Words of Wisdom :: First-Time Founder
The things you wish you knew fundraising as a first-time founder
Founder Interview: Alex Cohen, CommandDot
Welcome back to The Weekly Bloom,
We penciled in some time with Alex Cohen, cofounder of CommandDot, to hear about his journey building the future of one-click scheduling </end calendar pun>.
Alex shares his SaaS startup wisdom, and lessons learned raising capital as a first-time founder at his previously acquired fintech startup, Birch.
What was something you learned the hard way as a founder?
Creating demand in fundraising.
When raising capital as a first-time founder for Birch, I met with nearly 150 VC’s and got rejected by 99% of them. I learned everything about fundraising the hard way- knowing which firms to talk to, how to talk to them and what to pitch. This time around we created a great sense of urgency in fundraising for CommandDot by setting an opening and closing date for the round. A lot of first time founders make the mistake of raising out of a place of fear and rejection, and not giving investors a reason to make a decision now.
How are you taking the experiences from Birch into CommandDot?
Prioritizing the things that matter by building the company around a larger vision.
There’s certain details that are worth sweating over, and some that don’t move the needle. When we were building Birch we weren’t focusing on the things that made us interesting as a company. We’re moving so much fast with CommandDot by building a company around a long term vision. The biggest learnings for me are about hiring, company culture + values, finding ideal customers and building for product market fit.
How do you approach team building at an early stage?
We don’t hire a—h*les.
One of the main things we look for in hiring is high EQ. If you don’t have high EQ, you’re probably not going to be a great fit. We want to create an inclusive and welcoming environment, and encourage autonomy within people’s roles. In the early stage of CommandDot we’re hiring junior roles to come in, own their work and craft their dream job. One of the best ways we’re finding success in hiring is bringing people in to work on projects for 2-3 weeks. It gives us a really good sense of what it’s like to work with someone and how they fit the culture.
Why are you building in San Francisco?
I’m still bullish on SF, the talent is unmatched.
The ecosystem attracts people that are so motivated by early stage opportunity. They are hungry to take on risk and buy into the mission of building companies. We still have an office in SF with 5 team members that we all work out of. I’m predicting a major influx of incredibly talented people to move to the Bay area with rents coming down and opportunity opening up.
+Words of Wisdom
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CommandDot is changing the way you use your calendar with one-click scheduling. CommandDot brings your schedule into your inbox so you never leave your window to plan meetings again.
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What We are Reading and Listening to
• 8 Principles for Building a High-Performance Innovation Team, Andrew James Walls
• Strategic SaaS Growth Ideas, Casey Hill :: Head of Growth, Bonjoro
• Finding PMF with the “Jobs-to-be-Done” Growth Strategy, Tony Ulwick
• Accelerate Podcast ft. Andrew Bermudez - Founder & CEO of Digsy - Founder & CEO of Digsy “Zillow for Commercial Real Estate”
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