The Startup Solution with Heidi Roizen
The Startup Solution tackles the make-or-break situations that entrepreneurs face, offering clear advice on how to survive and thrive in an early-stage company. Who’s it for? Founders, startup execs, and investors who want to learn from real-world situations, unpacked by Heidi Roizen, a “recovering" entrepreneur and current VC who has seen it all through 40 years and 40 boards.
The Case of the Ace Advisor
Miles wants to hire an advisor, a well-respected University of California professor, but needs help defining the role, setting expectations, and formalizing the rules of engagement. Heidi, an experienced advisor herself, walks Miles through a step-by-step process to help him establish an advisor’s obligations and compensation to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship.
The Case of the Nepo Nightmare
The CTO needs to fire someone who is awful at their job but is the big brother of the CEO. Heidi recounts firsthand her experience of navigating a complex commingling of family and startup dynamics to strengthen a healthy and productive company.
The Case of the Secondary Showdown
Secondary stock sales can be tricky. Heidi shares a financial drama where the founder is upset that her VC is selling, and the VC is upset that the founder is selling. Learn about the ins and outs of a process that can lead to happier, wealthier, and wiser stakeholders.
The Case of the C-Suite Shuffle
Leon no longer wants to be the CEO of the company he founded. He makes his decision after completing an exercise Heidi suggested to him in Episode 5 – “The Case of the Frustrated Founder." In this segment, Heidi helps Leon take the steps needed to communicate his decision to the board, identify and onboard a new CEO, and transition into a new role and happier life.
The Case of the Frustrated Founder
Leon is a founder who wants his company to succeed but hates his job as CEO and is unsure if he’s the right person to lead the team. In this first of a two-part episode, Heidi shares how the founder role changes over time, what a founder can do to navigate that change to still love their job, and an exercise to find out the best path forward. In part two, we’ll find out what happens to Leon.
The Case of the Email Evidence
Luka is sued! As part of the lawsuit, he must hand over all his email messages and texts as evidence. Heidi reviews what “digital communication hygiene” every founder should follow to avoid any bumps in the road if served papers. She also shares how the term “legal privilege” can protect you – but only when correctly used.
The Case of the Carveout Conundrum
Anya needs to sell her company, but to do so, she needs to keep her team. She decides to financially motivate them with a carve-out agreement that will pay them when the company sells since their common shares will likely be worthless. Learn all the important steps to make when putting a carveout together.
The Case of the Mythical M&A
Julian is running low on cash and starts to prep for an M&A way too late. Heidi shares what’s involved in an M&A process and the importance of building relationships with potential acquirers early so you have options in place.
The Case of the Social Media Meltdown
Eddie reposts an inappropriate meme on social media and ends up with angry employees, disillusioned investors, and a tarnished reputation. In this episode, Heidi addresses how to develop a personal social media strategy to minimize the chance of creating a situation like Eddie’s.
The Case of the Company that Wasn't
For the final episode of the first season of The Startup Solution, Heidi tackles what is, perhaps, the single most difficult thing an entrepreneur may ever have to do: wind down a company when it clearly just isn’t working.
The Case of the Boardzilla Board Member
Felicia’s boardroom has become a battlefield due to the disruptive and even destructive behavior of one of her board members — but he is also one of her largest investors. Heidi lays out a variety of options for addressing this, including the nuclear one: how to unseat a board member who's causing problems.
The Case of the Exposed Compensation File
Carl, a startup CEO, accidentally left a list of every employee's pay and equity in the printer. Soon enough, it was circulating on the company Slack. Heidi helps him understand that the most troubling thing exposed wasn't the payroll. It was the company's lack of a proper compensation philosophy.
The Case of the Deadweight Co-Founder
In the process of closing her startup’s first round of outside capital, CEO Claire hit a snag. One of her co-founders had already left the company, and his massive share position for only a year of work concerned the new investor. Heidi explains how to allocate founder shares fairly, and what can be done if you may have already done it differently.
The Case of the Millionaire Mirage
Nate has a first-world problem: As VP of engineering at a startup, he thought he'd become a millionaire when the company had its big exit — but he was crushed when he got only 5% of what he expected. Heidi helps Nate understand what likely went sideways, and what to consider the next time around.
The Case of the Soggy Software
Heidi changes gears from recounting other entrepreneurs' challenges to share a story of her own from when she was the CEO of a software startup. Learn how a mishap with the office sprinkler system led to a reckoning about her company's culture.
The Case of the Strategic Sucker Punch
Trent hits a crisis when his strategic investor lets their term sheet expire, and his $50 million round falls apart. Strategic investors are a huge part of the startup ecosystem but differ from regular VCs. Learn about the pros and cons of strategic investors, and how to craft a good deal for both sides.
The Case of the In-law Investors
JJ, a Threshold Venture Fellow at Stanford, has in-laws who want to pull money from their retirement fund to participate in a “friends and family” allocation in JJ's seed round. Heidi sets JJ straight about the ins and outs of seed investing — and suggests at least one way to reward his in-laws for their support without putting them at risk.
The Case of the Downer Round
Founders often think of valuation as the grade at the top of the paper, which is why few things take an emotional toll like the prospect of a down round. When Ann's company is faced with just such a thing, Heidi explains that terms end up mattering more than valuation — and that a down round needn't be a downer.
The Case of the Boardroom Blow-up
When Priya informed her board that the company missed its quarterly sales target, she was met with a barrage of attacks. The real error wasn’t the business shortfall — it was how she managed the situation. Learn how to avoid her mistakes.
The Startup Solution - Trailer
Threshold’s new podcast, The Startup Solution, hosted by Partner, Heidi Roizen, is coming soon! Each week, founders, startup execs and investors can hear about rarely discussed challenges that occur at startups. With each episode, Heidi will share advice and a clear review of lessons learned.