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EP 14: Ross Wolfe, Founding Partner & Managing Director of Diab Venture Partners

Podcast Transcript

James Mackey  0:12  
Hello, and welcome to Scale by Design. Today, we are joined by Ross Wolfe. Ross, welcome to the show!

Ross Wolfe  0:18  
Hey, thanks for having me. I'm happy to be here.

James Mackey  0:20  
Yeah, we're happy to have you. Could you share with us a little bit about your background?

Ross Wolfe  0:24  
I've been in the investment Venture Capital space for about 14 years now. Allison has counseled the largest venture capital fund east of California for several years, and  I work in tandem with the investors and the founders to be a liaison between what the investors are looking for in ideal terms, and what the founders can do to position their companies and restructure the companies to be attracted to the investors who are looking for the companies like the portfolio companies. So I split off to Venture Partners, which is where I'm now. And we're a strategy firm that works that law firms hire my firm and consulting firms hire my firm, and founders hire my firm, to help founders structure their companies and position them appropriately for the rounds for the investor. So they're able to raise the capital they need and scale in any round, they're looking to raise money.

Okay, cool. And so I think you mentioned that it's kind of a wide range of, I guess the growth stage startups and growth stage companies. Is there like one area, you're a little bit more weighted toward like in more so early stage or late stage? Or like, where are you primarily focusing your time right now?

Right now, most of the transactions are in the early-stage companies precede to Series B. And that has to do with the current economic environment, and the pressure investors are getting from their limited partners, to find companies that are getting returns. We'll touch upon unicorns and dragons a little later here. But generally, the shift of what we try to identify as the venture capital investor space is happening now. And what we traditionally see as the pursuit for the unicorn is shifted to the pursuit of the dragon.

James Mackey  2:18  
Gotcha. Yeah, I'm excited to jump into that. So I know we want to talk about market trends. But maybe you could just talk about the concept of a dragon and what you're referring to there, just for our listeners that may not be familiar, like founder CEOs, like I'm sure VCs are gonna get it. But you know, there's gonna be some people out there that probably need to learn a little bit more about what that is.

Ross Wolfe  2:37  
Yeah, no, we're familiar with what unicorns are, a company that investors invested in, and they pick a billion-dollar valuation. But a dragon is a company that returns the entire value of being an investor and investment back to the investor by itself. What that means is I have $1 to put into the market, I put 10 cents in the dragon, and 90 cents in other portfolio companies, and the dragon by itself, gets me back my full dollar. So the other portfolio companies that get them on that I put 90 cents in revenue back profit above what the dragon provided. 

So dragons are different from unicorns in that they are a highly powered growth with more investment rounds and milestones that are more quickly reached than unicorns had been. And dragons have a lot of rounds, but the benefit of a dragon now is that because the economy is uncertain for a lot of people, investors and their LPs want companies that give returns now.

James Mackey  3:42  
Do VCs look at their entire fund, like, could each investment we make potentially return the value of the entire fund? Is that part of the investment thesis that VCs look at? Like, hey, we're not going to make this investment if we don't think he can cover the entire fund.

Ross Wolfe  4:08  
Yeah, the shift of the philosophy it's changing for the last 10 years, what we normally saw as the spray-and-pray mentality where there are 10 companies and then the investors or VCs just throw money to all of them and hope. One of them is a unicorn, but that's changed. Now we're seeing that if there are 10 companies, the investors and VCs want eight of them to succeed. And they tried to ensure that by being on the ground with the companies to be more like advisors, mentors, and coaches, rather than just the spray and pray, well, here's your money and figure it out. So that's part of what I was doing when I was at the fund. 

The investors had their deals and what to do and we were doing the deals, but in order to make our deals hit the milestones we were trying to hit I needed to get on the ground with the founders restructuring the processes, the protocols, defensive protocols, control protocols, economic protocols, all the things that are overlooked by founders in early stage. And there are different aspects of an early deal that if missed early, can cost founders millions down the road. One of those things is different shared classes, for example.

I see too many times where there's only one share class being transacted, the founder class, but that has all of the same powers as the founders do. But you don't want to do that because you want to allow for diversity in your shared classes. So the investors come in, and you still have some control over the company. And you have different share classes, usually called preferred share classes. 

James Mackey  5:38  
That's like an investor share class. What about stock options or RSUs? Is that also a different share class and founder and investor or the RSU and stock options share class is the same as the investor class? How do you structure that?

Ross Wolfe  5:52  
They're different, I create different requests for each of these aspects. And I'm alone, a lot of I'm a maverick in this area where I feel we create B class, for example, which is just for employees and advisors. But in that thread of doing RSUs, or stock options, which are restricted for the employee, you can't sell them in a private company, by rule 144, they're stuck with it for a year, they maybe never cashed it out. The incentive for them to stay may or may not be enough for the time that we stay in the company. 

So what I like to do is create the B class, for example, and have that non-voting rights, but then tie into it, what's called a phantom plan, which is essentially an annual cash bonus, based on the value pegged to the value of the share class. Electric classes have the same value as a company increases its valuation every year. But they're able to then every year, the employees are able to get cash based on the fair market value by hitting certain milestones in their performance.

James Mackey  6:58  
For sure. So in that model, let's say you're a hyper-growth company and you're operating at a loss, or if you're like me, you're hyper-growth, but your bootstraps, so you're operating on probably relatively thin margins, enough margin to build cash balance, but you don't necessarily want extra cash taken out of the business. That's the one thing I think about, right? Like, if you're hyper-growth, do you really want cash bonuses going to employees every year when that money can be reinvested in growth? I'm just curious, have you heard that?  What are your thoughts?

Ross Wolfe  6:58  
Sure and we hedge against that in our structures, we make sure that the fair market value is affordable by the company by hitting milestones. Also, we put protections for the company if the money isn't there to pay it out, then there's a deferment until there is money to pay out without jeopardizing the company. So it's an unusual unorthodox model, I feel maybe I've pioneered it. But I've gotten a lot of feedback and the same questions you've asked about what we've been able to hedge against it successfully and give the options to the employees who just want the cash-out, versus the ones who just want them, who want the actual holding of the share class until a later time. 

But also, if you don't give away the share class and just the phantom plan, you still have those shares you can give to investors instead of further diluting the founders. So it has different layers of benefits for the company. I do with early tech companies because the cash is an issue. So to make sure that the stock is there to trade, and that there's enough incentive for employees to keep performing, I created that hybrid model.

James Mackey  8:42  
Yeah, that's really cool. And just to make sure I understand, is phantom stock the same thing as SARs? Like a SAR, just for people listening, stock appreciation rights. Are these like the same things or are they different? Do you know by any chance?

Ross Wolfe  8:58  
They are different. Because by having the fact that you're limited to that, but not the downside, but the limitation of it is it's limited to key employees early on, you can change it to something more traditional later. But by having a phantom plan, you're able to circumvent a lot of the constraints that any kind of option plan provides. 

So it's similar in the fact that the fair market value as the fair market value increases, so does the value of the incentive for the employee. But it also provides an option for the payout or to hold or for the employees that have a more in-depth discussion with the employers, the founders for a more customized plan, for sure. So if you're tied to a traditional plan, it's much harder to change but you have to go through all the filings and regulations to change it.

James Mackey  9:52  
And I guess hypothetically, couldn't you just for a phantom plan, you could put a clause that there's no annual payout that there's just a collection in the event of a sale, like could you do?

Ross Wolfe  10:05  
It's possible Yeah. But it's usually tied to milestones that the employee has to reach before they're eligible to get the payout. So if I've given my team members a class B phantom plan, they have to meet certain requirements. Otherwise, when the annual assessment comes for the payout, if they haven't met it, then there's no obligation for the company to pay it out. But the company can if they want to. 

So we create flexibility, because we know things happen, employees have issues, and we want to make sure that we provide for them, as well as providing the founder's tools to be able to grow and keep the team because the team you start with, if you can keep them are invaluable to the company because they know the history of the company. Their loyalty is there, you know, how they work. So I prefer keeping people on board. And this way, I think, creates more conversation between the team and the founders to create something that works for everybody.

James Mackey  11:02  
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense and I guess my other question would just be, you know, we're talking about fair market value in terms of doing an evaluation of the business for the purpose of granting, whether it be stock options, RSUs, whatever, you know, Phantom equity, or phantom options, whatever it might be, to put together a reasonable valuation that's very lower so that, you know, employees can get reasonable, I guess, buy into the company. 

Is there any correlation between the valuation done for internal employees versus valuations done to raise capital? Because my whole thought process would potentially be you're trying to value at different kinds of ends of the spectrum, I would assume. And like, do investors look at like, hey, what's the valuation you gave for phantom or RSUs? Or whatever? And then expect the same evaluation? Or is it when you're doing a fundraising valuation rather? You're also selling the potential, so, therefore, you're able to have a higher valuation on the company. Do you know what I mean? Does that make sense? 

Ross Wolfe  12:11  
Yeah, the beauty of venture capital, and the personality of those who are in this space, is that they're always open to cooperation and collaboration. So yes, in some cases, the value before and on evaluation of a sort of plan is considered. But then so is the value, overall fair market value of a traditional evaluation by a third party evaluator, and those all, those things are points of negotiation between the founder and the investors. Or, what I like to do is actually create the actual offer, whether we're going to consider the 409a  evaluation, the incentive valuation, or have an independent third-party valuation, and then use that to be the status quo of the other round.

I don't like to have too much diversity and too much favoritism, because then in VC, you're working with some of the biggest hitters and players in the world. And they're very, very smart. So you want to make sure that you're fair, because if one of them gets to stop, then that could cause a ripple effect that could be detrimental to the company. So I'll try to be as fair as possible by identifying exactly what is going to happen in that round, who gets what. And of course, there's room for side letters from someone who's really influential, who's really important to the company. 

But I like to pick what we're going to do before and to your question, it could be anything. But it's up to the founder, I think, in my opinion, to present what the offer is to investors. And I think that's what gives pushback, reevaluate, iterate, and come back with something that will work for that round of investors because each round has a different character, personality, and investor. So every one of those points is open for discussion. And that's the beauty of VC. 

James Mackey  14:05  
That makes a lot of sense. But is the valuation that employees get to buy into these programs, whatever equity programs it might be? Is it the same valuation that the VCs are buying into the company?

Ross Wolfe  14:20  
That's a stock option purchase plan, and they have a strike price, so they can exercise that strike price whenever that time comes. And it usually is more favorable to the employee.

James Mackey  14:29  
Okay, is that common for it to be like, I guess more favorable? 

Ross Wolfe  14:35  
It can be, yes. Usually strike price is what is there to make it more affordable for the employees because they're not accredited investors necessarily. So they need to create something that's affordable and at a strike price. They buy the right for a strike price. That's favorable down the road.

James Mackey  14:50  
Okay, cool. Yeah, I know, like we wanted to talk about trends and stuff, but we started talking about what your firm does and how you're helping founders and CEOs. And so I just wanted to kind of follow up on some of the other things that you mentioned. So that was really cool. Thank you. And that was pretty technical too. So I think people listening in, as we have, you know, a lot of our guests who are founders, CEOs, and people tuning in so I know that's like, just highly valuable content for people tuning in. 

So let's just jump into trends, right? Obviously, the market is insane right now, I'll just tell you, from my perspective, what I'm seeing. My company, SecureVision, basically, tech companies borrow recruiters from us. So we're helping startups, and growth-stage companies, hire everything from engineers to salespeople, and everything in between. And so we've worked with over 150 companies in the past seven years and we have a fair amount of experience doing this. And this market is definitely weird. 

I think one of the biggest insights that I've seen is that our lead activity is, I think, recently going down. But the weirdest metric that we're seeing is the conversion rate from verbal commitment to closed one deal. So we're getting a lot of tech companies saying, Hey, we're ready to move forward and hire, send us your agreement. And then like two days later, say, Oh, give us a week. And then basically pulling out of the process, we used to have like, probably close to around an 80 plus percent conversion rate from verbal except to close one. Now it's under 50%. Because people are so uncertain in the market. So at this point, when somebody verbally commits to moving forward with us, I'm like, Well, alright, when we see the signature, we'll believe it right. 

So it's just a very interesting dynamic. Everybody's really scared right now. I've been talking to a lot of advisors and heavy-hitting people, like, are you hearing anything optimistic out there? And they're just like, Nope, there's no optimism, people are just, it's Doomsday, everything is awful. And it's only going to get worse. So I'm kind of curious, what are you seeing out there? What trends are you seeing in the VC market, and fundraising right now?

Ross Wolfe  17:09  
I'm sharing a golden opportunity for founders to get ahead of their competition. Main Street says, save your money, and wait for things to get better. But that doesn't make any sense. Because if you are in a highly competitive industry or my little bit of history, things are at a discount. Now as far as the valuations are concerned. And if a founder invests appropriately into their r&d, business development, growth, MVP, minimum viable product, a product that is not perfect, but it's available to show to investors, then investors now are looking for those deals better than the later stage companies for limited companies have grown stagnant lately, and investors are getting pressure from their limited partners to get returns. 

So they're not investing any more into the later-stage companies, because they need to continue reaching milestones. And they need a high-octane portfolio company in their portfolio. And that is coming from the early-stage founders. So it's a very exciting time for early-stage companies series precede two series B, to really get in front of investors, and show them that there is an opportunity here to scale powerfully together, that a shift in where investors are putting their money, domestic investors and VCs are going overseas because the markets over there are not as flux as the markets over here. But then we're seeing the re-emergence of corporate VCs. That had been dormant for years. But now they're going back on the field and replacing the domestic investors temporarily, by looking for and capturing early-stage companies that complement the corporate VC's long-term model. 

What I mean by that is, if you are just an example here if you are in food tech, and there's a company that is established in food tech if you're creating your company to fit a gap that's missing in that larger food tech, corporate VC than that corporate VC is actually giving favorable terms to the early stage company. And in some cases, I have seen that they're putting angel investor terms and a corporate VC investment. And that's huge. 

That's a huge game changer because we have the backing of a corporate VC, a corporate VC, with the mindset of an angel investor, and all they want is for your early phase company to continue to grow the way you're growing and fill a gap that they have now because when the markets start becoming more, recovering more, they will have your early-stage company integrated into their larger company and then they are ahead of the other larger companies, right competing against them.

James Mackey  20:04  
It's more of like a strategic investment to fill a gap that's going to, put them ahead in the greater market, you know, for maybe a larger portfolio or whatever else, right? 

Ross Wolfe  20:13  
Yeah, and the mentality that some founders may have, that a lower valuation makes it bad as an investor is wrong because if you go on over a high valuation, and then next time, you have a down round, you can lose control of your company in one round. We're seeing the re-entrance of terms that are called full ratchet, anti-devolution terms. And what that means is, if the valuation of the company goes down, then instead of giving more money, or the investors losing out, the investors convert the money, they put into the new value of the stock, which means if I put $1 for 10%, of the company, and then I have a 50%, down round, then I now have 20%. In one round. And the worst case scenario is if I can lend it 25.5% as an investor, and then you have the founder thought you had 74.5% of your company, you have a down round for a ratchet that gives the investor 50% of your company, and you are 49%. 

James Mackey  20:28  
I mean, there were companies in Q4 that were celebrating massive valuations, like we, you know, starting to hear the term unicorn all the time. And, we were seeing companies, from my understanding, very low in terms of ARR, like maybe one to 3 million getting insane multiples on their ARR. I heard in some cases like 60 plus, I don't know if you heard that, but just insane valuations. Companies that are just pulling in like a million or two getting, you know, being valued at 100 million. And, that sounds very exciting, right? But then it's like,  what are they supposed to do now? Right? 

Ross Wolfe  22:09  
Exactly. So celebrating higher valuation, as you're saying, is not something that I would encourage these days, I always advise, under promise over deliver and just get a valuation, that makes sense. So if you've been around for two years, as an early-stage company, and you're valued at $7 million, that's fantastic. 

When you put in 1000, to start your company, right, and now you're $70,000,000.02 years later, great. And then if you're a corporate, a VC comes, comes in, says, Hey, we want to deal, really consider it, because that's gonna be the best for everyone. Make sure you keep control for a while, as long as you want to stay, and that you have protection. So you don't get this fire. But it's much more exciting, this economy and this industry in this time period, to have a reasonable practical valuation, then to come in pie in the sky and say, Yeah, we're the best because our numbers are valuations as we are. But then the next round, you've jeopardized everything you've worked for and might lose control of your company. 

James Mackey  23:05  
What do you think the appeal is to get that massive valuation like to push for that massive valuation? So let's think in the minds of founders, CEOs, co-founders, whatever, and q4. Is were the VCs pushing partially for these massive valuations so they could get terms in like a full ratchet? What drives those large valuations? I mean, obviously, demand in the marketplace. But you know, wouldn't potentially someone similar to yourself, advised companies and q4 to say, hey, well, there's a potential downside to raising, it's such a huge valuation and why are people running after that so much, versus like thinking more so within possibly reason, like, hey, we don't need to raise so much money, or, Hey, we might talk a little bit more, but this is going to set us up for success in the future.

Ross Wolfe  24:00  
So I always advise my clients to under promise over-deliver. And if they insist on coming with a higher valuation than I think is practical. I just don't take that round. And I encourage them to go somewhere else, because the downside is too, too dramatic, too dramatic to get behind it. But the reason people come into the high valuation is the mistaken belief that bigger is better, in all cases. 

It's not because economically, practically, or financially business-wise, and I was a founder, so I know how things work. I know, companies scale and grow. I've been there. I've seen how it works. And you don't go from 2 million ARR over two years to a $100 million valuation once you have some amazing new IP. That has never been seen before. That's possible or you have a very influential board member who will ensure that your growth will be scaled and a trajectory that will justify that in years. 

But there is no shame in saying, Yeah, we have a great ARR but you know we're not worth 100 million right now but we're worth 10/15 and we're still attracted, and we still are able to grow and we're realistic. And investors now and VCs are much more responsive to that because it shows responsibility on the side of the founder. And now, I'm seeing my colleagues walk out of pitches by founders when the founders are overzealous in their valuations.

James Mackey  25:36  
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense to me. CrunchBase posted an article now that is actually more so referencing Q2. So I'm curious if you have any updates on Q3, what you're saying, that they're looking at like second quarter funding fell 26%, quarter over quarter from 162 billion in the first quarter and 27%, year over year. So it looks like the VC market is contracting. I mean, it does sound like there's obviously a lot of opportunity from what you're saying for early-stage founders. But there's definitely a pretty obvious contraction, right, q4 was massive, q1 was less, and then q2 shrunk more. Q3 continued to shrink down. Or what do you think it's going to fall in terms of the trend for q3?

Ross Wolfe  26:25  
64% of all the investments have gone to early-stage companies. So the fall that we're seeing is not preceded by series, A or B, we're seeing that in C, D, E, F, and G, where the companies have gotten more stagnant, and they had milestones that are supposed to hit, that they're slowly getting there, or they're not going even if I hit them off, that's not going to grow at a 5,6,7,8, 9x that they thought they were two years ago. 

So they're going to feed the winners and starve the losers on the investor side. And if a company's later stage has gone less, well, that's velocity, then they're going to shift focus on the early stage. And we're only seeing that primarily in the US. But a lot of investments are going to India, going into Asia, and going even into Eastern Europe. And that's increasing. And, there are new funds being created in India and Asia, and the Middle East, Dubai, that are putting money into early-stage or middle-stage or leadership companies in those regions. But the phenomenon of the contraction is mostly a US-isolated phenomenon. 

James Mackey  27:38  
So just to speak to your trend, in terms of what I'm reading from a CrunchBase article, it does seem that early-stage funding is contracting a little bit, just not at the rate that the overall market is contracting. 

Ross Wolfe  27:52  
The deal size is getting smaller, but the amount of transactions is increasing, which makes sense because you don't want overvaluation. 

James Mackey  28:06  
It's more like a transaction. So maybe there's slightly less money circulating but there's still a lot of investments happening. 

Ross Wolfe  28:12  
That's right, that's what it sounds like last year's early stage, but less money in that range.

James Mackey  28:19  
Right. Okay, well, then that makes sense because that's basically what the CrunchBase article is saying. It's like an early stage from just $1, not like a transaction amount is going down in the early stage, just not at the same rate that it is in the overall market for larger stage investments. So that makes a lot of sense. 

What's interesting, though, as you said, you were talking about international investments moving out of the US, we've seen an increase, and we have a great relationship with process, international investment firm VC, that I specifically have a great relationship with process India. And so they refer customers to us, and we have a great partnership with them. And, so basically, they've been very active with Indian-based companies that are building go-to-market teams in the US. So it's what's really interesting is like, how you're talking about US firms going international? Is it just that globally, people are trying to diversify, I've definitely seen an uptick in Indian-based companies that are signing up with SecureVision right now. So, I'm just kind of curious to get your thoughts on what's happening.

Ross Wolfe  29:28  
That parallels what's happening because part of the growth generator of foreign companies is a US market, you have to have a US market if you're going to scale at any competitive rate, no matter where you are in the world. And if the companies that are opening headquarters in the US have a fiscally reasonable product, something that makes sense that's not unaffordable because people are struggling now, egg prices are up 20% 40%, turkey prices are up 25%. People are struggling to afford everyday things.

If a company from overseas can come up with a product cheaper, which they can, because labor overseas is cheaper, then they will have more volume in the US, which will meet the mentality of the US consumer now, that wants something less expensive. So what happened to you paralleled exactly what's happening in the investment market. And that's the beauty and excitement of investment and venture capital. Everything that happens in venture capital and investments in the early-stage impacts the entire world. And then you see the impact of the work that you do as founders. And what we do as advisors actually affects people's lives in the world, in a positive way. And that's a magical thing to be a part of. 

So if you're a founder having a hard time then last introduce give up. Because if you believe in your product, and you know, you have consumers that keep at it now. So I'm going on a tangent, but I mean, this is something that I think founders need to hear is that this time can be seen, you have a choice to see it as a tragedy, or as an opportunity. And all trends point to opportunity if you play your cards right. But to us, to your point, yes. What's happening from overseas movement in the US parallels via VC industry.

James Mackey  31:26  
I think you might have touched on this, but just so we can slow down on this point. Maybe some of these firms in India do have an advantage because their product teams, their design teams, and their engineering teams are based in that market. And now they're getting a tonne of money, massive investments from companies like process to come to the United States and build out their go-to-market teams. Whereas a lot of the tech companies that are still headquartered in Silicon Valley are paying, you know, 200 grand a year for engineers. So maybe there's an advantage there where, you know, they have more budget for Google Ads, demand generation, really just pushing product development at a rate that a lot of the earlier to mid-stage, US-based companies are not able to compete with. 

We've had some, some late-stage customers that are, you know, pre-IPO, at least they were last year, thinking about it. Yeah. But we were working with late-stage companies, I won't name names, but you know, one large customer category-leading SaaS company in the FinTech space that was hiring, you know, around 500 to 1000 engineers in the US-based market on an annual basis. And things really started drastically changing q1. And so basically, they cut all hiring in the US, and they shifted gears to hiring in primarily Eastern Europe for their engineering talent. 

But that's a huge shift, such a large workforce, and also maintain quality control and efficiency and maintain your competitive edge in the market versus potentially a competitor that has their entire tech infrastructure in India, and only has to focus on building a probably somewhat, you know, small to medium size, go to the market team in the US and then just dumping a tonne of money into demand gen. So I think maybe that's that kind of like a, I don't know, but I would assume that's like some international investor dusters are thinking of that as in terms of their investment strategy this year,

Ross Wolfe  33:33  
100%, if I could put $1 in a foreign company, and, and have a cost that's substantially less than the dollar that would incur in a US company, and then their return on volume based on the dollar I put in is exponentially higher than what I would get in the US market. That is why investors are going overseas. 

Now, they're not going to stay there. But they're going there now, because they want to get a foothold on what exactly to say to the companies that are intelligently and smartly, exploiting the benefits of being less expensive to produce with no market. But then the cost of purchase here is on American market standard. So all that is an extra buffer on the operating capital of the foreign company.

James Mackey  34:23  
Yeah, I got a couple of incredible clients that they're around 200 to 400 headcount in India, they got a killer product, and they're not wasting any time moving headcount to different regions. They just got a  tonne of funding this year. And they are going to crush it. And it's just I mean, and then you got the clients of the US that are trying to make the other transition. They're not focused on strategic growth. They're not necessarily able to focus as much so they focus on the customer. 

They're focusing on How to cut costs? Can we avoid layoffs? Do we have to do layoffs? How many layoffs? Are we doing? Wait, how do we ramp up an engineering team and Eastern Europe or India or LATAM? Strategic leadership is focused on totally different problems. One's focused on growth. One's focused on survival. So yeah, that's an interesting point. I'm glad we kind of flushed that out. Because that's yeah, it makes a lot of sense, right?

Ross Wolfe  35:23  
Yeah, in the end, everyone's gonna benefit us, overseas investors, LPs founders, they're all gonna benefit. But in the meantime, that's what we said at the opening of the segment. Putting your resources now into making your MVP better your r&d Better putting your money in now for the whole day and saving like you're hearing my Main Street to do, that's where you get your competitive advantage when the dust settles. So I will say this over and over. And I've said this in my videos that I do on my social media, if you're not putting money into a company now, as an early-stage founder, you are missing a historic opportunity to get ahead and scale that we haven't seen in 15, 20 years.

I love it. And Ross, we're coming up on time here so we're probably going to go ahead and just wrap up. But this has been an incredibly valuable episode that I'm going to share with all my founder, and CEO friends. And I know venture capitalists as well are going to love tuning in. And there's probably going to be a lot of shared experiences. And I know some people listening are just going to say like, yes, it says right, so thank you. 

I know some people will disagree with me and that's okay. 

James Mackey  36:41  
Yeah, sure. Hopefully, we'll get some of that too. You want it to be a little bit controversial.

Ross Wolfe  36:45  
But in the end, I know I'm right, so it's okay.

James Mackey  36:47  
Ross, if people want to engage with you, what's the best way? Where do people go to find you?

Ross Wolfe  37:01  
Sure. Instagram we're at, at the Diab Venture Partners, on LinkedIn, Ross, J. Wolf. Not much Facebook presence, because that's more of just a social thing. Also, my email is RJ@, and my website is www. adventure 

So I do hope that I was of value to you and your listeners and that something that I've said today has made people rethink their position and made them a little more motivated to take advantage of what's happening now. And I'll say it one more time. If you have had a hard time as a founder now, the worst thing you can do is give up because you started your company, because you believe that we're the product you're going to deliver to the public, and you believe you're going to help people do it. So if you give up now, you're not giving up on yourself. You're giving up on those people who can benefit from your product.

James Mackey  37:56  
I love it. I love it. Well, thank you, Ross. I really appreciate you coming to the show. And we're gonna have to do this again sometime because it was backed with so much value. And for everybody else tuning in today, thank you for joining us, and we'll see you next time. 

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