Catch Marcia Dawood on the #PirateBroadcast™
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Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast™, where we interview #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings. Where you can expand your connections, your community, #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. Let’s get this party started.
Russ Johns: [00:00:10] Welcome to the party. #PirateBroadcast™ is up again, doing things and interviewing interesting people, doing interesting things. What does that mean? It's like crazy. And just know that you are welcome here. Open up the conversation. You're only one conversation away from getting some of the things you need in the world. So love to have you join us, make some comments, ask some questions and find out what we're doing today. And today we have another pirate in the house. Marcia. Good morning. How are you doing?
Marcia Dawood: [00:00:41] I'm doing great. Thank you. Thanks for having me. This is fun.
Russ Johns: [00:00:44] You bet. We've had a little different relationship because I've assisted in the production of Angel Live. Angels Live with Warren Spiwack out of Houston. And he's also a pirate and I've known Warren for a while now. And you've been doing some incredibly valuable work. And before I get into that, I want to introduce you to some of the people that may not be familiar with who you are and what you're doing. So share with those that aren't familiar with you who Marsha is today.
Marcia Dawood: [00:01:18] All right. Marsha Dawood, I am someone who is trying to help entrepreneurs dreams come true. That's really my passion. My mission is to get more people to be able to do the things that they really want to do. There's some entrepreneurs out there that have some amazing ideas and they really want to help make change in the world. And I think that's where we need to put our focus is. We need to invest our time, our expertise and our dollars into making companies happen that are going to change the world.
Russ Johns: [00:01:53] Go ahead. Oh, I was going to say, I think that's so incredibly valuable and thank you for doing the work you're doing too.
Marcia Dawood: [00:02:02] So I started about not quite 10 years ago. Someone invited me to an angel investing meeting. And I remember saying, what is angel investing? I don't even know what that is. And so I went to the meeting and I got to see some really interesting companies that were doing some really interesting and innovative things. And I thought, this is neat. I like this. I want to keep learning about this. And then I just got involved with different groups. Had to move around a little bit over the last 10 years with my husband's job, but that got me the opportunity to see a lot of different ecosystems. A lot of times people think of entrepreneurs and they might think of shark tank for one. And shark tank has done a lot to build awareness, but some people also think in order to be an investor, we have to have a private jet and be super wealthy and that's not true. Anybody can help entrepreneurs with their time and their expertise, their network. And then, people can get involved with investing at a much lower level. You don't have to have a jet. And so I really got interested in, especially helping underrepresented founders, I, we call them. And that would be women, people of color younger people, people who don't necessarily fit the stereotypical entrepreneur protocol. And you sometimes find them in places that you wouldn't necessarily think, people think of Silicon Valley and they think that's where all the entrepreneurs and all the tech, big tech companies and all the money is all the venture capitalists. But really there are some amazing things happening in so many cities. I was in Houston last week with Warren and we did start a podcast called Angels Live to get more people to know about what angel investing is and just to get them more familiar. And, there's a lot of podcasts out there that talk about how companies are built and I listened to them. Cause I think they're really fascinating. But I also think it's really fascinating to hear how did people become an angel investor. Because it could be anything from somebody who maybe is retired, but then there's also people who are still working, who are doing it. A lot more younger people are getting involved. And you can now do things like through crowdfunding and there's places like Republic is a platform where people can make an investment as low as a hundred dollars. So there's a lot of different things that are happening in this space. And it's really important that we keep talking about it and we educate people on many different ways that they can get involved because that's the only way we're going to see change.
Russ Johns: [00:04:46] Yeah, I think one of the major things that I see having been in the startup community for so long is that there's a lot of activity in the creative process and a lot of entrepreneurs are so busy building their products that they don't always think about how they're going to grow, how they're going to scale. So having an investment community like, angels, being out there in the community that you're involved in is really important to share that information because there are resources. There are people out there that care, there are mentors that are able to support you even just with our time I've invested hours and hours with people that have been building companies. And, it's my way of investing because I'm an investor in several startups and it's equity. It's time, it's some of the resources that I invest in helping them build to a point where they could do something larger and so you don't have to think about, like you said, the person in the ivory tower with the jet and, owns a sports team or anything like that. It could be anything in this new platform that you mentioned Republic a hundred dollars. Just think if you had invested in a hundred dollars in Jeff Bezos, when he first started out, he had, I don't know how many investors that he went out and said, hey, pitch in this much money and it wasn't a large amount from an investment perspective. And those people today are really seeing the rewards of that benefit and that investment. It's so amazing. And I think it's the fabric of who we are as a culture and the business world and everything that grows from a seed. And there's so many opportunities right now. I see opportunities everywhere, Marcia and it's just, I guess I get so excited about it. I have to stop and focus. It's what am I going to focus on?
Marcia Dawood: [00:06:46] I know there are so many things.
Russ Johns: [00:06:48] Can you share a few of those ideas that you've been involved with or at least connected with and highlighted on your show so far?
Marcia Dawood: [00:06:55] Yeah, sure. There's one company in particular, it's called Portfolia and it is an investment firm designed for women, but everybody's welcome. And it's an investment firm to back companies where people want to see change. And what's interesting about it is you do have to be an accredited investor. An accredited investor is somebody who has at least $200,000 in income, 300,000 with their spouse or a million dollars in net worth. But, a lot of times in order to be an investor in a fund, it would mean that you would have to write a very large check, like sometimes $250,000. And that's just a lot for someone to do. What portfolio does is it allows people to invest at a lower level. So you can, for only $10,000, you can get exposure then to multiple companies, because what also happens in angel investing is it takes a long time to build up a portfolio. If you're investing in one company at a time and that's still happens quite often and we don't ever do that alone, we always do it in groups. But a fund is a really interesting way that you, if you're not really sure, it's the beginning and you don't have a lot of knowledge so that you could go out and do all the diligence yourself then. And because none of us do this is a great way to be able to do that. And so for as little as $10,000, you get exposure to eight to 12 companies, and there are five experts who are leading the fund and you get to watch the companies pitch, everything's online and you get to see a lot of the different companies and meet some of the entrepreneurs. So that's a really fascinating way. I really do there's a platform called OurCrowd. Which was an online VC out of Israel. And they have, I've been watching them grow for years. I knew a lot of the founders when they had first gotten started and they invest right alongside of some of the really big venture capitalists out in Silicon Valley. So they get access to a lot of interesting deal flow. And also they have very low barriers to entry. You do have to be accredited on that platform as well. But they have access to all kinds of things. There's a fund that they have where some of the companies where things like masterclass, Epic sports, so names you've heard of before, which is fun. And then we talked about Republic. That's a crowdfunding platform. You do not have to be accredited to invest on Republic. And there's another group that I'm involved with that I get real excited about. It's called SheEO and it is a nonprofit and it allows people to be activators. So you don't. Invest, you actually make a donation, but then that donation money gets pulled together. And that money gets loaned out to companies so that they can get started with their business. But the loan has a zero interest rate. So it's really neat and it's mostly for women. And so we're starting to see a lot more where women and people of color are getting more attention. And I I personally am very involved in that. I've been investing in women led companies and book for a long time. And it's diverse teams are really the best way to have to go about anything. We all know that diversity of thought is so important. And that's across the board. You don't have to have an all female team or anything like that, but just having diversity in your company is so important. And I think that you having more people who are diverse, Writing the checks is what's going to help get the founders, the backing and the support that they need.
Russ Johns: [00:10:43] So for people that may not be aware of this and they learn about this today or in the future, when they listen to this, how would a person find an investment group or a community in their local area? What would I search for? What would I want to find? Or what would I Google? Is there a listing available cause it's one of those things that you're in the bubble of knowledge, and it's okay, everybody knows this. Not everybody knows this. So you have to think of how you see things when you're aware of things. And then when you're completely oblivious of them, it's. It's I don't know where to start. I don't know how to get involved, but it sounds pretty cool. I'd love to learn more. So how would people like here in Phoenix, I'm here in Phoenix. There's probably somebody out there doing something along that line.
Marcia Dawood: [00:11:33] Yes. And I know a couple of the people in Phoenix. So people do things through angel investing for more than just a financial return. Of course, we all would love to have a chance. But you're really doing it because of your community. You want to build jobs. We want to create things that are happening in your own community. So like he said, there are things that are happening in your own backyard. And literally you could just Google angel investing in Phoenix. If you want me to do that, but there's a couple of other things you could do. The Angel Capital Association, which is the professional society of angels in the US. I'm a board member. I will take over as chair of the board in July.
Russ Johns: [00:12:10] Congratulations.
Marcia Dawood: [00:12:10] Thank you. We have a list of all of the angel groups in the U S so you could go to our website angelcapitalassociation.org, and you can find a listing of all of the different groups and where they are now, what's really been interesting is what was happening with the last year with everything being so virtual and COVID and everything. And we're seeing so many groups take their meetings, all of their interactions, they're taking them online and that just hasn't had and before, so yeah, much more opportunity to get involved in something. For example, if you were interested in investing in women led companies, now it doesn't matter where in the country you are, you could join Golden Seeds. So you could just go to goldenseeds.com and you could be a member and everything is online. You could also go to folia.com as we talked about. So that's just like portfolio, but with an a at the end. And you can find out about the ways that you can get involved there. There's a lot of things that are happening and and ways that you can start to get in involved in your local community, as well as things that are happening nationally. If you have a specific focus, some people are specifically focused on like the sector, so they may only want to invest in life sciences or I only want to invest in tech. And that's fine too.
Russ Johns: [00:13:32] Yeah. And there's businesses the individual that you and Warren interviewed that has the delivery service for things heavier...
Marcia Dawood: [00:13:41] Oh, Pick up Now.
Russ Johns: [00:13:43] Pick up now a fascinating story. And this is why this is curiosity that really gets to me is, you drive down in the industrial district and you see the buildings with a nondescript name on them. You wonder how they're doing, what did they do there? And what is that? Careers are my jobs. When I was in college and out of colleges, I was delivering office supplies. I was selling office supplies. So I deliver office supplies to these companies. And it was always fascinating to me to talk to the individuals that were doing something. They were building something for an industry, or they are creating something. And that whole idea of creating something from nothing, creating jobs and opportunities for people and all of this process that you go through and it's just something that happens, that unless you're aware of it and you're in tune with it, it's like it happens invisibly. It just happens. And what you're doing with the angel community is really groundbreaking. It's been happening for years, but it's groundbreaking in a lot of ways that the bar to entry and the availability for people to help and contribute is so much more. Like you said, the zoom sessions, you can go anywhere and get involved. It's just everywhere. Once you learn about it. And I just wanted to share the word and let people know that it's an opportunity out there that you can help contribute even in the smallest way possible. And it's just important that we do this work and continue to support startups and continue to support the community. That's creating things and building business and growing the industries. And it will continue to grow. Even 10 years ago, doing what we're doing now, live streaming and getting this out was incredibly difficult and required a lot of technology. And now we're just jump on a zoom session or jump on a live stream or StreamYard or whatever it happens to be. And we can have a conversation and it's just, I get excited about it.
Marcia Dawood: [00:15:47] Angel investing really is still in its infancy. You only saw organized groups get together as long as 20 years ago, even before that it was very one-off. An angel was somebody who was super wealthy and then they would just do their own thing. Now we kind of form in packs so that we can make our dollars together go far. And and seeing that transition over the last couple of years and grow, and you'd see more funds come into place where you can pool money. And there's a money manager who's helping to find the good deals and do the diligence and make the decisions but giving you more of a diverse exposure. And then, all of a sudden here we hit 2020 and then we went and we catapulted a little bit into, this is all happening really fast. And we can join forces so much easier now because we're in this virtual world. And I think, hopefully, we'll start, as things start to open up, we'll have more in-person meetings as well. We'll get to meet entrepreneurs face to face. I actually did make a couple of investments over the last few months with people I had never met in person. I met them obviously, but not, shaking hand kind of thing. And that's okay. I think people are starting to realize, hey, it's not so scary to meet somebody and get to know them in a virtual world and not necessarily have met them in person. Before people would be like, ah that's too crazy. I can't do that. But now we're all kind of living in this different world. And I think, as we go back to the quote unquote normal our new normal is going to be a little bit different. And I think it'll make entrepreneur's lives a lot easier too. Cause I've been an entrepreneur. I was the COO of one company. I was a CFO of another company and I have a soft spot in my heart for how hard it is for these entrepreneurs to fundraise. And then they have to take their time away from building their own business. Anything that we can do to make the fundraising process easier or more streamlined. So if there are entrepreneurs out there, I feel for you, and I'm really working hard to try to make sure that everything that we can do as an angel industry, as an angel group society, what we can do at the Angel Capital Association is to help make it easier on the entrepreneurs and get them to have a more streamlined way. And I think all of the things that are happening with the virtual world are really gonna make that a lot easier. Before an entrepreneur would have to fly to pitch here or fly to another place, to pitch to an angel group there. And now they can hop on a couple zooms in one day and be in four or five or 10 different cities all at one time.
Russ Johns: [00:18:31] That's amazing to me. I just wake up every day and do the show. And it's really interesting how we've seen things evolve. We've seen things turn over. I want to shift gears a little bit before we leave today. And make sure that we kind of plant the seed for entrepreneurs that may not be familiar with funding about where they need to be as an organization. And what pieces of the puzzle need to be in place to present or pitch to a a funding organization for an angel to actually think about or consider an investment process with an individual company or organization. What are some of the pieces that need to be built up to as an entrepreneur? What would I want to create in order to promote my idea to an angel group?
Marcia Dawood: [00:19:25] Yeah. So I'm particularly focused on that. I have an idea. Here's my idea on the back of my napkin here all the way over to I'm going to pitch to an angel group because there's a black hole there. The entrepreneurs are like, hey, I gotta do something. I gotta get some money or else I can't move forward.
Russ Johns: [00:19:44] You're out on the corner with my cardboard.
Marcia Dawood: [00:19:47] Yeah. But yet the angel groups, like you're too early so how do we fix that? And there isn't an easy answer, but I will give a couple tips, which is one, as scrappy as an entrepreneur can be, the better. And I say that really to protect the entrepreneur more than anything. Sure, it would be great if you could go out and you could just find people who would just write you checks and that might make your life a little bit easier. But at the end of the day, I've seen a couple of entrepreneurs who gave away... because they were feeling a little bit of that desperate at the beginning, they gave away a little bit too much of their equity early on, and that actually can magnify what happens later on. And so by the time they were really into the fundraising stage of their company, they had given away so much of their equity that now they didn't have really as much skin in the game and the angels don't like that either. So there's a balancing act. The investors are trying to take everything from the entrepreneur. There has to be that balance. So being a scrappy as possible and getting whatever it is that the one thing that your company is going to showcase is it that you're trying to have a certain amount of sales? Are you trying to have a certain amount of users? Customer feedback is so important. Whatever you have to do, you want to talk to your customers all the time. Always getting that feedback, even if, sometimes you think to yourself, oh my gosh, I don't even know if this is a good use of time. It always is a good use of time to get that feedback from your customers. So these are the types of things that investors would want to see before they'll want to make an investment. And the other thing is, if you have something that's very specific, let's just say it's a life science company, life science companies they have their own kind of groups of life science investors who are awesome because they all are scientists and they know all the stuff I'm not. So I I just hear about it. I'm like, oh, we could save somebody and I'm like, yes, I want to do that. But at the same time, I'm like, I'm the worst person on the world to do like a diligence on it because I'm like, I don't understand. I don't understand. That's not my expertise. That's their expertise. That's awesome. When you have something that people will be very passionate about sometimes at those very early stages, you can find an investor or two who will help you with some cause, in the very beginning you don't need quite as much as you would a little bit later on. So you could start to talk to some people who are very passionate and potentially get some financial support, but a whole lot of mentorship and also some networking. And having people who will open their network to you in order to build your company and those things are so super important. So just trying to build an advisory board at the beginning can really mean a lot to what's going to happen down the road because what'll end up happening is you'll go to pitch to specific angel groups and then they may tell you're too early or you don't have this, you don't have that. So try to have a really concrete, solid story behind you and the getting those advisors in there are really going to be key.
Russ Johns: [00:22:51] It makes a lot of sense. And I've been a fan of masterminds for years and having somebody give you honest, polished feedback is valuable, incredibly valuable, and an advisory group I would think would be the same way. Give some opportunities to others to get involved in the community that you're building because a lot of people it's based on them and their passion and their ability to see the business and the growth and the strategy, but they may have pieces of that process that they're missing. So if you can get an advisor on your board and in your community at first, it doesn't even have to be an official board. It just has to be a group of individuals that have the same passion and ability that you do, to see the vision. And I think it's so critical if you're thinking about something, don't pass it up, going out and testing something is the best way to learn, as you're learning things and you're growing and you're going, oh, that didn't work exactly how I wanted it to, or I've created so many things, Marcia that I put out into the world and say, oh, that's interesting. And nobody wants to buy it. But I thought it was cool. If I had an advisory board, they'd probably say, Russ, you need to rethink this because I get super passionate about the creative process. And it's taught me a lot. And I have a lot of experience in that process. However, if if I go to funding, I need to think about different things and approach it in a different way. So I just plant that seed for other people. So it's really fun. Angelica is here. She's just so outstanding. Thank you so much. Wendy says welcome to the pirate network. Marcia. We love to bring each other up.
Marcia Dawood: [00:24:33] Nice. I love that.
Russ Johns: [00:24:34] It's really a pleasure and thank you so much for being here, Marcia. I just I know that there's so many resources and I'll post them in the blog post after the show. And any parting wisdom that you'd like to share with people that have had that thought in the back of your mind, or, they're looking at doing something and they haven't quite figured it out yet? What parting wisdom would you like to share with us today?
Marcia Dawood: [00:25:03] If you're really passionate about something, those are the entrepreneurs that investors want to back. So even if you don't have it all flushed out right away, that's okay. There's plenty of companies out there that pivot all the time and a pivot isn't necessarily a bad thing. It just means you tried to do it the one way, it didn't really work, so now you're going to try it another way. See how that goes. It's all about that don't give up mentality and just keep pushing. And you mentioned it earlier, but scalability is probably the one thing that an investor is going to look at with whatever your idea is. So make sure it's scalable, make sure that you have a serious sticky problem that you're solving. Don't let your company be a solution in search of a problem.
Russ Johns: [00:25:45] I love that. I love that. Yeah. It's been a pleasure Marcia and thank you so much for taking the time to share this information with the pirate community.
Marcia Dawood: [00:25:55] Thanks for having me.
Russ Johns: [00:25:56] You're a pirate now. As a pirate, you can always come back and if you have announcements or you have changes or things that are going on, maybe later on in the year, if you want to give us an update on what's happening in the investment community, it'd be wonderful to have you back and share this information updates. In fact, I have here in Phoenix, I have an event tomorrow that I was going to attend and it's like the coworking space and the incubator environment is where I've been mostly involved in the startup community. So I'm reaching out to some of those individuals here in Phoenix and getting plugged in that community, so I can help others out in that arena. So it'll be fun. I look forward to watching this adventure unfold. And also the future episodes with you and Warren. So I look forward to that, as well.
Marcia Dawood: [00:26:42] Yes. Subscribe to Angels. Live!
Russ Johns: [00:26:46] Angels live. Yes.
Marcia Dawood: [00:26:48] On all podcasting venues.
Russ Johns: [00:26:50] Wherever fine podcasts are sold. Thank you everyone for being here at the #PirateBroadcast™ and as always, we welcome and encourage conversation cause you're only one conversation away. And also because #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree, so you #enjoytheday. Don't go away.
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