Dogs, discernment, and doughnuts

This article was originally published on the Republic blog, 5/31/17. Learn more about our equity crowdfunding campaign here. 

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Founder Series: Dogs, doughnuts, and discerning investments

Meet Jamie, CEO and founder of FetchFind, and Stacy, mentor, angel investor and entrepreneur. FetchFind, Jamie’s fourth startup in pet services, unites the nearly $70-billion fragmented industry by connecting pet parents with trusted resources.

How did you two meet?

Stacy: My dog, Jameson, was enrolled in one of Jamie’s pet training programs. Jamie happened to be the tester during Jameson’s “Good Canine Citizen Test” (he passed!).  

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What was your inspiration for FetchFind?

Jamie: During my 25 years in the pet industry, I’ve personally witnessed its transformation from a $17-billion industry in 1994, to its current state, with almost $70-billion in consumer spending. While pet parents increasingly look to professionals for advice, the fragmented nature of the pet education space often leads industry professionals to make up their practices as they go along. This opens an opportunity to make pet services more accessible to pet owners, while also equipping professionals with relevant skills and knowledge at scale.

This is your fourth startup; is building companies still as exciting as when you first started?

Jamie: It’s more exciting! By developing expertise from working in the pet industry and building communities, I’m able to enjoy everything else that comes with running a business. I’ve also overcome various mental blocks, including becoming comfortable talking about money.

What three things do you look for when deciding to invest in a company?

Stacy: When deciding whether to invest, I consistently look at three things:

  1. Social good. I want ideas that are more than just money making ventures.
  2. The person I’m dealing with. They need to be someone I want to spend a lot of time with, even when things aren’t going well.
  3. My excitement for the company. I need to feel a personal connection, otherwise I question my value as an angel investor for that particular startup.

As an example, Public Good Software excites me as it makes it easy to contribute to social causes. I’m also interested in political tech mix-ups, which build tools to mobilize voters in the face of a fragmented political system.

How does being a founder help when choosing companies to invest in?

Stacy: As someone with experience on the other side of the pitching table, I can gauge the authenticity of any pitch I’m given. I know which parts the presenter is comfortable with, which parts they’re testing on me in the hopes that I may like it, and which parts they’re making up.

It also allows me to empathize; you owe it to your entrepreneurs to invest with your heart. When an entrepreneur calls to tell me it’s been a rough day, I prefer to encourage them to take the rest of the day off and have a doughnut.

Jamie: It’s so valuable to have a mentor with experience running a company—Stacy is truly with me in this journey. She’s also right about the doughnuts: the other day, I had one of those “crazy days” founders have. Stacy helped me take a step back by taking me out to eat doughnuts and talk it over.

There’s so much going on in the process of building a company, how do you prioritize?

Jamie: People first, money second, everything else after. I begin every morning filling out three columns (‘people, money, stuff’), reviewing each category to keep the day’s priorities in check.

Why did you decide to do equity crowdfunding?

Jamie: While I’ve already raised $500k from professional investors, FetchFind is an idea that millions can personally relate to. I’m building this company for people and their pets and I love the idea of opening it up to more than just accredited investors.

How do you achieve balance outside work?

Jamie: The truth is that you don’t really get balance. When you’re running a company and putting in 90-hour work weeks, that is the reality. It helps to surround yourself with people who understand that.

Stacy: While what Jamie said is true, it’s also important to practice radical self-compassion. You have to accept that this was the journey you chose and not feel guilty about the opportunities you gave up as a result of that choice. Also, doughnuts help.

What tips do you have for anyone who wants to become an angel investor?

Stacy: Five tips:

  1. Just do it. You don’t need huge sums. I would recommend starting with small investments, which is now so much easier with equity crowdfunding.
  2. Connect with relevant groups and ask experienced investors for advice.
  3. If an idea sounds too good to be true, specifically due to scale or proportion, walk away.
  4. Be wary of companies pitching a service that already exists. I prefer companies offering a new idea.
  5. Look for entrepreneurs with a solid background in the industry they’re building their company in.

Head here to learn more about how FetchFind is disrupting the pet services industry.

– by Caroline Hoffman, Republic team

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