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Written By: Marc Halpin

I liked Brian from the first time I met him. I thought to myself, “this is a guy I want to be in business with.” 

It was 2012 and we were closing in on our $1.6M Seed round at Kapow. We were in that phase where we had a lot of “keep me updated on progress” (that’s a no), a good number of “if you get a lead we’re in” (also a no) and a whole bunch of “great to meet you, we’ll call you” (for sure a no with an ‘lol’).

We had very little in the way of technology. Neither Dan, Mike or I were “tech guys”. Mike had good marketing chops and Dan had the ability to figure pretty much anything out: Salesforce, offices, Potbelly, P&L’s, contracts..anything!

Oh, we did have a website

There was one thing and one thing only we really excelled at ….we sold sh*t all the time! Like, every minute of every hour, every hour of every day and every day of the week! In 2012 we were growing at 30% month over month.

It became competitive. We had tough goals, charts, targets on whiteboards, we’d push each other and sometimes (read often) we’d celebrate! Mike would lead one month, Dan the other and every once in a while, I’d crush it.

So back to Brian. Brian was leading an angel group at the time and was looking to invest $250K in the business. We had a conference call with 5-6 guys in the angel group. Brian was sitting in front of us leading the call.

We were scheduled for an hour meeting and we pitched our hearts out. We were asked about TAM, CAC, LTV and a host of other three letter acronyms. There was debate and it was clear we had some for investing and others against. Towards the end of the meeting there was this, well… period of silence

Mike, Dan and I went on to raise over $50M at Kapow but I always think back to that silence as Brian and a handful of Chicago angels thought about investing the first $250K into a three-man start up in 2012.

Brian broke the silence. He said, “Guys look, they’ve got traction, I say we’re in. The dogs are eating the dog food.” 

We closed $250K that day. I learned that traction matters, growth matters, sales matter. In terms of fundraising; maybe more than anything else. I’ve gone on to hear this time and time again from investors no matter what stage of funding you’re at. 

The dogs have to be eating the dog food.  


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