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The SuccessLab Podcast: Where Entrepreneurs Collaborate for Success

Jan 26, 2015

The SuccessLab Podcast is back with Episode #34! I'm in the lab with Patrick Mathieson, a venture capitalist at Toba Capital. We talk all things venture capital and how entrepreneurs can get the funding they need.

1. Can you tell us a bit about your journey and what you do at Toba Capital?

I met, pretty randomly, an entrepreneur that had a startup and hit it off with him. While I was getting to know him, his company got acquired by Dell—a big, nine-figure acquisition. After they got acquired, they grew very quickly within Dell, and when they grew sufficiently, they were looking to hire new people, and they had a role for me. That entrepreneur who started that company eventually left, after putting in his three years at Dell, and shortly thereafter became a partner at Toba Capital. Because he and I worked together for a really long time, I had the chance to come with him as well.

2. How do you typically work with startups? When your team first starts working with a startup, how involved do you guys get in making sure they have a solid foundation in place?

The short answer is, it totally depends. At the very beginning, the way that you find companies that are interesting totally varies. There's services that exist specifically for that. On the other hand, you have things like, "Oh, my old college roommate is working in Austin, Texas at this startup," and we catch up just casually over a beer or something. So there's this funky blending of your personal and your professional life in this profession because you're kind of always on.

3. How can startups evaluate if they do in fact need investor capital, and how much they might need?

I think that right now, at least in the technology industry, there's too much emphasis on raising outside money. By that I mean there's too much emphasis on people like us. If you go on Tech Crunch and look at the front page, it's all, "Company Raised An Enormous Amount of Money." We're celebrating the fundraising, but in reality, not every company needs to be built in a way that requires tons of outside capital. You should think really carefully about if there's different ways to accomplish what you're trying to do without giving away a big slice of equity in your company.

4. You mentioned you often work with your startups on generating more leads and tightening up leaks in their lead gen. Can you provide a few tips or best practices?

The first thing we do is look at their messaging and how they are positioning their product. We generally think that is the most important thing, from the marketing side, that companies can do. The way that you describe your product to customers affects everything in the marketing process.

5. Are there any tips or tools you can recommend for entrepreneurs? Anything you're loving right now?

We have a tool called ClearSlide. It's meant for web presentations and screensharing. ClearSlide's a company in our portfolio that's doing really well and growing really quickly, and their product is getting awesome.

If you're interested in what makes up term sheets, the best resource out there is Venture Deals by Brad Feld.

Slack is a chat and internal communication tool. Seems like everyone's using it now.

For general knowledge, I think everybody should be on Quora. There's so much good content on Quora, whether it's about business, or politics, or fitness, there are experts on pretty much anything.

6. How can people get in touch with you?

I do the vast majority of my writing on Quora. You can follow or message me there.

If you're running a technology growth company, please check out There's some information about how to contact us at the bottom of the page. Please don't hesitate to get in touch!


This Week's Biz Hack: BuiltWith Gives You The Scoop On Your Favorite Sites

Have you ever been on a site and wondered what tools they are using? Maybe you wanted to integrate a similar feature on your site but didn’t know how. BuiltWith has a really cool Chrome plugin that allows you see what exactly they are using. Once you’ve installed the plugin, you can navigate to any site, hit the plugin icon at the top of your toolbar, and a dropdown box will appear with all the info. Much easier than trying to search through code to figure it out.

BuiltWith is a software that allows you to generate leads, conduct market analysis and gain sales intelligence. That software comes with a fairly pricey monthly cost, but there are some great trend reports on their site you can check out for free. It’s worth a look.

Action Item: Change "I Can't" to "I Don't."

When it comes to maintaining laser focus and productivity, we often hear you should say “no” more. The challenge is it’s tough to do and even tougher to stick with it. But as it turns out, how you say “no” can impact your success rate for sticking with it.

This applies more to creating new habits and resisting temptations as opposed to saying no to a friend who asks you for a ride to the airport. The trick is to say “I don’t…” rather than “I can’t.” Actual research has been conducted on this: Students who told themselves “I can’t eat X” gave into temptation 61% of the time, whereas the students who said “I don’t eat X” only gave in 36% of the time. This simple shift in terminology helped them stick with it over the long haul.

The term “I can’t…” is also a reminder of limitations, whereas “I don’t…” is more empowering. It’s an affirmation.

So your action item this week is to practice awareness when it comes to saying “no.” Every time you find yourself saying “I can’t,” change it to an “I don’t” statement. “I don’t schedule meetings Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.” “I don’t work passed 8 p.m.” “I don’t browse Facebook between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.” You get the idea.

Quote of the Week

“One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci


Next week, I’m in The Lab with Evo Terra. He is one of the early adopters of podcasting. He co-authored Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies in 2007 and Podcasting for Dummies in 2008. He’s also gone on to author other books and is the co-founder of, as well as a business consultation company for startups and entrepreneurs called Big Bounce. Currently he and his wife are traveling around the world. They took off on their adventure earlier this month and tracking it all at Be sure to tune in! Until then, have prosperous week!