How Do We Solve Big Problems?
Innovate Capital Law (www.innovatecapitallaw.com)
We advise entrepreneurs and investors in capital raising transactions using a tool box of new legal strategies, technology and business practices.
This conversation between the two founders of Innovate Capital Law (Jim Verdonik and Benji Jones) was the basis of an article that first appeared in Triangle Business Journal on February 1, 2019
JIM: Benji, let’s talk about why we stared Innovate Capital Law.
BENJI: There are a lot of reasons. After a long career in a much in bigger law firms, I wanted more meaning in my life. I’m grateful for the valuable things I learned there. We both got great training working in bigger organizations, but for me, I want to be more creative and have more personal impact in my work.
JIM: Can you give me an example?
BENJI: Working with larger law firms gave me the chance to work on sophisticated transactions and to hone my skills. We both learned to help specific clients solve their (often really complex) problems. But at this point in my life I want to use our capital raising skills to help individual entrepreneurs, investors and businesses, but also to improve the capital raising system from the ground up to open it to more people.
BENJI: I started this type of community development work when I wrote North Carolina’s Crowdfunding law. You started a bit earlier than me with your Peace Corps background. You have an interesting perspective that seems to transcend normal right-left political debate.
JIM: I start with the premise that capitalism is good, but that capitalism doesn’t work well without capital. Capitalism without money is like a water balloon fight without water – not fun if you have empty balloons. I think a lot of problems could be solved if we all learn to have more fun. So, I’m all for helping people fill their water balloons and join the fight we call capitalism.
BENJI: That’s about the strangest economic analysis I’ve heard in a long time, but you’re right that increasing the number of businesses that can raise capital benefits individual businesses, their employees and the community.
JIM: For many years we advised clients about how to raise venture capital, but less than 1% of businesses are good candidates for venture capital. I have nothing against the 1%. They are dynamic wonderful people, but new technology, business practices and laws have expanded the number of businesses that can raise capital, when they learn how to use new tools. So, we can now use the lessons we learned to also help some of the other 99%.
BENJI: I’m a local Raleigh girl. My family has long roots here. I get so frustrated when I see that North Carolina entrepreneurs and investors have not been fully capitalizing on the benefits of proven capital raising strategies that are successful in other areas of the country. It’s time for North Carolina to leverage these new tools. Raleigh and Research Triangle are doing great economically, but I want to educate more people about these tools – across our State, so that we can help create broad based prosperity in many sectors of our community.
JIM: Explain what you mean.
BENJI: Capital raising used to be about who you know. Now it’s about using social media and other tools to reach people you don’t know and motivating them to care about what you’re doing. If people don’t care, they won’t invest. Entrepreneurs need more than a set of legal rules and documents. They need hands on coaching about how to use to new tools to engage investors who will care. That’s what produces results.
JIM: Why does caring matter?
BENJI: Caring matters, because caring is the glue we use to create teams and the problems are too big for us to handle without teammates. Jim, you’re a master team builder.
JIM: We began our problem-solving journey with the realization that collaborating across professions is absolutely necessary to solve big problems. Before we started our business, we asked for advice from non-lawyers in the business community. How should we run our business? What are the problems? Will this work? How can we improve? Guess what? No one said they were too busy to help. To be honest, some people expressed surprise that lawyers wanted suggestions from outsiders about how to run our business.
BENJI: Our outreach efforts gave us a major boost toward our goal of assembling multi-discipline teams of financial, legal, media, and software professionals that create success in today’s capital raising campaigns.
JIM: Let’s not forget about investors. Investors are a big part of the team. We’re also working with investors, who need better structures for exiting their investments. More people would invest if there was a clearer path to exiting within a reasonable time. Angels have too much money locked up in older investments. We need to help investors recycle that money. We can’t help entrepreneurs solve problems without helping investors solve their problems. So, we are creating an ecosystem that helps both.
JIM: Benji do you have any last words?
BENJI: We are always looking for new teammates. Let us know if you want to use your skills to solve big problems.
BENJI: Jim, do you have any last words?
JIM: Yes, lets go have some fun – life is too short not to.