Episode description:

Welcome to the Entrepreneurship@DU Podcast, a show that explores the entrepreneurial community at the University of Denver from the perspective of our alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends. 

Episode 18 was recorded live in front of an audience of 150 students, faculty, entrepreneurs and innovators on the University of Denver campus. Two amazing individuals, DU alumni and investors, Caroline Gash and Bill Powell discuss how to unlock capital for startups seeking funding. They share their insights and advice on how to pitch your business to investors, how to navigate the investment landscape, and what investors are looking for in a startup.

We cover the following topics in this episode: 

  • How to pitch your business to investors 
  • How to navigate the investment landscape 
  • What investors are looking for in a startup 
  • The dos and don’ts of fundraising 
  • Lessons from successful first-time entrepreneurs 
  • How to overcome the fear of failure 
  • The importance of networking  

This episode is for you if you are: 

  • A first-time entrepreneur
  • Curious about starting a business 
  • Looking to raise money for your business 
  • Interested in learning more about the investment landscape 
  • Want to hear from experienced investors


Joshua Ross (00:03): 

My name is Joshua Ross and welcome to the 18th episode of the Entrepreneurship and DU podcast. 

Bill Powell (00:10): 

I want to know the story behind the story. I want to know about resilience and how you got to where you are and why you and your co-founders are the people solving the right team for this problem. 

Joshua Ross (00:21): 

This episode is a little different from previous episodes. Our team decided to shake up the podcast and try something new. We left the studio, packed our equipment, and took the entrepreneurship at DU podcast on the road. We did not go far about 500 yards, but the experience recorded in front of a live audience of 150 students, faculty, and friends was awesome. 

Caroline Gash (00:48): 

Show me in your history and your experience and your background where you are gritty and you are resilient. 

Joshua Ross (00:55): 

I sat down with two amazing do you alumni, Carolyn Gash and Bill Powell. I wanted to hear their perspective and get their expertise on how first time founders should approach fundraising, how they should communicate with investors, and to understand the power of networks. Here’s a live event. 

Caroline Gash(01:17): 

So Caroline Gash, I’ll start with this group stating that I’m a Denver native. I went to the University of Notre Dame undergrad, got a chemistry undergraduate major, then came back to my hometown after four Midwestern winters, got an MBA and a master’s of Finance from du. My mom is also a DU grad, as is my sister. So I have long pioneer roots. I spent about 10 years in private equity. The latter half was with the private equity firm that I co-founded, raised about half a billion dollars of capital and I invested mainly in the energy sector. After 10 years, I decided that I wanted to move into earlier stage. I became an angel investor myself personally, and then stepped into the role that I’m in now, which is managing director of an investment group called the Irish Angels. We were about 250 University of Notre Dame alum who Angel Invest together. We’ve been doing it for about 11 years. We’ve invested 75 million in capital across about 90 portfolio companies, two unicorns, both in FinTech. We can talk about what all this means later, but we are seed stage investors writing about 150 K to 500 K checks into mainly technology companies, startups. 

Bill Powell (02:33): 

Well, it’s great to be here. Nice to see all of you this evening. Bill Powell, Ms. Finance and IMBA grad from the early two thousands at Daniels. I started out my career on Wall Street at Deutsche Bank, followed by a series of FinTech and tech startups in Scandinavia, in Stockholm, Sweden, and then came to Denver about 20 years ago on a brief hiatus and it was such a nice place. We ended up staying, spent about a decade doing due diligence on private equity and venture capital and renewable energy funds at a local $4 billion multifamily office. And then about 12 years ago, stepped into the human potential and human performance technology space focused on human-centric design where I’m an active investor in pre-seed, seed and series A companies both in North America as well as around the world. 

Joshua Ross (03:25): 

These two are some of the most generous alums with their time and their experience, and we’ll throw out their LinkedIn at the end of the call or the session as well. But so you’re going to hear a lot of different terms. And just to kind of level the playing field, I want to make sure everybody understands what some of these terms are. So if you wouldn’t mind talking a little bit about the difference between a venture capitalist and an angel investor and then also give the definitions between pre-seed seed funding series A and series B. 

Caroline Gash(03:54): 

So typically when you are so investing, you have a startup, every single startup will start with some level of what’s called bootstrapping, which means it’s your own personal either equity or sweat equity. Every company is going to start that way after that. Then typically the next kind of round of investment, and this term is falling a little out of favor, what we call the three F’s, which is family, friends, and fools are usually the next kind of capital in the door. Certainly as we all look to DEI initiatives, not everybody is on the same footing with friends and family who can help a founder get started. The next piece is typically individual angel investors. These are high net worth individuals who are looking to back founders and usually particular investments or ideas or companies that they have an interest in or an expertise in. From there, then you start getting into venture capital firms and angel networks like I run, which are institutionalized professional investors. This is what we do full-time, getting more sophisticated. We’re managing other people’s money at this point, and then you’ll get into growth, equity and private equity 

Bill Powell (05:11): 

At some point. All these things that you hear in Professor Ross’ and everyone else’s classes here come into play, right? So at the pre-seed stage, let’s think about a company that’s just started. Maybe they got a grant and what they’re really selling is not just their idea but a proof of concept. And sometimes companies forget this. You’re only selling a proof of concept, get paid for it as much as you can. Get some grant money, build that up a little and then get into real sales when your proof of concept starts to become real ish in the seed stage. And then as you go into a series A, you’re looking at much better product market fit and go to market strategies that you’ve either validated or you’ve thrown out the window, and that’s when you start to get into that growth stage. 

Caroline Gash(05:57): 

And so what I would say is for pre-seed, you’re building product, can you build the product for seed stage? You’re proving is there a market for series A? You’re proving there’s some product market fit and your go-to-market strategy works. And then once you get to series B and beyond, you’re putting fuel on the fire 

Bill Powell (06:16): 

And the right people really matter then. 

Joshua Ross (06:18): 

So are there specific industries or types of companies you two invest in? 

Caroline Gash(06:22): 

So I’m a generalist. I look at a lot of different things, but I’ll tell you what my favorites are. So I mentioned technology doesn’t mean that I won’t invest in hardware, but hardware is hard for a reason we like, but most venture capitalists like B two B SaaS, so business to business sales software as a service. We like vertical SaaS as well. FinTech, we’ve had a lot of experience and expertise there. It’s a place where we can win deals, we can get founders to accept our capital when the deals are really tight. Allocation is low when we’re fighting to be an investor on that cap table because we’ve got some reps behind us. I also like health tech and I like supply chain and logistics quite a bit. One thing that I do think differentiates me and Irish Angels from a lot of our colleagues, we’re not afraid of direct to consumer type technology plays. A lot of really traditional VC firms do not want to direct to consumer model because the marketing is really expensive and the scale can be tougher, but most of our really successful investments are actually direct to consumer. I think part of that is because I’ve got this manpower in the brains of 250 people behind me who give me a good sample size to go out and pool and kind of crowdsource their thoughts in a way that some of my venture colleagues don’t have that bench behind them. 

Bill Powell (07:56): 

That’s a really great point about how important your bench is in conjunction with the founders, right in your network. That’s awesome. Is there anything you don’t like to invest in? 

Caroline Gash(08:08): 

I don’t particularly like, well, hardware, I’m not a big fan of medical device because it’s a long deep pocket proposition. We’re not the right investor for deep tech because you need highly, highly skilled, deep, deep experience in kind of that science technology, whatever it is. There are exceptions, right? If I have that in my bench, I’ll go take a look at that, but that actually might be a good segue for you. 

Bill Powell (08:39): 

Yeah, I was kind of setting that up, but in all seriousness, yeah, it is tough not to want to look at everything. I enjoy having this opportunity to wear an angel hat on the side and be always look at just about any type of deal. I love it. I love engaging with founders when it’s really that messy part of their pre-seed and they haven’t even raised money yet and they’re like, we’ve got something. But what is it, right? I mean that’s what I get up in the morning for is finding those types of teams with complimentary domain expertise and good value systems that really matters. It’s like the most essential ingredients. If I can’t pass that first filter, I don’t do it. Is it exponential and how so what type of exponential technologies are they harnessing or working on? And then the thirdly but not least important by a stretch, does it help improve the human condition, right? 


I’m not a believer that the world needs another cheeseburger, robots. I obviously like cheeseburgers, but that aside is really things that help move the needle and help improve humanity and propel it forward. So those types of technologies tend to be at the intersection of the ecosystem and the people in my network, my partner who built and scaled Amazon sports and outdoors, my other partner who runs human works at nasa and my fourth partner who runs the ecosystem for Mass Challenge, which is one of the leading non-dilutive equity grant funding groups in the states. And I bring this up because like Caroline, I also over time have gravitated towards a sector where not all VCs or investors necessarily want to be, which is on the non-dilutive equity grant side of the equation and thinking about, and if you don’t know what that is, it could be an NIH grant, so a National Institute of Health. It could be the National Science Foundation, it could be DOD, it could be many things. And there are amazing grant programs available for startups here in the US as well as in the EU and on a country specific basis in Europe. And so finding those companies that are at the convergence of the precise, the precision data sets around human health and movement and analytics as well as the software side and the acceleration that we’re seeing around this convergence on nanotechnology and it’s all happening at once. 

Joshua Ross (10:58): 

So when you invest in companies, do you also provide guidance and support or you’re like, here’s my money, take my money, get me 10 x on the investment. So if I’m going to give you a million bucks, I expect 10 million back. Or do you also say, you know what? I’m going to be involved in this company. I’m going to sit there, I’m going to pick up the phone when you call, but I’m also going to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty if I don’t see this company moving in the right direction. 

Caroline Gash(11:20): 

Don’t take any investor money unless they’re going to bring more to the table than money. That’s my advice to you. So we absolutely bring more to the table than money. It’s not always the same thing for every investment that we’re making, but there are some commonalities that a commitment that we make every single time. The first commitment, because I have this bench and I have this community, one of the commitments that we make to every single founder is that we are going to help you kick open doors to customers to kind of early adoption customers because we’re trying to prove a market and sometimes a go-to-market strategy. In order to do that, you have to have some early Guinea pigs tests pilots so that we’re all getting that information back. So that’s a commitment I always make. A commitment I always make is if you have some weird ask, ask, because you never know. 


Even I don’t always know who’s on my bench. I’ll give you an example. We have a direct to consumer company actually clothing for short guys who got served with a frivolous lawsuit a while ago when these things were popular, everybody was getting this direct to consumer because their website was not deemed a compliant. They obviously had to deal with this, but this is a distraction for a founder. So they called me up and they said, we need some help with this. I have a strong contingency of attorneys in my network. I reached out to them within 15 minutes. I had the best attorney in New York in the jurisdiction where this lawsuit was brought to the table who’s dealt with these for five years. What that allowed me to do to that founder is say, this is not your highest and best use. Let me go see if I can figure this out and not waste your time, your money and your resources on it. 


And then the other thing that we always, always commit to, and I think because we are a community, and this is part of our strategy, is we have great relationships with co-investors. So one of the things that I do and I spend a lot of time doing as do my colleagues, is building relationships not just with other founders and not with our investors, but who are our co-investors. Does Bill have a great deal that’s a pre-seed deal that he’s going to back into seed and it’s a good stage for me. Do I have a great deal that Bill’s got some deep expertise in that would support having him come on the cap table, the investor base. I want my founders building companies not raising money. So my commitment to you and I come on your cap table, it is my job to keep you capitalized. You’re going to have to help me with that, but that’s my job. 

Bill Powell (14:08): 

That’s awesome. It’s really tough to follow up everything you said because I agree with it a hundred percent. And it’s never about the money, it’s about the people. That’s why those value systems really matter. And I know a lot of that Daniel’s curriculum focuses on values, values-based leadership, and at the time, even as a poli-sci major, I was like, I learned all this stuff in undergrad. Now I’m 30 something, and lo and behold, down the road, this stuff matters more than ever. Looking in and determining whether or not someone else’s definition of right and wrong successfully coincides and overlaps with yours, and it all starts there. So all the things Caroline’s talking about, I mean they’re all possible and the art of the possible when you have good people doing the good things together, because as you’re going through that journey, it has to be more than just money. 


You want to be that first phone call when something’s wrong and maybe not the first phone call when something’s right, and that’s okay. That’s its own humility because being an entrepreneur and also being on the other side supporting a lot of entrepreneurs, it’s a humbling experience and you have to roll up your sleeves and give is about giving first even when you don’t want to give anymore. And so yeah, it’s always about something much more strategic. And to Caroline’s point about helping to raise capital, absolutely the last thing you want to have happen is your founders and founding teams get caught in some kind of quagmire where they’re stuck doing that rather than advancing their business. 

Joshua Ross (15:47): 

Awesome. I appreciate that. So we have a lot of first time entrepreneurs in the audience. We have a lot of entrepreneurs throughout the University of Denver ecosystem. Can you give us some examples of common mistakes you see these entrepreneurs make when they pitch to investors? 

Caroline Gash(16:03): 

Use your network. Warm introductions go long way, a long, long, long, long way. You have this great network in this room. You have great networks in your alumni and your professors in the broader ecosystem, so use your network. Don’t be afraid to reach out to us or others. We’re here for you. That said, I read every cold email that comes into my inbox. It’s a challenge. I sit up really late doing it, whether it’s a cold email or a warm intro. Don’t bury the lead. Don’t send me a big long email. That’s a dissertation to get to what you’re doing, what you want and why you want me to be on your cap table. Do your research. If I am way out of thesis and what I have right there on my LinkedIn or on my website is not a good fit for you, don’t waste your time. Don’t waste my time. The other kind of more tangible thing, so don’t make me interact a ton. Your objective, believe it or not, is not to get me to say yes. It’s to get me to say yes or no as fast as you can, right? You don’t want to. 

Bill Powell (17:01): 

You get to know really quickly. 

Caroline Gash(17:03): 

Yeah, get to know quickly because I have the ability to waste a lot of your time otherwise, and if you’re not putting everything as much forward as possible, really concisely, you’re going to make me ask a lot of questions, which is either going to make me pissed off, disinterested, or just waste my time until I can get to a no. Most of us are willing to make introductions to groups that we think you might be a better fit for if we think you’re onto something that maybe just isn’t a good fit for us, but not if I’ve already spent two weeks trying to figure out what you’re doing. One of the common mistakes that I see in pitch decks, and I’m curious because you’re earlier sometimes than I am, but sometimes I see founders, if you get 20 minutes with me, 10 minutes is spent on the problem and a lot of the times you’re the expert in the problem, not me. 


I’m probably going to give you the benefit of the doubt about the problem. I want to know more about you and your solution than I do about the problem itself. Maybe that’s a style thing for me personally, but I like a glaze over. If you’re going to tell me 10 minutes about what a problem is, I assume that’s table stakes and it’s a real problem. The next assessment that I’m getting to really fast is do I think you can address it? And then I’ve got to go do a lot of homework after I have that call. 

Bill Powell (18:20): 

If I already said yes to a meeting, it means I read your deck and we’ve got 20 minutes, maybe 30 minutes. Don’t read me your deck. I know how to read. I’m a speed reader. I read your deck in about 

Caroline Gash(18:30): 

In several languages, 

Bill Powell (18:31): 

35 to 50 seconds. You could be like yes or no. You’ve determined quite literally because you see so many and decks are very formulaic, and so by the time you get to that meeting, I want to know the story behind the story. I really want to know you broke your arm on your bike when you were 16. Some people don’t like that. I want to know about resilience and how you got to where you are and why you and your co-founders are the people solving the right team for this problem. It already probably looks like it from the other side of the lens. Tell me more. Don’t take me a mile wide and an inch deep. Let’s go really deep on this and don’t be afraid to just be revealing about yourself. Lay it all out there. If this is real estate, it’s the most important real estate you have at that point in time and be authentic about who you are and why this is the problem you’re looking at. 


And by the way, we take a problem centric approach when we look at startups. So lots of times it’s not really about a solution, it’s about how are you tackling the problem and what’s your ability as a group of people to get to an ultimate solution, something that’s viable that works. And on the other side, our network. Absolutely. You’d be surprised, even people who you’ve gone to school with or been around a lot, there are always things that I’m always amazed when I ask somebody. I’m like, oh, I didn’t know you had any experience doing that, and I’ve known you for 18 years, right? I’m just like, oh, really? And so don’t be ashamed or afraid to go out or shy about asking questions repeatedly. They’re only stupid answers, right? 

Joshua Ross (20:17): 

Yeah. I want to dive into the network piece a little bit For all of you in the audience that are like, you know what? I don’t know if I’ll ever start my own business. Regardless of what you do in your life, build out your network. I work with obviously a lot of students here at the university from first year to about graduate and graduate students, but I’m also meeting with a lot of students that are out in the workforce trying to find that first job and they’re struggling, and I asked them, I’m like, talk me through what you’re doing. Well, I was on this job board and this job board. I said, that’s about a 2% chance you’re going to get a job from there. What you need to do is network. Let people know who you are, what you’re interested in, what you’re doing. Build out that network because if they get to know you and see the value of who you are, they also may say, oh, you have to meet this person. Or I know a job opening up in this place that never even shows up on any job board, 

Bill Powell (21:09): 

Josh, that’s so appropriate because it’s like it helps you spend the most important commodity you have as an entrepreneur, which is your time. No one else can govern that. Only you can. So that’s the one thing you definitely rich in, and it comes down to how you allocate that and find those people through that network to have the most relevant discussions at every point in time. 

Caroline Gash(21:29): 

And it’s not just work. Who are the people who are going to support you in your community endeavors and your philanthropic endeavors and dog sitting, house sitting? Who are your peeps? 

Bill Powell (21:42): 

Who’s your support you through your first few failures? I mean, how many people actually hit it out of the park? Give me a break entrepreneurship’s about iteration and collaboration, and so much of that is so important. I guess the one just little thing I wanted to add about presentations, oftentimes the biggest mistake I see is that people haven’t done their research and they don’t put footnotes on market values, and I promise you that I see so many decks and so many different values, and we know where those values are, and when it’s off, you really know it sticks out. So 

Joshua Ross (22:13): 

What would you say the first time entrepreneurs that are getting started, right? You read the cold emails, you talk to all these pre-seed startups, so you get to see this wide variety of where entrepreneurs are in the entrepreneurship journey. What things should they focus on as first time entrepreneurs? 

Caroline Gash(22:30): 

I love first time entrepreneurs. I think there’s a difference between a first time entrepreneur who’s taking outside capital and one that’s bootstrapped. I love both by the way. One of the things that I’ll use to assess a first time entrepreneur is, and you hit on this bill, is show me in your history, in your experience, in your background, where you are gritty and you are resilient. It can be a paper route when you were 10 years old, but that’s what, and by the way, this isn’t just for entrepreneurs. This is in interviews when you’re trying to get jobs, you’re trying to get on a fundraising committee or your kid’s PTO, whatever it is, and you will learn some of this at du, but you will also learn it out in the working world. What you’re trying to do is you’re trying to bet on people who step into their work life in the same authentic way that they do there, kind of normal out in the wildlife. 


You want the people who are wired the same way they’re going to, especially with entrepreneurs, they’re going to run through that brick wall because it is in their DNA to do it. And so when you have a first time entrepreneur where you can’t point to a 10 x exit that they’ve, and a lot of the times those are the folks we’re talking to because once you’ve got a couple exits under your belt, you’re talking to Sequoia and some of our friends on the coasts. So I’m looking to where you in your personal life, outside of your entrepreneurial journey, show grittiness, resilience, working with people, building teams, whatever is really relevant. But first and foremost, it’s how you are wired as a human being to be gritty and resilient and graceful. And you’re someone that I want to get in the trenches with and you’re going to inspire me to keep fighting the battle with you. 

Bill Powell (24:14): 

Yeah, right? I mean, how many times have you made an investment because it was the people, and maybe the problem was important too, but it’s really people and you’re like, you know what? These people, they’re going to do something and I want to support them. And you might even tell them when you’re writing that check, I’m supporting you now and I’ll support you in the future. And I think that’s what people forget about is that that’s a real opportunity. You’d be surprised how many times you end up reinvesting in somebody, even if they’ve only had marginal success seemingly. 

Joshua Ross (24:46): 

This may dovetail onto what you just talked about about teams and people, but what differentiates success or failure for startups that you’ve invested in? Because I’ve seen some startups that have had success and I see that the founding team and I’m like, really? They were successful? But it happens. 

Bill Powell (25:04): 

I tell you what most failures I see at the early stage, there’s two kinds. Then one makes sense to me and the other one still never will ever make sense to me. The first is we took a little money, but we proved that this doesn’t work. And gosh, we shouldn’t be doing this. Sorry, we’re going to shut this down. It’s a rare opportunity where you see founders who have that much self-awareness as a team or as individuals. It’s really hard. It’s really hard. You hung yourself out there and be like, oh my gosh, this is completely wrong and I’m at the wrong person, and we’re not the right people solving or working on the right problem, and that’s admirable. When I see that work out, I’ve seen people give money back and then it’s amazing. That’s a lot of self-awareness. And I think where I see a failure on that side, because I think that’s actually a success if you’re going to fail, fail quickly and fail forward and own it. 


When I see some companies that create some of that early traction that we spoke about between a pre-seed seed and you’re heading to an A round and then suddenly you have people who are fighting over equity and what You didn’t do your part, I did more than you. Well, I did at least 2% more, right? And then suddenly you see a breakdown in the ownership structure and these teams suddenly can’t go forward. And it’s usually driven by greed or too much. And sometimes you can resolve these things. Sometimes that’s actually an indication that you’re actually heading in the right direction and a founder or something like that can occur and it’s like, okay, yes, I’m getting the right people, doing the right collaborating on the right problems. But that’s a very fine line between success and failure at the early stage. One costs more capital, another less probably. 

Caroline Gash(26:54): 

So I think we can all define success for ourselves, but I think to be highly successful, you need three ingredients. You have to have a certain level of intellect. You have to be exceedingly hardworking. And then you have to have this third thing that none of us are in control of, which is you have to get lucky. And a lot about getting lucky is serendipity. Who you meet, who run into, that’s why you should continue to network. And a lot of that is timing. We are totally, we do not control the timing. That’s why having investors who are going to continue to help you capitalize your business can be really helpful. Sometimes you just need to hang on long enough to get lucky that because double-edged swords Sometimes. I would argue that when you look at some of these highly successful entrepreneurs and you go, really that person that maybe luck was more than 33% in their instance, it’s the one thing you can’t control. 


I would also argue that there probably was a stronger team around them that you didn’t see either in their cap table, in perhaps their second in command, who is the most thankless job in any organization. In fact, there have been studies, I don’t know if I learned this here at do you other places that you can look at public equities, and that’s where the data is. So that’s what we all study, even those of us in venture, but that we can look at where there’s unexplained stock decreases and nobody can kind of correlate that to what’s going on in the financials. And there have been studies done that show that that’s when ACOO steps down and when the COO steps down and that kind of CEO, who’s the strategic, the main salesperson in the group now has zero ability to stay organized, do the chief of staff role, keep the operations in the day-to-day going, things can go off the rails. So I would say if you see this kind of really that guy like that gal did this, it’s probably because they got more than lucky and they probably had a stronger team around them that you just didn’t know about. 

Bill Powell (29:08): 

Yeah. I am so glad you brought this up because it’s really about, as you’re going down that journey, it’s very humbling to start to realize that there’s a lot of stuff you just don’t know, and that by the way, you don’t know what you don’t know. And it’s like, I feel like that every day when I’m looking at companies. I didn’t know that. And that’s why I collaborate with people who do know that, who have deep domain expertise. And to that point, as early founding teams or founders, I think you really need to go all in and make sure that those are people you can rely upon and depend upon and to help inform you on the way forward. Putting people on the train who’ve kind of gone through that part of the journey before, there are definitely people who are really good at helping you get your B Corp off the ground, and you should embrace those people on a board of advisors or whatever it is you’re doing. For a pure tech startup, they’re definitely people who are really good at the pre through the series A, but they don’t tend to  continue pass a series B because they want to find their next one C, and then other people get on and they’re definitely series B to series E type people. And then there’s the people from the mid stage to the IPL moment. 

Caroline Gash(30:30): 

The last thing I’ll say on this is early stages, really risky, high risk, high reward. You hear about the high reward. 

Joshua Ross (30:42): 

Think back to when you were 18 to 22, which most of our audiences, and we have some older and younger in the audience as well, what advice would you give them? Not as entrepreneurs, but just going through this whole college thing, this whole life thing, as they start to map that out and figure things out. 

Caroline Gash(30:57): 

I think you already said it, network, network, network, network. Throw yourself into everything. Say yes, you should get pickier later on, but right now it’s about figuring out where your superpower is and network, be vulnerable, try lots of things, stay in touch with people. 

Bill Powell (31:19): 

Yeah, I think that’s spot on. And I think there’s this, we have this major fame and influencer moment around being an entrepreneur. A lot of the entrepreneurs who I see who are getting funded nowadays are between the ages of not to put age on anything, but between 35 and their mid fifties. And I see more and more companies coming to market with founding teams that have significant experience. And by that I mean that when you get out of college, lots of times it’s really about the experience. And some people have this knack, and I’m always amazed. I meet people at all ages. It doesn’t matter if they’re 25 or they’re 37 or whatever or wherever they’re from, but they have this ability to time, weight in triplicate what their experience is in a short period of time. They’ll pack in 15 years worth of life experience in five years. 


And I’m like, oh my God, what was I doing then? And so I think that’s part of it too, is if you really driven and you want to do these things, go to the places where you’re most appreciated and you can gain the best experience from the best teachers. And so sometimes that means putting a different Chevron after du, and I don’t know, maybe you went to Deloitte or maybe you didn’t, maybe went to Ogilvy or wherever you went, or wherever you go, that’s where you’re supposed to be. And focus on who’s teaching you. Because honestly, a school like du, it teaches you to be a lifelong learner. And it’s a very humbling experience to go through Once you realize you got out of school and you learned how to learn, go out and acquire all the knowledge you can. 

Caroline Gash(33:05): 

Two other things I’d say, bill, who you are working with, who you are directly working with, have a much greater impact on your career in your life, then the logo or the guy five degrees up from you. So go find the best, the smartest, the bad ass person that you can work directly with. Be their apprentice, be their mentor, soak everything in, have incredible humility. Use your ignorance to its best. People love to be asked their opinion, right? Ask lots of questions. And the other thing I challenge is challenge your own ideals, challenge your own thoughts. Find diversity in all the ways that that means, because having that challenge will make you a lifelong learner. It’ll make you better rounded, and that’s what’s going to give you conviction to know you’re on the right path. 

Joshua Ross (33:59): 

I love it. That’s great advice. Well, bill and Carolyn, thank you for dropping some knowledge. Thank you for making us a little bit smarter. Hey, thank you all for coming. You are an awesome audience. Everybody have a great evening and make good decisions. 

Joshua Ross (34:23): 

The entrepreneurship at DU podcast was recorded live in the Burwell Center on the University of Denver campus. You can find us on Instagram at du Entrepreneur on Twitter, x at DU entrepreneur, and on Facebook at entrepreneurship at du. This episode was edited, engineered, and produced by Sophia Holt. Entrepreneurship at DU is part of the Daniels College of Business, which has its own podcast. Check out Voices of Experience wherever you get your podcast.