Saxon Baum is the VP of Investor Relations at Florida Funders, a hybrid venture capital fund and crowd-investing platform that discovers, funds and builds early-stage technology companies in Florida. Saxon is part of a team made up of investors, innovators and senior level executives focused on transforming Florida from the Sunshine State to the Startup State. Saxon has been working in early stage technology and venture capital for about 10 years and has a deep background in business development and fundraising. Saxon brings a unique perspective by being a former entrepreneur turned investor. For more information on Florida Funders, please visit www.floridafunders.com. Keep up with the latest news from Florida Funders on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Where did the idea for Florida Funders come from?
Florida Funders was started right around the same time the JOBS Act was passed, which allowed crowdfunding for equity. The idea was to leverage the democratization of the financial system and help early-stage technology companies get funding in a way previously deemed illegal. We wanted to leverage technology to allow investors to invest as little as $5k into a venture capital deal, where beforehand they would have to invest much more, maybe even millions to have access to these types of investment opportunities.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Well, it was a lot different before COVID-19! I do feel as though I have been extremely productive through this period of uncertainty. My typical day is as follows:
Wake up around 7:30 a.m.
Practice transcendental meditation for 20 minutes. I try to do this every morning.
Drink some sort of caffeine. Recently, I have been on Bulletproof coffee with protein.
Take a shower.
I have a home office, so I go into my home office and start my day by 8:30 a.m. with emails.
I usually try not to eat until at least 12:00 p.m. I feel better and more focused with just the Bulletproof coffee in my system.
I try to make my calls to investors from 10-12 and 1-3, and I rarely make new investor calls on Mondays.
At some point during the early afternoon, I try to eat something light, usually chicken or a tuna salad.
Finish my day by 6:00 p.m. and then do some sort of work out or go for a walk outside and enjoy the beautiful weather we have been having in Florida.
Cook dinner by 8:30 p.m. My wife and I have been cooking nonstop during the quarantine which has been a blessing.
Watch some television or read until 10 p.m. when I go to bed.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I will usually have an idea and will call a friend or colleague to discuss it with them. If the idea has some legs, then I immediately start to work on putting something together. Whether it is putting pen to paper or emailing the right person to get the wheels in motion, I try to get my thoughts out of my brain as soon as possible before I forget it. I get a lot of ideas, good and bad, but I want to make sure the good ones make it onto paper. I am also a big believer in first doing things and then asking for permission. Usually, ideas die within the individual’s hands who had the original idea because they did not act quick on it.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Telehealth. With more and more people living on this planet, healthcare systems need to adapt to be able to be sufficient in terms of the care they are able to provide. I am extremely interested in how telehealth and telemedicine progresses through the use of new technologies such as virtual reality. Currently, contamination is such an issue within hospitals and health care facilities, but if a good percentage of procedures and visits can be done virtually, that ultimately changes the way we view a visit to the doctor.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Planning ahead to stay focused. I really try to set up my day the night before so that I know exactly what I am going to work on the following day. When I was younger and less productive, I would use checklists and constantly found myself checking things off the list that were done–but not to my best ability–just so I could move onto the next task. Now, I plan my day around what hard tasks I need to complete and try to knock those out first in the morning.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Great progress takes time.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Meditate. I regularly practice transcendental meditation and it has changed my life. My uncle, who is a great friend and even better mentor, is the one that got me into meditation. Continual practice truly slows down your mind and sharpens your decision making. Meditating removes a lot of the “head trash” I used to deal with.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Smaller in-person meetings. Our firm used to focus on larger-scale events to present materials and entice investors to invest with us. One thing that we have learned to be extremely effective is hosting smaller events, which allows the participants to interact and ask questions, creating a personal experience.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In the past eight years of my career, one experience in particular has stuck with me. My partner and I were working on a presentation for three months in hopes to secure a potential new client. If secured, this deal would account for about 50% more revenue on a monthly basis, so it was huge for us to get their business.
When the day to present the final product came, we were confident that we created exactly what they wanted. We were completely unaware, however, that 4 new executives who hadn’t been involved in the tedious process were going to be attending the presentation. For lack of a better word, they shredded our presentation. We were not prepared for the questions they asked and we fell flat on our face.
I will never forget that feeling I had in while I sat in the car afterwards–the feeling of pure failure. We were shoved out the door and a second chance did not seem likely. It took me two hours to get over the rejection, and then my business partner and I buckled down and worked tirelessly to improve the presentation and solution.
Although we did not ever end up winning the contract, I learned a massive lesson. No matter how prepared you are, there will always be the possibility of being thrown a curveball.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I see a potentially lucrative business around an on-demand platform for IT services inside office homes. Think about it as Geek Squad meets Uber!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
It was actually $200. I bought a Theragun which has changed my life. It does wonders for recovery when you are sore.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Google Documents. Being able to host everything in the cloud and to work on documents simultaneously has changed the way we work. We use Google docs and their drive product for everything now, as well as their slide decks.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Recently, I read “What it Takes” by Steve Schwartzman, the CEO of Blackstone, which is quite possibly the best business book I have ever read. Steve has an amazing story of not only how he became successful, but how he grew his company and the integral team members and investments they made to truly create the best PE firm in the world. The one nugget, out of many, that resonates the best with me is his notion that, “It’s as easy to do something big as it is to do something small.” This truly applies to all types of business and many different scenarios. In my case, it is as easy to ask someone to invest $50k as it is to ask them to invest $5M. The same work is involved in both scenarios, so why not reach for the stars? I truly believe many individuals have a fear of reaching above their threshold because they are scared of rejection. What is the worst that is going to happen? Someone will say no.
What is your favorite quote?
“Look up, look down, and look around. No matter if you are rich or poor, you always need to know how everyone else in the world is living and you should never forget how lucky you are to be here.” When I was traveling in Bali, a famous Yogi, Wannanna, told me that quote. It makes you realize no matter how bad or great your life is, there are always people below you and above you. So look around and live your life knowing how others are living as well. Never forget you’re not the only person on this planet.
- No one knows the answers right now, so keep your head on a swivel and work hard.
- Stay focused by planning your day ahead.
- During uncertain times, it’s important to adapt and learn to thrive in the “new normal.”
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.