Craig Hurlbert has been involved in the launch, capitalization, and exit of a number of companies. His most recent venture raised almost $200M before going public in just around three years in business.
On the Dealmakers Show, Hurlbert shared his learnings from operating on both sides of the table, how to reverse engineer your business and exit, the four pools of capital for your startup, and the big project he is working on now.
Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.
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Hard Work & Competitive Spirit
Craig Hurlbert was born in Montana. The winters were spent in the city. The summers were lived on the family farm.
He credits his family support system, and the values they taught him with much of the success he has achieved today.
Sports were a big thing in their family too. His father had been a baseball pitcher. Craig split the seasons between playing basketball and golf. He had some natural ability in golf. Which took him to college in San Diego, California. Though today, his competing and competitive spirit is much more focused on business.
Some of Hulbert’s top advice for other CEOs and entrepreneurs today is to just work harder than everyone else. Then as well as staying humble, do not lose your passion. He says, “because passion is a force multiplier that just you know it just can’t be substituted.” Adding “if you’re not passionate about it. Just go find something else to do.”
The Three Essentials For A Business
After college Craig Hulbert joined Ford’s financial program. He thought he would continue working there while working on his Ph.D. Then after getting his MBA, going into investment banking set his career on a new trajectory.
During this stint in investment banking, Hulbert says that he spent time valuing close to 50 different companies.
He found three main differentiators, or essentials for a good business, and one that is viable.
The first is people. Even though technology keeps evolving, businesses are still all about the people. Especially, how well-connected the team is, and how passionate they are about what they are doing.
The second is having a value proposition. You need to have something that people want to have and buy.
Then, thirdly, the company has to be able to make a profit from doing this. Craig warns that so many people get excited about an idea and their product, yet overlook the necessity to make the economics work, and to be about to turn a real profit.
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From Corporate To Entrepreneurship
When the company he was working for was acquired by GE, Craig really saw how having the talented team, and their consciousness of the economics of the business made such a difference.
At the time, GE was considered a great company, and its CEO, Jack Welch, one of the best in the world.
During his time there, Craig took his sales team from 4 to 130 people, and a billion dollars in his last quarter with the company. They were selling long-term service agreements globally and turned it into a very profitable business segment for GE.
During these years, he says that he learned all he could about being a good executive. Yet, he really wanted to go build something of his own. He did and found out how scrappy, and humble you have to be to make it work.
One startup energy company he joined when they were just 15 people ended up successfully pivoting their business from air conditioning for gas turbines to cooling for data centers. While that meant they ended up working on something completely different than they set out to, it turned into billion-dollar customers, and an acquisition to a public company.
Reverse Engineering Your Success
Next, Craig Hurlbert switched to the other side of the table with his own private equity firm.
With this firm, he set out to help entrepreneurs monetize their companies.
What they did differently was to help entrepreneurs reverse engineer their success. All too often today it seems entrepreneurs are stuck just putting one foot in front of the other in the dark, focusing on building a product, without having really mapped out their end game, and how it will deliver on the things that they want most.
Instead of punting thinking about positioning your company for an acquisition or IPO in five or 10 years from now; this means starting with the end in mind. You need to know what will make your company that valuable and enable that optionality at that time.
As well as understanding how you will get there. For example, if you just stumble through a Series A to Series E round of funding, you may end up fully diluted, and walking away with almost nothing after 10 years of hard work. Which is another reason Craig says that it is so important for leaders to understand the different pools of capital that are available to them.
Storytelling is everything which is something that Craig Hurlbert was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
From Zero To IPO In Just Three Years
Craig Hurlbert’s latest and current venture is agtech business, Local Bounti.
Local Bounti is transforming the food supply chain by growing, harvesting, and distributing food, all in close proximity.
In turn, this is tackling the huge problem of food waste, water usage, and pollution.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- The four pools of capital you need to know
- What triggered Craig to leap back into being a founder after running a fund
- The huge impact that Local Bounti is having by changing how we grow and source food