Vets have known for a century that injecting extract from fetal tissue helps wounds heal faster. However, the procedures required were arduous. Hilltop Bio is taking the hassles out of this time-tested therapy and creating a new revenue stream for clinics. Amanda Drobnis, founder, and Jess McLear, board member, update us on the company’s progress.
INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE
- Sal Daher Introduces Amanda Drobnis and Jessica McLear
- What Hilltop Biosciences Does and What Pain Points It Addresses
- How Jess McLear Came to be an Investor in Amanda Drobnis’ Company
- “…they tend to be leaders. If Launchpad signs up for a deal, other angels tend to follow.”
- “But what we can patent is how we collect the tissue, how we process the tissue, the methods that we’re going to use the tissue for.”
- “…even through COVID we’ve had repeat sales.”
- “So, she’s right on track with what she said she was going to do again on track on budget. We don’t see those very often either.”
- “Our big breakthrough that we’ve been working towards is having our room temperature regenerative therapies available that are off the shelf and ready for our vets to use.”
- Jess McLear: “I kind of grew up around startups. My father has been investing in startups over 30 years, so I’ve grown up around startups…”
- “That’s an interesting collection of companies. Hilltop Biosciences, Knip Bio, 99Degrees…”
- Angel Investor Jess McLear’s Advice to Founders
- Angel Investor Jess McLear’s Advice to Founders about Fundraising
- “Female entrepreneurs, I find it definitely takes much longer for a lot of them, which is a really sad state of affairs.”
- “I can’t stress that enough. My board members, Jess, and all my other board members, they really make a difference…”
- “…you are always fundraising. It never ends. And when you think it’s over, it’s not over.”
- “You also want to update the people that didn’t invest, but might be on the fence because they may invest at some point too. That’s one thing that a lot of people don’t do.”
- “I salute Amanda as a really stellar founder and she’s got a board, she’s got a product. She keeps her investors updated. She keeps even the ones that said no updated. Well done.”
Transcript of “Duet for Founder & Board Member”
GUESTS: FOUNDER AMANDA DROBNIS AND BOARD MEMBER AND ANGEL INVESTOR JESSICA MCLEAR
Sal Daher Introduces Amanda Drobnis and Jessica McLear
Sal Daher: Welcome to Angel Invest Boston, conversations with Boston’s most interesting investors and founders. I am Sal Daher an angel investor who is very excited about all the interesting companies that are being built in Boston’s singular startup ecosystem. I have the honor to have with me today, two very important members of that ecosystem and they are Jess McLear and Amanda Drobnis. Jess is an angel investor and Amanda is a founder. So, Jess, welcome.
Jess McLear: Thank you. It is great to be here.
Sal Daher: That’s great. Well, Amanda Drobnis is familiar to listeners because she’s been on the podcast before. Her podcast launched in December of 2019. Amanda is the founder of Hilltop Biosciences and Jess McLear is on the board. I think the first order of business is, Amanda, why don’t you tell us again what Hilltop Biosciences does and then, Jess, you can tell us where Hilltop Biosciences is today versus back at the end of 2019.
What Hilltop Biosciences Does and What Pain Points It Addresses
Amanda Drobnis: So, Hilltop Bio is an early stage veterinary biotech company. We’re focused on regenerative therapies that help our animals and mostly our horses right now, but that’s our focus, but that help our animals heal from soft tissue injuries for a variety of different types of soft tissue injuries. And we sell directly to our vets, our equine vets right now, and moving forward, we’ll be moving into the canine space coming up soon.
Sal Daher: Excellent, excellent. And we may have canine visitors at any moment I understand. Listeners should be warned that should not be surprised if there’s a canine visitor that enters the interview.
Amanda Drobnis: Yeah.
Sal Daher: Anyway. Now, after you were in the interview, I understand that you completed a raise and then that you are able to set up your lab. Tell us where things are right now.
Amanda Drobnis: Yeah, so we raised about $750,000 in July of 2019. And with that money, we created our own clean room. So we built up our lab space. We got office space and developed our products. We did safety testing and went and did a few more trials and took us about little less than six months and we had product available for sale. So now we finally have product on the market.
Sal Daher: That is tremendous. Now, Jess, do you want to talk to us about your perspectives on Hilltop Biosciences and why you joined the board?
Jess McLear: Yeah. So I met Amanda originally through TCN.
Sal Daher: That’s where I met her as well.
Jess McLear: Yeah.
Sal Daher: The Capital Network, we should put in a plug for the Capital Network. It’s an excellent resource for founders, excellent place for angel investors to help. And so please continue.
How Jess McLear Came to be an Investor in Amanda Drobnis’ Company
Jess McLear: So, I met Amanda at TCN, I’m an advisor there. And she pitched there and we gave her feedback on her pitch and met her through there. And she had already met another friend of mine and local angel, Jill Wittels. And again, re-introduced through her. So I met her a series of times before she finally came in front of Launchpad Venture Group to pitch. And became the deal lead through that. And as we progressed through, got to know Amanda a lot better, got to know Hilltop a lot better and the business plan and the business model, and really actually the product that was ready to go and ready to launch. And you don’t see that too often and loved her. That’s what I do. We write, we invest in the entrepreneurs, we invest in the good companies and we follow our money and we like strong founders and especially strong female founders and jumped on the board because it was my time. I was phasing off of another company and it was just the right time to do.
Sal Daher: And Amanda has tons of industry experience and I understand there’s patent protection for the process and so forth that she has exclusive rights to, which provides certain amount of moat against competitors.
Jess McLear: So, she had the barrier to entry. She had the IP that they had licensed and they had the exclusive license for, and you look for all those types of boxes to tick when you’re going through due diligence.
“…they tend to be leaders. If Launchpad signs up for a deal, other angels tend to follow.”
Sal Daher: Yes. Yes. I should mention that Launchpad Venture Group is a highly respected angel group in the Boston area. They’re very professional, very serious. They do things very well and they tend to be leaders. If Launchpad signs up for a deal, other angels tend to follow. So I want to set the perspective that Amanda did a great job in getting a Launchpad on board. Very good. So tell me, now you have the lab now explain a little bit more about what it is that you’re doing and what aspects of it are protected by patent. So you’re recovering certain types of material from…
Amanda Drobnis: We are recovering placental and fetal tissue from our horses and this tissue is not immunocompromised. There’s nothing in there that could be transmitted to somebody else. So we can take that tissue and we can implant it into any kind of animal once we clean it and do all of that. And so what’s in that tissue, what’s really interesting about it is that tissue has all of these great regenerative aspects. And typically we take that fetal tissue once the baby is born and we throw it away, it’s just a discard. And so what they’ve learned over the last hundred years or so is that if you use that fetal tissue, you can actually help the body regenerate its own tissue. So we’re not necessarily putting in STEM cells. There’s no STEM cells in our products, but we’re helping to give the body extra proteins and extra material that can then help the body to regenerate itself.
Sal Daher: Okay. Does it have to be within species? I mean, meaning horse to horse, dog to dog, or if there was going to be version for dogs?
Amanda Drobnis: Yeah. So it doesn’t necessarily have to be, but because of a lot of different regulatory hurdles, it’s much easier for us to put it horse to horse, dog to dog.
Sal Daher: Okay. Excellent. Excellent. Now explain to me how the IP protection works. So what is the IP on?
Amanda Drobnis: The IP is interesting because technically it’s a biologic material. It comes from an animal. And so that can’t be patented. Right?
Sal Daher: Right. Right. Right.
“But what we can patent is how we collect the tissue, how we process the tissue, the methods that we’re going to use the tissue for.”
Amanda Drobnis: But what we can patent is how we collect the tissue, how we process the tissue, the methods that we’re going to use the tissue for. We have started down that path. We haven’t patented all of our methods yet for processing, but we’re working on that so that we can get a more robust patent profile out there.
Sal Daher: Okay. Jess, do you want to talk about the progress that you’ve seen Hilltop Biosciences makes since you invested originally.
Jess McLear: Yeah. So we invested a little over a year ago initially and I think we closed what? May was it last year, Amanda?
Amanda Drobnis: July.
Jess McLear: July was the final close happened. And since then she’s opened up the lab. They’ve produced very quickly their first products.
Amanda Drobnis: Sorry.
Jess McLear: There they are.
Sal Daher: The dog is not a candidate for treatment. It’s just lonely. It’s not a dog that Amanda was treating in the back or something. No. It’s not. Okay. So, please continue, Jess.
“…even through COVID we’ve had repeat sales.”
Jess McLear: Yep. No problem. So she quickly got the lab up and running. The equipment that we needed and was the first real purchase, large asset CapEx spending. And then very quickly she had material ready to sell. So the first sales happened in February. It was just great. And she had follow on sales through March and April, May and even through COVID we’ve had repeat sales. So the product is out there. It’s well received and continue to grow the sales since then. So, it’s not often that we see companies that we’ve invested in and then six months later, they’re out there and they’re selling and growing.
Sal Daher: They’re selling stuff.
Jess McLear: I know. And it’s actually it’s a physical product too. Right? So she’s already got the manufacturing up. She’s already got a physical product out there with sales. It’s not that often that we see those types of companies. So, she’s right on track with what she said she was going to do again on track on budget. We don’t see those very often either. So it’s been great.
“So, she’s right on track with what she said she was going to do again on track on budget. We don’t see those very often either.”
Sal Daher: Yes. We should give a little bit more color about Amanda. Amanda, because if you want to listen to the full interview, it’s available on iTunes Angel Invest Boston. But Amanda has been in the veterinary space for a long time, in the business side of it. So she’s very experienced on the business aspects of it. And she is a very active rider of a horse. And of course, has dogs. We know that. And so she’s very much in this space. She lives it. So anyway, I don’t know who wants to take this question, but where is it that you expect to see… What’s the big breakthrough that you’re looking for with Hilltop Biosciences? What’s the next big step that you’re looking forward to?
Amanda Drobnis: Our big breakthrough that we’ve been working towards is having our room temperature regenerative therapies available that are off the shelf and ready for our vets to use. And so far we’re waiting for our clinical studies to come back. We’ve shown progress and we’ve shown that it works well, but now we need to publish something. So, that’s the big breakthrough. And then the other big breakthrough is in canine and showing success in dogs. So those are two big things that we’re really excited about.
“Our big breakthrough that we’ve been working towards is having our room temperature regenerative therapies available that are off the shelf and ready for our vets to use.”
Sal Daher: Okay. Your studies you’ve collected the samples and the papers are being written, or are you still in the experimental phase?
Amanda Drobnis: We’ve done a little bit of both. So we’ve written some papers and we’re working with several other veterinarians to do further studies. So we have a little bit of both things going on right now.
Sal Daher: Excellent. Excellent. Anything else Amanda, that you want to, that you want to sort of tell our audience that’s, that’s happening with Hilltop?
Amanda Drobnis: We’re super excited about that with the room temperature, but we’re also on the cutting edge of learning more about our proteins and how they affect the body as a whole and how we can take those proteins and increase them in our product or decrease them for certain applications. And so while that’s not our focus just yet on our research, it is our future focus. And so that’s another exciting thing that we’re working towards is better understanding regenerative therapy as a whole. The research could be used for both human and animals. So we’re really excited about those types of things as well. And that’s something that’s, it’s out there, but certainly not our focus, but it’s something that we’re working towards.
Sal Daher: Yeah. Very good. Very good. Let’s talk to Jess a little bit. I want to understand a little bit her background and how she came by angel investing. So Jess, tell us what your professional work was before you were doing angel investing.
Jess McLear: “I kind of grew up around startups. My father has been investing in startups over 30 years, so I’ve grown up around startups…”
Jess McLear: I kind of grew up around startups. My father has been investing in startups over 30 years, so I’ve grown up around startups and with startups working for startups in various capacities. I did take a brief hiatus. I got my master’s in education and I was a middle school science teacher, which I’m not even sure if Amanda knows that.
Amanda Drobnis: I did not.
Sal Daher: She might recruit you in the lab. You can hold all a test tube, put you in the lab, fire up the Bunsen burner.
Jess McLear: I know. Yeah. Well, I got my BA from Williams College in microbiology, biochemistry. Right.
Sal Daher: All hands in the lab.
Jess McLear: Right. Right. Well, that was it. I was either going to go get my PhD or I was going to do something else. And I’d always been called to teaching. So I decided to go into that and did it for a little bit. Then had kids and stayed home with them for a little bit. And then went back into business. I started to work with a number of my dad’s companies on and off.
Sal Daher: What kind of business are those?
Jess McLear: We own and I’ve sat on the board for the past 12 years of a contract pharmaceutical manufacturing company here in Canada in Mississauga, actually called Contract Pharmaceutical Limited. We were really original back in the early nineties. And I’ve actually worked in the company on and off since college. I actually, I’ve worked on the line before, I’ve worked in the office, I’ve done all sorts of stuff. And so I came onto the board in 2008 more permanently and then started working, looking at companies in the Boston area. And so started doing various research and taking various business classes before then and then joined Launchpad in 2008. And I started investing locally and I’ve sat on a number of our investments locally in the Boston area. And have been doing all sorts of things ever since.
Sal Daher: Interesting.
Jess McLear: Yeah. It’s been a lot of fun. I found I had a knack for it and I really enjoyed it.
Sal Daher: I share that as an angel investor, I mean, it is. People should know, angel investing is great fun. Starting a company, not so much fun. It’s for the younger people, younger people like Amanda. But you get to a certain age, you can have fun helping make life easier for the founders. Would you like to talk a little bit about some of the other companies that you’re involved with in addition to Hilltop Biosciences?
Jess McLear: Yeah. So I guess so. So locally and in the Boston area, I also sit on the board and have been a longtime advisor for Knip Bio.
Sal Daher: Oh yes. It was a near miss. I should have invested in it. It was one of these things where didn’t get there in time.
Jess McLear: Yeah.
Sal Daher: Yeah. Tell the audience what Knip Bio does.
Jess McLear: It’s another biotech company in a totally different field. It’s an alternative protein with the special nutraceutical properties that our first market is aquaculture. So it’s a partial replacement, but also nutritional additive for fishmeal to feed fish. And that’s the market. I was one of Larry’s first investors that he talked to or advisors that he talked to and I’ve been working with him ever since. It’s a company that I’ve jumped on and off of internally, talk about angels coming in and helping out. I’ve jumped in and out of that one, since the get go.
Sal Daher: Yeah. Any other interesting companies?
Jess McLear: One of the companies that we were early investors on and on the board for 3Play Media sold last spring, I was on that board for a very long time. I’m an observer on the board, but started off on the board and was a very early mentor for Brenna in 99 Degrees Custom, which is a contract clothing manufacturing company in Lawrence. And she’s another amazing entrepreneur like Amanda. And she came through Mass Challenge.
Sal Daher: It is located where?
Jess McLear: It’s located in Lawrence, Mass.
Sal Daher: In Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Jess McLear: Yes. Yes.
Sal Daher: My goodness. Where all they used to have the mills and so forth. That’s going back to Lawrence. Yeah.
Jess McLear: Yes. Exactly. And that’s exactly what she wanted to do. And she’s accomplished it. She’s going to be up over 200 full time employees by the end of this year. And she’s another fantastic entrepreneur who pivots fast. She thinks on her feet. It’s been a labor of love for her. And I’ve been with her since she went through Mass Challenge and beyond. And yeah. She pivoted fast with COVID. She’s been doing PPE gowns along with it. She’s primarily a contract manufacturer for leisure wear apparel.
Sal Daher: Ah, yes.
Jess McLear: Very smart. And again, I like smart entrepreneurs who can think on their feet.
“That’s an interesting collection of companies. Hilltop Biosciences, Knip Bio, 99Degrees…”
Sal Daher: That’s an interesting collection of companies. Hilltop Biosciences, Knip Bio, 99Degrees, it’s called.
Jess McLear: 99Degrees. Yes. It was originally custom, but it’s now just 99 degrees. Two of those are in my biotech, wheelhouse and Brenna it’s a contract manufacturing, which is our pharmaceutical is up here. So she actually specifically found me at Mass Challenge because I had manufacturing background, which is great. Not a lot of angels always have.
Sal Daher: No. They don’t. There are a lot of angels from software background in my experience in Boston and somebody who’s actually manufactured something. Well, speaking of that, speaking of your experience, are there certain bits of advice that you find yourself giving to founders all the time that maybe you should have like a little blue card that you just hand out to founders because you see them doing this over and over again, wrong that they should not be doing?
Jess McLear: It depends on what stage they’re at. Right? Like in some cases it depends on what stage they’re at in their-
Sal Daher: Okay. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, one that really stands out. Like stop doing this. This is crazy. You should never do this.
Angel Investor Jess McLear’s Advice to Founders
Jess McLear: I think the biggest thing that I tell entrepreneurs, the most common thing that I hear is, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard that before.” And my response usually is, “Well, if you’ve heard that many times before, you should probably pay attention to it.” Right?
Sal Daher: Yeah. Everybody is telling me I’ve got this terrible habit. I’m sure I don’t have it, but everybody’s telling me.
Jess McLear: Right. Exactly. I feel like I need just a card response to that one, which is if you hear something repeated to you multiple times, start listening and start taking that in because there’s probably a reason for it. That’s usually what I hear. That’s most commonly what I end up repeating back to entrepreneurs. Yeah. And commonly, sometimes we’ll hear them before they really get their market down.
Sal Daher: Oh, yes.
Jess McLear: It’s also the market analysis is always off. Right? I’m taking over the world. I’m going to sell this to… And some of them have gotten the resources.
Sal Daher: That’s forgivable.
Jess McLear: It is forgivable.
Sal Daher: That’s forgivable.
Jess McLear: A hundred percent.
Sal Daher: I mean that’s to be expected. It’s to be expected. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. No clue, no clue.
Jess McLear: Well, but the resources that are out there, I find I say that a little bit less than I used to because there’s all sorts of good podcasts and good resources that people can get ahold of. And there’s organizations like The Capital Network out there that are helping to educate so many more entrepreneurs. It’s not that difficult to get the information the way it used to be. And so I find, I don’t have to tell that one quite as often as I used to.
Sal Daher: And any advice you have about fundraising?
Angel Investor Jess McLear’s Advice to Founders about Fundraising
Jess McLear: The common advice is it takes twice as long and twice as much of your time. Right? That’s what it usually is. That’s what I usually tell people. And to be honest, and to be fair, oftentimes it will depend on who I’m talking to. Female entrepreneurs, I find it definitely takes much longer for a lot of them, which is a really sad state of affairs. Our most recent investment is in a company in Maine called Pump Spotting. She’s an entrepreneur that’s in human resources, which it’s an app that allows breastfeeding mothers or new mothers in general to keep in touch with each other and offers a community and she’s selling it into businesses. Yeah. It’s a great and it’s much needed.
“Female entrepreneurs, I find it definitely takes much longer for a lot of them, which is a really sad state of affairs.”
Sal Daher: Great idea. Yeah. Yeah. Very much needed. Yeah.
Jess McLear: Yeah. She’s been looking for money around the same time as Amanda and it’s just a little bit tougher and it’s a little bit harder and there’s a lot more resources out there, but it’s still a little bit harder. So, that’s an unfortunate reality sometimes that I don’t like to face at times. I’d like to say that that’s not true, but in a lot of cases, it is.
Sal Daher: Yes. Yes. It’s tough. A lot of times having a sales mindset, I think helps. Having a sales process and being able to go through it. Amanda was involved in sales. And I think that that probably helped her. Would you say that’s true?
Amanda Drobnis: Yes. Understanding the sales process and how sales work and where to, and how to, and just perseverance in sales.
Sal Daher: Yes. Yes.
Amanda Drobnis: I think that certainly helped.
Jess McLear: Perseverance is an important one when you’re going through fundraising, right? You always hear the stories that it’s like you meet somebody and you just get all your money and it never happens that way. Right?
Amanda Drobnis: No. I’m still hoping.
Sal Daher: Yeah. No. I mean, some of the most impressive fundraisers that I’ve run across have been women as well. Thinking of Bettina Hein of Pixability. I mean, she had 45 angels in her cap table, and then she had VC money on top of that. And it’s just the secret is persistence, having a system, going at it and not being shy about it. She’s German. Germans tend to be very polite and not like brash Americans who don’t have a problem with calling people repeatedly. If you don’t get an answer, you call them and so on. Despite that, I mean, she overcame that. I mean, she was very, very assertive.
Jess McLear: She pivoted extremely well, too. Right?
Sal Daher: Unbelievable pivots. Yeah. You’re familiar with the Pixability pivot.
Jess McLear: Oh, yes. Yeah. I saw her very early, very, very early her first business plan. And she had already exited before too.
Sal Daher: Yeah. She’d had an exit. Yeah. But that was her own show. I mean, she did not have a co-founder. Oh, it is so hard.
Jess McLear: And it’s especially hard for single founders. Almost all my female founders have been single founders and that’s even harder too. Right? Actually, I think almost except for my company 3Play last year that exited almost all of my companies have been pretty close to single founders, essentially. Yes. It’s really hard. Isn’t it, Amanda?
Sal Daher: Generally, you want to have as much help as possible, but if you have someone who has very deep knowledge of the space, has very broad understanding of the space and so forth, like Bettina did like Amanda does, I think you can do it. But if you can find a co-founder, your life is made easier.
Jess McLear: Or a really good champion. Right?
Sal Daher: Or a really good champion. Exactly.
Jess McLear: You need champions. If you’re a single founder, you really need the champion. Right?
Sal Daher: That’s your lead investor. A good board member is really invaluable.
“I can’t stress that enough. My board members, Jess, and all my other board members, they really make a difference…”
Amanda Drobnis: I can’t stress that enough. My board members, Jess, and all my other board members, they really make a difference because they’re not just the board member. I mean, they are, but they’re also great advisors. And constant feedback is nice to have to know, are we making a mistake or are we good? And I’d say that’s the number one key in picking your board and making sure that they’re on your side too, that they’re there to help you not just be your board members and I can’t think Jess and the rest of them enough for that. That was priceless.
Sal Daher: Oh, listeners who are founders should just notice something here. This is still an early stage company with a board. Okay. It’s one of the requirements of Launchpad, but I think it also shows maturity on the part of Amanda that she can make use of the board and can get benefit from a board. Sadly, a lot of founders have the attitude that the board is this creature you have to manage instead of a resource that’s there to help you. I think that Bettina Hein, we were talking about her before, she was…
As a matter of fact, she found her board meetings so valuable as a way for planning the direction of the company and all that, the accountability was really valuable. She said that because of the board meetings, whenever she raised money, she was ready to raise at any given time because she had presented everything to the board and then she could just present that to the investors. And there was actually a business school study made of a board meeting with Bettina Hein, Bettina and the board or something like that. And Noam Weissman, a professor, he used to be at Harvard is now out on the West Coast. I think this is an excellent example of a mature founder understanding the need for a board, a founder who really understands what she’s doing.
Jess McLear: And makes use of your board. Right? Your board is meant to be… And especially with the earliest stages you said, Sal. And you can’t lie to your board. You have to be honest with them and they have to be… You have to remember that their fiduciary responsibility is with the company.
Sal Daher: Right.
Jess McLear: And it’s a mistake that many founders make where they hear about the horror stories. And there are some out there. I know of some.
Sal Daher: There are. Yeah. There are toxic board members. Yes.
Jess McLear: There are toxic board members.
Sal Daher: The problem is that they’ve watched Silicon Valley.
Jess McLear: Oh, my God.
Sal Daher: Everything in Silicon Valley happens, but not all those things happen to the same company. Remember that.
Jess McLear: Yes. Exactly.
Sal Daher: Okay. Otherwise, it’s a series. I mean, some of those things do happen sometimes. It’s like one of these Miss Marple murder mysteries where all those murders and this little quiet village in England. It’s unlikely. So it’s the same thing. It’s a contrivance. The reality is that if you have a good working board, it is a tremendous advantage for the company. I’ve interviewed Christopher Mirabile with Adam Martel on the podcast and they emphasize the value of a board. Another superb founder, Adam Martel.
Jess McLear: Yeah. Especially in times like this. Most of my companies, I have board calls every two weeks to three weeks. Now, they’re a little bit farther out, but for a while, Amanda, we had, it was every two weeks, we had a board call just to check in and see how things are going. It’s just as much a morale thing and to let you know that you’re still connected as much as it is an update on the company and making sure the company is working through everything and working through with Amanda on what things are needed. That’s your job as a board member. So it’s important.
Sal Daher: Excellent. Excellent. So we’re getting towards the end of our interview here. Amanda, Jess, is there anything on your mind that you’d like to communicate to our audience of angel investors, of startup founders and of people who work at startups that you’d like to get across either about your company or just about in general?
“…you are always fundraising. It never ends. And when you think it’s over, it’s not over.”
Amanda Drobnis: So, one of the things that came up, but we skipped over a little bit that I didn’t fully understand until just when I actually closed on the money, but now like completely 100% understand is that you are always fundraising. It never ends. And when you think it’s over, it’s not over. And so we’re in that process now. And it’s something that I didn’t understand at first. And I urge listeners to wrap your head around the fact that you’re constantly fundraising. And you have to keep up those connections however way you can.
Sal Daher: Yes. That brings me to one of my hobby horses, keeping your investors up to date on what you’re doing. The worst thing that you could do for fundraising is keep your investors in the dark. And then you run out of money. And you say, “Ma, send money.” And you never call your ma. Right? How inclined is your ma going to be to send your money when you never call her?
Amanda Drobnis: Not very.
Sal Daher: So, call ma. Just talk to your investors. Remember your investors are a constituency that’s very important. I mean, you have customers, but they’re also someone who is really important. They will listen to you.
Amanda Drobnis: Yeah.
Jess McLear: And a lot of them are really well connected. Right. So when you’re looking for follow on money, they’re the ones that people are going to be going to and especially in angel groups, new money is going to want to talk to old money and see how things are going. Right?
Sal Daher: There are no secrets in angel groups.
Jess McLear: No.
Sal Daher: Okay. No. There are no secrets. Okay. So it’ll get around. Jess, anything that you want to say, any parting thoughts?
“You also want to update the people that didn’t invest, but might be on the fence because they may invest at some point too. That’s one thing that a lot of people don’t do.”
Jess McLear: I think I agree a hundred percent with what Amanda was saying. Early on, she was asking about the investor updates and I said, “There’s the investor updates,” and I said, “You also want to update the people that didn’t invest, but might be on the fence because they may invest at some point too. That’s one thing that a lot of people don’t do.”
“I salute Amanda as a really stellar founder and she’s got a board, she’s got a product. She keeps her investors updated. She keeps even the ones that said no updated. Well done.”
Sal Daher: I didn’t invest at the time. I wasn’t in a position to do it. And Amanda is on top. I mean, she’s tremendous. I salute Amanda as a really stellar founder and she’s got a board, she’s got a product. She keeps her investors updated. She keeps even the ones that said no updated. Well done.
Jess McLear: Yes. That’s what you’re looking for. Right? You’re always looking for that investor who listens really well, who stays on top of things. Pushes back when necessary, because that’s important too, but takes everything in. And that’s been definitely a key here. And it’s one of the reasons why she’s managed to continue sales through COVID, pivot to a more of a digital marketing. I mean, she had marketing experience before, but she’s listens and she’s done a great job of bringing really good industry people onto our side. And that’s actually really key too. Right?
Sal Daher: Absolutely. Very good. Amanda Drobnis, I thank you for coming back on the podcast and I salute you for the progress you’ve made since you were on.
Amanda Drobnis: It’s great to hang out with you again. I appreciate it. So thank you.
Sal Daher: It’s awesome. Yeah. The last time we were actually in studio. Now, it’s remote and everything.
Amanda Drobnis: Yeah. I wish we could be in person, but one day soon.
Sal Daher: Yeah. I hope so. And Jess, thanks for making the time. Great to connect with you and maybe we’ll meet each other face to face in a better future.
Jess McLear: Yes. I definitely hope so. I know.
Sal Daher: And also, great to find out about your interesting companies that you invest in and to map that out a little bit. Thanks for making time.
Jess McLear: Thank you so much for having me on. This has been a great experience. And so thank you.
Sal Daher: Any time. Okay. Very good. I hope that listeners have enjoyed this chat as much as I have. Oh, I just want to make one little point. Remember my investment syndicate. If you are an accredited investor, I have companies that I invest in that I like to bring people in. So go to my website, angelinvestboston.com and become an accredited investor so I can keep you aware of companies that I’m interested in investing in. Otherwise, I can’t talk to you. If you’re not on the list, I cannot tell you about the companies I’m involved with. So great that you both were on and stay well.
This is Angel Invest Boston. I’m Sal Daher. I’m glad you were able to join us. Our engineer is Raul Rosa. Our theme was composed by John McKusick. Our graphic design is by Katharine Woodman-Maynard. Our host is coached by Grace Daher.