance. So. So yeah. So I got into investment banking, because I was a finance major, I was drawn to the numbers and the math and thinking about the economic implications of finance, which I felt was really interesting. But of course, when you're, you know, 2021 and deciding on what you want to do after school, there's sort of one career path for finance majors. And that's going into investment banking. So that's where I sort of delineate it and say that I don't ever really thought of myself as a finance person, I sort of just ended up in that career path thinking it would be a good launching pad. And it was I think I learned a lot. I think I learned a lot of what I didn't want as well. And then I moved on from that. What drew me to venture is totally different. For me, it's this real connection with how we're changing the world, how we're thinking about where the world is, in five to 10 years, and interacting with the people that are enabling that I think it's probably one of the absolute best jobs in the world when you feel like you were the dumbest person every day. And I mean that in a humble way. It is fascinating to talk to all these industry experts and people that are devoting their life to something that is really cool and highly relevant and tangible to what we're doing as consumers day to day and how we live our lives. And so it's sort of the story arc of being part of something that's bigger, I think that drew me to VC and less sort of the the aspects that I would attribute to Finance, if I can sort of answer that from a roundabout perspective for folks

Mike Gelb 3:03 that I know that entered in VC and kind of went, you know, worked a couple years in investment banking, similar sentiments I've heard is that you know, really grateful for my investment banking experience, learned a ton, but really happy. It's kind of over wanted to talk a bit about your experience first working in seed, and then how like the milestones change at the series A and Series B rounds, and what you're more focused on at Highland.

Claire Fauquier 3:30 Yeah, that's a good path to go down. And I think there's a lot of meat there. That probably changes at least from my perspective relatively often. But my most recent working theory, I think, is that seed investors are really fantastic when they can be sort of product oriented when they have a view on the entrepreneurial journey. And that is not to be taken lightly. I think that that skill set is incredibly valuable, and I'm incredibly envious of it having only spent a tiny, tiny portion of my career on the operating side, I think that once we get later and later, there's sort of this emphasis on evaluating business models and thinking about the sort of story arc and stage progression of a company rather than just being so focused on product. And so, for me, I felt like I almost didn't have the stomach for being a professional seed investor. And my investment banking background, as good as it was, I think, also made me much more apt to poke holes into things. And so that was sort of, you know, a bit of my mindset coming into things. And series A is fantastic for me, because the best part of this job in my perspective is working with founders, as I mentioned, and I think that series A you still get to spend all that great time working operationally with founders on some of the biggest challenges that they'll be facing going forward. But there's a little bit more of the business model to pull apart and to analyze and so it's sort of this perfect marriage of my background. Having said all that, Do some angel investing and I get to sort of keep my feet wet in that arena to really make bets on people that I think are exceptional. And and I get to sort of scratch that itch, which is a really nice little marriage, sort of an added side bonus that I love about series A that I hadn't fully wrapped my mind around is that just the way the portfolio construction work, seed investors are writing many, many, many more checks, right? at origin we wrote, you know, for per person, we wrote probably three to five more times the amount of checks that that we do now, or that I do now at series A and B. And so just based on that portfolio construction, you naturally can't be as close with all of your portfolio companies throughout the cycle of the company. And so there's this natural progression of sort of rolling off the board and and regular conversation with your companies that probably Series B or C or something like that. Whereas that a because you're you're making sort of more concentrated investments. You stay with that company up until exit and then That's really special to me, because I like creating that really deep bond with founders, I was felt it was kind of sad when the natural progression happened. And the company sort of graduated on to Series B, and C, and things just got so busy that all of a sudden our check ins went from, you know, every week to every two weeks, every month, two every quarter or something like that. So I like really being in the trenches with people. I think that's fun,

Mike Gelb 6:23 great point that you're saying about seeing investing in series A and that you don't write as many checks per year? Do you feel that at the series a stage you maybe have to become more specialized in terms of the actual industries itself, knowing those particular maybe business models or metrics?

Claire Fauquier 6:40 Yeah, that's a really good question and something that I struggle with, and I think that every VC probably thinks that pretty regularly. Yeah, I would imagine. I think there's pros and cons to specialization. I think the general thread though that you're getting at is that you need to be much more focused and much more thoughtful with your deal sourcing, I Rather than seed seed is very difficult in my mind to be thematic or to be doing any meaningful outbound sourcing, just because it is. So based on network and based on happenstance and who you might meet who leads you to somebody else. Versus at A and B, you can be a bit thematic, because you have generally companies that have been funded in previous rounds. So you get to sort of watch them as they progress up to your stage. And you can be a little bit picky in sort of who you reach out to and sort of go hunting, if that makes sense.

Mike Gelb 7:35 No, it does. It does. I wanted to also talk about, you know, maybe the current landscape at the series A and B. stages, seems like there's now this proliferation and has been for the past few years, how there's so much, you know, seed and seed specific funds. Just how are you thinking about series A and Series B as a as a general landscape.

Claire Fauquier 7:58 It's funny, you mentioned that in a minute. Hearing this correctly, your perception is that there's more seed funds than there are a and b fund. Right? Yes, yes. Yeah, I see it the opposite. Actually, I think there's very few dedicated seed funds versus series A and B funds. And I think on sheer number, there's a lot of early stage funds, because there's a lot of great emerging managers who are focused on earlier stage because they have smaller checks to write. But in terms of for the big behemoth funds, I think series A and B is much more of an established category. So it's interesting that you see it from a different perspective in my mind, but I when I think of funds that are purely see their institutional funds, you know, maybe on fund two or three, that are willing to lead rounds and really sit on the board and sort of play that institutional seed role, I don't think have a ton of fun. And I think origin is one of them, which sort of made us stood out which was exciting to really be a seed exclusive fund. But then I think once we get to series A and beyond, there's a lot of multi Stage funds, and there's much more capital floating around at the series A and B stage, which, in my opinion, at least makes it more competitive to a certain degree. Because there's less of a chance of finding a company that no one else has talked to.

Mike Gelb 9:15 Wow, it's really interesting how you're seeing it. This is probably where we should have started at the very beginning. But how do you think about series? A

Claire Fauquier 9:23 good question. I think the benchmarks and KPIs and all that stuff kind of fluctuate as time goes on. And as we, you know, move through economic cycles and stuff like that. But I think of series A and the second sort of true institutional round, they'll say so at origin, we thought about seed as the first institutional round. And so the company had maybe raised some Angel rounds or friends and family rounds or something like that. And this was the first time that they were really thinking about the, you know, transformation of the company into sort of a business where they're putting in place governance and a board and things like that. And, and pre the seed round, they were probably testing products had an MVP had early sales had some pilots in place or early sales with consumers etc seed a in my view was always to test out a couple hypotheses that were narrowing and narrowing in terms of true product market fit. And then at a, I think about it as sort of real product market fit where a especially consumer company has sort of the operating playbook in their minds where they know how to acquire customers with relative certainty. So the band of customer acquisition costs, for instance, starts to narrow and they have relative certainty that if they apply, you know, X amount of dollars to marketing, they'll get X amount of dollars in revenue. And they have a relatively good example of what their ideal customer looks like their supply chain, all those various things. And so for me, that really sort of indicates without thinking about, you know, the KPIs that can move, it's sort of that that true product market fit that we know the company He is ready to take that much larger round of capital and apply it to the business and have some idea of what the output then will be. That makes sense. So it's like a more of a stabilized CAC, I've talked to other investors too, and they say, like, at the series A, that's really when a company should really have product market fit. Yeah, I would agree with that. I don't think it means necessarily that the company has got everything figured out. You know, I think I think there's a lot of caveats that we and founders could throw on things that things can change quickly. And we all know that especially right now, right, like a lot of safer industries from an investment perspective have been thrown on their head during the COVID environment, but series A doesn't mean necessarily that the company is you know, off to the races, there's going to be operational challenges and I think a good investor can help with a lot of that stuff. But I think it does mean that once a company's raising series A they're not spending expensive venture dollars figuring out product market fit and figuring out who best to sell their product to this have an idea. Now it's time to really execute and pour that fuel on the fire. I wanted

Mike Gelb 12:05 to also talk about your like transition from a seed to a series A like what was maybe the toughest thing from changing from, you know, from origin seed investing to series, a investing,

Claire Fauquier 12:17 very quick kind of cop out answer is that the hardest part is, is giving up the relationships you have with your existing companies and relinquishing board duties. And so I still spend a lot of time with my portfolio companies from origin because it just simply really missed those founders. But I know that's not what you're getting at. The trickiest thing I think are the biggest sort of difference is the sourcing machine, I think, at seed is. So my sort of view at seed is that it's typically the first time that founders are accessing institutional capital. They may have had startups in the past and so they may sort of know the process, but general there probably isn't existing institutional investors on the cap table with which that founder can get some help in introductions and talking to people and stuff like that. So at seed, it's sort of to a certain degree a bit of a numbers game, which is why there's a lot of networking involved and a lot of chat amongst a lot of different seed investors to try to get deal flow. And that includes a ton of different outbound facing things like demo days, and coffee chats, and introductions to founders through other founders and meetups and happy hours and all those various things. At series A, my view is that the sourcing machine or how those companies finds us is very different. And then at that point, those companies tend to have institutional investors at that point, which they get coaching from in order to raise series A which is a great thing. But it means for me, I need to be much more proactive and keeping those companies on my radar I need to start building a relationship six months out because the the connection between the Of Us isn't so happenstance based, it's much more deliberate. And then I need to have probably a little bit more of a view or a thesis on what the company is doing. Because I'm now going to be doing much more diligence and diving into the business model and various other things. And I find it harder to take a bet on big macro trends at series A versus it is at seed, because seed tends to be about, you know, smart people and products and stuff like that, which I think series A is as well on top of sort of some of the metrics and stuff that we talked about.

Mike Gelb 14:32 So when you're doing your outreach and outbound, are you reaching out to companies directly, that are on your radar to like establish relationships, maybe six months out when they'd be raising A's? Or are you almost like relying on your network of seed investors to you know, think of you when they're raising a series A,

Claire Fauquier 14:52 it's both I'd say so I typically have a couple theses. I'm working through and I We'll both you know, check in with my seed investor friends make sure they know the theses that I'm working on make sure they know the types of companies I'm looking at. So that hopefully I'm one of the first calls when one of their portfolio companies is raising and or thinking about raising. But I'll also keep tabs on companies I hear about that are funded or companies that are in adjacent spaces to companies I've already chatted with, or, you know, various other trends that sort of pick up on what I've looked at. And so I'd say it's, like everything in venture there's no perfect process, but it's it's a combo of sort of the network in building up that network, planting the flag of our brand and telling people what we do and sort of hunting for some of the extraordinary opportunities that we can try to create a proprietary relationship with earlier on and other people

Mike Gelb 15:52 know that that that's fascinating, and something that we actually haven't really talked about at the series, a part about how you actually solve In the differences between sourcing at seed in series A, I'd love to learn a little bit more about your due diligence process,

Claire Fauquier 16:05 probably the same priorities as it isn't seed, it's just a little bit more of a digging process. And so at Highland, we think about people market and product. And in that org, so people have to be there for sure. Right. So we have to believe that these founders are the founders we want to work with for the next five to 10 years, we have to believe they're the extraordinary people that are going to tackle the problem they've laid out in front of them. And we do a lot of testing in that area. And that can be over a number of different calls. That's a ton of reference checks, that is speaking with a lot of members of the team to hear about their perception of the founders and the leadership that exists at the company. And so a lot of sort of pressure tested on that side. Market is probably the next most important thing and then product thereafter. And it kind of follows that that same methodology that I just mentioned, in that we need it to be really big market, we need to test the market, we need to make sure that the company is well suited to enter that market to really take market share. That sort of, you know, a lot of customer calls, a lot of industry calls a lot of speaking to people in our network who might have a proprietary view that we might want to tap into. And then on the product side, that's really digging into the business model. And that can be everything from you know, go to market strategy, monetization strategy, the financial model and the various things that are wrapped up in that.

Mike Gelb 17:36 What do you mean by testing the market?

Claire Fauquier 17:38 I think it starts sort of top down probably and so the top that is really the total addressable market and so right so that needs to be a huge market but then when I say test, I think there's sort of a big difference between you know, the headline Tam number but then what's actually addressable for a company and how much they can really take market share. From incumbents create market share if that's the type of market that they're in, this is something new. How much they can actually deliver and the value and then the type of customer set that would resonate with the product, sort of sort of mean poking holes in that way getting a little bit late deeper of a layer than just sort of the overall Tam number.

Mike Gelb 18:18 Got it. Got it. So of course Coronavirus, very top of mind, you know, how has this impacted how you invest? Yeah,

Claire Fauquier 18:26 you know, we're really lucky. Hyland has a 33 year old fund, and so has a very stable lineup of investors. And so we're certainly open for business. Our portfolio companies are in a really safe spot right now, which is very lucky for us. And so we're we're in a good place. We're certainly open for business. We're looking for deals. We are in process with one deal right now, which, you know, hopefully will close but TBD So it definitely means that we're willing to do deals, I think where it changes for us is that the bar is just that much higher now. It's just a little bit harder to get deals done. It has to be something that's really, really special and something unique and something that we think has real lasting and staying potential because the capital markets are a little bit tighter. And we can't necessarily just rely on, you know, multiple rounds of funding for the next couple years. Not that we necessarily want to do that before anyway. And it probably means that we will take advantage of some extraordinary situations like companies that had maybe unfortunate funding structures in the past or maybe have investors who are unable to fund future rounds of companies or things like that, where we can get into some companies that we think again, are really high quality companies, but might have some advantageous financing situations for us. How's

Mike Gelb 19:55 the diligence process slowed down at all or are you not seeing as many new companies These days,

Claire Fauquier 20:00 we're certainly writing checks and the diligence process has probably stayed the same. It's just sort of the bar and the threshold of the companies we look at has gotten higher. So it has to be a pretty special company or a pretty special situation. For us to invest it doesn't necessarily mean that you know, the diligence process has changed or that we evaluate things differently. It just means that you know, we have to feel something really great

Mike Gelb 20:27 how has Coronavirus changed your focuses or your thesis says that you develop prior to Coronavirus.

Claire Fauquier 20:35 I don't know if I have anything right now, other than some views I had before Coronavirus that I feel like have strengthened. And so and I sort of want to make that distinction because I think it's easy to go to some of the obvious things like remote work and remote education and things like that because, you know, why wouldn't everybody focus on those kinds of things and I think there's a ton of opportunity there. Say that I sort of had these before that have strengthened in that. On the e commerce side. I'm incredibly bullish on the pipes and infrastructure behind e commerce because I think there's just so much opportunity on that side. And when we look at ecommerce penetration, it's incredibly low compared to retail sales. And that's something that I was really focused on before Coronavirus. Now I'd say I'm even more bullish on it, because I think that every retailer who's got a significant portion of their sales from brick and mortar is now thinking about how they can make their eecom more efficient. So I think in a way, you could sort of make the argument that ecommerce has taken a bit of a hit right now and it will take a bit of a hit because discretionary income probably will tighten, which is probably true. But when I think about the next five to 10 years or so, I just think there's absolutely no way that ecommerce won't grow. It's just so inevitable to me that we're doing things in a much more digitally connected way. So that's kind of one example, I'd say. And then I sort of had a bit of a thesis before on some SMB software and some workplace collaboration software and tools. And that seems to be strengthened, like times 100, because we're all working remote, and it seems to be working somewhat. Okay. And so I like that kind of stuff. And you and I had talked about this offline. I like that kind of stuff, because I think some of the consumer habits and patterns match the consumer side a little bit more for SMBs, rather than enterprise. And that sales cycle is really appealing, but can create some really nice sticky businesses kind of like the enterprise side. So it's sort of this like nice marriage. And so those views obviously are very strongly held now because I think we're seeing that even if we all can go back to work, and I mean, us who can work remotely unfortunate ones who can do that. It might take us a long time to do that until we feel really comfortable going into offices or getting on planes or taking Ubers everywhere. If we don't necessarily have to So therefore, I think these tools sort of, you know, give us greater flexibility. For example, I'm seeing chatter amongst some VCs that people are trying to think about what the next tool is beyond zoom, because we're sort of already seeing some of the limitations on zoom. Right? And so sort of, if we're already as VCs in a way and and technologists of early tech trends, I think thinking about what comes after zoom, right? A lot of the corporate world is sort of just getting on to zoom but we're sort of thinking, Okay, now what, how can we make this better? And I'm sure there are founders that are working on it, I would love to talk to them.

Mike Gelb 23:35 I hear you I think there's a lot of innovation that's coming in video communication, what are what are maybe some other businesses or or even business models that you're focused on,

Claire Fauquier 23:44 that you can't one remains something that I focus on, especially in the consumer space. Otherwise, I'm starting to look now and have been before anything that can be sort of an end consumer experience through a marketplace or through A digital distribution channel. This is incredibly cliche, but I've been chatting with a telemedicine provider for the last six months or so. And now it sort of really accelerated my conversations with them because again, this seems like something that is not going to go away from a telemedicine perspective, I

got sort of lucky that I've been talking to the company before.

But that's an example I think of my lens on consumer, which is really to think about anything that impacts the life of the end consumer. And I think about that in both terms of the sort of end, you know, consumer with their discretionary income, but also SMBs or mom and pops or small businesses are sort of the prosumer mentality. And that's interesting to me. And so that category is probably what a lot of people are looking at right now which is things like digital health, digital finance, digital education, workplace tools, and Selling tools, as I mentioned, for small proprietors, and mom and pops and stuff like that in the marketplaces sort of behind that the two sided marketplaces.

Mike Gelb 25:08 Thanks for that. Those are quite a few exciting trends. I wanted to also touch on a point that you've made a couple times now about you've been focused on products that are for small medium businesses, and how small medium businesses purchase behavior are more similar to consumers than enterprise. I wonder if you would mind elaborate of what you mean by that. That'd be great.

Claire Fauquier 25:31 I think about it in terms of, you know, the SMB, and consumer, I think, is sort of limited in their budget. The way that they buy is very different from an enterprise it typically is a self serve process. It is typically handled, I would assume, by a marketing department content lead often things like Shopify and Etsy and those storefronts are often attracting consumers through commerce. intent through digital marketing, that kind of stuff versus having a an enterprise sales force with, you know, six to 12 months selling period, and really lumpy contracts that need to go through 456 layers of review within a company before they can get implemented. Similarly, the adoption process of the product tends to look much more like consumer adoption process, sometimes a little bit heavier with sort of a bit of an onboarding and a sort of customer success person or that kind of thing. But we also that in the consumer world, versus maybe, you know, a two to six month pilot program or implementation or service fee implementation or something like that on the enterprise software side of things. So I think that my sort of view on that is that these businesses hopefully can scale a little bit more quickly. The average contract values tend to be much smaller, obviously than enterprise for obvious reasons. You need much more volume, but because they're sort of self serve, they tend to be one through digital marketing and content and stuff like that they sort of think and act a little bit more like a consumer, rather than having sort of a real enterprise sales engine within the company.

Mike Gelb 27:11 Thanks for that. I think that's really well put about small medium businesses and how their buying patterns are similar to consumer.

Claire Fauquier 27:17 I'm just trying to stretch the definition of consumer. Absolutely.

Mike Gelb 27:21 After you invest in a company. Let's talk about how you've worked with the founders and businesses. And what do you see first time founders after raising a series A might struggle with the most

Claire Fauquier 27:31 Yeah, so the first tenant I'd say is that we both have to be excited to work with each other. I've seen the best partnerships and the best way for me to add value and I think vice versa for a founder to feel comfortable to come and ask for advice and resources and the network that we can bring is if we both are excited to work together. I think the moment a founder thinks about it as a check in the moment the investor thinks about it as a money making opportunity then you You've lose some of that magic, which I think is special about this business and kind of gets back to what you mentioned in your first question, which is that I don't think of this necessarily as just finance. It's a lot more fun than that. But I think that, for first time founders, the best thing we can bring that I want to emphasize is the role of an institutional investor and an institutional board member. Right? So it's not my job, in my view, to be changing product or changing, you know, go to market strategy, or trying to change the founders view of the vision of the company, right? Like, that's the founders job. They're living this so much more than I am living and breathing the problem. And I've invested in the founder, because I'd be up most face that most faith that they are the best person to be running the company and to tackling this challenge. And I want them to know that I believe in them, right. However, there's a lot of stuff that a founder has to worry about on sort of the corporate business building side, that user Don't think about. When you're building a product, right, or when you're launching a business or when you're trying to get customers that we can do, and we've seen over and over and over again, and that's things like governance and thinking about how to hire the right people at the right time, how to think about corporate layers, and how to think about the hierarchy within the company, how to think about when to enable managers to take over certain roles versus others, how to think about fundraising and cash management and how to think about, you know, the long term views and strategy of the business and to be a partner to make those decisions with them. It's sort of how to anticipate all of those things from a board level that the founder might not necessarily know because they've probably never been through before. Whereas with our fun, we've got a 33 year history. And amongst that we've got I think, 47, IPOs and 100 ish, m&a outcomes or something like that. And so we should have seen some of this stuff and I think the value that we can bring is to bring that sort of knowledge of pattern recognition. So we don't have to reinvent the wheel for the founder every time, we tend to be very even keeled and very steady, because we've seen so much in the past too, right. And so our view is really to be a partner to the founder, in both good times and bad times, because I think we all recognize that even with all those great exits and outcomes, there's never a company that only has good times that just doesn't exist. And so that sort of even keel of seeing things for many, many years, I think can be very helpful in balancing for a founder when they realize that we're, you know, their partner and we can be the first call and things are not going well because they're

Unknown Speaker 30:40 not by themselves. That makes a lot of sense.

Mike Gelb 30:43 What is one thing that you would change when it came to venture capital?

Claire Fauquier 30:48 I wish I wish there was a way for

founders and investors to test out their working relationship before they started working together. That's sort of a real like touchy feely pie in the sky. Kind of one. But I do believe that there is a kind of magic when an investor and a founder have a really good relationship. And I think that a lot of founders can get really turned off of VCs, if they have the wrong experience or have the wrong investor in their company. And I've heard founders before, say, they you never want to take VC dollars or whatever, again, which is a totally fine thing to say. But oftentimes, I think it's because they've either had a mettlesome board member or you know, something hasn't quite gone the right way. And vice versa, I think for VCs, you know, sometimes there are certain founders who just have a certain working style and those things don't click and so maybe if I had to answer off the top of my head right now, it would be to have a way to sort of pressure tests the relationship before, you know, to date before getting married.

Mike Gelb 31:48 No, that makes sense. That makes sense. Yeah. Because of course, you know, it's a, as you talked about a lot on this show. It's not just a check. It's it's a relationship. You know, you're obviously going to be involved anywhere from five Five 710 years, I guess

Claire Fauquier 32:02 it sort of goes back to again, why a and b can be a fun stage because you can build a relationship with a founder for a year or two or so that's not quite the same as being in board meetings. But, you know, that's kind of fun to doing deals with founders when you've known them for a year or two.

Mike Gelb 32:17 Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. And also, in some ways, I'd imagine to just to kind of do on the pressure testing side talking to previous investors in the company, although they would probably sing the praises of the company and the founders. So it might be tough to, you know, but even just being able to maybe do a little bit diligence on how the board meetings actually go or, you know, just a little bit of of what that cadence is like, yeah,

Claire Fauquier 32:43 totally, we try to do the best we can, but there's a bit of a dance of no one wanting to show their cards too much. Of course,

Mike Gelb 32:50 of course. What's one book that inspired you personally, and one book that inspired you professionally, professionally,

Claire Fauquier 32:56 I keep going back to radical candor by Kim Scott. It's a Fantastic I think of thinking about the motivators and drivers of individual people. It's technically a book that is written for managers on how to be a good manager to their, to their employees. But I think it's so much more than that, to be honest, and it's taught me a lot, I think of interpersonal relationships and skills within a workplace, which is pretty great. And then on the personal side, I tend to skew to memoirs a lot. I love memoirs. And so I really like the glass Castle by Jeannette walls, and I really like educated by Tara Westover. I think those are

fantastic books.

Mike Gelb 33:39 Cool. That's great. And no one's mentioned any of these books before on the show. So very original, very original. What's one piece of advice that you have maybe for a founder that's raised a seed looking to raise an A, and are kind of in that stage of their business?

Claire Fauquier 33:53 I did lean on seed investors. They're there to help. I think that for My vantage point most often than not, founders don't rely on VCs enough. There's a reason why we're talking about all of this stuff. Like it's more than a check and whatever. And I think that founders are so good at being hard workers and crushing hours and stuff like that, but forget to ask for help sometimes. And investors are there for this exact thing, which I just mentioned, which is to be the institutional investor, they should be good at least at helping you raise a series A and so focus as much of your effort as possible on the business and get your investors to help you with the series a process.

Mike Gelb 34:41 I think it's a great piece of advice so founders put your investors to work well. Claire, thank you so much for coming on. This is a great conversation. I really enjoyed it.

Claire Fauquier 34:51 I didn't tell us some great questions. This was fun. Thank you.

Mike Gelb 34:54 And there you have it. It was such a treat having clear on I particularly enjoyed our conversation about the purchase. Be euro small and medium businesses. If you'd like to keep up with Claire, you can follow her on Twitter at Claire folk. Yeah, this will also be in the show notes. If you're enjoying the show. If you could please leave a review on the apple podcast app as it helps other folks find it. That would really be helpful. If you are a founder and working on something innovative. have a question you'd like to hear VCs or founders answer on the show. You can DM me and follow me on twitter at Mike galp. You can also follow for episode announcements at consumer VC for all episodes, please visit the consumer VC calm. Thanks again for listening folks, and please stay safe.