Michael Hurup Andersen’s journey from Northern Denmark to financial trailblazer is a testament to the power of resilience, conviction, and strategic decision-making. His story inspires entrepreneurs to forge their paths in the face of adversity.
His venture, kompasbank, has attracted funding from top-tier investors like 2xN, Burgeon Invest and DFSA. Jeppe Brøndum is an angel investor who has also invested in kompasbank.
In this episode, you will learn:
- The journey from Northern Denmark to financial pioneer exemplifies the power of passion and resilience in the world of finance.
- Embracing diversity and surrounding oneself with bright minds from different backgrounds can be a catalyst for accelerated personal and professional growth.
- The ‘figure-it-out’ mentality at Saxo Bank honed problem-solving skills, preparing for the challenges of entrepreneurship.
- The bold decision to start kompasbank showcases the importance of unwavering conviction in pursuing one’s entrepreneurial vision.
- Navigating the challenges of fundraising demands a resilient mindset, with rejection being a natural part of the journey towards success.
- Clear communication, setting expectations, and providing resources are key components of effective leadership.
- Prioritizing profitability over rapid expansion proved to be a strategic decision that allowed kompasbank to build a robust foundation for sustainable growth and success.
For a winning deck, see the commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400M (see it here).
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About Michael Hurup Andersen :
Michael Hurup Andersen is the Founder & co-CEO at kompasbank. He attended University of Oxford.
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Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:
Alejandro Cremades: Alrighty hello everyone and welcome to the deal maker show. So today. We have a really exciting ah founder that is joining us. You know we’re going to be walking through the journey that he actually embarked on from you know, basically working in banks also other firms a larger corporations. And then to obviously you know venturing into starting his own business which is a rocket ship. You know we’re going to be talking about building scaling financing, especially financing in difficult times. How to think about profitability when you’re comparing it against growth. How to build a toolbox tool and resources around you when dealing with difficult times you know, just like the ones that we have been enduring given the macro environment and then also scaling the business and having everyone you know involved and aligned. You know when it comes to the team so without further ado. Let’s welcome. Our guest today. Michael Hurup Andersen welcome to the show. So originally born there in Northern Denmark give us a walk through memory lane. How was life growing up.
Michael Hurup Andersen: Thank you very much and thank you for having me such pleasure.
Michael Hurup Andersen: Cold I Denmark is scandinavia is cold but there no ah jokes aside born and raised in in Northern Denmark and spent most of my youth I suppose. Ah you know playing football and it’s attending school as you do um and then when I hit the. The time of university I started branching out a little bit and starting getting a lot more interested in finance and that basically took direction of my my my master’s in finance and then into my first job in in sexual bank in in finance.
Alejandro Cremades: And what do you think that caught your attention about finance. Why finance out of all things.
Michael Hurup Andersen: Um, That’s a really good question. Ah, perhaps my parents were both in finance. Maybe maybe I got it in through the ah you know through through Birth. Um. So that that’s probably always a good Choice. You know when when you do stuff in Life. You do something to make your parents proud and I guess I’m I’m no different than anybody else. But but I suppose um the game in finance of of it’s intellectually extremely demanding and also extremely Rewarding. To be able to be up against some of the sharpest clearly some of the sharpest minds in the world and you know if you can make it then then I guess you you’ve been part of an ecosystem that creates value. Um I don’t know I mean that’s something that I thought of afterwards in the beginning didn’t pay any ah attention to it.
Alejandro Cremades: And you also as part of the studies you came to Virginia to the us and I mean you’ve traveled you know quite a bit I mean you’ve also been in London originally from Denmark as we were discussing now how do you think that your worldview has say shaping up as a result of.
Michael Hurup Andersen: We just super fun.
Alejandro Cremades: Living in so many different parts of the world and and and also the way that you approach problem solving.
Michael Hurup Andersen: Um, well definitely one thing that I’ve learned from from being exposed to different cultures is that you know there’s always a solution that’s almost always a solution. You know if you but it always depends on your viewpoint. You come from one end of the other spectrum or the other I kind of like the idea of breaking it down into what is the real problem and and and and trying to embrace that but clearly you know having lived in in the United States and and London and and and having spent time in in all around europe as well. You know there are bright people everywhere. So if you can manage to to engage yourself around smart people. Um you kind of learn from it right? Yeah, you’re supposed to and and I think not being afraid. Be the stupidest one in the room one could argue that was easy for me right? but but if you are if you’re okay, surrounding yourself a smart people from different countries. It’s got to pick up on you at some point.
Alejandro Cremades: Now in your case after you got the masters in finance you ended up in joining Saxo a bank and this is something that you ah did for quite a bit you were there for 10 years you know doing stuff ah in a trading treasuries.
Alejandro Cremades: 10 years you know it’s a long time. So what do you think? kept you for so long. What was that future that you were living into that was so compelling that kept you for so long in Saxo bank.
Michael Hurup Andersen: Well, it was just a really really exciting and fun place to be and it actually gave me a lot of challenges. So the company had a way of first first. The company grew a lot. So. It was not a static organization in any way. It was always every year or something new. It felt like and a new organization every year and which I kind of enjoyed that that ambiguci and that and that speed but also the fact that that you’ve been you were thrown into the deep end of the pool quite early on. And for me personally quite quite clearly being unequipped without the tools to to solve those problems but just being thrown into them and say well figure it out and if you can’t figure it out. Come ask some people smarter than you and that whole mentality and culture. Ah, kind of like that that that that really appealed to me. That’s why I was there for for for quite a while and and you know until I got a great offer to to um to try to move to London and and be part of a brand new team over there which was also a growth experience for me right? So that was kind of fun.
Alejandro Cremades: And also why you were in London you experienced the other places I mean you were there in deloitte also Alvarez and Marshall. So what? what? What were some of the biggest takeaways that you got from working at those places.
Michael Hurup Andersen: Well I mean I think I think definitely you know when you’re in finance um, working and living in London or New York or Hong Kong Singapore you know surrounding yourself with the brightest in that business is is very helpful I mean. You know you you can probably shoot a movie in in in in Greenland if you want to but I’m sure that there’s more talent and equipment in Hollywood right? So it’s a matter of whether you where do you physically position yourself around smart people and and and also challenging assignments and a thing for me. Being around being in London for for for 5 years Um, with all those challenges that came at the back end of the financial crisis right? I mean remember I moved there in twelve third two thousand and twelve thirteen service it was in the back end of of the of the financial crisis There’s a lot of work to be done. There’s a lot of cleanup to be done. There’s a lot of mistakes to learn from something that you know I would never ever been able to be taught and during a career but because you were you were embedded in so many different situations with with various people you could accelerate your. I could at least accelerate my learning curve. Um, which again I mean I guess that that’s the an ongoing theme for me I kind of like that right? you go into a room. You don’t really know where you’re getting yourself into but you go in with the attitude look I got to try to figure it out if if not.
Michael Hurup Andersen: Let me escalate to someone’s smarter and then I’m sure together we’ll figure it out right? and that is for so many so many different cool projects that is exactly what happened ah and and to be fair, it was a unique point in time I mean the financial crisis was ah was a you know. But the first time in in in a long long time. There was such a big meltdown ah and and being exposed to that being part of that and and and learning from that I think is something that you know you could either sit down and be be unhappy about it or you can try to embrace. The situation where you’re in I mean I remember 2008 and 9 it was not fun for anybody right? you saw Lehman and you saw all these guys. But if you sit down and try to learn from from from those experiences. Maybe you can turn into something positive I mean what’s the alternative right? so.
Alejandro Cremades: Absolutely now coming 2017 You know things started to shift a little bit for you and then obviously it’s it’s interesting because all you knew was corporate up until this point you know you were probably 38 39 You’re sold at this point and you know it’s very yeah scary to ah you know, really leap into the unknown and that’s what you did So So walk us through what were the sequence of events that needed to happen for you to bring compass back to life.
Michael Hurup Andersen: You you? but you I mean one of your points is really accurate. It was very scary. Um, but at the same time I had 0 doubts that this is what I wanted to do I was very firm and set in my mindset I would not allow. Anything or anybody to discourage me I mean when you say you are moving away from ah from a decent paying job in a financial industry in London to move back to Denmark and get paid nothing and then you know investing all your savings and all that stuff people are going to say that’s just a stupid move. Don’t do that right? So and of course I had my share of that on the other hand I have to say I got extraordinary support from from my friends and and my and my parents um which was which was for me, you know.
Michael Hurup Andersen: Quite helpful and because when when when when when I needed to do this. You also need to have a strong belief not only in your idea right? I mean your idea is probably something you’re not going to.. You’re not going to tolerate people saying. It’s not a good idea because you have your your mind is so fixed on this. But where at least I was afraid I could be I could be rocked in a bad direction was other people’s influence over my thinking right? So surrounding myself with positive attitude and positive thinking was very very helpful. Um, and in hindsight.
Michael Hurup Andersen: I I probably think that was that support from from from not only my my my parents and and friends but also the the first people around the you know the people around the company I’d say if that hadn’t happened I’m I’m not sure you would have the energy or the the stamina to to pull through. Because it’s hard to build something from scratch I mean I started with a powerpoint and nothing else just myself. Um, and a lot of people are going to say did you’re doing it wrong. It’s not going to work you you gonna hear this all the time right? All the time. So. Stamina to keep pushing no matter what happens that for me at least was ah was a huge necessary mental transition I mean you needed to build that strength mentally at least that that’s how I so I figured it out along the way. Maybe didn’t know from the beginning but didn’t you figure it out.
Alejandro Cremades: And what was that day when all of a sudden you’re like my God I got to do this thing time to give my notice.
Michael Hurup Andersen: It I can’t really point to a single day and moment. Um, but but I can point to ah to ah a short period of time when I was in London where I just kept seeing all the opportunities I just. No matter what I just saw opportunity I just I couldn’t see anything else but upside I know that that’s wrong, very by all means but I couldn’t see anything else but this is this is just this is a nobrainer I mean someone has to do this and um so that happened over a period of timing by the summer Summer of autumn of 2017 and then I went to to my employer alversez massil at the time and said guys look and can we do an order transition here because I got something I got to do and they were extremely supportive and said look. What you need can we help with anything and let let I mean super cool I mean good for you and they helped me as much as they could and then that was it.
Alejandro Cremades: So what were the early days like what happened next. Obviously you moved to denmark back to Denmark and and then what was next.
Michael Hurup Andersen: And then I reached out to then. The first thing I did was to reach out to a couple of people that I thought could be really good to to have on board on the on on the on the project some eventually ended up joining and and and others did not um, but then I started to fundraise. Because you know you you you kind of need money to to do stuff and um and um, that was in 18 early eighteen end of end of 17 maybe? Um, and yeah, just.
Alejandro Cremades: And there is and the and as they would say there. There is this history know. So I guess for the people that are listening to really get it. What ended up being the business model of Compass bank. How are you guys making money.
Michael Hurup Andersen: Out and and and started to get some seed capital with with the with the idea. Yeah.
Michael Hurup Andersen: So we are fullfleds bank and that means that we can take deposits from people and we fund ourselves at two and a half three that’s the that’s the nature of having a bank license. You can get deposits from retail and corporates we turn around and we lend that money out to small and mid-sized companies. Um, at a higher rate and then that spread between our funding cost and our our interest rates when we lend out. We make it that that that’s our profit margin so that that’s what we do.
Alejandro Cremades: And you were alluding to fundraising how much capital have you guys raised to date.
Michael Hurup Andersen: Ah, 55 sixty fifty fifty five sixty million years
Alejandro Cremades: Now in that day approach I mean you see 2017 is where you guys got started. You’ve definitely hit some bumpy years. You know too. I mean you had Covid now the macro Environment. What has been the experience of navigating raising money. When it comes to really dealing you know with those types of bumpy you know, ah events that have happened you know with with the economy and with the environment.
Michael Hurup Andersen: You’re right? we hit them. We hit not only covered but also the the current kind of cold fundraising environment. We’re in at the moment. Um, and I think one of my biggest.
Michael Hurup Andersen: 1 of my biggest um learning points was in fact I had a I had a yeah um, a strong support in in in who actually is our current chairman of of of the bank and yippe yeah Popundum is ah is is is a very very challenged fundraiser. So. He um I think he told me a lot about how to approach it in a structured manner and also you know navigating the different types of of of you know cycles that you go through you yeah, when you when you raise money in the beginning you need. You need maybe a little bit from from from wealthy individuals that are willing to take a risk on you as an individual but then when you when you move through the size I mean start to to waste Tens of millions of euros um then you know that type of investor would also change right? So every time you need to change your mindset. To to cater for that which I think ah yeah has probably be the single most important and the single most important factor of of of compass learning that transition along the way right? and that has been very important and I think for anyone out there right now raising money. Just. To be clear. You know we’ve we’ve raised decent amounts of money some has raised a lot more and some has raised less but we’ve had hundreds and I’m not saying that I’m meaning hundreds of rejections hundreds of rejections. It’s just about getting up every day.
Michael Hurup Andersen: And effectively keep doing it right? Keep finding out. Why did they say? no, what was the problem here was it demo was it us that we you know was the chemistry wrong was the business case wrong was the return requirements. Not right? Whatever it is right figure out what exactly that. That’s giving you the bumps but the money is always out there. It is a matter of really really hard work and just because you get 10 times or 20 times in a row people say no if that’s going to cause you to give up then my advice would be don’t don’t fundraise because you’re going to get a lot of nose and I think that’s just some stamina. And some tough skin that you need to grow and develop if you don’t already have it.
Alejandro Cremades: And how do you go about really going from a rejection to a point of reflection instead of going to a point of questioning yourself which is a really ah toxic. But.
Michael Hurup Andersen: Yeah that’s a really really good question. Um I guess at least for for me having such a strong complete. Conviction and faith in the fact that we were doing the right thing right? I mean we have a good model I mean it works. It’s just there’s something. There must be something wrong in the communication because if yeah I just could communicate this correctly. The entire world would think this is a great idea right? I mean that’s how I think about it obviously that’s not true, but but that’s how I feel about it. So for me, it’s always been about how do I communicate more clearly to the investors and how do I communicate ah better internally so that we get. We. Not forget when you’re fundraising you spending ah and a decent amount of time on that you have a whole organization. That is running the show behind you right? Remember you’re not doing this alone. You’ve got a whole team that is doing fantastic work to support you right? So getting that communication right? and making sure that you’re open and just rule number 1 don’t take it personally, it’s not It’s not you they don’t like it. It could be a number of things that that causes them not to invest right? Don’t take it personally, it’s nothing to do with you.
Alejandro Cremades: I Love that now when it comes to scaling the business and it’s worth you know talking about people here because ultimately investors is people they’re going to be surrounding yourself with you know, Also about people is is and I’ve heard you say that is. Easy to hire but very difficult to fire so in that challenging aspect when you figure out that someone is not a fit I mean what have you learned about firing. What have you learned about really. Getting to that point and being effective so that you don’t create a ah bad environment too because when you see people are not performing. Well you know you see that’s like a cancer in the organization and then that can bring others down too. So How how do you go about that.
Michael Hurup Andersen: Well so I think there’s ah, there’s a very very big difference between how we we approach these things in in in Denmark scandinavia how how I would have approached it in in London or how I would have approached it in in in in the United States um ah think the most important thing that I’ve learned is is is is don’t wait too long. Um, if you if you you know inside yourself when something is not going to work. Um, but also giving everybody including yourself. A decent chance to fix. Whatever it is that may not be working right? I mean you you you need to to set some very very clear boundaries and very clear expectations communicating dao’s expectation and giving people the resources to actually fulfill. Them is absolutely critical to to performance in my opinion. But also you know when things are not moving in the right direction and you don’t feel that that’s whatever mitigating factors. You’re trying to put in place is not really working then it’s better for everybody to find a good solution for that because usually what happens is the organization. Will know quite quickly and you you you mentioned before it can it can grow into a cancer. Um I don’t think that’s happened for us. But but the risk is definitely there if we don’t address it very very early on. Um so addressing it and making sure that the people have the right tools and then if they’re really not performing.
Michael Hurup Andersen: Let them know what’s going on and I’ve experienced you know through the spectrum and people being Frustrated. Um, but I’ve also experienced people being relieved saying look.. It’s good that you mentioned it because I actually feel the same way and I think I’ll be more happy in a different role. Sometimes you can find a different role in the Company. We’ve done that and sometimes just better to help them. You know in another company with a different profile because everybody can perform but but most people can perform but it can be quite challenging to find the right setting and circumstances that. Sometimes people can search a lifetime for that without finding it unfortunately.
Alejandro Cremades: Yeah, and it’s also a cost opportunity on both ends because I mean I personally have experienced that and I’ve made the mistake of having built in the past a company where perhaps I had someone that was not performing and just to be nice. You know you try to. Move this person around and you know ultimately is also a cost opportunity for that person as Well. So um.
Michael Hurup Andersen: It is it. It’s much much better. But I look I’ve done the same thing both you know, ah in previous assignments and and maybe even here but because you you really don’t want to. You don’t want to hurt. People’s feelings through you so you you really want to help them I mean that comes from the bottom of your heart and but sometimes that’s difficult to ah to process sometimes as a leader what you really want is to put them in a place where they’re happy and I may this sound a little bit corny to say. But if people aren’t performing. Usually they know and they’re not happy in their jobs so giving them the relief to go or otherwise at least that that that’s that that’s a good path for everybody. Um, but I would say in Scandinavia we are ah probably a little more inclined to to create. And environment where people can thrive and in various forms so we will try multiple things before we get to the conclusion whereas my experience in the us is that they have a shorter. There’s a shorter period of of decision where they execute a little faster in Scandinavia. Denmark Norway Sweden Finland we do tend to to to try to find a more holistic approach to this. Um, sometimes that’s good sometimes it’s probably not.
Alejandro Cremades: Now the current environment to the this macro environment has say really impacted the way that the things are and I mean before the really successful companies were pushed into raising a lot of money and now those successful companies that raised a lot of money. Then they’re now. So not so successful anymore because now what the market is asking for is Profitability. So How do you think too about profitability versus growth.
Michael Hurup Andersen: That’s that’s ah that that is probably the the key question right now right? and we built this bank I mean because we are regulated bank. We’ve always had a requirement to. To come up with a credible plan to become profitable quite quickly. Otherwise you’re not allowed to to run a bank and so for us, we’ve always been quite focused on moving towardsbreak even quickly. Um our core business is now profitable. We have a couple of investment projects that are not yet profitable but. But our core product which is credit is actually making money which is helpful and but I think you know, growing back a few years I had multiple multiple fundraising discussions with with very very smart people. Very challenged people who who declined to invest in us. Um, because we were not growing fast enough. We were having too much focused on on on profitability. Um, that actually. Left a lot of money on the table for us. Ah in terms of fundraising but we felt that we made a conscious decision to go against that wave of of raising a lot of money and then hiring and spending and then see what happens profitability will come.
Michael Hurup Andersen: We went against that wave and at the time it felt really really painful I did not like that. Um, but I guess fast forward to to 2023 I suppose in hindsight that decision was was was completely accurate to do that remember we didn’t know that at the time. But we could have been massively wrong? Ah, but but we happen to be right? Um, based on a number of of assessments. But but we actually took ah ah what we believe is an informed whis decision around. How do we run this business right? And our our choice was you know. Easy and free money is probably going to dry out at some point. Let’s get to profitability and show everybody that that we here to stay for the long term and then you know we will have to reassess at that time and and that’s exactly what we’ve done. We haven’t done. You know a 5 8 10 year business plan with product rollouts. Everything is planned I mean it takes longer time to write that plan than than to actually execute it. So so it’s better to be very very focused in our opinion on your core and then we decided to to instead of expanding our courts or couple of more things but which we easily could do. We decided, let’s let’s go for profitability and then we we will expand from that base instead.
Alejandro Cremades: So just to double click on focusing on your core. Let me ask you this imagine you were to go to sleep tonight and you wake up in a world where the vision of Compass Bank is fully realized what does that world look like.
Michael Hurup Andersen: That’s a that’s a cool question like how long time do you got? Um, no that world of of of the the fully developed compass bank is probably never going to happen but but I do believe that in ah in in 3 years 3 to 5 years You know we will have a bank that is completely enabled and to support s mes around Europe. Not only to to move their balance sheet around the way they need to and make investments through the credit that we can we we can afford them but also having a complete day-to-day operations and and operational excellence ah focus on that that means that we can help them with day- to-day. Decisions not that we sit here and do it manually but through the systems inside and and the entire ai world that I think finance is going to benefit from probably more than any other business. Perhaps medical industry is the other one that will go. Logistics is also okay, but finance is probably 1 of the. Most interesting industries to to to to look at um, when you’re looking at Ai and what that whole last language model development can do for your risk management for your pricing for your product development for your customers. Just imagine that you can create.
Michael Hurup Andersen: You know you can you can create a tailor-made solution for each customer on a mass scale. These two things do not normally rhyme together but I really do believe that that’s what you can do with with the in the coming years that is where we are across Europe. Having the ability to help them. Operationally, you know transaction with their own you know with their day to day and then their their balance sheet I think that world is going to be what I believe we will do our share of the heavy lifting ah to ensure that Europe remains.
Michael Hurup Andersen: Ah, competitive because there are tough people out there. The us is not holding back anything for anybody. They are always competitive Asia is coming the Middle East is doing fantastic things Africa as well. I mean this is going to be a very very I think it’s a very competitive market going forward. But I also have extremely high hopes for how we can lift the entire standard of living that’s nothing to do with our compass bank but you know where the world is going in that setting right? where you improve people into middle class and then upper middle class. In that setting you’re goingnna need a lot of services for smmes because those are precisely the ones creating the jobs creating the growth and having the bulk of all that heavy lifting is being done by smes and that’s the way it always been done the requirements from that sector is gonna. Multiply into the tens and twenty s so that means that we need to be able to service that that.
Alejandro Cremades: So now I want to I want to ask you something here. Imagine and I want to talk about the past but with a length of reflection imagine I was to put you into a time machine and I bring you back to 2017 when you’re starting to think about doing something of your own and imagine. You’re able to enter into that office where your desk was at at alvare a marsal and you’re able to have a sit down with that younger self that is about to put the notice. Let’s say you were able to give that younger self that younger Michael. 1 piece of advice before launching a business knowing what you know now what would that be and why.
Michael Hurup Andersen: Um, ah, um, what that? Okay, well, that’s a really good question I think my advice would be.
Michael Hurup Andersen: Remember advice or maybe a statement I don’t know but remember you’re not a victim right? You chose this So be man enough to to pull through it’s going to be difficult look no company. That’s ever been. You know, successful in any way or capacity. Has done that in a straight line. It always goes up and down it goes backwards you feel setbacks you feel feel things. The pain is actually real. Um, but you’re not a victim right? You chose this and you are making a difference. So okay, do you have a bad day.
Michael Hurup Andersen: Accept it. There’s a new one tomorrow but tomorrow you show up the office every day you show up in the office with a smile and you remember you are the one that’s putting this forward right? You got to be the one to do that. There’s no other people. There’s no one around you to do it. You got to do it and that mindset. Your entire team needs to have. It’s not just you the entire team needs to go into the office believing every day that you are the one that is going to pull this through the responsibility lies on you if you can do that and you can have a cool team around you that will do the same. Ah, say you come a really long way.
Alejandro Cremades: I love that Michael for the people that are listening that will love to reach out and say hi. What is the best way for them to do so.
Michael Hurup Andersen: Oh just drop us an email I mean send an email to us. Um either to myself or you know to to our communications department if you if they want to say hi or or or communicate in any way we open always open for. For for for fun partnerships and and ideas.
Alejandro Cremades: Amazing. What is the email account that they should they send a note to.
Michael Hurup Andersen: And they should send a note to to to and Casper K A S P E R At Compass Bank Dot Dk that is directly to our.
Alejandro Cremades: Amazing.
Michael Hurup Andersen: Head of communication and marketing and he will be the one to to be able to do this. He’s probably Goingnna he’s probably gonna love me for for giving his email out like that. But I just did.
Alejandro Cremades: Amazing, well easy enough. Well Michael ah I love it or hey Michael thank you so much for being on the deal maker show today. It has been an on earth to have you with us.
Michael Hurup Andersen: Well my pleasure and thank you so much for having me and look reach out if anything we can do to help. Okay.
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