[quote style=”boxed”]I walk a lot. It clears the brain and helps me focus on core problems. I get off my shuttle a couple stops early to have more walking time. It really makes a difference.[/quote]
Nathan Beckord is the CEO of Foundersuite, a comprehensive productivity solution for entrepreneurs. For the past ten years, Beckord has worked with over 150 startups, serving as interim CFO, Business Developer, and Advisor through his consulting business, VentureArchetypes.
Beckord specializes in advising early stage Internet, B2B software, mobile and consumer product startups and in the past has worked with several crowdfunding companies, including Kickstarter and Appbackr. Currently, he is on the Advisory Boards of five startup companies, where he helps shape the business strategy and make introductions to investors and partners and prepares companies for acquisition.
In addition, Beckord hosts StartupBD.com and StartupExits.com, conferences set out to educate startups on business development and exit strategies. He has also taught classes at the General Assembly on raising capital. Previously, he collaborated with Pivotal Labs to produce the ProjectStartup series.
Beckord has an MBA in Entrepreneurship, a BSC in Finance, and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). In his free time, he enjoys sailing, traveling, and climbing.
Where did the idea for Foundersuite come from?
I spent about 10 years consulting to startups as part-time finance guy, biz dev guy, and general consigliore / wingman / get-stuff-done guy. Over time, I created a lot of spreadsheets and processes for doing common things like managing investors and operations. Foundersuite is really a natural outgrowth/progression of this…we are turning the process of starting a startup into software.
What does your typical day look like?
Insanely hectic! I usually spend mornings working on product with my engineers. We have our daily standup where we review what was achieved the previous day, and goals for the current day. Afternoons are spent on marketing, customer support, and administrative tasks. I usually try to reach out to all new users, at least one every other day or so. Nights are spent catching up on email (or at least, trying in vain to catch up). Sprinkled throughout all these reoccurring actives are one-off tasks, like writing a blog post or recruiting speakers for one of our event series (www.fundingV2.com and www.startupBD.com).
How do you bring ideas to life?
We are a startup, so in most cases, we are building things that we want / need as a startup. For example, a few months ago we started reaching out to the media. I found myself keeping track of all our target journalists and pitch ideas in a Word doc, and realized there had to be a better way to do this; so we built a tool, called Media CRM. Other ideas are replacing legacy or inefficient ways of doing things; for example, our Investor CRM is replacing the spreadsheet as a way to track and manage investor discussions.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I think entrepreneurship is going mainstream; in fact, it’s a trend we are betting the business on. I see startup DNA spreading everywhere, like a virus. You see it in the proliferation of Startup Weekends around the globe. Or as another example, just last week I was visiting my parents in Colorado. Unbeknownst to me there was Boulder Startup Week going on, followed immediately by Ft. Collins Startup Week. These are HUGE events…just look at the agenda— its 25 events a day for 5 days. Just a few years ago, Ft. Collins was a sleepy college town.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I walk a lot. It clears the brain and helps me focus on core problems. I get off my shuttle a couple stops early to have more walking time. It really makes a difference.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
In my younger days, I tried twice to convince myself I wanted to be an investment banker. I got into one of the most elite training programs on the planet— JP Morgan’s summer associate program, which people would sell their soul to get into— but I hated it. I already had the startup bug. Even though the money was amazing, I knew working at a big bank would kill my soul.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would have started earlier. As mentioned, I spent 10 years consulting to startups. This was a great experience, and was a great way to learn and build my network, but I wish I’d started building a software business a long time ago. It’s just that fun.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Even though building a startup is all-consuming, you have to shut off from time to time. Let your subconscious work in the background. Unplug at least one day per week.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
I paid it forward for ten years and built a great network, and now I’m tapping that network. When launched, I emailed everyone I know (1600+ personal contacts on LinkedIn) asking for intros to incubators, startups, etc. The response was great, and I spent two months pursuing lots of great leads.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I lost a key product manager guy pretty early on. At the time it felt like the ship would sink without him, and I blamed myself for not being able to convince him to stay. But you realize that no one is indispensable. The ship sails on. That’s your job as CEO— to ensure you can handle setbacks.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I have babies / toddlers at home. It’s ridiculous how fast they outgrow clothes. Baby clothes should be on a rental / sharing economy business model, not a buy-to-own model; it should be like Netflix. In my vision, you pick a style and sex, e.g. for us it would be “6 month old boy, Nautical style” and every 2 months you get a new packet of clothes, and send back the last batch to be cleaned and reused. Billion dollar idea!
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I used to have long hair and play bass guitar in a speed metal band. It was awesome.
What software and web services do you use?
We are pretty minimalist. We use Pivotal Tracker for product, Mailchimp for email, Basecamp for design, and we’re testing out a new CRM called Amity for on boarding. We also use Google Docs. And yes, we use Foundersuite for tracking investors.
What do you love about them?
All of them are easy to use and have clean design aesthetics. You get to the value moment quickly.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I like Rework by Jason Fried of 37Signals. It shows you that the Silicon Valley model is not the only model for building a startup. Do what you want to do, write your own rules.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
I enjoy Elad Gil’s blog post. He has some really enlightened advice on a variety of startup operations, BD and fundraising topics. http://blog.eladgil.com