Don’t just hire a law firm, build your team…

We could list the several billion dollars of deals we have done.

We could give you the books we have published.

Or the many articles we have written.

But that would only tell you what other law firms tell you.

When you hire us, you are building your team. Teammates really need to know more than a list of professional accomplishments. You need to know the full story.

So here it is:

Our Approach

We promise our clients innovation. It’s a no-holds-barred sport. We help you win by:

  • Asking difficult questions
  • Posing hypotheses
  • Challenging assumptions

Jim Verdonik

Jim is an unusual combination of theoretician and street smarts. Discover the man behind the book and the law:

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Jim Verdonik

JIM VERDONIK

If I had to describe myself in one short sentence it would be: “Jim is an unusual combination of theoretical strategist and street smarts.”

I learned my street smarts driving a taxi cab in New York City and my legal theory from working at a New York law firm with some of the best securities lawyers in the country.

Both have been critically important throughout my career as I have advised entrepreneurs and investors in several billion $$$ of capital-raising and other transactions.

Transactions Experience

Most of my transactions have been private securities offerings and venture capital investments in the range of $1 million to $10 million, but I’ve done much larger public offerings registered with the SEC and a $1+ billion biotech licensing deal. Most of my clients have been in the information technology and biomedical industries.

Check out the list of transactions my partner Benji Jones and I have done. Our transactions list is evidence that we have a lot of experience, but there’s more to being a good adviser that just knowing how to paper deals.

Here are some other things you might want to consider in choosing your trusted adviser and counselor. In addition to driving a taxicab and practicing law, I am a teacher, a journalist and an author. I apply the experience of all these professions to helping clients.

Negotiating and Counseling Experience

In “bet-the-company” situations, advice and negotiating skills are more important than document production skills.

Take a look at my YouTube Channel for examples of how my “checkered past” has enabled me to help clients, including:

  • How my mother taught me how to negotiate
  • How I scared off a US Senator who was going to make a client’s life miserable
  • How I negotiated a $1+ billion license agreement that brought a life-saving biotech drug to market, which served as the basis for the movie “Extraordinary Measures” (starring Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser)
  • How mimicking Clint Eastwood in tough negotiations sometimes gets your clients more than they initially asked for
  • How I negotiated computer games rights to works by best-selling authors like Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton

Thought Leader

I have opinions about a wide range of business technology and legal issues, which I share with the community through a number of media outlets.

  • I write a newspaper column about business, technology, and legal issues for Triangle Business Journal, which has been republished by several dozen newspapers around the country, including in the country’s primary technology centers, including Silicon Valley, Boston, and Austin.
  • I’m an active blogger about capital raising subjects. Before we launched Innovate Capital’s blog, I blogged at Gateway Capital X and Entrepreneur Intersection.
  • I regularly speak and write on Venture Capital, Crowdfunding, Fintech, Blockchain/COINS and related matters at continuing legal education courses and business and economic development groups.
  • I conducted a series of Crowdfunding webinars for Thomson Reuters, which calls itself the “Answer Company.” My partner, Benji Jones, and I are Thomson Reuter’s answer people for Crowdfunding issues.
  • The eight books I’ve written include the following on my Amazon author page:







Ecosystem Developer

The current Research Triangle entrepreneurial community didn’t just happen in a vacuum. A lot of people devoted a lot of time and effort building our ecosystem. I’ve been fortunate to have been able to use my experience to help in that effort, which has included:

  • Council for Entrepreneurial Development’s “Outstanding Service Provider Award”
  • Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s “Outstanding Service to the Business Community Award”
  • Served on advisory boards for two North Carolina Governor’s (both political parties) to guide state efforts to help entrepreneurs raise capital
  • Wrote and helped pass tax credit legislation for angel investments in growth companies
  • WRALTechwire award for helping my partner Benji Jones write and pass North Carolina’s intrastate crowdfunding exemption (NC PACES) to create the legal framework for a statewide, online capital raising ecosystem
  • Directed a worldwide business plan competition for high school students for The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE)

Personal Notes

I have a taste for adventure. Why else represent small companies in big capital markets? It’s easier to make a living representing big banks, but what’s the fun of that?

My first job after college was my first adventure—Peace Corps Volunteer—where I taught school on a coral atoll in Micronesia. The transition from NYC to an isolated island with fewer than 200 people taught me to be flexible and that change is good. On Eauripik, my commute was paddling across the lagoon in my outrigger canoe dressed in a thong. My other adventures have included four months motorcycling and hitchhiking around Europe and an African safari. I’ve always wanted to be a travel writer. If you want to skim some samples, check out a few things I learned on these adventures: hiking the Inca Trail and rafting the Grand Canyon.

Of course, I also learn a lot from my partner Benji, who has an equally eclectic background and skills set.

Education and Legal Honors

Oh yes, I almost forgot. I did go to school and do the things normal lawyers do:

  • J.D., cum laude, Fordham University School of Law and worked on the Fordham Law Review
  • B.A., Fordham University
  • The Best Lawyers in America, 1995 – 2019
  • “Legal Elite,” Business North Carolina, 2007
  • “Super Lawyer,” North Carolina Super Lawyers, 2006 – 2007

Connect with Jim today:

919-616-3225 | JimV@InnovateCapitalLaw.com

Want to Follow Jim?

Benji Jones

Benji is a dynamic force in and outside the office. Discover the woman who brings creative vision to life:

Benji Jones

BENJI JONES

For more than two decades I practiced law in Raleigh before Jim and I took the leap to form Innovate Capital.

My education (SMU, NYU, Columbia Law) and experience have enabled me to negotiate a lot of different transactions for a lot of different companies. Throughout our website, you will see evidence of the success I have had (along with Jim) that I won’t bore you with here in a bio. But look it up. We have what it takes to get results for our clients.
Jim brags about me—and sometimes to the point of embarrassment. But we make a good team. So, I get over it. He says that I like to have fun, solve problems and implement creative solutions. He’s right. I’m all that—and more.

If you are interested in working with the Innovate Capital team (Jim and I), here are three things you should know about me:

First, I am what Jim calls a “high functioning introvert”—and I hide it well. I’m a trained actress, can handle a Shakespearean monologue, teach a class or give a pretty awesome presentation. And, while I prefer a small dinner party with close (or soon to be close) friends over a cocktail party for 200 (unless there is a dance floor and a good band)—I can handle the negotiating table and know how to engage with clients. Operating in this fashion means that I want to first connect with you—to listen and understand your company and the problems you want to solve—then move into collaborating to find the best way to move forward.

Second, I can juggle a lot of balls at once. So, don’t always expect to find me sitting behind a desk when you speak with me. I highly value balancing my legal career with creative outlets and family: I periodically perform with local theater companies, I am the wife to a talented downtown corporate lawyer, and a mom to two teenagers (my son plays competitive soccer and my daughter is an actress). My family keeps me busy with life and love and adventures. Ask me about Alex’s most recent training trip or Audrey’s last gig, and you will be sure to get an earful! I apply the same kind of creative problem solving and innovation to managing these demands as I bring to Innovate Capital. Technology has changed the way we raise capital—and it also has changed the way we practice law and serve our clients. As we utilize these tools and the new ways of capital-raising, it lets us fulfill our commitment to clients as well as balance and embrace our personal goals.

Lastly, like Jim, I’ve led a pretty adventurous life. I’m a Raleigh native. I grew up in that house on Dixie Trail with the tennis court, went to Broughton when it had no football stadium, and remember seeing “Grease” at North Hills when it really only had a movie theatre. But I also left Raleigh right after high school to explore what the world had to offer. I’ve been cast in many roles and lived in many places before returning home in the late 1990s to launch my legal career and build a family. Unlike Jim, I do not have a YouTube channel, but I have some pretty good stories for the dinner table or coffee hour—just connect with me and I’ll share!

Education and Legal Honors

Here are the basics:

  • Columbia University, J.D., Columbia Law Review (Notes editor); Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, 1998
  • New York University, M.A., 1996
  • Southern Methodist University, B.F.A., 1991
  • The Best Lawyers in America, 2018 – 2019
  • “Editor’s Choice” Award, WRAL Techwire Annual Awards, 2017

Connect with Benji today:

919-673-4301 | Benji@InnovateCapitalLaw.com

Want to Follow Benji?

Our process—four innovation principles…

The key ingredients of success in this new fast changing capital raising world is to recognize four basic principles.

  • Innovation is a constant process.
  • No single solution works best in every situation.
  • The best solutions often involve combining several approaches in one campaign or over the course of an extended plan.
  • No one can do it all—collaboration is not an option, it’s a necessity.

At Innovate Capital, our job is to constantly innovate so that we can provide clients with the most current capital-raising tools and business advice. In doing so, we develop new ways to help our clients seize opportunities and overcome challenges to achieve their goals.

What We Do
We help growing businesses create dynamic capital raising strategies by integrating Crowdfunding, ICOs, Digital Assets, Token and other online financings with traditional venture capital, angel, and friend and family financings.

Modern successful capital raises depend on an ecosystem of service providers. By implementing a systems integration approach, we help you identify and recruit key investor, consulting, marketing, platform, escrow and other resources for capital-raising solutions designed for your needs without the high fixed costs and rigid practices of Big Law.

We collaborate with technology providers and communications professionals to deliver a legal and strategic advice that is fueled by the rapidly-changing technological and regulatory developments. Once a plan is in place, we are there to advise you through every step of the implementation process and help you coordinate with other service providers.

Our Six-Step Innovation Process is designed to help us create industry specific capital raising strategies for a wide range of companies and industries, including: software, bio-science, energy, financial institutions, consumer products, franchisors, arts, restaurants, craft breweries, movie studios, coin and cryptocurrency mining, and non-profits.

Our Value-Add
The goals and operating metrics of a fast-growing software company are different from those of a food truck business owner. The goals for your business reflect the priorities and circumstances unique to your company. The customized solutions and strategies we help you develop will differ depending on your specific owner goals, resources, cash flow, margins, operating profitability, growth rates, exit strategies, exit valuations, etc.

Every capital raising campaign is a series of complex decisions. It’s a lot like rafting a wild river. If your guide isn’t in the raft with you to help you adjust to each set of rapids, your raft will tip over. That’s why Innovate Capital doesn’t just give you a paddle and tell you we’ll meet to down river—we’re in your raft getting wet and cold with you.

If you’re an expert who already knows exactly what deal you want to do, whom you will do it with and how you want to do it, then any number of law firms can competently document your deal just as well as Innovate Capital.

At Innovate Capital, we help you figure out HOW to get where you want to go, rather than just implement the deal you’ve negotiated.

Our value-add is in:

  • Assessing your goals and resources
  • Helping you choose the best alternative for your next capital raise
  • Helping you build your capital raising team
  • Helping you develop your long-term capital raising and exit strategies that use the right tools at the right time given your specific resources and goals

Our Six-Step Innovation Process for Capital Raises

Here’s Innovate Capital’s Six-Step Innovation Process that allows us to develop the right plan for you.

Step 1:  Interview you to understand your current resources and goals.

Step 2:  Determine whether you are a good candidate to raise capital now.

Step 3:  Recommend an action plan to improve your ability to raise capital.

Step 4:  Analyze cash flow and dilution outcomes using proprietary tools.

Step 5:  Develop a specific capital raising campaign.

Step 6:  Help you to implement your capital raising campaign, including recommending and coordinating with partners who can add value.

FAQs

What is Innovate Capital's focus?
Our sweet spot is providing businesses raising capital and coaching entrepreneurs on growth strategies.

What is different about Innovate Capital?
We were among the first to recognize that the “old boy” VC network and investment banker intermediaries are no longer the only game in town. Software enhanced Crowdfunding, ICOs, Digital Assets, and Token offerings are creating new financing rules to supplement traditional VC, angel, and friends and family financings. New types of securities are replacing convertible preferred stock. Successful capital raising now is all about knowing when to play by the old rules, when to jump to the new rules and when to combine a bit of both.
After spending careers in big law firms, why did you leave to start Innovate Capital?
We launched Innovate Capital to solve long standing capital raising problems that big law firms are not flexible enough to fix. We are experienced professionals committed to ensuring your business strategies keep up with a rapidly-changing world. Sometimes you need an experienced corporate and securities lawyer—the next day a flexible strategic adviser. We provide both.

New deal structures require new relationships between clients and their advisers. So, we left the high fixed costs and rigid practices of Big Law to offer services and fee structures that make sense for each client and each deal. Tell us your story and we’ll create a solution specifically tailored to your needs and financial resources.

Our only firm policy is to be honest and ethical. Beyond that, clients will never hear us say: “we can’t do that because it’s against firm policy.” We do what makes sense and what makes sense changes with the circumstances. We are committed to staying flexible to meet needs of our clients in light of the changes in the marketplace. Because the space is rapidly changing, we are constantly investing time in developing new strategies.

Is Innovate Capital providing investment banking services?
Innovate Capital Law is a service mark for legal services performed by Verdonik & Jones, PLLC.

We are securities lawyers, not investment bankers or broker-dealers. We will help you explain your business and financing plan to investors, but we do not “sell your deal” and we do not charge sales commissions (even when we happen to introduce people and they decide to work together).

We are lawyers, but we think we think of ourselves as coaches and advisors who happen to be lawyers. We offer on average thirty years of experience helping companies and investors navigate the business, finance and regulatory hurdles involved in raising capital and we can instruct your social media and PR people about the rules they must follow to sell your deal.

Software, the Internet and social media are replacing or supplementing traditional investment bankers and broker-dealers in many capital raising transactions. Blockchain-based Smart Contracts are facilitating both capital raising transactions and post transaction transfers of securities from one investor to another. How you use these tools to communicate with investors and affect transactions is governed by securities laws. Our primary focus is on such tech-facilitated transactions.

We collaborate with technology providers and communications professionals to deliver a service that in some ways remind people of investment banking—but is actually a new tech and legal-facilitated type of capital raising service.

How big is Innovate Capital?
The size of law firms is traditionally measured by the number of lawyers the firm employs as partners or “associates.” By that measure, Innovate Capital is small and will always remain small.

We intend to remain small by leveraging technology and contracting for services from seasoned lawyers, paralegals and consultants on an as-needed basis. These contractors are supervised by lawyers who on average have thirty years of experience in capital raising transactions.

Why do you want Innovate Capital to remain small?
We represent innovative clients. We think big is often a barrier to innovation.

Our clients want advisers who are dedicated to innovation. Advisers who don’t live and breathe innovation are like a one-ton anchor tied to a speedboat. It slows you down whether it’s in the water or sitting on deck.

Small provides us with an advantage in a fast-changing world. It helps us maintain our flexibility—we don’t have to deal with committees to implement the new solutions our clients need. We also don’t have to worry about whether using new financing strategies will threaten the business relationships that other lawyers have with more traditional financial institutions.

We believe small, focused and flexible are competitive advantages in a rapidly changing world.

How do you screen contractors to ensure quality?
First, there is a large pool of talented professionals who want greater flexibility than many traditional law firms or in-house legal counsel offer. Therefore, we are in a buyer’s market and can choose from among many highly qualified contractors.

We do that with traditional interviews and recommendations from people we have worked with in the past. Unless the project involves foreign laws, we only use U.S.-based contractors.

Second, we don’t try to be all things to all people. We focus on transactions that our elite team has deep experience in. That helps us identify which contractors have pertinent experience.

Contractor work product is always reviewed by our experienced team of supervising attorneys to ensure the end work product meets our quality standards.

What are your hourly billing rates?
When we started Innovate Capital, we seriously thought about totally eliminating hourly billing rates from our fee structures. However, because many clients are accustomed to hourly rates, we decided to offer fixed hourly rates as one of many fee structures clients can choose, but we don’t encourage or require clients to choose fixed hourly rates. We prefer to stay flexible to meet the needs of our clients.

Learn more about our innovative fee options. We are committed to making fees work with clients who we believe in.

How do you choose the fee structure for each client?
Generally, clients choose the fee structure they want, subject to meeting certain criteria. For example, we work on a deferred fee basis only for clients who have achieved milestones or who have made commitments to us about how they will conduct a project. Often, this involves a process of getting to know the client on other projects. We also limit the number of deferred fee projects we are handling at any point in time. For large fixed fee projects, we and the client must agree on the scope of work and changes that would be outside the fixed fee.

Our goal is to create relationships with clients where what is best for clients is best for us. That often requires us to do things that people don’t expect law firms to do, including referring work to other law firms. We are committed to making fees work with clients who we believe in.

Why do you maintain a laser-focus on what you do and refer work to other law firms?
We believe in maximizing the time we spend doing what we do best. Just because we have a law license that permits us to do a wide range of things doesn’t mean we are the best people to do it. Therefore, we would no more draft a will or trust or close a real estate purchase than we would audit a client’s financial statements.

It took decades to build our base of experience. Our strategy is to keep building it and then leverage it in ways that create value for our clients.

That means we are always dedicated to finding the right people both inside and outside our organization.

How do you choose partnering law firms?
Many of the boutique firms in our referral network are run by lawyers we have worked with at big law firms. We know firsthand the quality of work they delivered for clients.

In other cases, it’s a matter of reputation or working hand in hand to help a client. When we make referrals to other lawyers, we apply the same standards we apply to referrals to accountants and other consultants.

Do other law firms pay you for referrals?
No. We have a strict policy against accepting payment for referrals. While that practice is legally permitted, it does not satisfy our standards for putting client service first. Our standard for referrals is that the advisers we refer to will provide value to our clients.

We have extensive experience to build on. Talk with us about our prior transactions and how we can put our knowledge to work for you.