Episode 182

How To: Fund Your Business with Richa Gupta and Marissa Bronfman

This month, we hear from an entrepreneur who has grown their business solely through bootstrapping and an investor who helps break down what funding your business can look like.

Kayla Isabelle

Richa Gupta, Marissa Bronfman

Episode Overview

The topic of funding is one commonly associated with stress and anxiety for founders – but it doesn’t need to be. Financing your business is an exercise rooted in patience, planning, and purpose. It’s a unique opportunity to imagine, and reimagine, what our ventures can and should look like in the future.  

Richa Gupta is the Founder of Good Food For Good – a CPG venture focused on crafting organic and refined sugar, soy, corn syrup, gluten, dairy, and preservative-free products and has bootstrapped her business from the beginning but she is ready to explore bringing in funding partners. Marissa Bronfman, a serial entrepreneur, impact investor and former CBO of Kizmet Impact Capital knows entrepreneurs can feel hesitant when it comes to VC funding, but through her expertise and experience she hopes founders can grow their business through funding and feel confident that what their blood, sweat and tears have built isn’t given up through a funding partnership. 

Resources from this Episode: 
Startup Canada Business Owners Tool Box:
Funding Module
Arlan Hamilton at BackStage Capital
Check out Grit Capital: A Platform Connecting Investors
Perspectives from Kirsten Green, Partner at ForeRunner
Business Development Bank of Canada Capital: Financing Your Business
Business Development Bank of Canada: Money and Finance Resources
Scotiabank Women Initiative: Access to Capital, Education and Mentorship

Episode 182

Episode Transcript

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  01:15

Welcome to the startup women podcast a show where we connect Canada’s powerful cohort of women identifying founders to real stories and case studies of women building businesses supported by true tactical advice from thought leaders and industry experts. I’m your host Kayla Isabelle, CEO of Startup Canada. Each month I’ll be sharing the mic with one founder and one expert. Together we will dive into real stories and scenarios and uncover actionable advice for women entrepreneurs across Canada from funding and hiring to sales and scaling strategies. On this show, we cover the most important topics so you can deconstruct the challenges of starting and running a business with knowledge that goes beyond the surface level. Let’s get started. reach a Gupta is the founder of good food for good a CPG venture focused on crafting organic and refined sugar, soy, corn syrup, gluten, dairy, and preservative-free products driven by her growing desire to make a difference in the world through food reach a launch good food for good bootstrapped from the very beginning. Social Impact is top of mind for Rita and her team. Now they’re looking to scale with equity funding without compromising their mission.

Richa Gupta (Good Food for Good)  02:32

In terms of funding, our business has been solely bootstrapped and we kept it bootstrapped for a reason. And for us the idea was to keep the control, 100% control because we are building a purpose-driven company. good food for good is not just a business for me, it is me building my life around living my values. And I needed to get to a stage where consumers see this brand as what I want them to see like they understand what good foods or good means. Before I bring in a partner who might have a different opinion.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  03:08

That’s where our topic expert, Marissa Bronfman comes in. Marissa is the Chief Brand Officer of Kismet impact capital, a serial entrepreneur, writer, speaker, and women’s empowerment advocate who has built nonprofit initiatives and plant-based businesses across Canada and India. Last year she launched we are women a national initiative empowering black, indigenous, LGBTQ plus, and women of color. To become successful entrepreneurs in Canada’s Food and beverage industry. She’s now proud to be helping build the democratization of impact investing with Kismet and funding more women founders, especially in sustainable plant-based consumer packaged goods,

Marissa Bronfman (Impact Investor)  03:51

The more things you’ve achieved, you’ve got a product, you’ve got a customer, you’ve got a community, you’ve got demand, the lesson investor can take from you because you’ve already built that yourself. And so that’s a really important consideration as you’re planning this long-term outlook.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  04:09

In this conversation, we bring together Richa and Marissa’s expertise and experiences to talk about funding and how women entrepreneurs can find the right funders, plan for long-term success and not compromise their mission along the way. The topic of funding is one commonly associated with a lot of stress and anxieties for founders. But it doesn’t have to be financing your business is an exercise rooted in inpatient research, planning, and purpose. It’s a unique opportunity to imagine and reimagine what our ventures can and should look like in the future. Welcome to the show, Marissa, and Richa!

Marissa Bronfman (Impact Investor)  04:50

Thank you. Thank you so much. 

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  04:53

Super happy to have both of you here and on one of my favorite topics the topic of funding. I think we need more than just one podcast episode on this one in particular. But let’s kick off with some context questions. Richa, take us back to the beginning of good food for good. Walk us through your entrepreneurial journey. What was your vision for the company? How did you make it happen? Walk us through the whole process.

Richa Gupta (Good Food for Good)  04:53

Sounds awesome. I think that was my favorite part two in this whole journey. So, I was working at a big CPG when this idea came to me about starting good food for good. I was a young mother, as you said in the introduction, my daughter was four. And I had only I used to have like 2030 minutes to come back home and cook a meal for her that I would call real and wholesome. And it was a struggle. And I know a lot of moms go through that daily. Because anytime you try and look for shortcuts, they are loaded with too much sugar, lots of salt, preservatives, that, you know, do they even belong in our food, right? Like food is our fuel that’s our medicine, do we need to eat things that don’t belong in the food group, right that doesn’t come from plants or, you know, real wholesome and growing soil. So that’s, that’s where the, you know, dissonance started, I was working for a company that sold products with all those preservatives. And I was finding as a person difficult to find as just a normal human being to find products that I could feed my family. So clearly, there was this disconnect. And I went through really dark times. Just figuring out what can I do to resolve this conflict inside of me. So when this idea about good food for good came to me, I was just instantly in love. And that’s why I said that was my favorite part. Because when you fall in love, that’s always the favorite part of the love story, because we all know what comes after. So she just brought so much excitement in me and showed me so much light that I had to give it a try. So I left my job. And I started good food for good. And for me, it was always like I learned at General Mills. So the company that I worked for was General Mills. It’s a great training ground, it teaches you what the industry is all about. It teaches you discipline, it teaches you, you know what marketing is all about what consumer insights are all about. And seriously at that time, I thought I got it right like I handled these brands, I know what to do till you leave that and you come into the world where you have to do everything. Because till now all it was anything that needed to be done, all I had to do was send an email. Now I had no one to email. So it was all I had to figure out how to start from the beginning whether it’s, you know, designing the product shelf life of the product labels, its regulatory, you name it sales, like nothing, I had no idea what to do. So it was an interesting journey. So I decided to take it slow, I wanted to do it more like a lemonade stand style. So my initial year, a year and a half, all I did was farmers’ market, I wanted to know if there is a big enough market for my product. I wanted to develop that community with people who care about what I had to offer. Because what I was bringing to the market at that time did not exist. So I was creating, I was bringing flavor to an organic aisle. At that time, when you go to an organic food aisle or a natural food if you want to add flavor, all you had was soy sauce or pasta sauce. So if you don’t want or if you know, if you wanted to eat something else, you have to cook everything from scratch. So I was trying to create this line of organic Indian and Mexican cooking sauces. That was my first line that was made with fresh, wholesome ingredients. So you know, people like me who want to eat healthily don’t have to cook everything from scratch. That’s where it all started. And then once I learned how much sugar was in ketchup. By the way, one cookie has less sugar than a serving of ketchup. And one donut has less sugar than a serving of your favorite barbecue sauce. 

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  09:24

Really! That is a wild takeaway from today’s podcast. Geez.

Richa Gupta (Good Food for Good)  09:28

Yeah, so that’s, that’s when I launched the ketchup and the barbecue sauces as well again, you know, things that I didn’t want to put in my diet or my kid’s diet. I didn’t want people to be eating that either. So I did this farmers market to get a better understanding of who the consumer was and where we were going and, and then, you know, serendipity Whole Foods buyer from the Yorkville store happened to be there at one of the summer farmers markets and then he came to us and he’s like Oh my god, this product should be at Whole Foods. Like, I don’t know, I don’t know, it’s very challenging to be in retail right now I’m just doing it because I know I am the Whole Foods buyer, and I want to bring your products in. So let’s set up a meeting. And that’s how our retail journey started. And now you can find us in stores across the US and Canada, and also UAE. And we’ve donated to our buy one feed one program, over a million meals. So it’s been a journey, but it’s been a great journey. 

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  10:31

We will get into the nitty-gritty of the funding process behind that growth. I’m super excited to learn more, Richa, thanks for that great context. Marissa, let’s go to you for some context about you, and Kizmet. You know, you work with all these different organizations, big and small, supporting them to democratize impact investing, which is a very, very exciting and emerging space. Like we’re seeing so much more in this space, which is encouraging. What is your experience been like so far in this role? And what do you see early-stage founders needing from funding organizations and the support ecosystem in general, lay some context for us

Marissa Bronfman (Impact Investor)  11:07

So many good questions in there, Kayla, thank you. You know, one of the exciting things about this emerging industry that we call impact investing is that hopefully in a few years, all investing is impact investing, we shouldn’t have to talk about impact versus traditional, just like we shouldn’t have to talk about underrepresented founder versus founder. But unfortunately, we do still see less than 3% of venture capital go to women founders all over the world. All over the world, we see less than 7% of partners at venture cap firms are women. So although we say statistically, women perform better across the board, when we give women more money, they perform better. It’s not conversations, statistics support this, despite those statistics, we still have, you know, such low numbers for supporting women, founders like Richa, and so many other founders who are building such exciting, beautiful, purpose-driven businesses that solve problems. I hope that a day soon impact investing is just investing. But to answer your question, yes. While I was living in India, you know, I worked on a variety of women and media initiatives and mentorship programs, this idea that if we don’t support each other, there are not many other people that will. And I think it’s so powerful when women come together, that’s how I feel about Richa, we have this beautiful relationship. And we have since we’ve met, and that’s so critical. When I came back to Toronto, and even in preparation for the we are women initiative I launched last year, there is an important step to take, which is to say we shouldn’t, and we can’t do anything alone. So if we’re talking about women, it can’t just be me building something. So I reached out to NACA, that’s an indigenous organization, I reached out to Black North, I wanted to make sure that I had many voices, many hands in building something so that it was useful that it was purposeful that it reflected actual people’s needs, and solve some problems. So those are just a few of the organizations that I’ve worked with through Kismet impact capital, we’re still at a very early stage in crafting the future of impact investing. But we have the same mentality. We’re not here to do it alone. We want to work with so many people, we want to work with people, we want to work with founders, governments, organizations, private businesses, public organizations, to make sure that like I said, our dream of creating a world in which all investing is impact investing can be realized. And that takes many, many people.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  13:48

Amazing. I love it. And we’ll be drilling I think into the power of impact investment and what is different for those that are not familiar with this space, as the funding landscape. I think for so many entrepreneurs and women entrepreneurs, in particular, is pretty daunting to navigate what is even out there what you know, different processes should you be considering at what stages of your business, it’s a challenging part of crafting and scaling your organization. And hopefully, today’s conversation can help walk our listeners through some of the key considerations that they can make when looking at funding their business. So Richa, can you walk us through good food for goods growth over the last couple of years? Where are you now with your funding journey and where did you begin?

Richa Gupta (Good Food for Good)  14:29

The last four years have been really exciting. So in 2017 is when we decided to scale up the business till then I was operating very much locally, Ontario only business. In 2017, we made the call to start scaling up, we had to revise the recipes, and find co-packers to find new distributors. Since then we’ve grown 100% year over year or year to where we are today which is nationally in both us and Canada with not just one product line, but several product lines from condiments to cooking sauces to now our most recent pasta sauce launch the planned baseball in is. And also a line of teas, which is turmeric tea. So it’s a super exciting time for us. In terms of funding, our business has been solely bootstrapped, and we kept it bootstrapped for a reason. And for us, the idea was to keep the control, 100% control because we are building a purpose-driven company. This good food for good is not just a business for me, it is me building my life around living my values. And I needed to get to a stage where consumers see this brand as what I want them to see like they understand what good food for good means before I bring in a partner who might have a different opinion on what good stands for. So right now what I’ve built is good as in my books, it’s good. In terms of food and my books, it’s good in terms of giving back, because that was the dichotomy that I was living with. Right? I was uncomfortable being who I was in the life I was living. So I built a life that I feel comfortable living every day.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  16:25

And what does bootstrap mean to you? What does that look like for you know, an entrepreneur who’s never fundraised? Or is one considering starting a business? What does bootstrapping mean in the practical day-to-day terms?

Richa Gupta (Good Food for Good)  16:36

Very good question. bootstrapping is you are financing it all yourself, you are putting whatever the business is making back into the business, you are putting all your savings into the business, remortgaging your house, you have to sell your child you need to know Don’t tell your child, but you know, but you are doing everything you can to keep paying the bills yourself versus getting someone else to pay the bills. Like yes, we have loans. So you can get financing because you don’t lose equity in your company by getting a loan for your business. But if you bring equity partners, then you do lose rights or shares of your company.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  17:24

And let’s dive in there. Because I think that’s often a route that many entrepreneurs are thinking about considering, they may not understand what that venture capital space looks like, what equity is. And from your perspective, one of the main challenges that you’ve shared with us is related to financing not wanting to compromise some of those mission vision values that are so near and dear to you, through equity funding, so walk our listeners through that, that those considerations that you’re making when either seeking or not seeking equity.

Richa Gupta (Good Food for Good)  17:54

You know, I don’t think there is any wrong way, right? Like, it all depends on what your end goal is. So yes, I mean, it’s great. If you want to raise money and bring in partners from the get-go, as long as you know, you know, where you want it to end up, end up being. So I know several, several of my fellow co-founders or fellow founders, I should not say, co-founders, because they’re not part of my business fellow who, who raised like a ton of capital, even before making the product, and power to them, right. And because they needed the money, and they thought they have to grow at a certain pace, to be at a place in the market for where they wanted the business to be. For us, it was more about as I said it was I want to make sure it to me it’s important that I am happy with what I’m doing worse is taking my business to a certain level fast. So it’s again, you know, which lever Do you want to pull? But yes, definitely do if you want to scale your business fast, and you don’t have a ton of money. The best way to raise money right to bring partners in who can not only help you with financing but also can help you in other ways if they have, you know, partnered with different businesses in the same area. Now, we think we are ready to go to that crowd because we’ve established a brand. I’ve established a place for ourselves in the market, that anyone who would come in would come in for the values that the business stands for, and the values that consumers have chosen to support worse is wiping it off completely and just driving business as a business. Right. So So again, I hope I’ve answered the question, but it all depends on your end goal. You can go whichever way Bootstrap or get capital. And nothing is wrong,

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  20:01

Agreed! The first step is just understanding what the heck is out there. If we can illustrate that, and then you know, the decisions that other entrepreneurs have made and navigating those choices, you have to make that decision yourself as a founder, you know, you have to lead that charge. Marissa, is this a common challenge that you see, particularly with impact first organizations, this funding landscape, and the decisions that they’re making in those types of business structures?

Marissa Bronfman (Impact Investor)  20:25

Absolutely. I think it happens in all kinds of investing with all kinds of businesses. The case of Good Food for Good is such a good example. Because Richa is impact-driven at every level. This is one of the things I love about her and the business, I’m always talking about Good Food for Good by the way she knows this. When we look at the impact, you know, we want to be careful of a few things like greenwashing, a lot of businesses are saying, you know, we score high on ESG, environmental, social, and governance, or are we’re green. And so what does that mean, whereas Richa and other true impact businesses are authentically demonstrating that at every level, her products are sustainable, they’re healthy, they’re good for people and family she gives back there is nothing, Richa isn’t doing to be an impact purpose-driven business. And so I love her and the business for that, to take it back to impact investing, there are so many different industries that an impact investor will look at. So in the case of Richa, we’re looking at plant-based CPG, consumer packaged goods. Impact businesses can also be cleantech, clean energy, and health tech. And in some of those cases, the capital required to build machinery, IP (intellectual property), the kinds of scientists or other people at a high level that would be necessary to build something an impact has an enormous cost associated. So that isn’t to say, CPG isn’t expensive. It’s also very expensive to start a CPG business, but in impact, we’re evaluating founders, we always look at a founder first. I think most investors will tell you that we invest in people first and business second. So we’re looking at that we’re looking at the total addressable market, what problem are they trying to solve? In? What market? And how big is that market today? And how big could that market be in the future? And then like what Richa said, it’s all about what your end goal is. And it’s okay to not know your end goal. Also, you know, Always know your values, but you, you may not know what the final iteration of your product or service or business and most people don’t, I think the best founders are always pivoting and always iterating as they need to. And we look for that as investors too. If you can bootstrap, we love to see that we love to see founders in businesses that have bootstrapped, they have 100% equity, or there are two co-founders. So it’s often 50/50. We’d love to see that they’ve put not only their own money, but their blood, sweat, and tears, you know, to be very frank into building the business and beverages laughing. And I’ve been an entrepreneur too. So I get that. It is all those three things, all those four things for me. And then we’d love to see the vision. And so what does that vision cost according to what timeline. So if you want to take your product from zero to 60, and your timeline is 18 months, there’s no way you can bootstrap that. Also, doing that doesn’t mean success works for some brands, works for some startups, and doesn’t work for others. If you want it to take a sustainable route, build slowly you do proof of concept is there even demand the product you’ve created? Richa had so many fans at a farmers market that is a great proof of concept she then knew she could go on and impact investing in all investing, we’re looking at all of those factors. It’s a puzzle with many pieces. There are many ways to start a business, you also have to consider your lifestyle, and your responsibility to yourself and others, it may not be possible to sell finance. And so you have to look for loans and grants. And you may have to look for equity partners, like an investor who would give you capital but then owns part of your business. And they expect that they will make a return on that investment. And so sometimes for founders, that’s an added level of pressure, it’s already so hard to be a founder, there are so many pressures, but there’s an added level of pressure to perform for your investors. So that is all to say many, many considerations on both sides of the table

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  24:41

And Richa, with your perspective from bootstrapping. What have been the pros and cons are positives and negatives, those implications of fully bootstrapping up to this point for you?

Richa Gupta (Good Food for Good)  24:51

So let’s come to the positives first. I have no one to who I have to answer. For myself, about yourself. Exactly. I think that’s the biggest positive, right? Because I can decide if today, I want to take the day off or a week off and just spend time with my daughter, I can do that I don’t have to answer to anyone. That’s, I think that I would say that’s like the biggest positive, the negative would be their things that I could have amplified sooner. Because our business is value-driven. And it’s all about now telling that story to many, many people, which I wasn’t able to do because I didn’t have, you know, bucket loads of money sitting behind me, like, I have to make sure that I am not like, going so negative that I have to do leave, I have to give up this shelter or my head. Right. So I have to spend accordingly. That okay, you know, my my, my p&l statement shouldn’t be that negative that I can’t afford to, pay my bills next month, right. So so it was a very calculated approach. And yes, perhaps if he would have taken funding sooner, maybe we could have been at a different revenue level, maybe not, who knows, there would have been a, you know, I don’t know, stressful situation. For me, because I’ve just run this so independently, I don’t know, you never know. But now we are the time for us to since we’ve proven the product, there is a product-market fit, retailers wanted consumer wants it. It’s all about amplification. So I feel now we are at a point where we can choose who we want to partner with where they need us as much as we need them versus the other way, versus being in a situation where you really can’t do anything if you don’t get an investment in. So So I feel pretty grateful to be able to get to a place ourselves. So now we can make that choice. And now we can bring in somebody who believes in what we’re doing, like fully.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  27:12

 Marissa, looking at the long-term financial planning of any startup or small business. Why is that so important when you’re looking at some of these decisions that you can be made in the infancy of your business, and potentially a hasty funding decision, you know, an opportunistic, you know, sort of moment that you seize that, you know, might have an ulterior consequence that you did not anticipate what is so important about long term financial planning. From your perspective,

Marissa Bronfman (Impact Investor)  27:39

Long-term financial planning is very important, not always possible, we’ll talk through that. Something else I’ll add to what Richa was saying. And this is a just again, a great case study for founders or anyone who’s thinking of starting a business, in the capital journey. If you are looking for capital, when you have an idea, you don’t have a product, you don’t have a customer, you just have an idea. Investor impact, or otherwise, if they like it, will take an enormous piece of your business for very little capital. The more things you’ve achieved, you’ve got a product, you’ve got a customer, you’ve got a community, you’ve got demand, the less an investor can take from you because you’ve already built that yourself. And so that’s a really important consideration as you’re planning this long-term outlook. So let’s say you know, day one, you’ve got a great idea. You’re doing a little bit of research, you haven’t done anything yet. You want to think and again, you may not know and that’s okay, but you want to think about where you want to end up. I think there’s an old saying that 100% of 00, expect to give up some equity at some point. But think about what that point means for you. Are you single? Do you have savings? Do you have children? Do you have a mortgage? Do you have debt? These are just some of many things you should think about, in this long-term planning on your financial journey as a founder. There are many, many resources available to founders now, including a variety of loans and grants. So a grant is great. It’s money that’s yours, you don’t have to pay it back. A loan can also be great, especially if you have a low-interest rate that gives you capital to work with without sacrificing your home or you know, perhaps your lifestyle. But if you can bootstrap 100% know how long you can bootstrap for, do a revenue projection. At what point can you start making something for yourself even if it’s the tiniest salary, a tiny salary plus savings? Six months in 12 months and 18 months and at what point in this journey? Do you need to go back to making a real income if anything? Do you have the capacity to wait five years to sell your business hopefully As a unicorn, which means a billion-dollar valuation, or even, you know, half a million, half of that 500 million, whatever your goals are, try and see how much capital you have, how much capital you can access and what your risk profile is? And according to those three things, think about what you’re willing to give up in your business journey. Because an equity partner and investor want a piece of the pie.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  30:25

That is such a great overview of such helpful questions. And just like this eyes wide open, prompt that you need to speak this language and understand all these different types of funds that you can access that will bring you one step further, to be able to do that really thorough financial forecast and set some boundaries for yourself, what are you comfortable with, if you’re building a side hustle versus putting everything into this new business, it’s important to be clear with yourself around what you’re willing to give up. Because ultimately, you’re gonna have to make sacrifices in building your business funding or otherwise. So I think that was a really helpful illustration where I set a bit of an outline, I want to go into just funding one on one, I keep coming back to basics here because often, this is just where so many entrepreneurs get stuck. So we’ve talked about bootstrapping, quite a bit rich, so you’ve given some great examples of what that looks like for your business. Let’s talk about the VC space. Marisa, can you give us you know, a quick lesson in venture capital investing? What is it? What are the top benefits? What are the downfalls? We’ve covered a little bit, but we’d love your perspective.

Marissa Bronfman (Impact Investor)  31:29

Yeah, thank you. So, you know, venture capital is a multifaceted behemoth. I love that. Impact investing, you know, is a growing part of that. But typically what venture capital means is we operate in the private sphere, we’re not in public markets. But we often have a goal that whatever we are involved in, is going to become public. So we often hear about startups that IPO that’s their initial public offering their public to anyone to buy stock. And that’s usually a huge moment for brands. That’s where we see these billion-dollar valuations happen. But for venture cap, where we’re often pre IPO, we want to invest in a founder with an amazing idea in a very cool market that we think has tons of potential. And so we will evaluate founders and businesses according to those three things. But also, as a firm, what are our goals, so you’ll see a venture capital firm that strictly plants based consumer packaged goods, they are only looking to invest in the future of plant-based food, let’s say, or plant-based sustainable lifestyle products. Equally, you could see a venture capital firm that was only interested in clean energy. So you know, electric vehicles, hybrid solutions, etc. And you will occasionally see venture cap firms that have a diverse outlook, and a diverse portfolio that represents that. So venture capital can be many things, it’s always in the private sphere, and different funds have different amounts of money that they’re deploying. So different amounts of capital they’re deploying, you could have a $100 million funds. And so their minimum check size is likely upwards of 2 million. So they’re looking for businesses that are, you know, beyond a $10 million valuation in the private markets, you could have a venture cap firm that’s much smaller. And so maybe they’re writing checks of $100,000, or $200,000. And there are also firms, which I love to follow, that are only investing in women-only investing in underestimated founders. And so their outlook may be needed dependent, but very hyper-focused on who the founder or who the founding team is. So that’s just a little bit about what venture capital looks like, we always operate in the private sphere, we are looking for an exit or an acquisition, which happens in the public sphere where the valuation is much higher. You know, all venture capitalists are looking for an X return on their investment. So if we put in 100k, you know, when that company goes public or is acquired, we’re looking to make a million off that, for example. And that’s just a rough, broad calculation. Some funds are looking for much more, and some are comfortable with a little bit less

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  34:26

Another fantastic overview. And so Richa, you’ve just started exploring this equity funding space. And you know, for so many of this pre-research, determining which types of funds are you know, going to be in alignment, what’s been this process for you to even understand where you might want to play with equity funding?

Richa Gupta (Good Food for Good)  34:44

So for us how we are looking at different investors is based on other companies that are impacted based, who are the investors who have invested in those companies? Those are the people we are trying to reach out to because you know why? and they have the same mindset, if they let these other companies do their thing, and live their purpose, then they’re more likely to work with us versus just going after everyone. And I think that would just give us one better, it’s a better chance of success without feeling worn out. Because I know like, I’ve heard stories where people pitch to like 100 Plus investors, it’s draining and tiring, for, you know, founder as well, right? Like, when you’re a founder, it’s not a job. It is your life, right? It is. You can’t say it’s not personal, it’s work. It is who you are throughout the day, right? And it can be, it can be stressful, just, you know, selling you’re pretty much selling yourself. That’s what you’re doing. Technically, since they invest in the founder, you are selling yourself.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  35:55

It is deeply personal. I know, I find that so challenging, you know, don’t take it personally. Of course, you feel you know, this is your, you’re a member of your family. It’s a baby, it’s, it’s you!

Richa Gupta (Good Food for Good)  36:07

Exactly. It’s yeah, it’s you, it’s pretty much a reflection of who you are, what you create is a reflection of who you are. And, and that that has to it has to be easy you. So you go where, you know, you don’t get the door closed on you all the time. That’s our journey. So I think that makes sense for any new founder. If you are looking at raising money, look at companies in the same space. Different investors who have invested in those companies would probably be the best, best people to reach out to, for similar companies. Like I wouldn’t say if somebody is invested in a sauce company, they would invest in your company as well. That would be like competition, not your competitor, but complementary. 

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  36:51

Marissa, are there any other tried and true methodologies or frameworks that you think founders can use to determine the best funding route for them? Who do you know, which human beings they should be connecting to, to advise them? Or is each organization’s approach going to be, you know, different and come from their perspective or needs? 

Marissa Bronfman (Impact Investor)  37:10

Great question. I think it’s both, you know, on the one hand, every person, every business, every startup, every dream is different. It’s unique in some way. But that being said, you know, we often see similar trajectories, there are a few trajectories that you know, people tend to follow. One is Richa, being bootstrap to a point of having massive supply and demand, you know, has created something very special that investors want to be a part of, she’s at this inflection point where, you know, investors would come to her and say, Do you want our money, versus the opposite, which happens when you have an idea, or you just have an MVP, which is a minimum viable product, where investors are a little bit warier, there’s no proof of concept. And the founders are a little bit more desperate if they need that capital. So it’s a really interesting relationship. I think, you know, if you take money out of it, these are human relationships, expectations, fulfillment. So, you know, think about that, as you’re building your business. What I would say is, look for role models, even if you never reach out to them, look at someone who’s built something that resembles what you want to create. And then look at how they got there. Something beautiful, I think about social media in the last few years is this incredible amount of transparency. If there’s a founder you love that’s done something in the space, you want to be in there probably talking about the highs and lows, they’re probably talking about, you know, the 700 times they thought their business would fail, and then they turned a corner. This is not, this is not easy, you know, it’s not a straight linear graph by any means. I think there’s this Instagram meme like this that always goes around when founders are talking about their journey. Yeah, so you know, it’s about being nimble. It’s about looking to people who have done what you want to do in times and industries. No one’s done it like Elon Musk, no one’s done it. That’s different. But I wouldn’t say I would say for the majority of businesses, and specifically for plant-based consumer packaged goods, some likely people have done something similar to what you dream of, look at them, look at what they’ve done. They’ve probably talked about what they’ve done wrong. And so that’s kind of helpful. There are some of the pitfalls you could avoid as a founder. And that could be funding things they’ve done wrong. It could be sales things they’ve done wrong, it could be product, manufacturing, they’ve done wrong, there are so many things that can and do go wrong. So I’d say look to those people do your research. There’s never been a better time to research so much for free. So really try and sketch out every element that you can, and then he would say this is important because it goes back to this all being about relationships. Make sure you choose the right time to reach out to someone who could become a mentor, a friend, a colleague or a co-founder, or an investor reaching out too early. If you haven’t done your research, you haven’t done your due diligence, you don’t know enough background on them. It’s insulting, everybody is busy. If you haven’t done your research, you don’t have a clear ask, you’re not adding value. Just wait. And the internet exists to give you all those things. And then reach out from, you know, an investor perspective. Specifically, we want to say that people have done their research, and they know what our firm is about. They know that we share values, as Richa said, maybe there aren’t competitive companies in our portfolio. If we already have a woman-owned impact sauce company, and you’re a woman-owned impact sauce company, we’re probably not going to have a second meeting. Now, that’s not necessarily true, but you want to do your research. And I think just remember, we’re all human beings, whether you’re a founder, whether you’re an investor, whether you are head of sales at Whole Foods, whoever you are, we’re all human beings, be cognizant that it’s all about relationships, be smart, do your research, plan as much as you can. And I think you’ll be in a good position

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  41:28

Richa, when you’re looking for the funding, you’re doing that research there. What are the other elements of the relationship that, you know, maybe a VC or some type of another investor can offer you? What are the other parts outside of the cash that you’re looking for in this potential relationship?

Richa Gupta (Good Food for Good)  41:45

That’s an excellent question. And I debated often, so there are two paths, one, some venture and Marissa and I had a conversation about that earlier, too, that the two ways when you can go with, Okay, I just want the money, just write me the check. I’ll take care of everything. That’s one path. And I think I’m, I’m not fully decided on which path I want to take. But I’m exploring both options. And the other would be bringing a strategic partner in, who not only brings in the money, but also brings in the team has already proven themselves, you know, in the market that you’re trying to get into or, or current market, and can help you get there faster. So even if someone gives you money, but no resources, you have to still figure everything out, you still have to get the right people in the right places to make them put the thing in motion. But if you get a strategic partner, you can get that thing happening faster. But then what do you use lose when you do that, versus where do you lose here? So I’m, I’m, I’m still somewhere midway. But those are the two approaches that I am exploring, bringing in a strategic partner or VC money. So I’m both ways and I’m seeing you know what works best. I’m dabbling. Right now, I’m not at a stage, but I have to make a decision, like now. So  I’m going to dabble in both spaces to like, Oh. That’s, you know, there’s no monogamy and investing.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  43:24

Marisa, what are your thoughts on that? How does one explore these different options? What are the considerations that startups should be making when they’re trying to decide through these different pathways?

Marissa Bronfman (Impact Investor)  43:33

I think Richa identified two main ways that venture capitalists approach investing in a business. One is quite passive. Another is more active-passive, as she said, we’re writing a check. We believe in you to go do the thing that you’re doing. And you know, we’re here to watch you grow as an active investor. And I think we have more active investors and impact. And that also has many factors. But an active investor wants to help you grow your business. They believe in you, they believe in the problem that you’re solving, and they want to be a part of it. So some of the things that an active investor might do might help you create a board of directors, and the people on that board might have contacts that you don’t have in international sales or other financing opportunities down the road. Maybe you’ve got an incredible marketing executive on your board, thanks to your very active investor. And so your marketing then just blows up and you’ve got you to know, 10 million more customers and it revolutionizes your business. So as a founder, and again, you can’t always know what you’re looking for. But once you come to the funding journey, you want to know what you’re great at, what you’re not very good at, and what you’re really bad at and it’s okay to be bad at things. Nobody’s great at everything. What’s in Gordon is to identify those three things and then solve for them. So do you need an investor that can help solve things you’re not good at? Or do you need to bring on a co-founder? If finance and the books are not your skillsets? Do you want to? Do you want to solve that? If marketing, if you could only get your business to this marketing level? How do you solve that? And sometimes the answer is an investment. Sometimes it’s a passive investment, you really just need cash, and then you’re good to go, you’re ready to fly. But sometimes you need that active investor who’s writing a check. But it’s also helping you solve all those things. You need help.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  45:39

And Marissa, when do you advise founders to avoid VCs altogether and go towards completely alternative routes of funding? What are some of those alternative routes that you might point them to?

Marissa Bronfman (Impact Investor)  45:48

Yeah, good question. I am now a venture capitalist. So it’s a bit funny to me. But I have always approached everything with full transparency. So what I will say is, you know, if you’re not ready to give up a piece of your business, you don’t have to, you can crowdfund, many businesses have found massive success on crowdfunding platforms. FrontFundr is a big one and Canada. Kickstarter is a great one, Indiegogo, there are so many options. Another cool thing about doing that is you can run a campaign before you’ve created your product, which is an incredible way to test the market. And investors love to see, that you’ve done all these things before coming for an equity investment. So let’s say you have a great idea, you’ve got a Digital Designer, as a friend and you mock it up, it’s solving a problem, it’s super innovative, but one, you don’t have enough funds, you can’t get them, you don’t feel ready to give up a part of a business that hasn’t even launched yet, by bringing on an investor, you could create a crowdfunding platform just with those digital designs and fund your business. So I would say, you know, if that feels like the state that you’re in, avoid venture capital, avoided altogether, get to a place where Richa is at where she has created so much demand. She’s got an incredible brand, she’s got lots of customers, where she’s in this wonderful position she can date and you know, interview investors versus having to pitch and pitch and pitch. So I think crowdfunding is one excellent way to test your idea. Even if you do have a product, if it’s an early version of your product, you can test it that way. Great way to get funded. Other things you consider our friends and family around. So exactly how it sounds, you put in a little money, if you have some savings, you ask your parents, your grandparents, your best friend, maybe people you went to college with you say, Hey, I’ve got this idea, I can make it happen. Are you willing to put in $1,000 or $5,000? Depends on what you’re trying to build. So friends and family around is a really common starting point before venture cap. And sometimes that’s enough to launch and that’s enough to get you quite far. The other thing you can explore before considering venture capital, or we’re not considering it at all, are what grants are available to you and what loans are available to you. And at what stage in your business. So idea pre-product, minimum viable product, maybe 1000 customers or X dollars in sales. In Canada, specifically, there are many grants, and there are many programs. So I would say explore those as well. You can also hire people to help you understand the grant landscape because it is overwhelming. So I would say those are a whole bunch of things you can do if you don’t want to or aren’t ready for VC.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  48:49

Richa, any other resources to add there when you know exploring grants or other funds in finding those alternative funding opportunities?

Richa Gupta (Good Food for Good)  48:57

No, I think I think Marissa covered a lot of those. We did apply, and we did get some grants as well when we started. Futurpreneur has a great program. We started with them till we got our loan, the first loan there, and a couple more organizations that we’ve been very grateful for the government of Canada to have those programs they could become easier to apply to make it happen. Like they could make it easy, right? If they’re listening, they could make it easy for us to apply. And they could make it a little more flexible because business is fluid and things change. And you have to make decisions on the fly.  But I think those are the routes that we took. We did grants and we did loans. We took out a credit line on our mortgage to add extra on Of course, all the savings, friends and family, whoever was ready to like you have to sell it no matter what, right you’re selling to VC as well you’re selling yourself. So might as well sell to people who already know you. And believe in you, to begin with, if, if they and CPG space, you can, the good part about CPG spaces, you can do test and scale to a certain level. Unlike some things that Marissa was talking about like some of the tech spaces and those areas, you can’t do anything with self-funded like there’s no way you can’t even higher person than yourself. So it’s a space where you can test and learn and get, you know, get some more understanding of, of where you want to go before you go in, you know, full fledge, raising mega-funds.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  50:59

And so I want to bridge into another topic that I think it you know, blends beautifully with fundraising and you know, being an entrepreneur in general, you’re always pitching, you’re always selling, you’re always in this dynamic with, you know, showcasing the unique value proposition of your idea or your, you know, product, etc. So, Marissa, I’ll toss this to you first, then Richa would love your perspectives here. When the landscape is full of pitch competitions and workshops and information, you know, how to position your startup in the pitching process. We often don’t hear from some of the investors’ perspectives like what exactly they’re looking for. And, and often that can be frustrating that you don’t know why you are unsuccessful in this process sometimes. So if we were to roleplay here, or you know, Rita and I are co-founders of CPG startup, focusing on alternative meat solutions, when we are pitching to you for investment. What are you taking notice of that leads to a yes or no? What are some of those indicators that you’re looking at? In our pitch?

Marissa Bronfman (Impact Investor)  52:05

Yeah, great. As a side note, I’ve pitched so many times, even though this is roleplay. This feels fun.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  52:13

Yeah. You wear both hats.

Marissa Bronfman (Impact Investor)  52:18

So yes, you too are woman founders of an all-protein startup. Amazing. That’s a cool space. It was very hot recently. So I’m looking at what are the market conditions? One? You know, there was a time a couple of years ago, where anything all protein was super hot, literally investors were throwing money at anything, all proteins, if we were having this mock pitch two years ago, probably wouldn’t have even looked at your deck would have written you a check. What is that? Okay, let’s go. So we’re always looking at what’s happening in the market, is what that joke but not a joke is about. And so let’s say you’re pitching to me today, right now in the market, there is a step back from all protein. So you know, it was so hot. And we’ve seen this with tech too when things become so hot, and there are just checks being written, there isn’t a sustainable approach to you know, business growth, and then we see that reflected in the market. So I’d say okay, all protein, you know, interesting. I’m a vegan, so I’m personally invested in hearing more. I’m an impact investor. This is an impact business, keep talking. I’m gonna think about both your backgrounds, what do you bring to the table? How do I know that through thick and thin, you are going to make this all-protein company happen? Do you have a specialty in creating alternative food products? Are you a food scientist? Is one of you an Ecommerce genius? Are you going to do this direct-to-consumer campaign that just blows your competition out of the water? What differentiates you so I’m looking for that? Then I’m going to see who’s your competition and visa vie your competition? What’s special about your product offering? How are you going to compete against you know, 25 other similar products on the shelf if you ever get to the shelf? If you going to do a direct-to-consumer phase one approach? How are you going to filter through the noise? There are so many brands talking on the internet, Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook, and Twitter, what is it about the two of you and your alt protein idea that’s going to be interesting for fans and future customers? So I’m going to look at all of those things. I’m probably going to look at your numbers. What are your projections if I’m an investor, my motive, is to support founders’ impact or otherwise, but it’s also to make a return. And that’s how we keep investing in other future founders. That’s our business model. So do I see that your alt protein startup 10 years from now we’ll probably exit as a unicorn, and you’ve shown me why that’s true. I’ll take the risk, learn more and probably write you a check. If I feel that You don’t have any of those, those half dozen things, there’s nothing different about your product, you won’t be able to cut through the noise, you don’t personally have any specialty realm at all, and the markets terrible, that’s going to be a pretty hard no for many investors. So just as a mock, I would say those are the sort of two sides that it could go.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  55:23

And Richa, from your perspective, now that you have this great market position, and you have demonstrated a track record of success in scaling the business already. How does that shift how you pitch your business to potential investors or, or new partners in the field?

Richa Gupta (Good Food for Good)  55:38

So far, like we’ve only done a couple of pitches, but the good thing is people we are pitching are already our consumers. So the investors know about our brand they have had consumed it or their fans off the product. So it is a lot of time it’s more of a conversation, it’s not about a pitch deck, it’s, you know, it’s where we are, where we’ve been, where we want to go, what kind of help we need, like, that’s the conversation we’re having with people, we’re versus I’m guaranteed, like seven years ago, if I tried to pitch that it would have been a whole different conversation. Not that the things that Marissa mentioned. And that wouldn’t come up like that. But this is more conversational, versus a pitch deck, right? Not everything, once you’ve come to a comfort level where people understand where you are, it becomes less of putting things on a slide versus more of believing in, you know, based on what you have delivered, believing in you that you will deliver that for the next few years. Right. So, so definitely, the conversations have been much easier. I feel less fear when I’m talking like I know, I was talking to some founders who have never raised money. I’m one of those who never raise money. But with just a deck and not even a product, then the amount of prep and the nervousness they have before meeting an investor versus I end up approaching it, you know, just like Kate, as a friend, right? Or is there any new connection that I would reach out to versus being feeling uncomfortable or nervous about the whole thing, like I’m expecting them to do something that, you know, that expecting them to take a risk that I, I’m not sure whether it’s going to work or not, now I have a proven model, I know it’s going to work? So I can speak about it that way. When it comes to relatability, and what Marissa was talking about in terms of whether the investor thinks whether you can deliver or not, I am new to this journey. But from what I’ve heard, it can vary, right. And it brings back to how this conversation started about investment in women. And also investment in people of color. It’s difficult, for anyone to relate fully relate to somebody from a very different background and expect that they will deliver when you have a very different, you’ve had a very different personal experience in your life. So that is also one of the reasons why investment in women is so low, why investment in people of color is so low is because people who are sitting and writing those checks might have a very different life experience, than this this this person from you know, somewhere you’ve never even been or is, is telling you to believe in them, but they cannot relate to anything you say or you do because their life experience is very different from your life experience. So I think that challenge people would continue to face as, as, you know, as we grow as there are more, more people of color and more women getting in the business, till the landscape on the other side changes a little or the thinking shifts, and, you know, we treat people more as, okay, they’re human beings, not just, you know, not just identified as their sex or their skin off their color, right? They are, they’re talented people, no matter which country they belong to.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  59:24

That’s such an important point that you know, we need more women entrepreneurs in general and we see this ebb and flow and unfortunately, during the pandemic, we saw such a hit for women entrepreneurs in particular. But having investors on the other side of the table that understand the pain points of you know, fem-tech businesses that are solving problems that women uniquely face, you can empathize to your point for an experience that you you’ve never that is so foreign to you. So we need more Marissa and more investors on the other side of the table that you know showcase that diversity of perspective and a diverse customer base, the procurement the arena the power of you know when means buying power in Canada alone is huge. So you got a lot of potential customers in those spaces as well.

Richa Gupta (Good Food for Good)  1:00:05

Totally. And I think that’s where the disconnect is right. And eventually, you know, slowly, it’ll take time. But eventually, if we can reduce the gap at that level where people like people who are investing, we will increase this, you know, the investment in women and investment and people of color. So it’s all, it’s all a matter of time.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:00:30

It better be! that’s my position at least. 

Richa Gupta (Good Food for Good)  1:00:35

I am hopeful.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:00:38

So going to a little bit later into this relationship with your investor, let’s say you are successful in actually getting the funding, you’ve landed the deal with this, you know, VC firm, they want to work with you, they write the check, Marisa, what then comes next? We often don’t talk about this, what does the paperwork look like? Are there negotiations around the terms? You know, what does this look like, from your perspective? For those that have never successfully landed that deal?

Marissa Bronfman (Impact Investor)  1:01:02

Yes, for sure. So let’s go over a few of them. Again, let’s think about it in two ways. passive investor largely writing a check, active investor very involved in the growth of your business and possibly even day-to-day operations. Some of the things you want to look for early on before you even have paperwork literally, in these conversations is, you know, what are the expectations of your investor? How much control do they want to have? How much control do they want to have from an equity perspective? Do they want 10% of your business? 30% of your business? How much control do they want to have on the exit? So if you’re comfortable sort of growing your business at a slow but sustainable rate, does your investor is your investor also comfortable with that? Are they looking for you to have 700 times growth year on year, for example? So that’s important because you’ll see that reflected in your paperwork. And I think, you know, so many times capital is the need of the day for founders, especially underrepresented founders, that it’s very easy to get excited that you have the capital, finally to run your business, but you may not be able to run your business. So definitely make sure you’re very aware of the expectations of the investor. Also, an investor at some point is going to want to exit your business. So you need to also prepare for that. And you’re going to want to look at how they structure that exit in the paperwork for your equity. So obviously, hire a lawyer, you want an independent third party who’s looking out for your interests, you know, however much financial and legal knowledge that you have, and for a lot of founders, it’s very small. You want to have someone on your side who’s taking a laser focus at that paperwork for you. And you want to make sure you know, beyond signing that all those things in the agreement are adhered to. So you can always point to that paperwork. So if an investor and active investor is perhaps a little too active in ways that you’re not comfortable with, point back to that paperwork and say no, actually, this is completely within my purview. So you want to be careful about that. Oftentimes, these agreements are many pages long, hire a lawyer, hire a woman, lawyer, hire you to know, a person of color to be your lawyer, and someone talented, who’s going to fight for you at the table and make sure you’re protected.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:03:29

That’s such an important point. And often, you know, missed because you get, you know, lost in the opportunity, and you forget to prioritize protecting yourself and you, you know, have to navigate that consequence, potentially, later in your business. A great, great tip there.

Marissa Bronfman (Impact Investor)  1:03:42

I’ve heard, I’ve heard terrible stories. So I’m glad Marissa, you mentioned that of, of not, not taking care, not having the right lawyer on your side of people getting in trouble, like really deep trouble because of this. Very important.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:03:58

And so not looking at the VC space, per se, but looking at just general negotiations in fundraising, reach out. Do you have any tips on what has worked well, for you? Are there certain negotiation skills that you felt you had to cultivate? What tips do you have for some of the listeners that are listening in here?

Richa Gupta (Good Food for Good)  1:04:14

I think negotiation is important no matter what, right? Whether it’s funding, whether you’re selling, that’s a very important skillset to have, because we are always negotiating, whether it’s with suppliers, whether it’s with customers, everybody wants a piece of it, and how do you make sure that you have a piece that works best for you? End of the day, I feel you need to know what you want. You have to just stick to it. You have to figure out a way on what you’re ready to give and what you want and just stay with it. Don’t let anybody can. Nobody can bully you into taking what you don’t want to take. Right, so I think negotiation ends up being first Knowing I mean starts at knowing what exactly you want out of a deal. What are you ready to give up? And that’s it.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:05:07

Have you ever said no to a subpar deal or something that just didn’t feel right in your gut that may have looked at the outside as a great opportunity? What did that look like?

Richa Gupta (Good Food for Good)  1:05:15

Yeah, yeah. We said no to a retail launch. Because just the expense of that launch was unreasonable. Like the asks were unreasonable. And we were okay, giving up that opportunity. Because that’s not what I’m willing to give for what was coming my way.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:05:37

So that’s your permission slip listeners, that you do not have to say yes to these opportunities, particularly when it comes to funding, you don’t have to say yes to every funding opportunity that comes your way. And being thoughtful about that process might feel very painful in the short term, but in the long term can save you from this misalignment with your vision of where the organization can go and ultimately cause this ripple effect that can impact your growth negatively. So being cautious around those initial decisions is key. And I think, you know, shared sentiment, you’ve both illustrated through so many of these different examples.

Richa Gupta (Good Food for Good)  1:06:11

Yeah. And The other thing, in some of the conversations that I had, I feel if somebody, some investor in the first meeting is minimizing you, already worse is building you up. That relationship, no matter how much money it comes with might not be the right relationship to go with. Right? If they’re doubting you before he went investing and questioning, questioning your vision on where you want to take the company, probably not the right people. Like I’m not saying that you shouldn’t question your own, but on your vision, you should. But don’t let someone you know, tell you that. You know, you are thinking while other people in the company have done what you’re planning to do. But just because maybe just because you don’t look like those other people. You are being questioned. Don’t get in bed with them.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:07:11

Follow your gut! Yeah. Like those spidey senses are going out for a reason

Richa Gupta (Good Food for Good)  1:07:15

As Marissa said, at the right end of the day, we are all humans, right? So it’s about the human relationship if someone makes you feel a certain way. And you’ve you think it’s not that you’re not feeling good after that meeting. Don’t take the second meeting. There are several others.

Marissa Bronfman (Impact Investor)  1:07:32

I wanted to add something to that you had asked about negotiating in a general sense as women, and also in a specific sense as founders or investors. I think there is this wonderful conversation now about women being encouraged to be more transparent. So women talk to other women in their company about how much they make to see if they’re making less. And then how do you rectify that discrepancy? So I think that also needs to happen in the investment world, you want to have frank conversations with fellow founders. And if you can also investors to say, Hey, did a similar company get that equity deal? Get that funding deal? Am I being shortchanged? Am I being underestimated, you want to just understand the landscape so that you can understand those specific conversations. And then the other thing I would say specifically because I have been a founder before, and this is so critical at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey, every dollar counts, especially if you’re bootstrapped. Again, ask other people, a supplier may quote you or rate, you have no idea if that’s the going rate until you’re in the industry, you have no idea if those rates are real or not. And I think overall, people are good people, but you know, people run a business. And so you want to talk to others, to find out, is there another way to get a much lower rate from that supplier? Or that manufacturer? Or can I approach sales differently? Could I pay that listing after we’ve already moved through, or made revenue? And so I would say in a general and a specific sense specifically for women, have these conversations, be open, speak to other women that are open, understand the landscape, don’t make decisions in a vacuum, make informed decisions, and the only way to make informed decisions is to talk to others first couldn’t

Richa Gupta (Good Food for Good)  1:09:22

I couldn’t agree more,  you nailed it, Marissa!

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:09:25

That asking for help is so huge that no one expects you to have that answer of what the comps are. If, if that information is not accessible, you know, like I think there’s almost this, oh, if I asked this question that’s going to illustrate somehow that I don’t understand my business or you know, it’s going to bring sort of bringing up this type of insecurity. No, it’s good due diligence. So that is the permission slip written here as well. Like that’s good business by looking at what the other options are out there. So I love that you brought that up myself. So looking at resources, I’m obsessed. Startup Canada’s full raison d’être is helping to curate and package research. To both Marissa and Richa,  are there any, you know free resources, tools, or stories that you found helpful in both of your entrepreneurship journeys that you’d recommend for our listeners to tune into, after listening to today’s episode?

Marissa Bronfman (Impact Investor)  1:10:12

Yeah, like I’ve been saying, we are so lucky that, you know, in 2022, there have never been more high-quality free resources. It’s accessible via the internet. And so I think that’s wonderful. It’s a huge asset, it also means there’s a lot of noise you have to cut through. So you have to understand which of those resources are helpful. I would say look to leaders in whichever industry you’re in. So Kayla, Startup Canada, what an incredible leader, you are an incredible leader, I know that I can trust the resources offered through startup Canada. So you want to look that whenever you’re looking for resources, especially if it’s possible from an organization that could hook you up with a mentor help you with a grant help you with alone, that they’ve been around, they have demonstrated that they do what they say they’ll do. And then just take a look around, like take a look at their blog, take a look at their social media, I find that organizations like startup Canada are just offering so many free resources across the board. It’s so helpful. I would also say, you know like we talked about before looking for people who have already achieved what you’re looking to achieve or have done something at least in a way that you’re looking to do. Follow them on social, what are they talking about? I think those people also just by existing and talking about their journey, that’s a resource, but I find that these people also offer links to other resources. So they’ll say Hey, I found this incredible opportunity. Check it out. And if you follow them on LinkedIn, you’ll see that I think that the CPG community in Canada specifically, and I wonder if Richa would agree is very close-knit is very supportive. If you are online and you’re in that community, you will have access to so many resources, some specific ones that I like on social media because I’m all about more women getting more money. More women and venture cap more women founders start following women-led venture capital firms start following women-led you know, CPG businesses, you will find so many resources. So for example, Arlen Hamilton is backstage capital, literally every day they are sharing resources for free on their blog on her Instagram on their social. She’s an incredible person with an incredible story. She termed this phrase underestimated founders, everyone was saying underrepresented, she said no. Underestimated. And she invests exclusively in underestimated founders, tons of great resources. There’s a Canadian woman on Instagram, her name is John VF, she has an Instagram account called Grit capital. She speaks frankly and with so much humor about the stock market. So if you want to understand how companies in the stock market investors, everyday investors, and venture capital investors all interact in this big bad world of finance, I say follow great capital love to see a woman just like taking over the finance space. Kirsten Green at Forerunner ventures another great women-led VC company always sharing resources and there are so many more just look for women doing great things and the resources will follow.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:13:27

Follow that breadcrumbs! Richa, anything else to add?

Richa Gupta (Good Food for Good)  1:13:32

As Marissa said, right? Like, for me, it has always been just reaching out to different people and talking to different people. One person connecting to another person has been my way through since I started the company. Like I, I, I’m an immigrant to Canada with no family here. I worked in CPG. But then I knew no one in business, no one in the small business food industry. So all of the community that I’ve built now in the US and Canada is all just reaching out to different people at different times and asking for help and sharing with them the challenge that I was facing, and they were kind enough to either helped me or connect me to someone who can help me so that I know it’s no easy way no online resource where you can just go find anything. I mean, Mike’s Father has put something together but that’s just in general for everyone. So far and flesh Fleshman if I’m saying it right, Resource Center, so that’s there. I feel it’s like a lot of resources. So you have to see through it, but there is nothing better than you know, building those relationships, those personal relationships, the end of the day, we all are humans and we do inherently want to help each other that’s just how human beings are built.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:14:56

Richa, what’s your final piece of advice for women-identifying entrepreneurs looking for funding,

Richa Gupta (Good Food for Good)  1:15:02

I would say, just know your worth and stand by it right? Don’t let anyone else define your worth.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:15:10

Amazing. I love that Richa! Marissa?

Marissa Bronfman (Impact Investor)  1:15:12

The final piece of advice, is there is only one person like you on the planet and that’s you, whatever it is you want to build whatever your dream is, make sure it is 110% authentically you whether you’re talking to an investor, an everyday retail investor through a crowdfunding campaign, a fellow founder, that when you show up as yourself, people that know that

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:15:44

I love that. That’s a fantastic, super inspiring way to end today’s podcast. Thank you so much, Richa. Thank you so much, Marissa, this has been an absolute pleasure to have you on startup women. Thank you so much for joining us on the startup women podcast where we are committed to telling the stories of women entrepreneurs and uncovering actionable advice that goes beyond the surface level. The startup women podcast is produced by Lauren Hicks and Maddie styles and is made possible with the support of BDC and Scotiabank, so we can continue to power women-identifying entrepreneurs. Visit startup can.ca. To explore the startup women’s flagship program and access advisory support and free resources. Be sure to check out the show notes to access important links, resources, and information that we mentioned during today’s episode. Thank you for listening, and we look forward to another episode next month.

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