How is FI Different?
We think about business, and about fundraising, a little differently. First, we start with Mission: We start with the belief that for-profit entrepreneurialism can be a force...
for good in the world; that the Slow Food movement's call for "Good, Clean, Fair" food is right and just; that local investors and companies supporting other local companies can create a virtuous tornado of economic development; and that personal interactions between investors and entrepreneurs, across the lines of age and gender and class and ethnicity are a very good thing.
We think the idea that the purpose of business is solely to "increase shareholder value" is not only ridiculous, but dangerous. That thinking has the earth, and most of her people, in a sorry state.
Rather, your for-profit business can be an engine to organize and mobilize humans, treating each other humanely, to make the world a better place for each other.
Venture capitalists and Silicon Valley have brainwashed most folks into believing that the only businesses worth supporting are super-fast growth "unicorns", that everything else is "merely" a "lifestyle" business, whatever that means. That's bunk.
We'll take mainstreet, mom & pop, appropriately scaled businesses any day to grow (literally, in the soil!), invent, and deliver great products, increase jobs and local economic development, build community, and create wealth in pursuit of the American Dream.
Our BootStrapPlus approach to sensible business strategy offers an alternative to the unicorn-hunting orthodoxy of Silicon Valley. There are very good businesses and very good investments that aren't suited to the Venture Capital approach of high-risk/high-return business strategy, constant fundraising, ongoing cash losses, and unrelenting pursuit of exponential growth, fast exit, and outsized investor returns.
Px8 Impact Assessment
Our Px8 (pronounced "pix-ate") Impact Scoring System allows companies to think about many potential vectors for impact, choose a few relevant to their company, and assess company impact along eight vectors that all happen to start with the letter "P": Planet, People, Place, Product, Procurement, Production, Plan, & Pace.
We don't run cohorts. That means we don't limit the number of firms we'll deal with to some small pre-determined number. If you qualify and have a good chance of success, we'll work with you. And, you're not constrained to the cohort's timetable: you can move as quickly or as deliberately as you choose through the process.
No Rent Take
Unlike Incubators & Accelerators, we don't require the 3-8% of equity most take, nor do we require your physical presence (or rent!) in a co-working space.
Unlike Small Business Development Centers run by governments or universities, we take firms all the way through the process, and we have actual Investors! That said, we strongly encourage firms to avail themselves of the services of places like the City of Austin Small Business Program, Texas State's Small Business Development Center, SCORE Austin, or the Economic Growth Business Incubator, all of which provide valuable - but typically free - services.
Multiple Funding Sources
Unlike Banks, Credit Unions, Community Development Finance Organizations, and Online Lenders, we offer a variety of financial vehicles in addition to loans. There are dozens of ways to move money between investors and companies (and back again), including Royalty-Based Financing, Claim-on-Cash Flow Agreements, SEED & Series A Equity, Equity Buy-Backs, and others.
Small is Beautiful
Unlike typical Angel Networks and Venture Capital firms, we like small deals, and modest plans. We distrust a "portfolio theory" that intentionally drives super risky business decisions in hopes of a billion dollar payout. We'd rather have a collection of cash-flowing singles and doubles than lots of strike-outs and Casey at the Bat. We like "structured exits", where investors can get their money back without the company having to sell or go IPO.
Never a "Success Fee"
Unlike Crowdfunding sites, we don't take a "success fee" on the close of equity transactions, which some times runs 8-10% of the raise.
No Limited "Prize Pool"
And lastly, unlike PitchFest Contest Runners, we're at this all year (give or take a little vacation now and then). Our investment amount isn't limited to some prize pool, and the number of "winners" is only bounded by the number of winners that choose to work with us.
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Frequently Asked Questions about FI, Fundraising, Impact Investing