Founder Track
#SBW2021

"Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you." - Tony Hsieh

Unpack the strategies and nuances of forming a business, finding co-founders, taking the leap, and protecting your mental health while starting and scaling a company. 

Perfect for: first-time founders, serial entrepreneurs and company executives

Opposites Impact: Finding Your Cofounder Match

Mon, Sept 20th: 8:00am - 9:00am EDT

In any startup, co-founders need clear role delineation, alongside a willingness to wear multiple hats. There’s an inherent tension between setting expectations for founders to be Jacks of all Trades, or if your hiring plan will entail staffing up for particular skills gaps. In this session, there will be a paired debate of founder teams for concept and pre-MVP startups to learn:

 

  • How to balance strengths and weaknesses in a founder team to fuel organizational growth 

  • If pedigree or passion prevails when looking at potential partners

  • Are you “mating for life,” or is a certain skillset valuable up to an inflection point in your growth?

 

Join power duos of amazing founders who navigated these challenges together as they share out their lessons learned.

I Did It My Way: Should You Go Solo as a Founder?

Mon, Sept 20th: 9:15am - 10:15am EDT

It goes without saying that if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re brave. However, deciding to go it alone as a founder is a huge and intimidating step! Join us for a discussion with founders who decided against finding a cofounder to cover topics from:

 

  • Am I a good fit for a solo founder?

  • Who to rely on when you’ve started out solo: investors, accelerators, other thought leaders

  • The best reasons for solo founding, and being prepared for the worst situations you might encounter 

  • What are options like for non-technical solo founders?

 

This event will be especially useful for early entrepreneurs, folks at the idea stage, and founders looking to map their talent plan for the early days of their startup.

Life Gives You Lemons: How Entrepreneurs Thrived Through COVID (and Other Challenges)

Mon, Sept 20th: 10:30am - 11:30am EDT

The first computer was built during World War II. The Pilates method was conceived by a prisoner of war. The board game Scrabble—or Words with Friends for you digital natives—was first created during the Great Depression. And the website Meetup was born out of New Yorkers’ desire for community in the wake of tragedy on September 11.

 

The best ideas often rise from the fires of adversity, and surely this global pandemic has created fuel for entrepreneurial thinking and new opportunities.

 

Join this panel of founders to explore the various ways that Covid-19 has shifted the startup landscape and inspired new ideas or company pivots. We’ll discuss new innovations in the making as well as spaces of opportunity that the pandemic may have opened up where we anticipate entrepreneurs to begin innovating. We’ll also unpack some of the dangers in creating solutions for a specific moment in time and how founders can ensure their solutions don’t become forgotten anachronisms of the pandemic.

This event is part of the Founder Track for Startup Boston Week 2021. It is perfect for founders aspiring founders, and investors.

Shared Cent-iments: Bootstrapping and Crowdfunding

Mon, Sept 20th: 11:45am - 12:45pm EDt

Founders and young companies can be overwhelmed by funding options: you’re worried about your bottom line, your month to month budget, and getting that MVP out into the market as fast as you can. Join a panel of crowdfunding platform executives to weigh the options before you devote effort to securing your cash runway!

 

  • How do you gain traction to self-fund, and is there a ceiling to bootstrapping?

  • Is starting a short-term side hustle to fund your operation the right choice?

  • What does bootstrapping with family and friends entail? 

  • When do you stop bootstrapping and move to, for instance, investor funds?

  • How do you generate excitement among many diverse micro investors?

 

Throughout, you’ll get the perspective of what crowdfunding investors look for in an early stage startup, and a sense of how to generate excitement among many diverse micro investors.

Minute-by-Minute Pitching: Frameworks to Nail the 3, 5, 7, and 10 Minute Pitch Iterations

Mon, Sept 20th: 2:00pm - 3:00pm EDT

You’ve practiced your elevator pitch, and you’ve got a deck bristling with metrics and ideas. However, you have to tailor to your audience(s), which shifts as you move through the funding cycle. Join a group of founders in various stages of growth as they share frameworks for adjusting your pitch to deliver your idea across contexts.

 

In this session, you’ll learn to consider and plan for:

  • What are the needs and questions of the person on the other side of the table?

  • What should a bulletproof pitch answer/address?

  • What frameworks can you leverage?

  • Does it align to and convey your business plan?

  • Is your value prop accessible and digestible?

  • Where should you focus your effort if you only have, for example, 3, 5, 7, or 10 minutes?

 

Once you attend this session, you’ll know how to knock all sorts of pitches out of the park, whether on your home turf or away!

Great Expectations: Exploring Challenges and Opportunities for Female Entrepreneurs in Boston

Mon, Sept 20th: 3:15pm - 4:15pm EDT

Join us for a virtual roundtable panel discussion with some of the startup communities most inspiring women, as they share perspectives and experiences on running and working for a startup.

 

  • What obstacles do women in the startup community face?  

  • Has the virtual work environment changed any perceived expectations of women in the community. 

  • Are there any benefits to being a woman (or BIPOC) in the startup environment? How can you turn that into an opportunity?

  • What programs are available to support and empower women entrepreneurs? 

Raising Your Series A: Negotiating the Term Sheet

Mon, Sept 20th: 3:15pm - 4:15pm EDT

Whether you're actively raising your Series A or planning to do so in the future, this is a session you will not want to miss. Partners Ben Hron and Matt Uretskty of McCarter & English will take you through the typical terms of a term sheet, what you should focus on, red flags, and negotiation tactics to help get you the best deal.

Formation Tarnation: Incorporation, Operating Agreements and Bylaws

Tues, Sept 21st: 8:00am - 9:00am EDT

Join us for a close look at the basics of setting up your shop. This workshop will demystify the Articles of Organization/Incorporation, developing your Operating Agreements, and establishing your bylaws. Topics explored will include:

 

  • Best practices and when to begin formation

  • Events that merit revisiting these items, like raising capital or acquiring a company

  • Potential gotchas you can prevent through solid formation documentation

  • How to protect yourself from liability and even termination by syncing with the board.

Workforce Source: How to scale from 10 to 100 employees when you are too busy to hire

Tues, Sept 21st: 11:45am - 12:45pm EDT

It’s one of the most exhilarating inflection points of watching your startup grow: you’ve raised some capital, and you’re ready to grow exponentially, fast. Join us to learn from those who focus on growth and who have rapidly scaled up teams for helpful lessons learned.

 

As a founder, you may be wondering where to start and how to disengage the brakes you’ve carefully applied to your headcount up to this point. Whether you’re looking to hire 10 or 100 people, this group will address central questions around maintaining quality and culture, attracting and retaining top talent, and the tradeoffs of managing your scale moment in-house or through utilizing staffing firms.

Brain Domain: Identifying and Protecting IP

Tues, Sept 21st: 2:00pm - 2:30pm EDT

Every company — from unicorns to failed start-ups — began as someone’s idea. So knowing how to protect your idea is vitally important. 

 

This primer in intellectual property law will help attendees understand the best practices and most common IP mistakes made. Get tips on negotiating license agreements with universities, learn more about what disclosure means for your IP rights, and hear from panelists about how IP law can play into funding conversations with VCs.

 

Whether you’re a founder who is already building a company, or an engineer thinking of striking out on your own, this panel will arm you with the information you need to take the next step.

Pitch Perfect: Live VC Feedback for Startup Pitches

Tues, Sept 21st: 2:300pm - 3:00pm EDT

Being able to accurately describe what your startup is, does, and offers is a key skill and as an entrepreneur, pitch desks will now be part of your life whether you like it or not. We’re here to help you perfect your pitch. 

 

Join us for this pitch event as four founders will have the opportunity to pitch to four Venture Capitalists in exchange for expert feedback and discussions on best practices for pitching your startup. VC’s will discuss the following:

 

  • What differentiates a good pitch from an average pitch? 

  •  With your limited time, what should you focus on in your pitch? 

  •  How can you make a virtual pitch more effective?  

  • Do VCs from different parts of the country view pitches differently? (i.e. is there any regional startup culture bias?)

Submit your startup to pitch right here.

Startup Storytelling: Legal Issues in Brand Promotion

Tues, Sept 21st: 2:30pm - 3:00pm EDT

Branding is important to establishing your startup in the market. However, there are certain assets in branding that can come across as "unethical" - or can backfire during promotion. During this session, we'll cover trademarks and copyrights, dishonesty, controversial branding and marketing to children.

Raising Growth Capital Through Regulation A

Tues, Sept 21st: 3:15pm - 4:15pm EDT

Regulation A allows companies to raise up to $75M in a public offering with almost no limitations on who can invest. This makes Regulation A a compelling alternative to venture capital for some startups, particularly B2C companies, because the public offering helps raise the company’s profile among potential customers. During this program, Ben Hron of McCarter & English and Christopher George of SeedInvest will discuss what you, as a founder, should know about Regulation A and how you can utilize it to raise growth capital your company.

Startup Finance 101: Understanding the Basics on Your Way to Profitability

Wed, Sept 22nd: 8:00am - 9:00am EDT

Finances. As a founder you’re knee deep product, marketing, sales, customer success, and really everything that can help your startup build traction. But finances is a key factor toward building your company’s success. 

 

During this talk, we’ll be be answering those burning questions that stand between you and profitability: 

  • How do I figure out how much burn rate I have? 

  • How much does it actually cost to create and scale this product? 

  • What is my growth rate and profitability? 

  • Where can these ratios fail?

Scale Smart or Bust: Prioritizing Spend for Growing Startups

Wed, Sept 22nd: 9:15am - 10:15am EDT

Budgets! For some, the process of developing one brings a sense of calm and order, and for others, can be an exhausting exercise in line items and not-enough-runway-anxiety.

 

Join experienced CFOs, VCs, and growth-stage founders to demystify and simplify the process of prioritizing your spend as a growing startup. Cash-burning companies have a limit, and allocating the right dollars to the right effort can be the difference between longevity and failure. This workshop will touch on:

  • Key considerations when moving forward with expenditures from new hires to marketing and capital investments?

  • When should a founder hire senior leadership versus key producers: for instance, the utility of a sales representative versus a Chief Revenue Officer?

  • When should you time fundraising for your next round of capital?

  • How do you prepare for unexpected expenses or revenue loss that can tangibly alter the shape of your budget?

The Customer is Always Right: How to Build a Customer Advisory Board

Wed, Sept 22nd: 10:30am - 11:30am EDT

Paying customers is what makes your startup successful. Sometimes, as a startup continues to build out its offering, they may create a Customer Advisory Board. A CAB is a group of key customers that a company invites to periodic meetings to offer feedback on the product as well as their overall impressions of the company. 

 

With this in mind, when is the ideal time to start a Customer Advisory Board? And how do you know if this is the right fit for you? 

 

During this panel, we’ll chat about understanding what a CAB is good for, how to know when you should start one, and how to get the most out of a CAB once you’ve established it.

Rapid Fire: How to Protect Your Young Company from a Bad Hire

Thurs, Sept 23rd: 8:00am - 9:00am EDT

There is nothing worse than hiring someone that you realize, after the paperwork is done, is not a good skill or culture fit to your startup.

 

While you should do everything within your power to hire the best person for the job, sometimes you can miss a warning sign or two. So what do you do when this happens? Well, unfortunately, you’ll need to part ways. While your company is young its more important than ever to have the best team involved in building and scaling the startup. 

 

During this panel, we’ll chat about a few things you, as the hiring manager and founder, will need to keep in mind when parting ways with a bad hire. We’ll be answering questions around how to fire an early employee, how to prevent these bad hires from receiving a lot of equity, and the legal framework you’ll need to understand prior to firing someone.

Startup Stress-Management: How Founders Can Priortizie Mental Wellness

Thurs, Sept 23rd: 9:15am - 10:15am EDT

Startup life is a mental rollercoaster. With high-highs and low-lows, how can you, as a founder, prioritize your mental health while still grinding day in and day out to build your company? 

 

While we all understand it’s about balance, this can be incredibly hard to achieve when we see the competition creeping up and the hours - and days - flying by before us. During this panel, we’ll be chatting about:

  • Identifying your main stressors - and how to manage them so you can be productive

  • Vendors and partners that can provide you with a great support system during this time

  • How you can achieve a work/life balance as a founder

Leadership Styles for Startups: Unpacking the Personas of Successful Leaders

Thurs, Sept 23rd: 10:30am - 11:30am EDT

Startup founders often find the skills required to scale their business aren't the same as those required to start it. As team sizes grow, financials become increasingly complex, strategic decisions become more significant, and pivots more painful, among other "nice-to-have" challenges of a high-growth company. How can CEOs ensure that their growth as leaders is on-pace with that of their companies?

 

During this talk, we’ll discuss: 

  • The different personas of successful startup leaders

  • Where these personas excel & struggle

  • What support these personas need in order to succeed

  • How to figure out which one is the best leadership style for you

The Right Fit: Are You the Right CEO to Take Your Startup to Scale? 

Thurs, Sept 23rd: 11:45am - 12:45pm EDT

You might be a department of one, who prides yourself on being the CEO of “everything,” but you’re ready to scale up. Perhaps you’re considering your other c-suite hires and leadership team. Now’s the time to pause and consider: are you the right CEO to take this startup to scale? 

 

How will you know when the needs of the business maybe indicate that you can step into your craft expertise as the Chief Technology Officer, handing the CEO mantle to a new hire or existing colleague? Where do you begin the search, and how do you orchestrate that transition?

 

Join CEOs who have made the transition and investors who have witnessed the shift for a fireside chat. We’ll get real about the signs to watch for, and some 20/20 hindsight you can benefit from in your own startup!

Deck Heck: How to Create an Informative and Inspiring Pitch Deck

Fri, Sept 24th: 8:00am - 9:00am EDT

You’ve got your idea, heart, and a blank deck before you. You’ve proven your idea a bit, but now you need to inform and inspire potential investors to get funding, support, and product evangelists behind your idea.

 

Join founders and investors to explore the dos, don’ts, and bones of a solid pitch deck. Starting from slide one, you’ll understand the essential formats you can use to convey your big pitch, and snatch some design best practices along the way. Panelists will walk you through the process and share some great resources to get your deck distribution and investor sit-down ready. 

Strategy Stack: Create the Advisory Board of Your Dreams

Fri, Sept 24th: 9:15am - 10:15am EDT

There comes a point in every founder’s journey when you’ll need some strategic help. Maybe you’re ready to make a big growth move. Maybe you need some people with different experience to come in and give you advice on that next step.

 

It’s time to put together your advisory board.

 

Learn how to build the perfect group of strategic advisors. Get in-depth, actionable advice on topics like:

 

  • How to put together a board with the perfect set of complementary skill sets and styles

  • How to take advantage of your board’s expertise without sacrificing your own autonomy

  • How to keep your board aligned on mission and purpose

  • How to decide who should join your board, and how to ask them

 

You’re ready to take that next step. Do it right.

Raise Craze: Deciding Among Angel Investors, VC and Private Equity

Fri, Sept 24th: 10:30am - 11:30am EDT

Startup Boston is hosting this AMA with [name] to help you parse the many funding sources available to entrepreneurs. Founders and CFOs, join us for an overview and question and answer session to explore everything from angel investors to VCs.

 

Learn from our speaker how to determine the right investor category for your stage and situation, how to identify synergy between your goals and investors’ priorities, work style, and typical timelines to target.

 

You’ll leave understanding a little more about the benefits, pitfalls, and specific quirks of pursuing each funding source, and can formulate a plan for the right time in your startup’s life cycle to secure it. 

Early-Stage Equity: What to Consider Before Allocating Equity

Fri, Sept 24th: 11:45am - 12:45pm EDT

Your early stage startup’s equity can be your largest incentive for attracting future hires. So it’s really important that you figure out exactly how much you’re willing to part with and what your compensation structure will be prior to an interview.

 

While some prefer a shoestring approach to competition (i.e. high equity with low salary or high salary with low equity), some others prefer a “one size fits all'' approach. 

 

In addition to hatting about compensation, we’ll also discuss a few key factors that determine a new hires equity: 

  • When an early hire should be considered a co-founder rather than an early employee

  • The terms that are typical for early equity grants 

  • What to consider if vested employees leave

Startup Boston's Dealflow Mixer

Fri, Sept 24th: 1:00pm - 2:00pm EDT

Join us for an afternoon of speed-dating-style networking for founders and investors. We'll curate a diverse mix of investors and founders and pair you up for introductory conversations. Request an invite right here.