Investor at IDEA Fund Partners
Lewis Burnham | Investor at IDEA Fund Partners

"Keep having your vision of the future and make sure that’s why you’re building. Make sure you’re building because you have a differentiated vision of of how the world should be."

- Lewis Burnham

Lewis Burnham – Communicating to a broad group of people


Lewis has a deep passion for leading and mentoring. Beginning in the earliest day of his career as an educator and coach, continuing through his career in the medical device industry, and now as a venture capitalist where he uses these passions to support entrepreneurs as they strive to realize their full potential. Lewis resides in Boca Raton with his wife and three kids and is active in the emerging Florida startup ecosystem. He serves as an advisor, mentor, and strategists to early-stage startups through Embarc Collective – a nonprofit innovation hub helping Tampa Bay’s startup talent build bold, scalable, thriving companies. He has a BA from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he was a member of the Tarheel football team and is an MBA candidate at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.

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The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery: Okay welcome to supporters fun ask an investor I’m your host Jeffrey Potvin let’s please welcome Lewis Burnham investor at idea fund Partners in Miami Florida as our investor today welcome Lewis it’s a real pleasure having you join us today.

Lewis: Hey thanks JP super happy to be here um I’m stoked to chat for a little bit with you.

Jeffery: I love it well I’m excited because you have a really cool background and I had the opportunity a while back to interview another person that had kind of a similar background where they were coaching and they were working with youth and and uh well I guess adolescents but really focused in on using that coaching skill and then moved into the investing realm which I think is such a huge skill and it’s something that maybe a lot of people don’t really understand or have and that you’re able to bring that to a table and then being able to kind of really exploit that across all the startups and Investment Partners and everything you guys are doing and we’re going to dive into that but let’s start off by maybe sharing a little bit more on your background and where all this came from and where it’s all started to where you are today and then one thing about you that nobody would know.

Lewis: Yeah absolutely um so it goes back to so I was a college athlete um and when I got done playing I wanted to coach I knew I knew immediately that I wanted to go back I went to coach I wanted to work with high school students um and so that led me to education down in South Florida where I spent about seven years uh in the classroom as an algebra teacher uh with 9th and 10th graders was also a head football coach uh that moved into Administration where I was athletic director for a number of years um and that was an incredible journey learned a ton in the education space however when my wife and I decided to start a family it was time to look beyond the world of public education and and wanted to make a pivot into the business World um that led me to and real randomly actually it was not like a um a strategically charted out path but it led me to medical device and medical technology where I spent been about six years in sales sales leadership a bit of corporate business development and um just learned a ton and along that journey is when I was first introduced to startups and Entrepreneurship um when I started with my company in the medical device space we were going through a giant merger when we completed that merger we started uh buying up small startups just to fill little pieces of our portfolio and that got me fascinated into the just the thought process that you know five or seven years ago this company was just an idea or it was just first being built and now it’s being purchased and folded into a massive multinational corporation and I just started really diving into the world of Entrepreneurship in the world of startups just to see what it was all about and to see you know where I fit into that space and I pretty quickly saw a lot of parallels um from the things that I loved about my previous career and with coaching and mentoring and teaching and I saw the opportunity to do very similar things with early stage Founders um with really audacious goals trying to build something great and and build their Vision in the future and so I I really dove in head first and started looking for a way how do I make this like my full-time career how do I turn this into an opportunity each and every day to wake up and just think about how can I support Founders and for me um that ended up being venture capital and that’s where I wanted to get in um I didn’t think I had a very uh you know Venture ready background uh I don’t I understand a lot of investors don’t but um for me in thinking about what’s my clearest path into venture capital I felt like going back to business school was was a good plan so I went back and got my MBA with the sole goal of uh leveraging that to get an opportunity and Venture and so I spent about 18 months uh doing internships and fellowships and doing you know whatever I could to to find a way in I eventually got an opportunity and that’s uh where I am today I said I’m a principal with idea fund Partners um I’ve been with them in total for just about two years now and um it’s been fantastic I really love my role I love supporting Founders and and um I love being able to do it in a way where we can invest them and truly have a profound impact on them being able to grow and scale.

Jeffery: That’s amazing and a great story uh to share as well so thank you for that um one thing about you the note would know.

Lewis: Yeah I mean that’s that’s a really good one I would say the thing about me that nobody would know I don’t know that I have anything good honestly I would say majority of people listening to this wouldn’t wouldn’t know about me that my wife and I have three kids and and and they are my absolute world I I love the work I do and it is so important to me but when it comes to Hobbies you know I work out at five o’clock in the morning that’s a hobby and then I spend time with my kids and my wife and that’s uh other than that life that fulfills all of life for me so that’s the one thing that most people in this call probably don’t know about me.

Jeffery: Ah that’s cool uh and and great that’s that’s brilliant putting time into your kids which is the same thing as putting time into Adventure World and helping uh peopl grow their businesses you’re helping grow the youth for today so that’s pretty exciting and it’s got to be uh full of merits all around on both sides so that’s exciting awesome awesome so to kind of go back a little bit to your background and what I find that’s really fascinating about where you’ve come from uh obviously the side where you dove in and said I want to be adventurous so you put the same passion that an entrepreneur would put into building a company you’re like I want to get an adventure I’m going to go get my MDA and then I’m going to Jive into this so you followed all the right steps you’ve you’ve done everything that you need to do to get there so you you mentioned that you don’t have the uh Venture ready background I think you’ve got the Venture ready background uh 10 times better than most Venture backgrounds so uh kudos to that I think that’s awesome but taking what you’ve learned from the the teaching side and the coaching side I think this is really kind of an exciting background to have because a lot of the time you have maybe Consultants bankers lawyers they all make great Venture capitalists because they understand numbers they understand the legal side of running the company but you’ve uh and maybe when you get further on a career you have the Consulting side but you’re coming into that right away with how do I get a whole team how do I start with a founder and get this whole team to kind of line up and you’ve done that when you’re hurting all these kids together or these youth together to figure out one how do I win the national championship how do I do all of these things which start from the day one the first training camp to moving forward so maybe you can share a little bit about that experience of what you went through when you were building up in your career early on and the learnings that you got from it I’m sure there’s a couple of key points that you take away from how do you engage younger people but just engage people in general and is there a theme behind it like like common goals or things that you need to shoot for if you want everybody to have a success at the end.

Lewis: Yeah I think that’s a great question so when I think about there’s two main things when I look back at skills I’ve developed um that I’ve been able to leverage both adventure and also when I went into sales and made my first career pivot um one is back from being an athlete being a college athlete and just when I left and went into the business world I had this confidence that I knew one thing for sure and that is that I’m willing to outwork anybody else and I’m willing to do just you know if it means getting up if it means staying up if if there’s something I can do that is tagged to hard work I understand that I have that accomplished and then the learning I’ll get there um in the learning the actual skills of what I need to do that will come and building the connections that will come but just knowing that it won’t failure won’t be because I didn’t try hard enough I didn’t work hard enough um and so that’s kind of carried through all of my careers in teaching and coaching I think the biggest skill you need to learn in both of those spaces is that you my main job relies on my ability to convey information to a broad group of people and have them all be able to understand it synthesize it and act on it and having that skill and learning that through years in the classroom and years teaching was incredibly valuable in my sales career and was also very valuable in in Venture so far and talking to different Founders in you know another space like it’s my job when I when I connect with the founder and I get super excited about an opportunity I need to be able to convey that up the chain I need to be able to convey that to investment committee and just being able to understand that you know I need to gather information I need to be able to download that quickly to myself but then also deliver that to others and sometimes it takes very different delivery techniques very different messaging uh to really deliver your message and that was something that I learned in the classroom you know when you’re standing up there and you’re working with 25 to 30 students at a time they all learn differently they’re all listening differently at different times and but yet no matter what it’s it’s an Educator’s job to get that information across and to make sure that you’re not just delivering it but it’s actually sinking in um I would say that’s probably like one of the biggest skills that I took from both coaching and teaching that I’ve I tried to apply it’s helpful with my kids as well understanding that you got to deliver things in different ways uh and make sure everybody understands that everybody’s on the same page.

Jeffery: Oh that’s brilliant I I love the fact that you’re honing in on the fact that you have to change it to the audience and the audience isn’t when they say audience in Broad terms it doesn’t mean audience like you have a thousand people it’s one person is your audience and it’s defining that message for that one person so that they can understand and execute um I think taking what you’re sharing there is that a lot of it is execution so if I need to get this executed I better have a great message that gets out there that they can understand take it inwards sort through it and then execute on it is that kind of a fair analogy of how you’re gonna go forward with this yeah I think that’s an excellent analogy and that’s that’s exactly how I think about it and it’s cool that you uh you take this practice and you push it back to your kids because at the end of the day I think a lot of times um maybe kids get overlooked because they’re there with you all the time and you don’t look at they may have a different way to learn or a different age bracket or time that they need to learn and I think that carries through quite a bit into the startup space is that you’re working with multiple Founders uh or one of uh co-founders and they’re going to listen interpret something different and now you’ve got to move the message up the food chain as well to say these are a great company this is why I like them and again you’re having to do the same thing so it’s like you got to communicate to Founders communicate to the investment Community communicate to the investors and you’re trying to hurdle all this together to get your story straight in order to get an investment so I think having those skills are obviously huge huge in being able to get buy-in to the idea of this is a great company that we should be investing in.

Lewis: Yeah absolutely and I think it’s it’s also that parallels what you do as an early stage founder or an early stage sales team and I think the the over urging message of it all is that it’s not it’s not necessarily the message I have to deliver it’s not the the lesson I need to deliver to the class or the play I need the team to understand or or the the message I need my kids to understand or if you’re trying to sell a product it’s not our features and benefits it’s all about how that person on the other end of that message is receiving it and and how they feel about what you had to say and and and just understanding that that’s what’s important I think has been super valuable um for myself.

Jeffery: Awesome and and taking that that same experience and working with when you were on the coaching side are do you find that because the coaching side it’s one way it’s communicating outwards to get a team to action um are you enabling the communication to goals to achievements and you’re doing the same with the startup side of things are you working with those Founders once you’ve kind of made the the push to go forward as an investment are you then helping them set the same goals because your brain is obviously action to an outcome and your outcome is we’re going to win the national football championship we’re going to do this as a team so are you now kind of taking that same stance with the founder and saying hey look our goal is in seven years we need to exit this is what we need to think about uh this is how we need to move forward or is it come over time uh when you’re planning with them to make an investment.

Lewis: Yeah it comes it definitely comes over time and I think the difference is that when I’m coaching a team I have it’s it’s like I put I’m essentially the CEO at that point in time right I I’m the founder at that point in time and I understand what our kpis are I understand what our what we’re trying to achieve and I need to direct the team to do that when I feel like we’re talking to Founders it’s it’s like you’re a level removed from that so I’m not we don’t dictate kpis we don’t dictate goals we we want our Founders we that’s what they do best and we just are there to be a support system to to think through those to help give guidance on those and then it’s our job to a invest in to a make good Investments but then help guide those Investments towards that return it’s not on any particular company to build their models and and set their goals with our returns in in mind just for them to build the absolute best business they possibly can and and they guide that and they set those goals and objectives and then we just provide the best feedback that we can and really help grow that over time and then with if we do that if we make the right picks and we provide that right support the returns will be there at the end.

Jeffery: So I think the key to this is that you’re providing the support so in the case of the analogy of the football side you’re the CEO in the car case of the startup they’re the CEO they’re providing the output to you guys but you’re still helping with the coaching the mentoring and the guidance because at the end of the day they still have kpis they still have their own agenda that they’re trying to hit for the next raise or so forth so you are kind of still guiding and coaching through that which obviously helps you be more Hands-On to guiding these Investments to ensure that they do get to some form of outcome for sure for sure now taking your uh your your background on the sales side which again this is another unique value because a lot of entrepreneurs tend to be uh 95 Builders and they forget that they need to sell their product um and maybe five percent of them have that sales ability and then they don’t have the rest so there’s kind of this fine line about can you invest in a company that is a CEO that’s a pure salesperson or pure technical peer engineer there is a real fine how many skills do they need to have in order to make a proper investment so they don’t just become one and none of the rest so when you are working with the founders and taking your background in sales and you mentioned that you’re you know you’re going to outwork everybody but you’re going to learn over time and you’re going to be able to build that up because you have an end goal which again is I’m going to win the national championship I know what I got to do to get there I’m going to sell like crazy I know what I got to get to to get to my numbers how do you help Founders understand this because I think and I’ve seen this in some of the content you guys have in yourself sales is kind of key to this whole thing yeah if you can’t sell you don’t have a business without sales you’re nothing so how do you help the founders really understand this and is there a couple points that you try to throw at them to help them understand and and work around because sales is kind of crucial um it is that again something that you guys look for in in a Founder to make sure that they can carry through on that.

Lewis: yeah when you think about sales and you think about early stage startups I mean you bring up a great question and there’s a couple things that I think about when I when I think about it one is that the founders that we really like to back are so passionate about what they’ve built and so Mission driven on seeing their vision of the future become reality that they have a desire to to be the one to share that message initially and that’s something that we look for even if they don’t have the sales skills they understand that in the very early days founder-led sales are super important Nobody Knows the products you’ve built the way you do the founder needs to hear firsthand what those early customers say what those Innovation Partners have to say what those early adopters have to say um if we see a Founder that is trying to build and and just pass off too quickly um I don’t want to call it a red flag but that’s definitely an orange flag for us um you know lots of Founders don’t want to sell and that’s perfectly understandable but the ones that I’ve come across that are most passionate about what they’ve built they understand that they’re the first ones that need to get this out into the world they need to talk to people um and then the second point is that when it’s time to build the sales team it’s not so easy to it’s not as easy as just making a higher and putting that person in place um and I’ve seen a lot of Founders think I can just grab an Enterprise sales executive and plug them into a startup scenario and and that’s really not what works most of the time and so I think it’s it’s a natural progression is what we try and get them to understand is founder lead sales founder understands what the market once they understand the feedback that’s coming they can get that built into the product and then we can slowly build a sales team um over time that can execute on our early learnings and and continue to build that sales motion so that we can in time have an actual well-functioning sales team um so just understanding that it’s not an easy button right and it does start with the founders are the two things that we really try and hone in on when we think super early stage.

Jeffery: I love that so it almost sounds like um when you’re talking about the early stage uh called the c-suite even though they probably aren’t that expanded at the time is that you’re trying to get them to bucket sales operations and maybe Marketing in those three areas of focus and getting the founder to lead the sales side and really be driven in that space and maybe it isn’t until they get to maybe a seed or seed plus where they start to expand on that sales team but have at least built a strong base of continued Revenue mrr inside of what they’re doing take that learning and then slowly start to integrate new people in that sales channel that will help them grow is that kind of the the coaching or Direction you’re taking them in.

Lewis: Yep absolutely go from found founder-led sales to a sales executive or two a sales like account executive or two and then build from there and continue to expand it and just making sure that um your break even making sure like making sure a sales rep is break even and then grow the team from there and understanding what it’s like to have an efficient sales model um and not just thinking and not just throwing people and people with really great experience at it because it takes the right person to help build a early stage sales team.

Jeffery: I love that and you touched on a couple of I think real crucial points here it’s not always about the experience that helps you drive the business or the sales it’s two other things that you really kind of touched on here which is bring that first salesperson to break even.

Lewis: yeah uh

Jeffery: When to say you’re probably the first person that said that so I’m going to use this red button and hit that button or green button whatever you want to call it but that’s well that’s brilliant because I think what you’re doing is that when you’re creating that formula for the founders to understand how to build a team it’s so crucial for them to figure out is this the right person that’s going to help me grow and I can say that from all the startups that we see and talk to they go through sales people like crazy because they haven’t figured out their own process which is the second part which you said which was the model they haven’t figured out what they’re trying to sell and then when they haven’t figured out what they’re trying to sell they’re just throwing bodies at it so those bodies aren’t going to be very effective and then they throw Too Many Bodies at it because they’re trying to move too fast when they haven’t figured out what that model is and brought one person in tried to to test it and then use that person as the grow forward from there.

Lewis: Yeah no and so I can’t take credit for Mark Leslie’s amazing work on the sales learning curve so if any early stage Founders trying to read an amazing paper on um on sales check out the sales learning curve it’s a hbr paper uh it’s super great but essentially that’s what it talks about is when you bring in those first early sales people hey they have a a specific archetype if you will and it’s not the person that’s worked for IBM for 20 years it’s not the person that’s worked you know within a massive sales organization but it’s a person that can come in understand your technology and is really comfortable going out there without a ton of marketing materials right because you might not have built that up yet not a ton of marketing materials not a ton of support but they understand the technology they’re comfortable to go out there and get in front of people have deep conversations understand problems and and really connect and grow that and that really is the basis of your early learnings that help you put together a sales process and then once you learn how to do it with that one person then you can start to scale that because you understand what like you could understand what break even looks like for that sales person understand what cost is going to go into and expanding a sales force and then eventually you get to bring in what he calls like the Infantry like now once you have a process in place once you know how to be efficient with your sales process now you can bring in the people that they can run a Playbook really really well they can get leads from the bdr team and execute on those leads with all the sales enablement tools from the marketing team and just replicate that process over and over again and you can properly say if I bring in two more reps this is going to happen on the back end you you can’t say that in the beginning you need to learn that and you need to understand what that looks like for your particular company.

Jeffery: Now that’s brilliant I love it so just to kind of unpack that again so you’re you’re bringing in this first executive account exec which is probably somebody maybe in the newer space on the call it the early entry space so they’re going to kick tires and they’re going to figure this out and they’re going to work with the founder who has already experienced of closing a few cases or a few clients and now from there they’re going to start to expand over the next few months to figuring out what’s working what’s not working so in a way they’re trying to commercialize that repetitive sales structure but they have to get to what that is and this is where you see a lot of series a investors coming in and that’s what they care about they want to know have you refined your sales process are all of your people lined up to be able to just cookie cutter this and grow this and if you throw a body and they’re going to learn quickly to be able to expedite that opportunity and again that goes back to your point which is run the Playbook and then execute and keep rinse and repeat in this model changing things up a little bit but it all starts with that first executive.

Lewis: Yeah absolutely and just to to double click on that a little bit it’s also sometimes helpful to have two Executives in the beginning and I and I say that because it’s easy sometimes right if it’s one person going out and doing it you can’t tell what was uh uh because of them what was because of the product you can see Trends a little bit more say I’m the founder I’m doing some sales still and I brought in these two early account Executives that I know are going out pounding the pavement understand my technology you know if one thing happens that’s an outlier if one thing good happens that’s an outlier if one thing bad happens that’s an outlier but if two happened if three happen now we’re starting to see a trend.

Jeffery: I love it so you’re kind of in a way you’re you’re expanding the model really quickly but you’re doing it in fail fast kind of method you’re you’re looking at all angles and understand the data so pay attention to it so it sounds like a Founder really does need to be focused on this so if there is something to be said about uh early stage funnels is it’s created early bring in a couple of people that can hyper focus on this fail fast figure out where you’re dropping the ball is it the product is it the business is The Branding what is it that’s causing people not to buy and sell and then keep shifting and reiterating what you’re doing because that’s what’s going to get you into the um repetitive Playbook method which is then going to allow you to bring on 5 10 executive sales people along the way and allow you to manage that which means that in taking that model maybe year two the first few sales people you brought in maybe one of them can be better structured at being a lead to help everybody else in in grooming them to get them through that Playbook.

Lewis: Yeah that’s exactly right yep for sure.

Jeffery: Ah that’s awesome man that’s super valuable now when you’re looking at the different types of of sales models because you mentioned that there’s so many different product places uh that can be fault points um is that an operational piece that Founders need to look at and have brought in uh when it’s talking with either HubSpot or Salesforce like using all of these tools to lead gen and everything else uh are you being hyper critical on that side of it as well and or are you looking at tools as being a cost to company and they shouldn’t look at those right away you know what are those other strategic things that you can share that would be helpful for that early stage company to kind of balance um that plan out.

Lewis: yeah so when it comes to tools and and where they play and and how we give advice we think about it pretty simply in the fact that um and I just before I jump in I also do a lot of um just advising outside of the investing I do with idea fund Partners uh with a group called Embark Collective so some earlier stage companies in there and so this this really comes up a lot with that group in terms of you know I’ve done this now or what what tools how can I how can I supercharge this is a HubSpot is it is it is it you know some sort of marketing Tech what should my stack look like um and where I give advice on both groups whether it’s idea from Partners companies or Embark Collective is what is your purpose for using the tool and and how is it going to assist you no tool does things for us especially at the early stage where it’s very human centered and it needs to be so like when I think things like product feedback like if there’s not ongoing communication between um a founder or a product team and the sales team and the marketing team whatever tools you’re using aren’t going to be as impactful as they can be and and you’re going to leave gaps I think the communication human to human is of utmost importance because that’s how we make sure the loop of communication between product between marketing between sales continues to stay wide open and and the feedback is just a very robust back and forth um in any way tools can can assist that then we’re all formed um I would just say not an over Reliance or not a a thought that a tool is is an end-all be-all it’s going to solve a problem that you know if your problem is organization and you can get an organization tool then then awesome but it’s still going to take effort on your behalf to to implement the tool properly to use it properly and so on and so forth.

Jeffery: So is it fair to save it in order to amp your team up and get them to a a real A-Team structure that the key to all of this is collaboration communication internally and figuring out how people can leverage off each other so if that’s a closed environment or something that puts them in that space and then it’s just using basic tools like if it’s Excel or whatever it might be to start and then the experience from these account Executives will bring those layers of tools in they’re going to make the suggestions on things that are needed because they’re missing and or that this will help them speed up because at the end of the day those account execs want to move quick so there’s going to be a point where they’re going to say look I can cut out two hours of my day if you guys Implement Salesforce or HubSpot and then this is something that they can analyze and kind of review and make that a a pivotal change versus we’ve got all the tools you need but the biggest one is that they can’t sell because they’re spending all their time working within tools and they’re not getting out and doing what they need to as their role.

Lewis: Yeah right if there was a a tool or platform that made uh startups successful we’d all hey I wish I was the founder of that company and uh you know this game would be a whole lot different but that’s not the case none of these tools are are you know silver bullets or anything of that nature a really good tool is going to help a really good team level up even that much more and a really good tool and a not really great team that’s communicating well it’s gonna just be a line on the expense and it’s not going to be providing much value um so that’s kind of how we think about it like that’s not the important part if you think there are tools that can help amplify what you’re doing we’re all for it foreign.

Jeffery: I love it and this is uh this has been great I think diving in and learning more on the sales front is very helpful because again when you look at how startups look at their business to look at their models I do think a lot of the time you know if it’s a technical founder or a non-technical Founder you can kind of figure out where they balance in and a lot of time um I’m going to say sales is the toughest one and then the second one is having a technical background so a lot of people are product and product Builders and this the two areas that you need the most strength and are going to be obviously on sales and closing deals which validates and and builds your business and helps you get into that next stage of scaling but I think it all comes down to no matter how you skin the cat it’s communication team collaboration and those are the things that are going to help you align as you build your team and build models uh and get that game plan to uh to start to scale.

Lewis: Yeah I couldn’t I could not agree more.

Jeffery: So now now taking kind of all these great things that your background has kind of imposed on what you get to do with startups because I think that’s heavily heavily weighted that you’re able to utilize your sales background your coaching background uh all of these things are really valuable to a Founder into a startup maybe you can talk now a bit about how ideafund works and what you guys are looking for when you’re making an investment um you mentioned a little bit about the things you’re looking for in a Founder are there areas that you heavily focus on for investment uh in the tech space in the sales in the sporting side which are the areas that you guys really hone in on and what types of companies are those looking like.

Lewis: Yeah so interesting enough we don’t really do Sports Tech and we don’t do K-12 education uh but which I honestly I love because there’s nothing I love more than like a really steep learning curve um and that’s definitely what I’ve been able to have and I love it um the two areas where we focus so we have two very clear Theses one is in all things home and housing so one of our partners uh Chris Langford founded and led Lowe’s corporate Venture arm um after heading up their corporate strategy um and so he brought over back in 2019 just an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience in all things having to do with innovation in and around homes and housing so that could be anything from you know Land Development to construction to accessibility of housing the financing ensuring anything in the entire life cycle of the home um which crosses over a bunch of different sectors from fintech and short Tech prop Tech real estate Tech but all related to residential housing um and then the other side is future of work and so we have a real and that’s more aligned to the historic nature of idea fund Partners idea fund Partners have been around for about 16 years now um and always on the Enterprise B2B side of things and as we’ve grown that kind of General generalist approach of just B2B SAS we’ve really honed in on future of work and we the way we think about that is you know there are things that need to there are changes in the physical infrastructure there are changing the technological infrastructure that are going to help enable this Evolution that we’re seeing in the workplace um and anything related to that is super interesting to us we have a a strong bias right now towards things that align with human capital so that’s not specifically HR Tech but anything that that has a profound impact on how people interact with the workplace how managers and and Leadership teams interact with employees and then anything that helps power you know we have this amazing freelance economy this amazing Creator economy anything that touches that space and allows those workers to supercharge their business connect with their clients run their business is super interesting to us.

Jeffery: I love it the prop Tech space or the home automation spaces pretty cool there’s a lot going on there which is uh which is fantastic and then the future of work again another great sector that um is is really changing a lot but it’s interesting because I’m curious do you see that the changes that are occurring because of covid that this is something that will last forever or do you think that this is kind of like a little blip like you see all of these companies right now that were saying uh we thought everything was going to go online well it didn’t work that way so now we’ve got elected 20 of our uh our team because we need to retrench back into mortar and we thought this was going to go this way so do you see this shift that you know maybe this was just a minor blip like in the early 2000s when the internet was going to take off and then it failed and then it came out and you know obviously the whole world is built off of it now so if you see this as being a real big transition that’s going to happen and right now it’s taking a setback but it’s going to just plow forward to working anywhere and and especially actually at home.

Lewis: Yeah so I think that it’s going with many things right there was a giant swing in a pendulum and it ended up all the way the opposite of the way it used to be I don’t think it’s going to stay there um I don’t know many people that believe everything is going to stay there we’ve already seen it start to come back um and I think it’s going to land somewhere in the middle I think many of the things that have happened during covid and I think the fact that the pandemic was so such a long period of time um like right if it was just April and May of or March April and May of 2020 then sure things were able to swung right back to the way they were but we were talking you know some things were impacted or some things are still being impacted right and so I think because of that there are habits that have been formed there are new Norms that have that have come into place that I don’t believe are going to change um you know the one thing I say it’s tough to have a our commute in the morning and an hour commute in the evening and then not have to do that for two years and then try and go back to that like not everyone is willing to to do that and and that’s just you know a little thing that I’m you know half joking around about but also being serious um but there are many things there’s a lot of great work that can be done in a remote way there’s a lot of great work that can be done hybrid and even the way we interact within buildings I think is going to change um so I think there are going to be a lot of long-standing changes that started because of the pandemic what that looks like I don’t think it’s going to be how it was in 2020 I don’t think we’re going to be in a completely remote world I I personally don’t feel like we’re all going to be working in the metaverse um so you know that’s how I feel about it.

Jeffery: Now well shared and hopefully uh you know there’s a balance of all of it right I think there is a a 50 50 or a split that allows people to commute when they need to and work from home when they need to but being more flexible I think is always going to be a great way to look at it and I think that goes for uh what things stick or don’t stick um in the the way that we work and operate going forward but I think a lot of um measures were tested throughout the last two years and they’ll continue to get tested and I think that just means that employers and governments will be um kind of to your point where the pendulum’s swinging back and they’re trying to readjust and some things will stay and some things will uh will certainly get altered but I think that was uh well shared well shared.

Lewis: Yeah that’s just the thing I find most exciting is that a lot more people have an opportunity to do what what fits right for them a lot there are a substantial number of people that want to work in spaces with groups of people whether that’s the office whether that’s shared spaces and there’s a lot of people that want to work from home there’s a lot of people that want to work for Enterprises there’s a lot of people that want to do freelancing gig work and Creator type work in a world where all of that can happen I think is a is a great exciting world.

Jeffery: totally agree totally agree well I think on that we’ve uh We’ve really kind of honed in on this great journey of kind of where you’ve come from the things that you’re working on uh where you’re investing and and all the great things that you’re up to and now we want to kind of make our own little pivot here into um looking at maybe a use case or an experience that you’ve gone through with Founders and share a little bit about what it takes to be an entrepreneur and maybe you have a story that you can share about a founder or even just maybe on your own experience on what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

Lewis: Yeah I would say I would definitely pick a Founder that we’ve worked with that has really shown What It Takes um so a company we invested in out of Toronto actually uh cognoda founded by um Ryan Austin he the one thing that he exemplifies to me is just that that passion and that that mission drive to create your vision in the future so he created a product that is essentially designing a mark creating a market and when you’re creating a market it’s super difficult um you’re going to hit speed bumps you have to not only sell your product before you sell your product you need to educate educate the space on why it’s needed and even more so it’s in the Learning and Development space so a space like corporate Learning and Development space so a space that has not always gotten attention um and so he’s just fought a super great fight and is is now getting the traction and is now really starting to build his user base and just his ability to stay with it to Pivot when not pivot the product but just like pivot his focused they went through a Rebrand the different things but never losing track of that North Star I think is the most important thing that a Founder can have like it’s hard work and and you know I’m not the best person to talk about that because I’m not an entrepreneur but uh I have supported and I have seen and I think anyone can attest to the fact that it is it is not for the final heart and just the way that he’s remained focused has rallied his troops multiple times to just continue moving forward um has been remarkable and now to see things start to come together and to be able to be an investor in that is is just super exciting.

Jeffery: Ah that’s a great story and and it’s even uh we’ll call it even a better story is the fact that um how he was able to to kind of focus in on something but stay passionate stay focused uh learn the environment and keep changing in order to grow the business and the other side that I love about this is that I actually had worked with Ryan in 2010 on one of his at one of his other companies so what a small world. Yeah even back then I can tell you that uh he was probably a lot younger in the space but what I what I liked about uh Ryan even back 12 years ago is that um he was driven no matter what he put his time and passion into he always wanted to learn more do more and get more into the space so uh kudos for you guys jumping on board and and I just actually was looking at him like Ah that’s so cool I had no idea he was working on this I’m like this is amazing so great story great Sharon awesome really cool that I got to work with him so long ago with it uh and he’s still running at it and that’s awesome so yeah he’s uh he’s done a lot of great things in the startup world and ecosystem for sure for sure I love it all right we’re going to transition now into the personal questions or the business questions uh so the way this works is you’re going to respond from the investor side um which of course you are so pick one or the other and we’ll uh we’ll we’ll go through those and then we’ll jump into the personal side.

Lewis: Sounds good

Jeffery: All right here we go uh founder or co-founder

Lewis: Prefer co-founder but it’s not it’s not a hard no on the founder

Jeffery: Okay unicorn or a four year 10x exit

Lewis: Unicorn we we swing for defenses all day

Jeffery: I love it uh Tech or cpg

Lewis: Tech tech

Jeffery: Nfts or web 3.0

Lewis: Web 3.0

Jeffery: AI or blockchain

Lewis: AI

Jeffery: first time founder or second third time founder

Lewis: If I’m writing a book I’m writing or if I’m creating my own company and putting things in place it’s going to be a second or third time founder but that uh we don’t first time Founders come talk to us because you know it’s about your vision about your passion to get there.
Jeffery: Love it uh first money in or series A

Lewis: Willing to do series a but prefer being First Institutional money in

Jeffery: Okay board seat or Observer

Lewis: Board seat but either is fine board seat though

Jeffery: Okay safe or convertible note

Lewis: Uh fine is safe

Jeffery: Leader follow

Lewis: uh now we follow more often than we lead

Jeffery: Okay Equity your interest payments

Lewis: Equity

Jeffery: Favorite part of investing

Lewis: Entrepreneurs getting to spend time with them

Jeffery: Number of companies invested per year

Lewis: About 10.

Jeffery: Love it any preferred terms

Lewis: No just terms that are fair to the founder and terms that aren’t going to make it super difficult for investors to be excited about coming in and joining the Gap table later on I don’t understand why investors would do something that would turn other investors away later on.

Jeffery: Okay uh vertical is a focus you mention them but just to reiterate.

Lewis: Future of work future of homes

Jeffery: Two qualities of startup needs in order to stand out to you.

Lewis: Great team differentiated Tech

Jeffery: Okay personal side book or movie

Lewis: Movie, when I can stay awake for him

Jeffery: Superman or Batman

Lewis: Batman Batman he’s a real guy I like that

Jeffery: Restaurant or picnic

Lewis: Restaurant

Jeffery: Five minutes of Bezos or Oprah

Lewis: Bezos

Jeffery: Mountain or Beach

Lewis: I live really close to the beach let’s go Mountain

Jeffery: I like it biker run

Lewis: Run but I started by I sorry I gotta change JV uh we all just started biking with my kids so I probably hadn’t ridden a bike a lot since I was like 13 but now I’m starting to do it more so Leisure bike rides with the kids.

Jeffery: I love it I love it that’s good

Jeffery: Uh Big Mac or chicken McNuggets

Lewis: Neither Beyond on my own girl

Jeffery: All right all right trophy or money

Lewis: Money

Jeffery: Beer or Wine

Lewis: Sam Pellegrino um drink all

Jeffery: Right perfect that’s good too uh camera mobile phone

Lewis: Mobile phone

Jeffery: King or Rich

Lewis: I mean I feel like most kings are rich but I’ll go rich

Jeffery: Concert or amusement park
Lewis: Amusement park

Jeffery: Fortune cookie ah Disney’s good it’s huge uh fortune cookie or birthday cak

Lewis: Birthday cake

Jeffery: Ted talk or book reading

Lewis: TED Talk

Jeffery: Tick Tock or Instagram

Lewis: Instagram I’m not on either so I don’t know I’m qualified to answer all right

Jeffery: Fair enough Facebook or LinkedIn

Lewis: LinkedIn

Jeffery: Most famous person that pops in your mind

Lewis: Well you already asked me a question about Bezos oh Bezos was on my mind

Jeffery: I’m staging it I gotta I gotta change these questions around uh favorite movie and character you’d play

Lewis: oh man that’s a tough one there’s a lot of great movies and a lot of great characters um I’ve always had so I love the movie um Pursuit of Happiness and Will Smith’s character

Jeffery: Yeah great movie

Lewis: Like driving that passion you can’t beat it and doing it for your kids man

Jeffery: Yep agreed that’s good that’s a good one favorite book I think ou mentioned one I don’t know if that’s your favorite but

Lewis: Yeah that is a great one you know I’m I’m gonna say when I’m reading right now um because it’s uh I I love it and I I love what this guy stood for I’m reading Mamba mentality Kobe’s book Kobe Bryant’s book and I like that a lot um but favorite book of all time there’s so many of them um uh I spent a lot of time I do spend a lot of time reading um I enjoy my book spend good amount of time the Bible I love The Art of War um anything that’s great and and moving I’m all about don’t read a lot of uh fiction though.

Jeffery: Yeah I’m the same I haven’t read the Mamba one by Colby but I’m going to read that one and the Art of War I think is a great book too so yeah that’s a great book um okay uh First brand that pops in your mind.

Lewis: Nike

Jeffery: They’re both 20 Apple’s number one choice then it’s Nike

Lewis: Says a lot about what they’ve done

Jeffery: Oh they’re they’re good they’re good uh favorite sports team

Lewis: Uh Philadelphia Eagles followed by the Boston Celtics

Jeffery: They’re all right too not the Raptors but they’re all right they’re good uh. what is the meaning of success to you

Lewis: Just going after your goals each and every single day don’t sell yourself short and lay it on the line so if
you’re doing that you’re you’re a success in my book and you but but the thing about success is it’s not a destination and I’m not making that like I didn’t make that up obviously but it’s in every single day thing you got to keep it up if you don’t you lose it.

Jeffery: I love it Paul said last question what is your superpower

Lewis: My superpower my superpowers is faith faith that things are going to work out right faith is about believing in something before you see it and that’s what Founders need to do it and that’s what investors need to do and that’s what we all need to do right you don’t always see it if you wait to until you see it until you believe that it’s going to happen then you might never see it and so just having the faith that if you do the things right it’s going to work out and what you want to happen is going to happen but you got to do the things right and you got to believe it’s going to happen.

Jeffery: I love it man believe in yourself and have faith that you can accomplish it

Lewis: Absolutely

Jeffery: I’m going to take that as my message for today because I think that’s uh very well shared uh and and Louis I want to say that I was a real pleasure getting the opportunity to chat with you today uh awesome I love the whole breakdown on everything on the coaching the teaching all the points that you’ve shared I’ve taken a million notes uh not that I can probably see them because I’m showing it so fast but again uh Louis it was awesome thank you very much for sharing with us today and the way we kind of like to end our show is that we want to give you the last word and anything that you want to share to the investor or startup Community I turn it over to you and uh also share with us how people can get in contact with you.

Lewis: Yeah absolutely so the startup Community just keep building just keep keep having your vision of the future and make sure that’s why you’re building make sure you’re building because you have the differentiated vision of of how the world should be whether it’s the Work World whether it’s the consumers no matter who it is who you’re building for just have a differentiated vision of the future and a passion to get there and if that’s what you’re doing we’d love to talk to you you can get in touch with me on LinkedIn um Louis Burnham uh 84 on there but just Google my name search my name you’ll find it uh on Twitter Lewis Burnham for um and those are the best ways to get in touch with me would love to hear from anybody love talking to Founders that are just passionate about what they’re building.

Jeffery: I love it awesome well Lewis I appreciate all your time and again thanks for sharing it’s been a great conversation and um we’ll be in touch soon but thank you .

Lewis: Awesome have a great one

Jeffery: okay that was that was a great conversation uh with Lewis a lot of a lot of great things he shared there obviously the best thing about his coaching background and his sales background how much that can affect and help startups but the key 100 is of course on that sales side and just the way that they’re able to communicate in with the early stage companies um you know human to human feedback loops uh ongoing communication tools can be helpful but let the team learn uh together start off with two account execs work with them build the process commercialize yourself that’s what’s going to help your company get to the right spot and then you know just around things that really make a difference on the investment side which is differentiated Tech and vision being able to do things a lot better quicker smarter have a great team and just be passionate about what you do I think that’s all really really valuable on top of all the other great things that you shared brilliant really great conversation and something worth listening to a few times to gain that knowledge on the the sales front so thank you everyone for joining us today if you enjoyed this conversation please feel free to share with your friends or subscribe to our YouTube channel follow us on Spotify Apple podcast center Stitcher feel free to share an audio or video clip around our show and we meet we may include it on one of our future podcasts please find us at marketing your support and comments are truly appreciated you can also check us out at or for startup events visit for thank you and have a fantastic day.

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