Rob Biederman has gone from founding his own startup to leading a $100M plus venture capital firm that is eager to fund great entrepreneurs, even at the pre-seed stage. The firm, Catalant, has attracted funding from top-tier investors like General Catalyst, Morningside Venture Investments, 40 North Ventures, and Highland Capital.
In this episode, you will learn:
- Fundraising is fast and easy; hiring is not
- Dropping out of Shark Tank
- Finding product market fit
- Being transparent with your investors
For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400 million (see it here).
Remember to unlock for free the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
About Rob Biederman:
Rob Biederman is the Founder and also serves as Managing Partner at Asymmetric Capital Partners. He is also a Co-Founder and serves as Chairman at Catalant.
Rob serves as Board Member at Torc. He serves as an Advisor at Impellent Ventures. He is an angel investor. Prior to Asymmetric, he co-founded and served as co-CEO for eight years of Catalant Technologies, the market leader enabling companies to frictionlessly access and deploy talent, ranging from employees to over 70,000 elite independent consultants and 1,000 boutique firms.
Rob is also an Executive Fellow at Harvard Business School and co-author of a book titled, Reimagining Work: Strategies to Disrupt Talent, Lead Change, and Win with a Flexible Workforce, which lays out a vision and path for a new relationship between global companies and talent.
Rob is also co-author of a book titled, Reimagining Work: Strategies to Disrupt Talent, Lead Change, and Win with a Flexible Workforce, which lays out a vision and path for a new relationship between global companies and talent.
Prior to founding Catalant, he was a private equity investor at Goldman Sachs and Bain Capital, where he focused on the healthcare and high-tech industries. In these roles, he served as an advisor to and collaborator with both public and private management teams on topics including organic growth, competitive strategy, mergers and acquisitions, capital allocation, and financing strategy.
Rob is also an Executive Fellow at Harvard Business School in the Entrepreneurial Management unit, co-teaching the Scaling Technology Ventures course on funding and accelerating the growth of disruptive internet companies.
He graduated from Princeton University with an A.B., cum laude, in Economics and Finance, and from Harvard Business School as a Baker Scholar.
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Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:
Alejandro Cremades: So all righty well welcome to the dealmakerr show. So very very excited with a with the founder that we have today founder investor in everything you know I think that we’re going to be enjoying you know quite you know a bit this conversation. You know from you know, being you know the helm of his business. You know that he started you know for. I mean obviously now a decade you know he is still involved. You know now more as a chairman but he was you know cosio there and now he is a el leadinging the chart you know with his new firm. Ah you know his Vc firm that he’s been at it now for a few years. So it’s going to be interesting to really you know hear from his experience. You know how. It looks like you know when you do that transition but without farther ado let’s welcome our guest today Rob Peterman welcome to the show.
Rob Biederman: Thank you, Thank you so much for having me great to be on.
Alejandro Cremades: So originally born in New York City so how was live growing up you know around the New York city area and then also chapaqua.
Rob Biederman: Yeah, um, you know it was a great It was a great place to be a little kid. My family lived pretty close to central park. Um I think when I got to be about 4 we started. You know the apartment started to get a little small for ah for a child that liked to run around. Um, and so we moved out to chapoqua right? before my sister was born. Um, and so it was it was kind of cool to have 2 perspectives growing up of having you know, obviously lived in 1 of the most consequential cities and on the planet and then also in a kind of wonderful suburban town with great public schools.
Alejandro Cremades: So in your case, you know what did it look like like getting into because I mean you ended up going to Princeton but in your case I mean how how how do you end up, you know, like going to Princeton I mean why out of all the schools that you had because obviously you know like you had the opportunity as well. You know to be in the city to be close to the city. You know, like all the the stuff going on like why Princeton and then also economics why economics.
Rob Biederman: Well, it’s funny I actually really wanted to be an engineer in college and I really leaned in a lot to math and science in high school I think when I got to college I learned that what I’d enjoyed a lot about high school math and physics was it was really around solving puzzles and it and it felt like playing games almost. And then I got to undergrad and I think I found that it was way more technical and that economics was actually really the ah the puzzle solving and so I think it was it was actually a pretty continuous thread in my life from always being obsessed with getting to solutions and um. Absolutely love the Princeton Economics department and I think that’s really more than probably anything other than my family. What pushed me down into the business world was I remember first semester freshman year I was an engineer but I took economics one on one and I just found it to be this this kind of magical world of thinking about ah markets and business in a way that I’d never.
Alejandro Cremades: Now obviously the typical route you know when you study economics and I find that very helpful too when you become an entrepreneur later on is having on one in the investment banking experience which you achieved with Goldman Sachs to be able to really understand how how it works you know good companies, bad companies.
Rob Biederman: Never done before.
Alejandro Cremades: But then also you know the other the other part of it was being capital. You know which is you know is he more investing into a little bit more earlier stages than what you would typically see at a Goldman Sach so what what experience would you say gave you. Being at Goldman Sachson then at Bain to really understand what separates the good from the bad. Yeah.
Rob Biederman: Yeah I mean I took really important messages and and lessons away from both experiences. Goldman Sachs is a ah company. That’s just so obsessed with excellence in everything it does and I found that everybody I worked with there was incredibly sharp, incredibly intense. Worked really hard obviously and it was really my first foray into into kind of the formal business world. Um, and and that’s really where I learned I think the core nuts and bolts of kind of finance just as much as as an undergrad and then when I moved up to Boston to work at Bain Capital after 2 years probably without a doubt the most intellectually rigorous group of people I’ve ever worked with unbelievable analysts of businesses. A great culture really had a family feel I think a lot of the time the private equity industry gets a really bad rap for you know, um, mistreating management teams or or ah. Letting a lot of employees go and I think being capital was this incredibly noble place where we you know? God’s honest, wanted to improve the companies we bought and not not just by terminating employees but by by growing the revenue side I think we had this this belief there that I think we’ve we’ve kind of continued at asymmetric which is that. Everything if you have sort of economically attractive revenue growth. Everything good comes from there and that’s that’s kind of the first step in any good business outcome is having a product or service that the customer wants to buy at a reasonable price and making sure that that’s a defensible value proposition and and.
Rob Biederman: It was a it was the the two years of bank capital were just an unbelievable business training.
Alejandro Cremades: And the 2 year Mark because at at Goldman Sachs you did 2 years at Bain Capital you did two years and then you go into business school. What the hell was going on with that two year Mark and then you know why business school.
Rob Biederman: Um, you know being capital at that time was very focused on sending folks to business school and I’d actually applied to harvard business school and gotten in when I was a senior in college. Um, and they were very very gentle and kind and letting me defer twice 2 years to work at goldman 2 years to work at at being capital. Um, you know I think Bain Capital is trying to turn folks into very um, serious professional board members. Um, you know for the time after business school and I think they they believe and I certainly agree with this I help teach a class at Hbo now I think they believe that. Supplementing your on the job business training with some actual rigor that you might get in an academic environment is really helpful and I also think business school comes at this wonderful point in your career where you have enough surface area to think critically about everything you’ve done but you’re not too late in your career to kind of be past the point of learning.
Alejandro Cremades: So then in this case, you know for you, you go to um to business school and you know you do the shifting of gears. You know so to speak and and I think that that give you some visibility and perhaps you know access to ah, an incredible network like Hps does that perhaps pushed you.
Rob Biederman: Um, yep.
Alejandro Cremades: Into the world of entrepreneurship. So what was that like what was that like.
Rob Biederman: For sure. Yeah, you know it was funny. Um I had no intent of starting a company at Hps I you know Bank Capital Very very graciously paid for my my time at Hbs and I was meant to go back there when school was over. And um, you know I basically went to school to try to learn as much as I could and also start playing basketball again which had which I’d done at undergrad and I didn’t know much about entrepreneurship in my head I’d always wanted to start a company as a kid I’d started some you know pretty small tiny little businesses. And I think what I learned at Hps was entrepreneurship was a lot more accessible than i’ had assumed it was entrepreneurship felt very black box and very intimidating to somebody who was not. You know, ah, a designer or a software engineer never sold anything and I think in in a really positive way Hbs really demystified entrepreneurship for us. And it was actually the the company I started cattlement which which began life as our only nerd was originally founded as part of a class project. Um, and I think had I never had that class project I’d probably still be back at Bain Capital today
Alejandro Cremades: So then tell us you know how did the idea come about. You know what was that the incubation you know ideation all that stuff and then all of a sudden you’re running a company but.
Rob Biederman: Totally totally so it was it was ah it was a great program called field 3 um where the school gave us $5000 and about 6 to eight weeks to start a company and I think that there was ah a bit of a preference for starting businesses that were able to get to revenue reasonably quickly. And so a lot of our classmates started selling t-shirts and other things like that I think we looked at our unique brand of assets as as folks that had substantially worked in banking consulting private equity and said you know what do we? What market? do we know better than anybody else and I think that the 2 markets we knew that merged to form hourly nerd essentially were. And Nba students had a bunch of spare time on their hands and they needed to finance their trips to Costa Rica and and their their rent obviously and their tuition and then we also knew that small businesses were substantially locked out of the consulting market that was actually quite difficult to um. You know’d be able to access consulting if you were a smaller company so we created an online marketplace to blend the 2 and and this was if you think back to February of 2013 uber was only in probably a handful of cities certainly taskrabbit and and upwork and. Elan odesk were were very small compared to where they are today. So it was. It was quite revolutionary stuff and it certainly was revolutionary to doing be doing it with business tasks I think what we we found over the course of 2013 and 14 was a tremendous amount of inbound use from enterprise customers. So we’d we’d originally designed this as a pure small business product.
Rob Biederman: And all of a sudden we had arm’s length inbound signups from ge and Coca-cola and other companies and when we asked the folks why why would they come to. You know what was in some sense still a class project for a lot of that period they said it is so difficult to be able to get elite people to work for us in these in these corporate settings that. Um, we’re we’re kind of at wit’s end and we’re willing to use this kind of broken website and use our personal credit card in order to be able to get access to those consultants I think that was the moment when we realized we had real potential product market fit.
Alejandro Cremades: And in this case Also you know like what was I mean for the people that are listening what ended up being the business model of Catalan for the people that are listening to really get it. How are you guys making money there.
Rob Biederman: Yeah, so in the end we we landed on rather than a software model. We were going to take a percentage of the spend from the customers and I think if if you were you know ge or an heiser Bush you looked at that and you said you know Boehner Mckinsey might cost 1 or $2,000,000 for this project and cattle. It’s going to cost. 250 k or 200 k and ah you know Catalan’s taking 20% now about 23 24 I think they they look at as a total pricing so forgetting what the split is between the expert and and the cattle and platform still feels like we’re saving. 70% 80% and so they they didn’t much care about where where how that pie was being split and I think on the expert side. It’s really hard to generate. Um, generate kind of leads as an independent business consultant until we essentially are there. Our outsourced business development arm. And they are are sort of very pretty happy to variableize that expense and they think they all make a tremendous amount of money on the projects anyway.
Alejandro Cremades: And and also how many co-founders of you I saw that there were say a few of you guys. So.
Rob Biederman: Yeah, there was there was there was more than a few of us and I think sort of over time people. Ah you know people’s interest dissipated a little bit and so now they’re essentially 2 of us still involved with with the company. My cofounder Pat is is now the sort of soule of business. We were co ceoos for 8 years and then I’m chairman. And but it was really a cool thing to start a business and you know with a bunch of friends and classmates and actually have it succeed which is you know, surely not the expected outcome.
Alejandro Cremades: And how how does that work I mean typically because I mean having having that journey where founders you know like go in different directions. You know I’m sure that there’s a bunch of people that are listening. You know like. How does that look like you know like perhaps how you can structure things in a way that you know if people have like other things you know going on or take different directions. You know how you can go about things you know amicably and and everyone being happy.
Rob Biederman: Yeah, for sure look I think one of the most important things is how equity vests and you know when you decide to start a business with people you have no idea where people’s minds are going to be four years six years ten years later and of course you know standard equity vesting is kind of on the 4 year times scale. But I think we did a good job of setting up a team that had a balance of skill sets and a balance of kind of commitment and interest levels and I think each person kind of got off the train at the point that that made the most sense for them and you know all those. Transitions were incredibly amicable.
Alejandro Cremades: And also what about that that co Ceo structure you know, typically you know like you would want to have like 1 person taking the decisions. How does it work when you have to.
Rob Biederman: Yeah, of course yeah, there’s a lot of kind of bad pr out there about coceo structures I think Pat Pat and I were able to make it work for a handful of reasons I think our relationship was really informed by by deep trust and respect that really um. Kind of pervaded everything we did I also think we had phenomenal alignment in where we were trying to go and of course we had incredibly spirited conversations about the tactics and and what we might do in the short-term un route to achieving what we were looking for and but I don’t think we ever disagreed about where the ultimate ah where the where the ship was ultimately headed and. Think if anything our relationship has become even more rich now that we’re in this chairman and Ceo construct where obviously you know on a day-to-day basis. He’s about a hundred times more involved than I am but I think it’s nice as a board member who had had previously co-led the company. Probably makes it a little easier for me to share opinions and and um and kind of input and they’re backed by you know, 8 years of being a full-time employee at the company which is pretty special.
Alejandro Cremades: And what are what are those dynamics. Um Ceo chairman you know the board and and board member I mean how how how do you go about that relationship making it effectively because at the end of the day. The chairman is the one that.
Rob Biederman: Yeah, yeah.
Alejandro Cremades: Certain degree manages. You know the other board members and the Ceo you know is the one that is running the company and grabbing whatever um you know, strategies discussed at a board level and then you know executing with a management team. So how does that relationship you know work effectively. Yes.
Rob Biederman: Yeah I mean in some sense I say we almost have more of a kind of informal co-chairman relationship and I don’t necessarily see myself as any different from any of the other board members I think Pat Pat is fully capable of running the company on his own at this point and um, doing that both the strategy and kind of. Even 1 ne one layer above strategy sort of corporate strategy versus commercial strategy. Um, you know I think look we’ve we’ve always had an an unbelievably collegial group of board members at catalan and and now some of the board members. We picked up in 2013 2014 have become some of our closest friends. Um, and and obviously investors and in my firm and so you know yeah, it’s not the kind of board where we have votes like we don’t have contentious board meetings. We don’t have you know knee knee knocker votes where it’s 3 people want to do 1 thing and 2 want to do other I think I think we’re pretty. Pretty thoughtful about billing to consensus and alignment and at the other you know once you’ve been doing it for 10 years and in some cases with some of these folks. Um I think we all kind of know exactly what everybody else is thinking and so it’s it’s very much kind of the company and the board against the market rather than the company against the board or. Ceo against the chairman it’s very much kind of all rowing the boat in the same direction. Ah we raised just about one hundred and thirty million dollars
Alejandro Cremades: And how much how much have the company raised to date What and what was that the journey of going from one cycle to the next to the business.
Rob Biederman: Oh man I mean our first round we we basically almost couldn’t raise it. We got really lucky that we met a judge at Hbs who’d himself been a alumnus and started a company. He offered to invest in the company but he said that we had to get somebody else to invest. It couldn’t just be. Can just be him went to every accelerator incubator angel group and everybody turned us down for for a handful of reasons some of them were really good. Some I think were a little less thoughtful and where we ultimately landed was we sent Mark we applied to go in shark tank we got accepted. We unfortunately couldn’t make the audition because it conflicted with our first day of class at. Hbos second year and so we dropped out of the formal sh shark tank process but we sent Mark cuban an email directly and and he agreed to invest really quickly and that ah kind of catalyzed everything and then um in the fall of 14 we got inbound from Highland and from graylock. They wanted to invest as well and we didn’t we didn’t need the money at the time. But I think when we met Dan Nova and Highland and Bill Hallman from graylock. We felt like they were just the kind of Dna we wanted involved in the company and if we didn’t need the money and I think that was in some sense that was kind of the professionalizing moment in the fall of 14 early fifteen where we I think for the first time really had. Professional investors on board and that really um, really shifted just how we thought about everything we had you know rigorous board meetings and you know Shirley Graylock and Highlander you know two of the best firms out there.
Alejandro Cremades: So obviously running the business for about 7 years and change. You know as a co-ceo at what point you know, do you realize? a maybe there’s something else for me.
Rob Biederman: Yep.
Rob Biederman: Yeah, you know I always fancied myself a little more of an investor than an operator and I remember a really memorable conversation with Dan Nova right up right? as they were writing our series a investment check which was which was actually in January of 14 and. At that point I was still contracted to go back to Bain Capital and I said look you know it’s it’s very likely I actually do go back to main capital I loved it there and and I really want to go back and he said you know I bet I bet after running the company for three or four months you’ll realize that you’re not an investor and you’re actually a Ceo founder and and I think that that. For me in the moment was true I think by the end of the school year and in the spring of 14 I really did have that that belief and I think that that pervaded you know the 7 eight years the 8 years that I was Ceo I really felt that and I think as we got into kind of 19 and 20 and particularly the pandemic I started making more angel investments. And I realized how much fun I found it to be involved in a bunch of different businesses I think at this point Pat and to some extent I are really you know two miles deep and ten inches wide at catalan and what I loved about Bank Capital was being kind of one hundred feet deep and eight miles wide on a bunch of different industries and. You know having every day be very different because you might be talking to a billboard company or a heart health company and um, you know I approached the board in the summer really starting in kind of 20192020 about you know what? what might it look like if I started doing more investing.
Rob Biederman: Um, or what might it look like if I you know transitioned to something that looked like a chairman role in order to be able to invest and I think you know at first they were they were somewhat um, unreceptive. But I think over time they kind of realized that you know for a lot of what we were doing Pat was really you know managing things day-to-day. And there wasn’t a lot that I was doing as Ceo towards the end that I couldn’t do from a board member seat that I didn’t really need to be a full-time employee and it was actually kind of a magical process the way the fund came together where in some sense the fund was just as much created by 1 of our board members as by me and and. He he actually proposed it to me. We were having iced tea ah out on his patio in in August of 2020 and you know I said I think I might be be ready to kind of sort of thing about transitioning out of cattle in and he said what do you think you’re going to do I said I’ll go to traditional investment firm. Um, probably more venture than private equity. He said well what you know would you ever consider starting a firm with me and and that was that was that was a really exciting moment and because I didn’t surely with virtually no track record I didn’t have the confidence in myself to think that that was something I could do um so it was really special. Um.
Alejandro Cremades: So what happened next.
Rob Biederman: So then I started thinking a little more about, um, you know what I wanted to do and and how I went and phased the transition. Obviously you know we were kind of right in the middle of the pandemic there but but the company was doing really well. Um I think for so many of the companies that we were trying really hard to. Sell to they they found it really difficult to conceptualize how they would bring in consultants who would work along their full-time employees and when everybody was full-time in person I think that that was actually quite intimidating and scary and then obviously sort of unrelated to the future work in March of 2020 essentially every company went fully remote. And I think over the course of that year our customers realized how much easier it was to be able to bring in flexible flexible. You know talent flexible contractors and we started working way more collaboratively with them and so we had a really fantastic summer in in 2020 and and and revenue was. Was doing really nicely so I felt like at that point the company was in a really good spot and and you know Pat was in great shape and so I I sort of approached the board in September of twenty twenty about you know, beginning to think about what a transition timeline Mccaque could look like and and I proposed that I would you know sort of. My my last day as Ceo I but become executive chairman in the fall of twenty I think November and then become non-ex executivecutive chairman in February and really get into um ah, investing at that point and um, yeah, it was it. Ah.
Rob Biederman: Hey I just have to take care of 1 thing if we just pause for one second I just have a annoying logific perfect.
Alejandro Cremades: Yeah, but but but just just just mute yourself. Don’t don’t touch anything else.
Rob Biederman: Okay, I’m back. Yeah so.
Alejandro Cremades: So then how you so you you got started with investing and then and then what happened.
Rob Biederman: Yeah, so um, you know we we basically agreed ah you know I would I would transition to a non-exeive chairman role in February and at that that point I wanted to um, ah you know my intent was to take a couple months off um and so I went out west to to Jackson Hole and and. tried to become a ski bum for a little bit but the snow was really bad. Um, and so I found myself and I think this this was kind of an interesting reflection. You know, obviously when you when you have a full-time job. The idea of taking some time off and doing other stuff hiking playing golf seems really interesting and I remember every day. Because the snow was bad. It was really drawn to coming back inside and just working on the pitch deck and and I had this feeling like there were so many exciting deals happening and I was missing them and I could take this could take a couple weeks or months off but almost every day that I wasn’t raising the fund was going to make it make it more difficult to you know, be able to. Like to get those deals and and I you know at the time I was warehousing some deals you know out of my my personal balance sheet but obviously couldn’t write very large checks and so wasn’t necessarily credible when when facing founders are facing the market and so got together with a bunch of folks. Ah, principally I already knew or my anchor investor already knew and we raised 105,000,000? Um, pretty quickly in the spring of 2021 attribute that about 95% to his reputation with those folks and 5 % to kind of how strong the market was for venture at that point and and then.
Rob Beiderman: We kind of put together the mechanics. There’s actually a lot of so venture capital firm is not as easy as starting your company like if you want to if you want to start a company right? now you can you could have one by the end of the day but a venture capital firm because it’s essentially kind of a 10 year agreement and a 10 year contract there’s a lot of pieces that have to get into place and so we spent a lot of the spring and summer both. Doing the legal mechanics of getting the firm going and then also hiring and I remember people people told me you’re going to find it really easy to raise money and almost impossible to hire and I I said I think you have that the exact opposite way I think fundraising is going to be impossible and be very easy to put the team together and fundraising only took a couple months and the team took about 2 years to assemble. So.
Alejandro Cremades: Wow because typically typically for for a firm like this. Um, what kind of team members. Do you really do you really need.
Rob Beiderman: Um.
Rob Beiderman: Yeah, well you know, originally when we were thinking of a fund that was probably going to be more in the 25 to $50000000 range um you know it’s probably only be 1 or 2 folks plus me. But when we got to 1 oh 5 it felt like we actually really had to put together a you know a larger group.
Rob Beiderman: I Sorry my dog’s about to bark if I don’t give them water once a.
Rob Beiderman: He unfortunately he does not understand the sanctity of podcasts and yeah, so so you know once we once we realize that you know we’re gonna be investing one hundred and five million dollars the imperative to put together a team that really had the folks who had the ability to lead deals apart from me became.
Alejandro Cremades: No no worries. No.
Rob Beiderman: Became more relevant and started out interviewing a bunch of people that worked in venture and I found that they kind of sorted into 2 groups broadly some of them were really world class. Amazing people at great firms and I think when I pitched them on joining kind of a startup firm out of hol cloth I think that felt a little risky to them. And then ah the other group of people I thought were were talented in certain respects but given my background as an operator and having been a sort of private equity investor I didn’t feel as if we were going to collaborate all that well um, and so ultimately almost all of the folks I hired or all of them had not previously worked in venture. All of them had either been operators or or private equity investors at places like Carlyle and Kkr. Um, and so I think in in certain respects. we’ve we’ve kind of brought a lot of the fire and the energy that I had in the startup context then we kind of blended it with a lot of the intellectual rigor and the discipline that we um. That that I think we inherited from being capital.
Alejandro Cremades: And how much do you have? do you guys have right now under management in terms of assets. Okay.
Rob Beiderman: Yeah, so just still just one of 5 We’ve only raised the one fund and we’re approximately halfway deployed with it I think we’ll we’ll you know continue to deploy that fund for the rest of this year and maybe into early next.
Alejandro Cremades: And what’s the investment theses there.
Rob Beiderman: Um, so essentially we we believe that you can create a lot of value using you know, traditional analysis of industries and understanding where particularly for legacy industries where people are still using phone calls and pens and text messages to communicate facts or data or ideas. And we really in the in you know in the main back really early stage software companies typically at the pre-revenue stage I think we care a tremendous amount about the founder and we care a lot about the end market. We’re completely willing to negotiate on traction. So you know the last 4 companies we back weren’t even incorporated at the moment where we invested in them. And we found that you know the Vc market is so unbelievably competitive and every little slice of it. The one area that might be a little less competitive is pre-revenu um, because I think for for most Vc firms. They need to see $1000000 of revenue or $5000000 of revenue. And so the pre-seed market is has some vcs that play in it but substantially a lot of ah, really just a lot of angels and kind of micro funds. Um, and we like we like that competitive set I think part of the challenges is you get to checks that are 5 10 $ 20000000 you start to get into a pretty. Pretty aggressive competitive set now I think over time we’ll probably migrate there and we’ll start doing more aggressive. Follow-ons in our own companies rather than letting the interreens and and others of the world follow on. Um, but I think when you’re when you’re first time fun with with not very much kind of brand awareness.
Rob Beiderman: Series A market is just unbelievably competitive.
Alejandro Cremades: And what is that thing that you typically look for in founders that you back. So.
Rob Beiderman: Yeah, we we have quite ah we have quite a few factors. We look for I think a certainly kind of commercial intensity and and fire in the belly I think we want to we want to back people that are almost maniacal about solving their pain point for for the customer segment I think we really. Really favor backing people that we think have have pretty good business savvy and pretty good videos business intuition I think the reality is when you first back somebody for an idea the chance that they end up actually running at that idea in the end is is quite low. Um, and so it’s nice to know that if we back. This group of people to run after idea a it turns out that the market isn’t there for idea and they want to run at idea B We. We’d equally be happy to be in business with them to build idea B Um, you know I think we also look for people that we can collaborate well with it’s a difficult.
Rob Beiderman: There’s so much angst and uncertainty that goes through building a company particularly for the better part of a decade and I think one of the best things I took away from Catalan is having just phenomenally honest transparent candid supportive relationships with your board.
Alejandro Cremades: So then let’s say you were to go to sleep tonight Rob and you wake up in a world where the vision of asymmetric is fully realized what does that world look like.
Rob Beiderman: Um, um, certainly for us I think we’re we’re a firm that is way more supportive of our founders than most Vc firms are to be candid. Um I think the industry has has a reputation that’s probably more or less deserved. Luckily I wouldn’t say 1 time but sorry one second yeah.
Alejandro Cremades: A and or is.
Rob Beiderman: Retreat where intro ah look this peanut butter man won’ get the peanut butter look at this. But so exciting shit place shit shit good dog.
Alejandro Cremades: What dog is that.
Rob Beiderman: Not ah, he’s a golden doodle. He’s a wonderful dog. But if I spend 2 or 3 hours at a computer without giving attention then he needs ah needs to treat. Um, so yeah, if you know if I woke up in the vision of asymetrics fully realized I think that the industry has a.
Alejandro Cremades: That’s how amazing that’s amazing. Go.
Rob Beiderman: Reasonably well- deserveved reputation for Vc is practicing kind of helicopter board memberming where they disappear for eighty nine or ninety days and then show up for 1 or 2 and and try to kind of throw their weight around often with very little context and I think we were we were lucky not to have that at catalant where we had board members that were truly committed and spent more time with us. But I think. The the reality of the industry in the main is that that that’s probably more true than not that the vcs kind of parachute in and they say things that that are really important to the founders and the founders hear those things and and sometimes make business model pivots around it. 1 second more water but I’m trying to do this come on I love you. You know you being a p you were being a p right? This is your last interruption consider water and that’s the end of you interrupting the podcast with me. What you’re being annoying. Okay, hopefully that was a good sad I tried to cut that on a good sound bite there and mindful that he was about the bark. Um, yeah, and look I’d say look the most important thing to us is that we’re just the first call of our founders when things go well when things don’t go well, we just want them to reach out to us and.
Alejandro Cremades: Yeah, all right? So no, always you deal is that off.
Rob Beiderman: If we don’t have the information we can’t assist them I think your relationship you have with your Vc is not different from what you have with your lawyer or your doctor or you know many other trusted specialties and if you want to get the most out of them I think. Transparency and and kind of early warnings are are really important and I think our what we have to do in exchange. We want founders to be really transparent when they come to us and something’s gone badly. We can’t be mad. We can’t point fingers we have to be really solution oriented and we really have to say okay, this is the set of facts on the ground today and assuming they didn’t do anything unethical. Um, this is what we’re going to do to help you out of it I think sometimes founders are actually quite rational because they feel as if they have to be perfect to their vcs because in the reality a lot of times the next round is going to come from the existing vcs and so people don’t like being transparent with their vcs because they always want to seem like everything’s perfect and everything’s going well and I think one of the disciplines I kind of bring to the table as ah as a former founder is that I know everything is not always going well and I know there’s lots of there’s lots of issues and we sort of in a world where we know that everything isn’t going. Well every single day founder can be honest and transparent with us and we can workshop that with them. Or they cannot and we never hold it against them I think the happiest phone calls I get from founders are when they’re super transparent with us. But what’s going on and I almost don’t care if the substance ah is good or bad.
Alejandro Cremades: Now imagine I was to put you into a time machine and I bring you back in time perhaps to that moment that you were still you know at Harvard business school wondering you know like what the future you know hold and you had the opportunity of going back at at that moment and sitting your younger self down.
Rob Beiderman: Yeah, yeah.
Alejandro Cremades: And being able to give that younger Rob one piece of advice before starting a company. What would that be and why given what you know now.
Rob Beiderman: Um, that’s so interesting I guess I’d say um I guess I’d say you know I tended to get very um, sort of had believed that every single thing that occurred was ah was such a big deal and the reality is no no. Great development is quite as good as you think it is and no um and no bad development is as bad as you think it is and I think probably having had a slightly more long-term point of view would have made the experience a little more emotionally stable for myself. Um. You know it’s it’s difficult when you’re running a company because you’re so emotionally invested in it and it’s so much a part of you. It’s not a job. It has nothing to do with any traditional job you’ve ever had and you know I think I found as a as a founder. Um. I think thiss what this is what I try try to transmit to our founders is how can I help you mute some of the emotional cycles of this company and I think one way that vcs can do that and they sure he did that for me at Catallin was ah make clear that they’re on our team and they’re going to be helpful and they’re going to help figure things out. And and that was something really special that they did that they did for us.
Alejandro Cremades: I love that so Rob for the people that are listening that will love to reach out and hi what is the best way for them to to do so.
Rob Beiderman: Yeah, um, so they they can find me on Twitter it’s Beaterman Rob and then also um, you know through through the asymmettric website. Um, yeah, find it that again.
Alejandro Cremades: Ah, hold on. Let let let’s repeat that the yeah.
Rob Beiderman: Yeah I they they can find me on Twitter it’s it’s do I’m sorry usually it’s not like this is what up from in that and um, so if folks want to reach me always available on Twitter it’s Petererman Rob Beiderman: and then also just through the the asymmetric website.
Alejandro Cremades: And no worries. No worries.
Rob Beiderman: Um, every all the sort of contact information there. Ah ah absolutely my pleasure. Thanks ajandra.
Alejandro Cremades: Amazing! Well hey Rob thank you so much for being on the deal maker show today. It has been an honor to have you with us.
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