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Happy Friday letter getters, 

I've been thinking a lot this week about support. Our culture feeds us staged and polished snapshots into someone else's life and business. Everything looks like an overnight success, when we know better. I can barely keep up with the recent IPOs because I've never heard of some of them. I totally missed the privacy dangers of FaceApp because I didn't know about it until it went viral. 

On the flip side, I've talked to founders who often feel lonely or unattached because they have a different definition of success than their peers. They are also looking for support. Perhaps they feel doubt creeping into their business. Maybe they feel alienated or overwhelmed. Creating more supportive places to present ideas and share thoughts is part of the reason I keep working on Southern/alpha, the Slack channel (that you---yes you are invited to join today) and this letter. 

Of course there are tons of resources available for entrepreneurs. To me, signs of a supportive local community include some kind of incubator or accelerator, coding schools, community centers, co-working spaces, angel groups, active VC groups, mentors, and lots of on and offline places where entrepreneurs can pitch and practice. 

Today's letter highlights an example of support- an accelerator in Nashville called Jumpstart Foundry. I've known the founders of JSF since moving here, and have reported on several companies in their portfolio. JSF is one of many resources where founders can work on customer feedback and product market fit with the benefit of guidance from advisers and mentors. 
 

Eller Mallchok, Investor and Managing Director, Jumpstart Foundry

 

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Eller Mallchok has been building and refining Jumpstart Foundry's unique investment model with co-founder and CEO Vic Gatto for over four years. She translated her science training into designing, testing, and validating new processes when she approaches potential investments. She's looking for industries that haven't been updated in years. She joined Jumpstart Foundry as it transitioned into a healthcare-only venture fund, and designed a new venture model with the team that completely revamped the processes of similar, but dated venture strategy. With 78+ companies in the JSF healthcare portfolio, and a recent very successful exit, she is still building and learning about VC each day. Meet your five minute mentor, Eller Mallchok. 
I wish that we, as a society, could completely destigmatize mental health issues. We have come so far in the past couple of years and there are more and more resources and tools for those that suffer from mental health disorders, but when it comes down to it we need to make those resources available and *well-known* throughout our society. It's getting better, but I think we have a lot of work and research to do to make significant change.
 
All of the jargon and lingo surrounding the VC industry is something that comes with experience and time (honestly, the same is true for the healthcare industry). VCs try to make the work we do sound exclusive and difficult to understand by using various terms that all mean the same thing. From the outside, it can seem pretty confusing, when in reality it's not. It's like learning a new language, anyone can do it, it just takes time to listen and hear the terms used over and over again to decipher their true meaning. Once you learn it, you realize that a lot of VCs just use the jargon to prop up what they're doing - making it seem more complex than it really is. Which is dangerous for entrepreneurs, so I always entrepreneurs to read as many different books and talk to as many different VCs before they start the fundraising process. They'll quickly learn that there are many ways to say the same thing -- and they need to know all of them if they don't want to feel overwhelmed or uninformed.
 
Every morning I take a few minute to visualize what my day will look like and then write it down. I pulled this practice from something my mom taught me growing up. She would tell me "Eller, if you can visualize and mentally see an image of yourself being successful and happy, then it will happen". So far, it's worked!
 

Raising venture is not a marker of success. Yes, I am a VC and I believe in our model and I believe that our participation in early stage companies can lead to success, but I also believe that it is not for everyone. If you can build a business without raising a single penny from outside investors, do it. Unfortunately, shows like Shark Tank have led everyone to believe that they need to raise money from Angels or VCs in order to build a successful business, but that's just not the case. Once you bring on an Angel or VC firm, you are no longer the sole owner of your company and you will be wed to that investor for better or for worse. Be thoughtful about who you want to be married to. If an angel or VC firm isn't going to add value to the relationship or help you close deals then is the money and shares your giving up really worth it? Make sure your investors are aligned with you and can really, truly add value beyond just cutting a check.
 

1. Be kind. Be kind. Be kind. This is not to be confused with being a push-over. Be kind to everyone you come across -- you don't know what's is going on in their life and life is just too short to be an asshole.

2. Keep in touch. Always remember and thank the people that got you where you are today and always stay in touch with them. If they've helped you once, they'll probably help you again....if you keep in touch.
 

Eller Mallchok is the Managing Director at Jumpstart Foundry, a seed stage innovation fund with one goal: to make something better. 

Recent Achievements: 

When our portfolio company, Sightbox, sold to J&J Vision. Sightbox was in our 2016 Portfolio - the first portfolio I had a hand in crafting. When I initially presented Sightbox to our Selection Committee, I received a lot of push back from investors. But I knew that the founder and the company had serious potential and held my position, urging them to approve the deal. We invested and they exited just a short 18 months later...my first exit and likely a career high. It ended up being a huge win for our fund, our investors, and for me. Affirming that my instinct and research was right.

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LaunchLetter is a weekday newsletter from Southern/alpha, a website that features collections of stories and resources for underestimated startup communities. 

LaunchLetter is for founders getting started on an idea or business. Our goal is to share the perspective, habits and positive messages of more experienced founders and CEOs. We hope you find it relatable and delightful as you get focused for the day on your own goals. Enjoy the ride.


 
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Special thank you to Jayme Hoffman for the idea.
LaunchLetter is a newsletter from Southern/alpha, a brand under Corelley Ventures.

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