Justin Renfro – A better option than Venture Capital.
My next guest has worked in the startup funding industry for over 12 years. In this episode, we talk about the challenges of raising venture capital including the time and the unfortunate number of “no’s” you get before you maybe get one “yes”. If you can’t raise funds from a bank, venture capital, or private equity, then what options remain? We answer that question in this episode. Please welcome Justin Renfro.
Payback Time Podcast
A Podcast on Financial Independence. Hosted by Sean Tepper. If you want to learn how to escape the rat race, create passive income, or achieve financial freedom, you came to the right place.
- (00:43) – Show intro and background history
- (02:45) – Deeper into his business model
- (08:12) – Understanding the Wefunder platform
- (11:50) – Few comments about startup funders’ options
- (14:47) – How to facilitate access to funding and investing in potential business
- (16:19) – How does the platform make money?
- (18:36) – Deeper into the platform model
- (20:24) – How founders can raise capital from the investors in the platform
- (23:44) – Does the platform actively promote the businesses’ campaign pages?
- (24:45) – What kind of risks do the investors face
- (25:58) – How the platform brings founders and investors together
- (29:03) – A key takeaway from the guest
- (34:07) – What is the worst advice he ever received
- (35:52) – What is the best advice he ever received
- (38:56) – Guest contacts
[00:00:04.160] – Intro
Hey, this is Sean Tepper, the host of Payback Time, an approachable and transparent podcast on financial independence. I’d like to bring on guests to hear authentic stories while giving you actionable takeaways you can use today. Let’s go. My next guest has worked in the startup funding industry for over 12 years. In this episode, we talk about the challenges of raising venture capital, including the time and the unfortunate number of noes before you maybe get one yes. If you can’t raise funds from a bank, venture capital, or private equity, then what other options remain? We answer that question in this episode. Please welcome Justin Renfrow. Justin, welcome to the show.
[00:00:45.150] – Justin
Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.
[00:00:47.350] – Sean
Glad to have you here. So why don’t you kick us off and tell us about your background?
[00:00:51.020] – Justin
Yeah. So I have been an entrepreneur my entire life. I went to college for entrepreneurship. When I left college, I went straight into startups in San Francisco. And I actually got my start at a nonprofit called Kiva that did zero % interest micro loans for entrepreneurs all over the world. And I was tasked with launching Kiva in the United States. So for the past 12 years, I’ve been working all around the country, working in different categories of startup financing. So a deep history and expertise in startup financing in the different avenues and options available to entrepreneurs. Six years ago in 2017, I left Kiva to start my own boat charter business in San Diego. I actually own and operate four boats in San Diego, and I’ve run over a thousand boat parties. So I dabbled in entrepreneurship myself. And my core team from Kiva moved over to Wefunder, and I joined them four years ago. So over the past four years, I’ve led partnerships and business development at Wefunder. Wefunder has historically been focused on equity, so going and finding cool startups and helping them raise capital, generally in the seed stage to series A stage.
[00:02:11.650] – Justin
But earlier this year, I made a huge pivot, and I’m now leading a revenue based financing division at Wefunder. So rolling out a new product for startup financing under the Wefunder umbrella, trying to expand options in today’s fundraising market, especially startup investing has taken a huge hit. So I’m really excited about what I’m working on now in terms of bringing alternative options to the market and helping more founders access the capital they need to be successful.
[00:02:45.710] – Sean
Thank you for your background there. Could you dive in a little bit further to this product you are currently working on?
[00:02:51.510] – Justin
Yeah. So revenue based financing is a way that startups can raise capital in a way that investors can invest in startups. And the way it works is investors get a 2 X return over a 4 to 5 year anticipated payback. And the founder repays on a quarterly percentage of revenues. So let’s say 5 % of quarterly revenues get distributed back to investors until they’ve received a 2 X with a target payback of 4 to 5 years. It’s fundamentally different than equity. So equity, if you raise on a safe or if you raise in a convertible note in almost all of angel investing and almost all of venture capital, is predicated on an exit. And typically an exit is a large liquidation event for investors that generates a 10 X, a 500 X, a 1,000 X back to investors. But really, the only way in which equity is liquidated, so turned back to the investors, is if the business gets acquired or if the business IPOs. Frankly, I’m not seeing a lot of exits. I’m not seeing a lot of liquidations. I’m not seeing a lot of investors making money in startup investing. I think equity is in a lot of ways broken because of how it’s structured.
[00:04:12.140] – Justin
This new format sits in the middle of VCs and banks, and the key component of it is liquidity. So investors are getting liquidity. So now you have an asset class where your target annualized rate of return is 20 % to 30 %. Now you’re competing with real estate investing and stock market and alternative forums where it’s like, all right, now we can have a realized rate of return on an annual basis, and we can funnel startup investments into cool small businesses that we really believe in. So I think it’s a very cool way and a cool alternative for both startups to think about how to raise capital as well as for investors to think about how to invest in startups as an alternative to equity.
[00:05:00.110] – Sean
This sounds like a total win win. And I agree with you because I’ve seen and I’ve even heard some investors talk about they’re completely illiquid. I think there was even a comment, it could have been from Peter Teal or somebody in his friend circle said that the majority of his net worth is tied up in equity of businesses in those businesses. In those businesses, if they’re not producing cash flow and there’s no distribution periods, he’s not making any money. Again, he’s probably got money in savings and whatnot, but it’s all in startups. But in this model, and just reiterate, is it a 5 % return per year?
[00:05:34.910] – Justin
No. So the founder pays 5 % of revenues every single quarter until investors have realized the two X. Got it. If the startup is growing very quickly and their revenues are high, they’re going to pay off faster and investors might get paid back in three years. And if the business grows slower, it might be a six year payback. So that’s the risk profile. It’s like jobbing? Are you investing in a business that’s going to grow really fast? If so, you’re going to get paid back that two X faster and realize a higher annualized interest rate on those small business investments.
[00:06:11.460] – Sean
I love it. So it’s a win win from a motivation standpoint. And that’s why you’re getting into this seed round, probably maybe later seed, like there’s proven revenue. That way an investor knows, like, if I put in 100 grand, I’m going to get 200 grand back. But the question is, how fast am I going to get it back? And it’s ideal if you invest in a business that’s really increasing revenue year over year. Let’s back up a second. Month over month, quarter over quarter, then they know, okay, so based on the trajectory, I can get that 200 grand back in not five years, but hopefully two years or even less.
[00:06:50.050] – Justin
Correct. Yeah. There’s two things I look for, and one is revenue history. Because if you have revenue history, you can have a better framework for revenue projections. So this entire model is predicated on revenue projections. And the best way to project is to look at the history. I really believe that companies that are post revenue that have a good understanding of their economics are a better fit for this. The second thing I look for is the use of funds. Generally, it’s like we need growth capital that’s going to increase revenues. This does not apply only to tech startups on the Coast. I was talking to a small female black owned beauty business in Tampa, Florida, and she said, I don’t have a great credit score. I can’t qualify for an SBA loan. I’ve got 300 customers that are ready to buy product. I need capital for inventory. I was like, There’s no better way for me to feel good about an investment than loading her up with inventory if she’s got a pipeline of people to buy that inventory. So a great use of funds really compelled me to invest. So I think that how the capital is being leveraged, how it’s going to increase revenues is a huge vantage point for me and how to evaluate these as well as revenue history.
[00:08:12.210] – Sean
Sure. What I’d like to do is start diving into the types of companies you guys look for or look to add to your portfolio. Just a quick question here. I’m on wefunder. Com. Is that the correct URL?
[00:08:27.480] – Justin
[00:08:28.370] – Sean
Yes. Awesome. And we’ll let you promote all the hot places people can reach out to. But I always like to when the guest is talking, I like to pull up their site, take a look. But that to the audience real quick is wefunder. Com. But yeah, let’s dive into the types of business models you guys are looking for.
[00:08:45.090] – Justin
Yeah. So wefunder was designed to be an open platform, a marketplace connecting entrepreneurs with investors. And we’ve always been very intentional around the democratization of startup investing, both on the founder side and on the investor side. And one of the things that made this possible was in 2017, there was a law passed with the jobs act that allowed for unaccredited investors to participate in startup investing. Previously, that was not accessible unless you are an accredited investor, e. G. A rich person. We really operate on the ethos of let your friends and family invest, let your customers invest, let your community invest. You have strength in numbers. You have a lot of people that can not only invest but also benefit from your success. Let’s open up those gates to startup investing. That’s really the ethos of we funder. We’re a public benefit corporation. And for that reason, we’ve generally had a pretty wide portfolio. If you go to different angel networks around the country, I’ve had a lot of experience with this. One thing you’ll pick up on is all investors have a thesis. I look for businesses that are making the climate better. I have an impact thesis.
[00:10:07.860] – Justin
I have a money thesis. And it’s like, we really aspire to have a flavor for everyone, a bunch of different types of entrepreneurs fundraising. Now, through the lens of revenue based financing and the focus on revenue history and growth capital, that could really apply to a lot of different types of companies. Tech, SaaS. There’s a lot of companies in tech that are unsexy. Maybe they have a hardware component, or maybe there’s a service component that isn’t attractive to VCs. And they struggle to raise capital from angels because all VCs are looking for the same thing. It’s like enterprise SaaS, venture scale, grow super quickly, be a billion dollar company. And that’s just not possible for a lot of companies. So even though your tech, it doesn’t mean your venture scale and can get to a billion dollars. Maybe your market is too small. So I think for unsexy tech where it’s like, hey, this is a healthy business, they have good economics, they’re growing every year, maybe it’s not a huge market, but it’s a big enough market for them to generate double their revenue every single year and get investors their two X. But I think you can also look at mainstream, a restaurant expanding from one location to two locations.
[00:11:25.150] – Justin
You could look at consumer.
[00:11:26.370] – Sean
[00:11:27.590] – Justin
A craft coconut smoothie that is looking to go to nationwide distribution through a strategic distributor. There’s so many applications for growth capital and healthy revenue, economically sound businesses that are in this country. So I’m very intentionally industry agnostic from that vantage point.
[00:11:51.000] – Sean
I like that as well. I’ve talked to quite a few venture capitalists, and as you know, they can be so specific. We only focus on fintech SaaS or EdTech SaaS or Bio Pharma Tech and nothing else.
[00:12:09.050] – Justin
[00:12:10.250] – Sean
Yeah, exactly. And everybody’s disqualified. There’s so many noes, which I get. And I know that the VC market, when you look at tech companies, only about 1 % actually get venture capital. So I see a mistake where there’s startup founders that I would say, this is not in all cases, but in many cases, they’re not that resourceful. They’re immediately putting all their time and energy into raising funds. When I’m like, there’s a 1 % chance you’re going to raise funds. Why don’t you go find some way to prove your product or generate some money, even if it’s a service element first, prove the concept. And that’s where I think somebody like you would show a little more interest to be like, Okay, so you’re showing some growth here. You maybe don’t have a highly scalable tech, but you’re proving to grow revenue month over month, quarter over quarter, year over year. You might qualify with this funding model.
[00:13:05.720] – Justin
Just pragmatically, a lot of businesses don’t have a $10 billion market size and the ability to get to $100 million in revenue and the upside to get investors $1,000 X on their investment. That is just such a sliver of the entrepreneurship that’s happening in this country. And I believe that for 99 % of businesses, venture capital is not relevant because of how venture capital is structured. Venture capital is for a very specific type of company, but because they get all the noise, they dominate the sound bites, they’re the most talked about. All these companies just assume that that’s the default. But that’s actually a massive trap. And it’s like, hey, there’s a more honest, there’s a more relevant, there’s a more sensible suite of solutions out there that aren’t well known because they’re not in the spotlight, but actually make more sense for the normal businesses in our country that have good economics are growing. I think that a 2 X return for investors is a great risk return. It’s a great exchange. The liquidity comes back where it’s like, Oh, by year two, I have my principal back. By year three, I’ve realized the 2 X.
[00:14:25.510] – Justin
That’s not happening in venture capital. I think that’s more attractive to retail investors across the country. So with this audience of retail investors, I think it’s like, You look at this actually against what might I get from the stock market? It’s like, this competes with what you might get from the stock market. You’re not just out there throwing Hail Mary’s and swinging for the fences.
[00:14:47.490] – Sean
Right. Yeah. I was looking at that because venture capital, you’ve got so many strikeouts and then you get that 1,000 extra turn, which is so rare. Whereas this, it’s like you guys are doing the hard work. You’re finding businesses that are tried and true, they’re making money, then your LPs, do you call them all investors, whether they’re retail, sophisticated, accredited? Do you just call them all LPs or what do you call them?
[00:15:15.070] – Justin
[00:15:15.880] – Sean
Why not? You put them all in the same… Which makes sense. Yeah.
[00:15:20.930] – Justin
We’re just trying to expand access and get more startup investing happening in the world and doing it in ways that make more sense.
[00:15:31.560] – Sean
Got it. So your limited partners, they already have the expectation that, hey, we’re not going to swing the fences on something super risky that maybe you’ll make some money back in 10 years. This is like, hey, we’re looking to get you a two X return over the next few years, and we’re going to do the hard work for you and find some solid businesses. You want to get started?
[00:15:49.780] – Justin
That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. And it’s just like, hey, let’s go for base hits. Yeah, that’s it. I’m a base hits guy.
[00:15:57.060] – Sean
I’m a movie guy, so I’m going to revert this back to Moneyball. It’s like, we don’t need the guy that’s going to hit a grand slam every hundredth swing. We want somebody gets on base. As Brad Pitt’s character in that movie, he gets.
[00:16:09.190] – Justin
On base. Giambi is more sexy, but that guy that just takes a lot of walks is pretty sexy to the GM, and I love that. We’ll take that conceptually.
[00:16:19.310] – Sean
He gets on base. That’s right. That is awesome. Okay, let’s talk about how do you guys make money?
[00:16:26.040] – Justin
Yeah. So we just take a flat percentage of the money raised through the platform. So obviously, there’s a lot of operations and legal and logistics and collecting the investments and managing the repayments. So we just charge a flat rate to the founder of 6 % for the facilitation of this product. And for founders, it’s really just like, put your listing up and go cycle this to people that you know. Allow your customers to invest, allow your friends and family to invest. So a big part of this is social underwriting where it’s like, before we open it up to our network of investors, the founder has already raised a minimum of 50,000 from their own network, intensifying that social pressure. Social underwriting is a huge part of this model where it’s like, if we write the check, the founder is going to be less inclined to pay us back than if we write this check alongside a huge portion of their network that’s participating in the fundraise.
[00:17:30.140] – Sean
I love that. So that’s a qualifier. They need to have already raised capital from people who are close to them.
[00:17:37.680] – Justin
Right. A minimum of 50,000 from their immediate community before we open it up to our community of investors that come to the we funder and look for deal flow.
[00:17:47.400] – Sean
Got it. And you said 6 % is your…
[00:17:49.910] – Justin
That’s our take on the founder side for the facilitation.
[00:17:54.300] – Sean
Got it. And is that on, let’s just use a nice round number such as So.
[00:18:00.230] – Justin
Round number would be like $100,000 investment from the founder, we send them $94,000 and they pay back $200,000.
[00:18:09.430] – Sean
Got it. Okay. So you guys are paid $6,000 in that case.
[00:18:13.500] – Justin
Yeah. And it sounds like expensive capital, but if you actually pull that out over four to five years, it becomes very competitive with other debt options out there. Again, our target is to get to 15 to 25 % annualized rate of return across the entire portfolio for investors. And that’s what founders are paying in an interest rate if you were to look at it through a simple term loan.
[00:18:36.400] – Sean
Got it. And that’s what we do with Tykr. We’re not your model, but our investors are looking to get 15 % or more in the market. So this is very much in line with what you’re talking about there. Nice expectations there. But at the same time, I look at the big win for the founder. The founders are looking to raise capital. They need to accelerate. They’re getting nose from the bank. They’re getting nose from VCs. Where else do you go? Private equity is you and far between unless you got a manufacturing company or accounting firm that wants to be turned around in three years. But yeah, you’re definitely a good option.
[00:19:13.820] – Justin
Yeah, it’s designed to sit in the middle of debt and equity VCs and banks. An alternative option that has elements of VC, elements of debt, and is positioned to compete on both ends of.
[00:19:31.210] – Sean
The spectrum. Let’s take a quick commercial break. Do you feel like stock investing is too confusing, too time consuming, or too risky? It doesn’t have to be. If you ever considered investing on your own but you don’t know where to start, I welcome you to check out Tykr. Tykr guides you through your investment journey by steering you toward safe investments and away from risky investments. There were two main reasons why I created Tykr. Number one, I wanted to remove emotions from investing. In other words, I wanted a software to make buying and selling decisions for me so I don’t have to. Number two, I wanted to save time. Analyzing stocks can take hours, if not days, and I didn’t want to spend all day looking at the computer. I have other hobbies in life I’d rather be enjoying. If you’re interested, you can get started with a free trial. Visit Tykr. Com. That’s TYKR. Com. Again, Tykr. Com. What I’d like to do next is walk through the steps. This will be good to know for the listeners who have a business and they’re wanting to raise capital, this will give them a good idea.
[00:20:33.970] – Sean
What are the steps? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or A through Z or whatever it is. Could you walk us through those?
[00:20:40.130] – Justin
Yeah. So the first step is to create a campaign page. So that’s basically where you upload your pitch deck, you talk about your business, you promote what you’re doing and why you’re raising capital. So once you have a campaign page, you’re able to privately cycle that link to the campaign page to investors in your network. So getting your friends and family, your immediate network, your customers to invest. And then once you hit 50,000, then it opens up to we funders network of investors where anyone can participate and invest in your company. That’s really the simplified process of getting set up on wefunder. You do have to file a Form C with the SEC. Really, it’s just a checklist of legal jargon, date year incorporated, Board of Advisors, previous fundraisers, stuff like that. But it’s more of a checklist. And we have to do that before we send you the capital that’s been raised. But it is very simple to get started in that once you have a campaign page that tells the story of your business, you’re able to start shopping that to investors. And the beauty is that the investor experience is very sleek.
[00:21:50.120] – Justin
You can check out with a credit card, minimum of $100. It’s a very UX friendly method to capture investors in one centralized place. It really simplifies the fundraising process.
[00:22:05.530] – Sean
So this campaign page, I could literally go to that site as some random guy and be like, Okay, so I like the business. This is cool. I’m going to take my credit card, swipe it for $1,000 and expect to get a two X return over some time frame. It’s as easy as that.
[00:22:22.080] – Justin
[00:22:22.990] – Sean
Oh, that’s amazing. Wow.
[00:22:24.950] – Justin
And that’s what founders are paying for with the 6 % is basically the facilitation of both the intake of the money and the facilitation of the repayments until investors get it.
[00:22:35.420] – Sean
To X. Got it. And for the audience out there, give you guys comparison, usually a VC firm has got a two and 20 rule, 2 % management fee, but then there’s 20 % they take on the back end of anything IPO or sell the business, which is pretty heavy chunks. You guys are flat 6 % across the board.
[00:22:54.170] – Justin
Correct. Yeah. Okay.
[00:22:56.000] – Sean
So the steps are really easy in comparison to going through a venture capital process. I’ve talked to VC firms that can be like 10 rigorous stages over two months, and then you maybe get some money at the end of that cycle. So this is a pretty sweet little process you’ve got.
[00:23:13.790] – Justin
Yes and no. I would say yes in the sense that the set up is very easy. No in the sense that you still have to go talk to investors. Talking to investors takes time. Being able to facilitate the campaign page and have that dialog with folks that are interested in investing, regardless of whether it’s equity or revenue based financing, it is a lift. Fundraising is hard. It’s never easy. We believe that we’re simplifying it, but we’re in no way making it easy. Fundraising is hard. Period.
[00:23:45.120] – Sean
Now it’s sitting, people can come with your platform, which already has an audience, I imagine. Do you guys then actively promote these campaign pages?
[00:23:55.820] – Justin
Yeah. So 20 % of the capital raised on average is coming from existing we fund our investors. So there is an acceleration from our investor base. This revenue based financing program is new. So I started it earlier this year. I’m still in stealth, I guess technically not in stealth now that I’m officially doing podcast about it. But the hope is that our retail investor base of over a million people is going to be very, very compelled by this deal structure. So we’re still working our way to investor marketing on this revenue based financing front. It’s one that I’m very optimistic and bullish on. But I think coming in, just having a loose framework for like, the heavy lifting is going to come from me, but I’m going to get accelerated by we funders based investors is a good expectation.
[00:24:45.780] – Sean
Sure. Okay. And you probably get this question. This is from the investor side is what risks am I facing of, let’s say I put in $25,000. Is there any risk? Do you set expectations? Well, you might not see any return.
[00:25:00.780] – Justin
Yeah. Certainly the case with equity. Equity that’s tied up in a liquid for 10 years. A lot can happen in 10 years and a lot of times those outcomes don’t happen. So I just feel like this is a much safer and more conservative risk profile for investors and that it is liquid immediately after the raise is completed where quarterly payments start immediately. But yeah, there’s risk with all forms of investment. There are very few options out there that come with no risk.
[00:25:35.940] – Sean
Zero risk, right? Yeah. Right on. Okay. And just to.
[00:25:40.290] – Justin
Back up. If the company does go under, there is no recourse. It’s unsecured. The investors are out of luck. And that is part of the reason why they’re getting a 2 X. So it’s like, again, trying to balance that risk reward, give enough incentive, knowing that there is potential downside.
[00:25:57.720] – Sean
Got you. And does an investor have the option… You’re like the middleman, you could say, do they have the option to say, hey, I like this business you’re presenting to me. Can I talk to the founder or the founding team or the C level? Do you facilitate that introduction?
[00:26:15.640] – Justin
Of course. We have a Q&A section on our website. It’s very easy to get in touch with our founders for interested investors. And I highly encourage investors to do that for companies, especially if you’re going to write a more serious check. If you’re sprinkling $1,000 checks out there, that’s one thing. But if you’re going to write a thoughtful $25,000 check in this format, I would certainly talk to the founder first.
[00:26:41.250] – Sean
Any listeners out there, if you’re looking to invest in a private company, we’re really big on… One reason we like public companies so much is they’ve proven themselves in the market quarter over quarter. They’re beating earnings expectations. There’s a lot of risk reduction. It doesn’t mean that private companies are… You should avoid them, but there should be more risk aversion. And one of those key factors is, okay, you’re putting a bigger chunk of change out there for this single company, which in this case, we funders brought to the table, I would like to get to know the founder. I want to know where they’re going. What does their product roadmap look like? What is their marketing roadmap look like? I would be asking those questions. And then if I feel more confident, that’s when I’d write a check.
[00:27:26.320] – Justin
Yeah, for sure. And my personal opinion is build a portfolio. Don’t put it all into one or two companies. I think best practice is figure out what you want to invest in any given time frame. So let’s say I want to invest $50,000 in 2023, I’m going to sprinkle that out over 10 to 20 bets. So I can write a five or 10K check. I might write a couple of 1K checks. I’ll give you an example. I’m working with a company right now, and they’re a pre revenue board game company. And they came to me and I go, I don’t know, it’s pre revenue. This is very early. I probably wouldn’t invest. And he said, Well, how could I switch the structure to pique your interests? I was like, Well, if you were to switch it from a 2 X to a 3 X, I think I might be interested to write a small check. T hat’s a good example where it’s like, I’m not going to write a big check into this pre revenue startup, but I’m going to write a small check on the premise of a 3 X return. So there’s different…
[00:28:28.390] – Justin
You can be very creative in how you evaluate these different opportunities where it’s like, Founder was pretty strong. I really liked him. He’s on top of it. I work with a lot of founders and I have a good sense for who has their shit together. And it’s like, all right, you couple that with a 3x? Yeah, I’ll take the shot. I like that.
[00:28:47.650] – Sean
Got it. So you guys can turn the dials a little bit from 2 X up to 3 X.
[00:28:51.830] – Justin
That’s great. So if you’re a pre revenue startup, I encourage you to go 3 X because I think that reflects the risk reward balance between you and investors.
[00:29:02.100] – Sean
Got it. Okay.
[00:29:03.680] – Justin
[00:29:04.260] – Sean
All right. Before we transition to the rapid fire round, is there maybe one key take away you can maybe give to the founder side of the raising capital or maybe the investor side if they’re looking to get some returns?
[00:29:18.800] – Justin
Yeah. On the founder side, I would just be very wary about how you’re thinking about venture capital, raising from angels, raising on equity. What are the expectations of the investors? What are they looking for? Does your business model really fit their business model? Is there alignment there? Because I think, again, venture capital is so much more narrow than people think. And I think that you should take a serious second guess as to whether that’s the path that you should be going down. The biggest risk being you’re just going to spin your wheels, you’re going to feel stuck in the mud, and you’re going to get really frustrated. And that’s a bad experience and something that I want to help prevent for more founders. So that would be my number one piece of advice is just taking a critical eye to how venture capital works if you’re looking to raise from angels and venture capitalists. On the investor side, I would double back on… I might even say the same thing where it’s like illiquid investments are bad, liquid investments are good. Be very, very thoughtful about if you’re investing on equity, there has to be a tangible pathway for you to get your money back.
[00:30:29.190] – Justin
You don’t want to donate and you don’t want to just have this money get indefinitely lost. So being really thoughtful about, all right, cool. What am I actually looking for? Are investor returns relevant to me? And how does this model of equity really work for me as an angel investor? So really just promoting that there are alternative options out there for both the founder and the investor side.
[00:30:57.590] – Sean
Sure. Awesome. Great advice there. Well, what I’d like to do next is jump into the rapid fire round. This is the part of the episode when we get to find out who Justin really is. If you can, try to answer each question in 15 seconds or less. You ready?
[00:31:11.960] – Justin
[00:31:12.720] – Sean
Let’s do it. All right. What is your favorite podcast?
[00:31:15.880] – Justin
My favorite podcast is Old Man and the Three. It’s hosted by J. J. Redick. I am a NBA nut, and he just goes super deep into NBA stories and characters and all the stuff NBA. I find many rich life lessons through the game of basketball.
[00:31:36.650] – Sean
I love it. I never heard of it. I’ll have to check it out. All right, next question. What is a recent book you read and would recommend?
[00:31:44.000] – Justin
That’s a good question. I hate to be a one trick pony, but it was playing for keeps. And it was a deep dive into the story and business of Michael Jordan. Again, I’m a basketball nut, grew up in Chicago, diehard Bulls, Jordan. And diving into that book was incredible in terms of all the nuanced business stuff around Michael Jordan. His greatness on the court is well known, but the greatness behind the scenes and having that unpacked in such an articulate way was an extremely fun read for me.
[00:32:24.910] – Sean
That’s another good one to look into. I love the Last Dance docu series on Netflix.
[00:32:30.090] – Justin
It’s like the Last Dance on steroids.
[00:32:33.000] – Sean
Yeah, it sounds like it. That sounds awesome. All right, speaking of movies, what is your favorite movie?
[00:32:39.780] – Justin
I think my favorite movie is The Hateful 8. I am a diehard Quentin Tarantino guy. Once Upon A Time in Hollywood is probably a close second. Jango and Chained, a close third. Inglourious Baster is a close fourth. Full Fiction is a close fifth. I’m a sucker for Quentin Tarantino. I love all his stuff. And that’s generally the movie that I can just cycle back and over again.
[00:33:06.090] – Sean
Rewatchable. A lot of his movies are very rewatchable. Jango, that’s my favorite of his. But everything you listed there, of course, classics.
[00:33:13.530] – Justin
[00:33:15.040] – Sean
Before we move on to the next question here, I have to ask, since you’re a big basketball fan, did you see Air?
[00:33:20.250] – Justin
I did. I was very, very honored that I had multiple people in my network. They all know I’m a huge Jordan guy and a huge NBA guy. So they told me that they reminded me of Matt Damon in terms of how I approach my work and might be one of the largest compliments I’ve ever had. So huge fan. It’s just entrepreneurship through the most beautiful lens.
[00:33:43.770] – Sean
It really was. I love your take on that. It really was an awesome movie. Everybody I’m talking to recently, you’ve got to watch here. It’s just so good.
[00:33:52.780] – Justin
Yeah. It’s entrepreneurship is a beautiful thing. And I think that movie just nails it. And just the beauty of risk and the beauty of entrepreneurship, the beauty of creativity, the beauty of ambition. Great call.
[00:34:07.420] – Sean
All right, we got a few business questions here. First up, what is the worst advice you ever received?
[00:34:13.380] – Justin
I was told that I needed to change my wardrobe in order to get promoted at my first corporate gig at LinkedIn. Shout out, Louis. Thank you. That led to a swift exit where I was like, That’s not for me. If dressing the part is required, I’ve always been a big fan of results or what matter and work with integrity. Those are the two cornerstones for me is results and integrity. Dress is not a cornerstone for me. Showed up wearing a metallic shirt. Unfortunately, we don’t have video, but I’m very intentional in the person that I am and how I live my life. I don’t believe that wearing Polos and slacks have any relevance to professional success.
[00:35:04.550] – Sean
I’m glad you spoke to the metallic shirt because this is audio only. And you saw the guitars and we quickly connected on the fact that we’re both metal heads through and through, although we listen to other music. But I remember showing up, the work from home deal, I was wearing a deaf leopard shirt. And this was a corporate call when I had a full-time. People are… It fortunately got the right response. Nobody was offended, but it’s like, All right, we got some 80s fans here. I like it.
[00:35:32.310] – Justin
Hey, if you wear tie dye, it brings about dialog. They call me the tie dye cowboy. That’s a nickname for me inside of Wefunder. And yeah, I really embrace individuality and creativity. I think that’s important to entrepreneurship. So it’s certainly an important fabric of WeFund er.
[00:35:52.110] – Sean
Nice. All right, let’s flip that equation. What is the best advice you ever received?
[00:35:58.430] – Justin
I would just put it through the general lens of patience. I don’t know if I have a specific tag line for patience, but I’ve been encouraged. I have a very boisterous personality. I’m very quick results, action oriented, results focused, and certain things do require patience. And I think that that’s an important signal for my personality. It’s like a counterbalance. It’s like in the back of your mind to think about it. Patience has been an important principle for me throughout my career, and I’ve benefited from patience. The other thing I would say that may not be professionally focused, although I do think it leads into professionalism is I read an article back in 2014 about gratefulness. The outlet for showing gratefulness on a day to day basis to just write three things that you’re thankful for every single day. I started doing that in 2014. I still do it today. I actually wrote a book about it last year. So I’m very positive on writing and intention and gratefulness in the day to day. So that article, I don’t remember what it was or where I read it, it was literally just like, write three things you’re grateful for.
[00:37:15.480] – Justin
And I picked it up. It was sticky and I stuck with it. And I think it’s really benefited me.
[00:37:21.450] – Sean
I really love that advice. I think a lot of people out there could really learn a lot from that. Number one, being patience and two, being grateful for what you have. I like to use the phrase zoom out. Essentially, what it means is zoom out of your situation. If you’re focused on you and what you’re dealing with and you’re frustrated and you’re complaining or whatever it is, zoom out, see the bigger picture. What else is going on around you that is a thousand times worse that it should hopefully quickly calibrate that mentality to be like, Wow, I actually have it pretty good.
[00:37:54.600] – Justin
For sure. Lsd is my preferred outlet for the Zoom out, although in the day to day writing is my outlet for Zoom out. I think if you write, it’s a forcing function for you to take a step back and see the big picture, which it’s just a very effective tactic that I found.
[00:38:13.750] – Sean
Right on. All right. And last question, here’s the time machine question. If you could go back in time to visit your younger self, what age would you visit and what would you say?
[00:38:23.610] – Justin
I would probably go find myself at 11 and be like, Let’s go on some fucking hikes. Let’s go experience nature. I have no regrets about my desire to just consume my entire life with basketball in my early age, but I am a complete nature obsessive in my life today. And I wish I would have been more open to hiking and nature experiences when I was in my early teens. I love it.
[00:38:55.520] – Sean
All right. And where can the audience reach you?
[00:38:59.570] – Justin
So on LinkedIn, my name is Justin Renfrow, Good Vibes, it’s my tagline. And you can email me at Justin@wefunder. Com. I would be happy to chat if you’re a founder, exploring a capital raise, or if you’re an investor looking to invest on wefunder, I would be happy to connect with you.
[00:39:19.580] – Sean
Awesome. Well, Justin, I really enjoyed your time. Really love hearing about this fundraising option as well as another way for investors to make some money. So thanks again for.
[00:39:28.610] – Justin
Your time. Thank you for having me. I had a blast.
[00:39:31.130] – Sean
All right, we’ll see you. Cool. Thanks. Hey, I’d like to say thank you for checking out this podcast. I know there’s a lot of other podcasts you could be listening to, so thanks for spending some time with me. Also, if you have a moment, could you please head over to Apple podcast and leave a review? The more reviews we get, the more Apple will share this podcast with the world. So thanks for doing that. And last thing, if you do hear any stocks mentioned on this podcast, please keep in mind this podcast is for entertainment purposes only. Please do not make a buy or sell decision based solely on what you hear. All right, thanks for your time. Talk to you later. See you.
Please check out our previous episode with Russ Morgan on Top 3 Ways to Create Passive Income