Coach to Executives & Entrepreneurs, Co-Founder Mabel’s Labels
Julie Ellis | Coach to Executives & Entrepreneurs, Co-Founder Mabel's Labels

"As you write code you have a technical debt. And so how do you create something that's as modular as possible that can scale with you"

- Julie Ellis

Julie Ellis on her journey as a financial planner, entrepreneur, and angel investor.

Talk Takeaways

Julie Ellis, President and CEO of Julie Ellis & Co., joined (JP) Jeffery Potvin to share about her journey as a financial planner, entrepreneur, and angel investor. Julie shared four points that helped her launch and successfully exit her startup company, Mabel’s Labels.

Julie also touched on the importance of the team, modular product, network, and advisors. She also shares her investment process and how she is helping startups.

About

Julie Ellis is a notable executive and business coach. She provides her unique experience and expertise, gained through 25 years of working first in the corporate world, and then as a leading Canadian entrepreneur. She is a co-founder of award-winning Mabel’s Labels, one of Canada’s greatest small business success stories.

As a professionally certified coach with the International Coaching Federation (2020), Julie works directly with bold leaders propelling them to unlock their capacity, leading to accelerated success.

Since starting her own coaching company, Julie Ellis and Co. in 2016, Julie has been advising and working directly with dozens of organizations. Through Impact Coaches, Julie has been coaching Ontario partners for a leading professional services organization. She was enlisted as the Growth Mentor for female-founded companies in Beyond Boundaries, a program run by Haltech and funded by the Canadian government in their efforts to double the number of women-owned businesses in Canada by 2025. She also spent 18 months as Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Snuggle Bugz, a privately owned omni-channel retailer based in Burlington, Ontario. She has been advising entrepreneurs through the Hamilton-based Innovation Factory and Halton-based Haltech since 2019. She is also Chair of the Board at Angel One Investment Network, one of the most active angel investor groups in Canada.

A sought-after speaker and trainer, Julie has developed keynotes and workshops for private companies, corporations and associations, with titles such as “Ignite, Scale and Exit”, “Success Secrets of Wonder Women!” and “Why We All Need to Think Big!”.

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery:
welcome Julie for joining us today. Welcome to the Supporters Fund ask an angel i’m your host Jeffrey Potvin and let’s welcome our investor for today which is julie ellis and julie thank you for being with us today

Julie:
Hey ! thanks for having me it’s great to see you

Jeffery:
Likewise. Well the way we like to start things off is if you can give us a little bit of a background on your past where you kind of come from and then a little bit on today, where you are at and then one thing about you that nobody would know

Julie:
Okay so i started out my life as a financial planner. and uh when i started my career worked my way through a couple of different roles and ended up as a financial planner in the investment services industry. And at that time kind of dreamed of like jumping out of the hamster wheel and doing something that i had a little bit more control over my own destiny. So together with three friends that i had met when we went to the University of Waterloo together i started a business called Mabel’s Labels in one of the founders basements and we made customized name labels for kids that stuck to all their gear everything they took out into the world to daycare to sports camp to school and so that everything would come back home again. So the labels go through the dishwasher in the microwave uv resistant super sticky super durable. And so we started that business in 2003 as a direct to consumer play and people were not generally selling things on the internet it was kind of in the early days of e-commerce and you know there was no Shopify to build yourself a site. And so we got ourselves going and long story short we grew the first basement and decided my business partner who’s my sister-in-law should buy a bigger house so we had a bigger basement. Which she did. and then we took a commercial space and Mabel’s is actually still in that space today. We were able to take on more square footage in the building and that sort of thing and then we grew it up to about 40 people we had a line we custom manufactured the labels ourselves we had a line we sold into target in the us and walmart in canada that was personalized on the fly with a sharpie marker we had those made in china. And then avery labels came calling. And although the business wasn’t for sale at the time we were kind of imagining our future as the next stage of you know as you do when you hit different thresholds of growing your business. And long story short they made us a great offer, and so at the end of 2015 we sold the business to CCL industries which is the owner of the Avery labels brand and we liked that they were Canadian we liked that they kept the companies kind of ran themselves that they acquired so we keep our space and our team in Hamilton Ontario. And we would be able to keep growing the business with someone else’s capital instead of our own. And so after the acquisition, i stayed i thought I would stay forever but in the end I stayed for about six months and then I came out on the other side and sort of took some time to figure out what I was gonna do once we sold the business good friend of mine, Pete encouraged me to join angel one investment network in Burlington and i became an angel very quickly investing in a deal with Pete and some other people that i got to know. And then after I left Mabel’s did a little consulting went around someone else’s business for a while for him and then came around to where I’m really doing coaching and advisory work for corporate executives as well as Entrepreneurs.

Jeffery:
I love it it’s very in-depth lots of you’ve done a lot of great things and one thing about you that nobody would know

Julie:
My university degree from the University of Waterloo is in dance

Jeffery:
Nice

Julie:
yes so bachelor of arts and dance and the program doesn’t exist anymore but it’s uh — yeah my path has definitely been kind of quirky right like how you go from you know a dance degree to financial planning to being an entrepreneur and starting your own business is definitely not like you know what you would have imagined when you started out

Jeffery:
For sure but there’s one thing i guess that it all kind of stems from or at least i may believe it stems from is the time that you spent in corporate at RBC where you were learning about financials you were learning about businesses especially startups how much of that impact changed your kind of trajectory going forward in getting into entrepreneurship?

Julie:
I think that it was kind of timely because i think you know at a point like i was starting to have kids and it’s a point where you really kind of evaluate your life right.Your life is changing substantially and you start to really think about you know what do i want to do next. And because my husband had his own business we were sort of geographically tied to where we were and as i started having my kids i didn’t really want to get on a train and go for an hour away from them every day i wanted to be closer and so it felt like the time was right to take that leap and do something you know so yeah i had the business experience, met a lot of people, saw a lot of things on that side. and you know for a while i did both um until that became fairly untenable. Like having two having two full-time jobs isn’t fun.

Jeffery:
Oh it can uh takes away your focus and certainly does burn you down a little bit but i think a lot of the financial side and what i find is that there’s kind of like two real buckets of areas that early-stage investors come from they’re either lawyers or they’re bankers and i think the reason is is the lawyers they get approached with how do i set up my company i know how to set up your company because i know how to work with money and i find that they seem to be the ones that are the most risk-takers when it comes to jumping into early financing. um and i don’t know why it’s just those two groups but they really do have a large emphasis unless you’ve exited a company then you may go in but it really does always come down to and maybe they’re more disposable income but I find there’s a lot of great people that help companies at that stage

Julie:
yeah yeah i think being in that world gives you a good foundation to uh think about the questions to ask you know and think about how the scenarios can could look and how you can shape them and about how early decisions can really affect trajectories right? so wanting to you know do good planning from an early point

Jeffery:
For sure so now you jump into your own company you’re working out of a basement you’re looking to expand and when you think about the concept and this is what i love about it is that it started off very simple, very basic business and to the most outside would think it was simple and basic but i’m sure internally it was not uh when you’re getting into supply chain and having to source everything and then build up to get to 40 people that’s not at all simple that becomes very complicated so while you were kind of building through this and you were envisioning where you wanted to go you spent a good amount of time working through this and building it up yeah is there maybe three or four things that really stand out that you could share that really will help an entrepreneur really put this into the focus of here’s some things you need to do and
think about at the beginning versus getting too far down the road and having to backpedal and it cost you time effort and money

Julie:
yeah um some of the things i think we did well we ended up um we built our own technology our own like stack of technology our own software that ran rom you know the whole back end of our business. And so thinking about you know as soon as you write code you have a technical debt, and so how do you create something that’s as modular as possible that can scale with you because you know anybody who gets to like the end of life on an ERP and has to replace it or like you get into that kind of thing where like the risk of failure gets really big the bigger something is so trying to look for that like modularity was really important to us. um i think another thing we did really well was the team of advisors that we worked with and you know if we were lacking an expertise for something we would go to our network and so like look for an advisor in that capacity like when we entered the retail business we hired somebody who had extensive experience there and it wasn’t so much on the supply chain side it was more on the cpg and retailer side um the supply chain side again when we worked our network so so fiind advisors and people who can help you be it for free be at a lunch be it that it’s somebody that you pay that comes onto your team. There’s all different versions of that. We never did an advisory board per se mostly because we couldn’t figure out we liked hiring for specific more specific problems and not that we never brought them together but that for us that was what worked and then build your network.like that was one of the things i spent a lot of time doing after the first few years of the business i’m very internally focused but the last 10 um eight to ten years i was there i really spent a lot of time working in the innovation ecosystem getting to know people you know i i took a seat on a board at a local organization that you know um fostered a startup community and and so that sort of thing just really getting involved and building that network has you know been invaluable for when you have that question or you need an introduction to somebody or you’re trying to find somebody who knows how to do something that you need help with you know all of that is is great for networking

Jeffery:
That’s amazing and I kind of broke them into more like four points because they think that they kind of that but modular scale i think is brilliant. And especially taking it from a tech standpoint that you don’t want to outdate your code you don’t want to update everything you’re building so build it modularly i think that’s great. The team one I’m going to touch that one in a second, uh build networks huge again this is a real sales mindset so that’s phenomenal. And then what you said which you kind of trailed off in the end but you were strong in the beginning which was focus. And i think focus is a big one and that goes back to the early on simplicity of what you were building and then growing that outside of that and i think in all these points one one thing that really stands out about all of this is who told you all this? Where did you learn that you needed to go and network? That you needed to modulate your code? Especially back then code
modulation was very rare because just build a honking system and deal with it. So i’m assuming that the three founders you guys were just ripping through a million scenarios and like let’s do this the best but what kind of guided you in this process because it sounds like from going from a to zed in this you guys learned a tremendous amount but you also self-coached because you do a lot of things that most companies wouldn’t even have thought of so where did you guys get the mindset and what drove you to that because that’s amazing

Julie:
i think we were always innovating we were always thinking outside the box and so we entered in industry the printing industry which is still incredibly male dominated and a lot of it’s old school like things you know the technologies and that sort of thing um doing the kind of small run on demand printing we were doing at the time people told us we were like crazy it would never work like we had a lot of that. And so we really were just like you know stop talking this is what we’re gonna do this is how we’re gonna do it this is where we’re gonna go. and so i think that that really gave us and you know we brought we didn’t listen to all the people but we did bring those key people in and i think you have to have something of a process where you’re gonna hire or find somebody who can advise you on something but you have to be careful not to overly consult. Right and i felt this at times and i see it at times with entrepreneurs that i work with where you know if you want eight different people to weigh in you will have a very hard time making that decision because you’re gonna get eight very different opinions right. And so like how many people are you going to consult and then how are you going to make that decision? When are you going to say that’s enough that’s enough now and now we need to rank the different you know what are the most important things how are we going to get down this path now to making a decision because also getting too much advice being in inertia and not making a decision is a decision. Right like like you know you’ve got to kind of figure that that stuff out and i think we just you know people thought we were a little crazy and we didn’t care that much and so you know we were lucky that was one of the lucky things of having four founders was that we had each other to bounce the things off and we were on the same page about going for it.

Jeffery:
That’s brilliant so taking this side of the things on how you analyze the problem or solution when you went out to the market like you said I think there’s a saying like analysis paralysis or something that it kind of just chokes you right?

Julie:
yeah

Jeffery:
and um i like to share kind of things where it’s you know if it’s a subject matter bucket people into subject matter expertise and if you have a problem go to three people two in the area that you actually know focus on that and one in the total opposite area
and then get them to give you some feedback and then you make the decision at that point nothing else you don’t need any more information that’s three different separate learnings uh if
you go more than that you’ll never end up making a call and you’ll be there for a lifetime

Julie:
awake at night staring at the ceiling going oh my god what am i gonna do you just gotta pull the cord and just make it happen right yeah um but

Jeffery:
i i like the idea of course going into co-founders and for founders i think that’s a really fast way for you to really propel yourself forward because everybody has a different bucket of understanding and knowledge so you didn’t need advisors you had three others. So i think that makes a big difference and the one part that i love about what you just shared is that you talk about crazy and what i love about crazy is that uh the number one thing that i find that when a startup is talking about something and they get pushback they’re crazy. oh they’re crazy that to
me is a green light it’s time for you to go quick and move because if they’re naysayers they’re telling you it’s crazy that means it’s brilliant and you need to figure out a way to make it happen. because most people go right away to the you’re crazy this can’t happen you’re old school you’re done in a year buddy i’m going forward now. So i think it’s a really good trigger for people to really find out where they stand in business if someone’s giving that then you kind of know that you’re in a “eh” you really need to come up with something more clever but when you’re getting the crazy talk you know you’re in the right spot yeah yeah

Julie;
and we also found we knew who our market was we knew who our customer was and we knew that people that weren’t our customer weren’t gonna get it like it was a very like nine you know 98, 99 of our customers were women they were mothers they we knew the product offering we knew what we were selling to them and we knew they got it and you know people would be like why you spent forty dollars on that but it was totally worth it to them

Jeffery:
Agreed

Julie:
On that peace of mind and then it became it became a thing like we were able to do things um because we levered what we saw happen which was you go to the playground and you have an item and you are there with your kids and somebody sees the labels and says what is that and so you can talk about it and so then in the you know early days of social media we were able to get on social media and take that from the playground and the soccer field and all of the places we were talking to moms and take it to an online forum and grow our voice exponentially

Jeffery:
so you guys really focused on the branding side which i’m going to say a lot of companies tend to overlook they don’t understand it but branding and voice is massive and it helps out so much for you to get through the clutter of everybody else because people can focus on that label and then have other moms talking about it and I think what you guys looked at is it’s the power of a network and you talked about getting out and networking and getting in front of people. so you know it’s kind of like i’ll use snapchat as an example but when you first thought about snapchat you’re like who needs to take a picture and actually have a delete so they created a problem and then people started to get behind the problem and that’s kind of what you guys did here as well you’re like oh labels who needs a label but when you changed it around and created the problem then the moms and everybody else that were seeing this they were like that’s incredible i’m gonna spend the money for it. So you created a problem that they all wanted because they all wanted to be that forerunning mom of looking good or having their kids have their name everywhere so i think that’s phenomenal the way you guys approached it.

Julie:
Yeah yeah and it worked out well so

Jeffery:
It certainly did so now if we go back to this the part where you talked about the advising side of it and really diving into more of not having advisors but working in the community and building this out what were maybe again a couple of things one or two things that really stood out on what you were looking for to help you move over those humps because as you’re building your company, you’re moving quickly, you’ve got problems you don’t want to waste people’s time but who are you going and speaking to are you going after the bankers and the and the lawyers or who are you really looking for and what kind of advice are they going to give you and are you giving them something for it so that they will come to knock on the door and help you more often?

Julie:
So in some cases yes we had a number of people who were paid advisors over the lifetime of the business. But we also had these people who were more on the mentor advisor side and so they would like one of our old profs at the University of Waterloo, Larry Smith, would give us an evening or an afternoon of his time about once a year and we would sit down and bring him problems to that we wanted to talk through and you know he had no idea what we were doing he did not know the kind of business we were running but he was you know fascinated by what we were doing. and so you know he like today is still one of the people that i stay in touch with and we’re going back to the very early years of the business. And he would give us the time and a point came in one of those early meetings where he uh turned you know you have to turn the light bulb on over your head moment and he did that for me and so he introduced us actually to the accountant that we um worked with through the rest of the business life, and that accountant helped us with our strategic planning sessions. He was not just a file the paperwork kind of person he was he became a very important advisor to us, and he was a critical part of the team as we went through the sale of the business.

Jeffery:
That’s awesome so you were very strategic then on kind of the mentorship that you were getting and you took care of them as well so you made sure that everybody was whole i guess if they used that as the term. But at the end you were always making sure that you brought the problems to the table, got them resolved walked away and moved on. So how much of an impact if you were to put it on a percentage-wise do you think these roles really helped you guys in building your company?

Julie:
I would put them high on the impact scale. And the reason for that would just be like you can hire an advisor who seems very expensive but they’re way cheaper and better quality than
somebody you could hire on a full-time basis to do that kind of role. So so you get the benefit of them coming alongside you, and yes you pay for it, but you can’t afford to hire that kind of expertise so so that’s kind of how we would look at it. And i really believe like advisors can have a season or they can stay with you for a long time, like and both are okay right. I mean it just depends on why they’re coming and what they’re coming for.

Jeffery:
i like that and in all the discussions i’ve had it’s it’s there’s been some touch on this subject but it’s not always something that you push because or that you hear a lot of because at the end of the day startups are always trying to find ways to grow and maybe maintain their cash flow and they don’t realize that this is an investment in themselves and into their business. I think it’s uh well taken on how you’ve shared it because you know what sometimes you pay for the right value and you got to put money down to make that happen and that’s worth doing it in the long run

Julie:
yeah and you could never afford to hire the people who will advise you on a full-time role like you couldn’t afford it you’d have to pay them too much but you can afford a little slice of them and so how are you going to extract the most value you can from that

Jeffery:
i love it no that’s great so so now you’ve kind of you’ve built a company you’ve sold the company and you start moving on and you obviously get in front of the angel network which i think is amazing, throughout this journey is there some things that you pointed out or that you saw that you really wanted to make a change in and i know we’ve talked about investing in women and finding more investment and women that are investors so in that kind of process what were some of the i guess parts that bothered you about your journey as an entrepreneur? and now how much are they changing as you’ve kind of moved forward and started to take a more aggressive stance in investing in early stage companies and what things can you share with us in that space.

Julie:
well although we had you know four female founders and that outward-facing cuteness you know in the back end we had our own build software we’ve been through shred we’ve had rounds of IRAP financing like we had done a whole bunch of different things in there and so i ran in a lot of circles where the the room of IT you know professionals is still dominated by men and so coming then into the angel world it’s not really all that different. And so um but I was lucky enough to be uh recruited to the board of angel one by Karen Grant who was the founder of the organization and who’s a phenomenal woman in the industry and so just felt like you know we could have that conversation about like so you know there was a lot of work that she did and and we built that board up to you know have a good balance of gender membership. still not um but it is a work in progress because i think you know getting the voices of female investors and bringing female founders to the table is something like you know women are starting more businesses than men but they rarely get over a million dollars. like a lot of times the businesses are more of that lifestyle like they want to replace full-time income or they want to do something like that. And so you know how do we encourage people to see the possibilities and you know and how do we open the doors for them when they do want to pitch for funding and to kind of you know make sure that they have the opportunity and that they get heard in those rooms.

Jeffery:
first i’ll say karen’s amazing. she’s awesome and brilliant and i do enjoy chatting with her about everything so she’s phenomenal. So that’s cool that she brought you in. So very smart on both sides you both are really that’s good. So in this kind of shifting of the markets and we chatted a little bit about this that now there’s way more women entrepreneurs coming to market which is phenomenal and then there’s also well i wouldn’t say there’s as many women investors coming into the market but what things can you share that would get more women interested like it’s like anything i guess even from a tech standpoint i can understand why women probably don’t want to sit in front of a screen for 12 hours it does take a lot out of you but at the same time it’s all changing people are looking at it and saying you know what this is my lifestyle it fits my kind of mindset so how do we get more women especially ones that come from a banking background or a legal background because they understand numbers better than anybody so how do we get more of those types of people to jump into this space because it is crucial and it’s small even from male investors it’s really a small industry of angel investors that are investing period. So how do we increase that knowledge and get more people into the space?

Julie:
i think it’s about like getting people excited about the future of entrepreneurship in this country and and what the promise of that looks like you know like we’re not our parents who worked for one company for 35 years and got their watch and retired right and the generations you know when i look at my kids and what their careers are going to look like — it’s going to be very different you know and you see the gig economy and you see all of those things happening and we’re sitting –i feel like you know i feel like i sit in the middle of that a little bit like i see you know the millennials and i see my kids and then i see my parents and we’re at this we’re this funny middle ground and i think that it’s just about how do we want to invest in that shift? to you know i mean who would have ever thought that shopify would be the biggest company in canada by market capitalization like that’s crazy but somebody had to believe in them and so where you know where are the people in this country right now that are starting businesses that are going to be those unicorns? And you know you can see as we’re coming out of the pandemic there’s like and there’s another one and another 350 million going here and you know and you’re just it’s happening and so how do we get that like if you can put your hands in at the very beginning and help people and let them see possibilities then you get the better outcomes. Right so so to me hat’s part of like no matter what work i do and no matter whether i continue to actually be an angel investor or not i think i will always want to have a piece of my time that’s in those real startups you know where because i it’s so fascinating to me why people start businesses how they have an dea and how they build something and so i like to me that’s what i find fascinating i think about entrepreneurship. Is the wow how did you think of that where did the idea come from? why ?what’s your why ?

Jeffery:
it’s a real story behind it right it kind of gets intriguing even if it’s a amazing story or even if it’s a small little tiny blip but they all make a difference on how they approach a problem

Julie:
Yeah. yeah and how do — you know people need help figuring out how to build teams and how to how to you know look at their numbers and how to find good advisors and and all of those things. so to me that will always be part of where i want to spend time because i think it’s valuable

Jeffery:
So do you think the shift isn’t going to be in educating over the next three to five years on getting women into investing. It’s more of working and supporting more women entrepreneurs because that they’re going to go through this life cycle they’re going to realize the gains and the benefits and they’re the ones that are going to convert into investing. so it’s almost training them because they’re going to get a better insight into it and they’re going to take the time and say hey i got this far i want in.

Julie:
It’s like the two are going to come together right the people who are coming up and the people who are already out there in those industries that can be of value. Right and so and and so there’s an encouragement to those women of seeing the value of coming to support entrepreneurs and then the value of the people coming up you know i mean there’s a group of women who’ve come mostly out of shopify now who are talking about forming a group and doing angel investing right. And so you know those kinds of things need to keep happening they need to get coverage they need to be talked about because that will start to — their needs the word needs to spread right.

Jeffery:
For sure. And that all comes with time right? It’s learning you’re going to go out and even if just to start something up as an investment i’m sure just like your first investment to your last investment there are kind of night and day indifferences on how you approached it because you need to be in the space to learn a bit more and that definitely helps and again that doesn’t matter which culture or where you come from it’s just taking that first step and and throwing some money out there that you know you’re going to lose and seeing what happens right. in hopes that you don’t lose it of course but you got to try somewhere.

Julie:
Yeah exactly and figuring out how some of the alternative models that are out there are working as well because i mean if you look at like vicki saunders and ceo and what they’ve done there and they’ve you know in canada now they’ve reached a perpetual fund where they’re going to be able to fund companies every year even if if no other women put any money into them. So that’s still continuing to grow the first companies that got funded have fully paid back their loans.
Like there is there you know and the power of that in you know so how do those women go through that stage and then where do they go for their next investment and how do they like how does it all fit together.

Jeffery:
And i think in this um maybe in this change that’s going to occur you’ll probably see some of that cascade across all lines of investment because i think you’re going to have a lot of new people coming in like you said the shopify people there’s groups that have come out of airbnb because obviously there’s a lot of minted millionaires that have come out of these groups. well now they’re looking at how to diversify how to change portfolios so they’re going to come up with a different way, different mechanisms so you’re going to see lots of different ways to invest really popping up over the next few years, and a lot of them will be run and led by women and they’re going to come up with a different approach and that’s going to change the markets again and hopefully that ends up kind of building out a bigger populace of change in the investment markets and you can see a lot of that in the last couple years too that investors are looking at markets different too in so many different ways now everything’s an asset everything’s selling a different way right?

Julie:
yeah yeah and you can really see it even in like a lot of the venture capital firms have started seed fund like seed funds and you know you could see that compression happening so now i think that with that there’s going to be creative people that come in and they’re like what if we went over here and what if we specialized in this and you know people who then start to like you get the compression now where is it going to expand? How’s it going to come out and so — i think there will be creative people and you can see it starting to happen

Jeffery:
Agreed. Agreed is there any sort of advice that you would share to um an early stage company on things to think about for the future when it comes to investing? I see some companies they work and they try to work with other leaders so that they kind of build their businesses up kind of that kiritsu model style where they all help each other and then at some point they might even invest in each other’s businesses, is there advice that you would share again for women and if everybody else takes it in awesome but anything that you would share that would really help benefit startups and on founders?

Julie:
i think you have to figure out it’s a lonely road as a startup founder and as an entrepreneur and so how are you going to build that community what is the right way for you to build community and and there are a lot of different ways that are all good right and so you know for me i did that by getting involved in the startup community through a regional innovation center and now i continue to do that work mostly as an advisor or mentor for others and now you know i’ve got a group of people i’ve done masterminds i’ve done lots of different things i’ve got a group of people right now i like to call my board of advisors and they’re you know a group of really good friends who are not afraid to kick me in the butt when i need it and tell me to get my head on straight and so you know i think it’s it’s it sometimes is an evolution and there’s lots of different ways to go about it but don’t be an island and make sure that you do make those connections and reach out to people

Jeffery:
so communication is a key part of this whole networking communicate as much as you can

Julie:
Yeah yeah and find you know find a network like you know you set up your own little mastermind group of non-competing businesses who have similar problems or you know you’re and you get those sounding boards and you need them because like i always felt with the business like you know as soon as i knew what i was doing some big curveball was coming at me because it was always a learning curve right like how to build a team how to manage staff how to how to technologically accomplish something how to actually make a product and get it to market the way we wanted it to look like so many problems it was constant and lots of those were self-imposed because we wanted to grow the business. But you know that feeling like you’re always learning and if you don’t have an outlet for you know a good sounding board a group either group of people a coach whatever works um you’ve got to find something.

Jeffery:
i like it. i like it so in taking that we’re going to kind of shift a little bit here and one thing that i’m i like to kind of dive into is that throughout this journey you’ve been on an investors side you’ve been on the startup side, you’ve met a lot of different people great network, is there one startup or one story that’s really stood out for you that really blew your mind away? That an entrepreneur you thought there’s no way this is going to happen and they pulled it off and they were able to make just that heartfelt amazing story — i like great stories so just looking for something that really just exemplified what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

Julie:
i feel like so many of the people i work with exemplify that. And that like that tenacity of uh pick yourself up dust yourself off and go face tomorrow. and and like how we find the resilience to do that kind of thing um you know? And i’ve seen it in like you know small small startups that i’ve worked with like you know my friend nicole has a product she makes called zippy jams — it’s a kid product and people who have kid products tend to find me. And you know but she’s like and she has built a an empire of people whose kids are wearing her sleepers. And it’s totally amazing and you know then you see people who have like a product idea and then they have more and more and more and like just how you grow that piece like i am fascinated by products in that respect um but then people who just solve problems and who create things to you know find a technology base to solve a problem that you know people didn’t know they had. right?
And so how do you do that and you know an entrepreneur that i met who’s like bringing holistic practitioners together on a platform so that you can get recommended and you can get like find advice and you know do i want a chiropractor or an osteopath and you know so she’s brenda from my well health and she’s doing this like amazing thing and now she’s trying to like actually like lift it up off the ground and make it live and breathe and so like you just see these people who have these ideas and it’s you know the work of getting there and the you know the highs and the lows and back to the highs again and it’s like it’s like that wave of roller coaster that you know we all go through when we’re trying to grow a business.

Jeffery:
Agreed no it is pretty creative ways that you got to work inside of a startup or even as you start scaling up. You do a lot of creative things to keep yourself at least leveled out because the roller coaster ride just keeps coming and you’re like i just want to go around the bend i don’t want to go up i want to stay on this nice legal playing field and make my way up not go down just keep moving up so —

Julie:
Yeah and it’s one place where like taking on investors you know can really help you with some of that advisor stuff and with answering questions on the roller coaster especially with angel round because angels want to put their hands in right? Like lots of them are you know sometimes you’ll get money where people just think your business is great you’re a great entrepreneur but a lot of the time people want to invest in a company because they actually think they can help.

Jeffery:
Especially early on completely agree with that it makes a big difference too when you get more hands make less work so you have to go with that same mentality right

Julie:
yeah yeah and you know yes that and the angels you know real motivation to do it is because they want a 10x return or whatever on their money eventually — but but you can get really good advice for you know the cost of taking them as an investor. which which isn’t you know nothing right like taking investors into your business is not a zero cost game but it that’s one of the real benefits of doing it.

Jeffery:
It’s pretty interesting when you kind of scale that uh that back a little bit and you look at what an angel investor is up until that stage where it becomes more vc and they’re not really so much hands-on. But it’s somebody paying you to own shares in your company to work for you for free. well for the money that they’re paying you to be there so it’s kind of an interesting way of looking at it you’re like so let me get this straight you’re going to pay me some money for something that i have and then you’re going to work with me for the next two years to build this up and i don’t have to pay you anything? You’re going to pay me still? i love it!

Julie:
Yeah and it’s a healthy tension because they’re also doing it because they want to return right so that’s the entrepreneur’s job to deliver but it is that interesting place of it is another way of getting advice you probably can’t afford.

Jeffery:
yep agreed oh that’s awesome

Julie:
yeah

Jeffery:
well i love that all the all of this is very informative we’re gonna jump into some personal business questions we’ve set these up they’re nice rapid fires so yeah all right let’s just jump we’ll jump into the the business side then we’ll go into the personal side all right founder — oh sorry you have to pick one or the other okay founder or co-founder?

Julie:
co-founder

Jeffery:
unicorn or four-year 10x — 10 times exit

Julie:
four-year 10x

Jeffery:
Tech or CPG

Julie:
cpg

Jeffery:
brand or tech

Julie:
brand

Jeffery:
AI or blockchain?

Julie:
AI

Jeffery:
first time founder or second or third time founder?

Julie:
Second or third

Jeffery:
first money in or series A?

Julie:
first money in

Jeffery:
angel or vc

Julie:
angel

Jeffery:
board seat or observer?

Julie:
board seat

Jeffery:
Safe or convertible note?

Julie:
convertible note

Jeffery:
Lead or follow?

Julie:
Lead

Jeffery:
Equity or interest payments?

Julie:
Equity

Jeffery:
Done! All right, now we’re going to jump into some personal questions. These are my favorite ones so they’re going to be all over the map.

Julie:
All right

Jeffery:
Then i gotta i’m gonna actually while i’m sharing this — bear with me for one second. I gotta pull this up. Okay sorry. Three more questions or four more questions on the business side. Favorite
part of investing?

Julie:
Seeing somebody’s idea come to life and flourish

Jeffery:
Number of companies you invest in per year?

Julie:
One or two

Jeffery:
Preferred terms?

Julie:
41:15
I like having shares. Common or preferred but yeah

Jeffery:
okay

Julie:
Doesn’t happen too often… (Laughing)

Jeffery:
well i guess you get you get stuck in the safes or the convertible notes or the preferred shares so — not too many people are really gung-ho on the safe side.

Julie:
No. Not anymore no.

Jeffery:
Okay. Last question. Vertical of focus. Verticals of focus that you like to invest in?

Julie:
Eclectic. I tend to follow people rather than verticals.

Jeffery:
All right that’s good. I like it. Means you’re open-minded to anything that’s good. Yeah all right now we’re going to go on the personal questions. Because the other ones didn’t show up for some odd reason so now i got them we’re good now. Book or movie?

Julie:
Book

Jeffery:
superman or batman?

Julie:
Batman

Jeffery:
Pizza pop or ice cream bar?

Julie:
ice cream

Jeffery:
five minutes with Bezos or oprah?

Julie:
Oprah

Jeffery:
Yeah me too. Arsenal or Manchester united?

Julie:
Man U

Jeffery:
Boooooo

Julie:
i know

Jeffery:
Bike or rollerblades?

Julie:
Bike

Jeffery:
Big mac or chicken mcnuggets?

Julie:
Chicken mcnuggets

Jeffery:
Trophy or money

Julie:
money

Jeffery:
Beer or wine?

Julie:
wine

Jeffery:
Alarm clock or mobile phone?

Julie:
alarm clock

Jeffery:
hotel or hostel?

Julie:
hotel

Jeffery:
Italy or Spain?

Julie:
Italy

Jeffery:
England or Denmark

Julie:
I go to England

Jeffery:
All right so it’s going to be Italy and England for the final Euro Cup

Julie:
Oh there you go — we’ll see they’re going to pack Wembley stadium

Jeffery:
yeah it’s going to be good. I’d add those in today because it was more fun i’m like it’s we’re all living it.

Julie:
yeah

Jeffery:
Now I’m going to go to political questions. i added this one just in for today. Trump for jail on tax issues, yes or no?

Julie:
Well i think it might happen but that’d be totally crazy wouldn’t it? yup uh-huh

Jeffery:
All right Trudeau is he an A or a B leader?

Julie:
i think he’s a B leader but i don’t know how you — i don’t know how anyone can be an A leader in the current political environment

Jeffery:
all good answers. all good answers.

Julie:
I don’t think you could pay me to go into politics right now they’re not nice to each other

Jeffery:
That’s true i was avoiding politics questions but because i find that it’s so interesting that you can gain so much knowledge by just getting an answer i’m like gotta put it in there it’s gotta be good

Julie:
Yeah

Jeffery:
All right, favorite sports team?

Julie:
oh hmm i don’t know. I’m gonna say i don’t have one

Jeffery:
okay it’s fine

Julie:
I like watching sports but i don’t have a favorite team

Jeffery:
Okay favorite movie and what character would you play in the movie?

Julie:
Favorite movie is probably “So I married an Axe Murderer” and I think I’d probably play Harriet.

Jeffery:
Harriet. I’m gonna have to look this movie up i remember it

Julie:
good

Jeffery:
but i don’t think i’ve seen it in a long time

Julie:
the digital movie

Jeffery:
All right, all right last question, what is your superpower?

Julie:
My super power is doing puzzles. You know be they like actual puzzles in the real world or like the puzzle of sitting down and trying to figure out a strategy for a business. I love like figuring out what the pieces are and how to move them into place and sitting at that highest table where the strategy and the plans getting talked about

Jeffery:
i like that. You’re a problem solver

Juliee:
i am

Jeffery:
yeah very cool well that’s uh that’s awesome to know and and like i always like to say take lots of notes i can’t open them i’m old school that way uh but you shared a lot and i think there’s so a lot of great learning in today for sure 100%. i like how you broke a lot of this down and the way we kind of like to end things today is we like to give you the last word. So anything that you want to share to the investors or to startups i turn it over you to share but i thank you again very much for all your time today julie. Thank you for sharing all of the personal and business side. I’m gonna keep building those out because i really like these questions they’re fun. But again i appreciate all your time and sharing today.

Julie:
Good. Thank you. Well i just want to say thanks. And that i think i feel excited about the future for entrepreneurs and angel investors as we you know enter the next phase of this like you know coming out of covid and what’s it gonna look like. And i think there’s gonna be big opportunities for creative people to start businesses in this next phase that we’re going to enter into. And i’m excited to see what they are and to see what’s going to get invested in and how where can we put our money and and what creativity is going to come down the pipeline.

Jeffery:
I love it and is there one vertical you think that’s going to stand out in the next three to five years?

Julie:
I don’t know, I mean I think that this sort of AI driven you know as that’s like refining, and refining, and refining itself that it’s going to continue to be a big, a big segment.

Jeffery:
Investors look for AI. i like it there you go. Awesome well thank you very much again julie for all your time today. Okay that was awesome. Julie shared a lot of great insights which i think were great. i liked the four points she brought up when she was talking about how she built out her company at mabel’s labels. 14 years she built that company with three other founders so i think that’s amazing when you put together that real impact on the team, modular scale, team advising, build a network, strong focus and when someone’s telling you that it’s crazy there’s probably something there and you need to really dig into it because you’ve probably got a good opportunity. And i love that her superpower is just puzzles and solving problems so you know I think more people need to realize that they can solve problems but really look at that and say how do I build up my strengths what is my superpower. And i like that julie has a really cool strong superpower which is just solving problems and that you know that’s amazing from an entrepreneurial perspective. So in the meantime awesome thank you very much for joining us again today. if you enjoyed the conversation please subscribe to our youtube channel or follow us in spotify, apple podcast, and or stitcher. You can also check us out at supportersfund.com or for startup events visit opn.ninja. Thank you very much everybody and have a

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