Networking hard or hardly networking?

By Jason Yeh
July 27, 2021
Listen on Apple Podcasts

Episode Summary

Zach Bruhnke, co-founder and CEO of HMBradley, had a shot at startup glory with his first fintech company Spout. After investor skepticism caused him to throw in the towel, he vowed not to have his own convictions be swayed in future companies. Zach shares how a crazy commitment to the vision with HMBradley as well as a natural approach to building relationships led to both company and fundraising success.

Remember to grab the insights pack on this episode at

Topics Discussed

  • Zach talks about his earliest memories of being an entrepreneur [2:34]
  • Zach details the first venture that he worked on and his attempts at fundraising [5:26]
  • Zach's advice for founders [11:55]
  • Spout's exit options [15:47]
  • Zach recounts the moment that he got his first term sheet for HMBradley[32:01]
  • HMBradley's "accidental" Series A [34:23]
  • Jason breaks down the episode and discussion concepts with show producer, Olivia Reingold [45:26]

Resources Mentioned

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Zach Bruhnke
Jason Yeh (host)
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Networking hard or hardly networking?

Zach Bruhnke, co-founder and CEO of HMBradley, had a shot at startup glory with his first fintech company Spout. After investor skepticism caused him to throw in the towel, he vowed not to have his own convictions be swayed in future companies. Zach shares how a crazy commitment to the vision with HMBradley as well as a natural approach to building relationships led to both company and fundraising success.

Episode Transcript

Zach: [00:00:00] We were probably 45 minutes in the first conversation. He said, "I have a question for you. When are you going to quit? And I said "When I go completely broke." And, he was like, "All right, you're insane. I love it."

Jason: [00:00:21] This is Funded- a show where founders who raised millions in venture capital share the gritty side of what it actually took to get that money in the bank. I'm Jason Yeh. Not too long ago, I was trying to get my ideas funded. And back in the day, I was a VC listening to founders pitch me for money. What goes into making deals in the business world happen?

If you answered speed, quality and price, you wouldn't be wrong, but you would have missed a crucial element. Relationships. I learned that during one of my first jobs out of college, leading a product team for I realized that we weren't partnering with companies that offered the best price or that had the most innovative technology.

But instead with people that my bosses knew from before. People they had relationships with and trusted. Trust in relationships also runs the world of venture capital. It's a big reason why investors take intros, meetings, get scheduled term sheets, get written and you get funded. But how does one create great relationships?

There are some who run it like a job with a target number of catch-up emails to send and coffees to schedule every week. That's not Zach Bruhnke, even though Zach is one of the best connected founders in the industry. Relationship-building is less of a calculated strategy for him. When he meets someone, he doesn't stay in touch because of why they'll be useful.

Shockingly, he stays in touch and helps people just because he likes them. That's not a strategy, more of a mindset, but the way it's paid off feels like he's been playing a multi-year game of 3D relationship chess. Listen for how the pieces fall together on his rollercoaster path to raising multiple rounds of capital for HMBradley, a new banking platform, Zach co-founded around a simple idea.

Let's reward the customers who save the most money. The more an HMBradley customer saves, the more interest they make on their savings account. As a founder, Zach learned right away that FinTech was the space for him. But it turns out as a kid, he was more of a food and Bev guy.

Zach: [00:02:34] I started taking the cokes out of my fridge in daycare. And so in those, the kids in daycare with me, you know, when I was probably like six or seven, so it probably goes back that far for me, you know, it was always a little bit of hustle there. So when you talk about like, you know what I was like as a kid, I mean, my mom always jokes that I was the third kid, you know?

And I think when you're the baby, you kind of just get like thrown into the world, like there's the thing, you know, that you're the first kid, they like the drop the pacifier and they boil it and they like, you know, give you a brand new one. And I liked the second kid. They're like, wipe it off.

And the jeans and the third kid, they're like, ah, dirt doesn't hurt him. You know? And that's like, I read something a while back that said that more entrepreneurs are the youngest child and actually makes a ton of sense because you have so much to fend for yourself. Like, it's just like you, you're going to either like be heard or you're just going to disappear.

I think a lot of that probably comes out my personality, you know, even now my brothers. No, we're very different. My sister was like loud and wild. My brother was like super quiet and really nice. And I was like the class clown, you know? And you're like, yeah, there's these together. And it sorta makes sense.

I think that's kind of probably what the pieces of my personality that come out for a long time or just that grittiness, you know, like the, the willingness to kind of like do whatever, you know, and whether it was like playing baseball or playing golf growing up, or whether it was like, I sold a bunch of golf clubs all through high school, and made like a pretty decent, like normal person salary, basically hocking  golf clubs on eBay and the early two thousands.

So yeah, I mean, it's, it's, I think all of, sort of what. Now that I do is kind of been birthed from childhood and beyond and kind of the way that I think about everything. 

Jason: [00:04:16] No, that makes a lot of sense. I think before we start talking about how you've applied those sort of early childhood characteristics to what eventually was your fundraising journey around

HMBradley. I wonder if you can talk us a little bit through maybe your first experiences with fundraising and in terms of like your first exposure to that world. 

Zach: [00:04:37] Yeah, for sure. So, you know, I, I was part of a company that went through YC in the winter of 2012, and I actually stepped out of most of that fundraising before it really got started.

So I, I met the handful of investors, in the very beginning. Co-founder dispute and ended up kind of walking away early. So didn't have as much exposure to it. That was actually my second company. That was my first company was not venture backed. I did not know what venture backing was. As you can imagine, growing up in Louisiana, that's not really a thing.

You know, there's not too many venture-backed founders running around 

Jason: [00:05:10] Shreveport. 

Yeah. I would say like Silicon Bayou, that's not, that's not something. 

Zach: [00:05:16] They call it then do they really? 

Jason: [00:05:17] I literally just did it up off the top of my head. 

Zach: [00:05:20] Amazing. For naming things. 

Jason: [00:05:23] But back in the day it didn't? 

Zach: [00:05:25] Yeah. No, just not a thing.

Yeah. In fact, everyone that's involved in it now I like new growing up because they wanted to see something like that happen. But yeah, I mean, so when, my last company before HMBradley was a company called Spout and I usually tell people that spout was a financial data API. So it was a Plaid competitor that did not work out nearly as well as Plaid.

So I'm what I jokingly call a silver metal founder. I founded a company in a space that was frankly, doing very well and probably at some point, even pretty far ahead of Plaid, and just could not raise money for it. People thought that we were insane. I walked into some like really interesting fundraising conversations.

One of them like. It was like a blue chip, early stage VC. I walked into his office and the first thing he said to me is, I just want you to know I passed on Plaid and that's how it that's when we began the conversation. And I was like, okay. And then I, actually, my response was that's great. I would've passed on Plaid too.

And that like, kind of woke him up. And then we started talking and he spent probably 30 minutes of a 45 minute meeting trying to convince me to build mint 2.0. So he could invest in that instead.

Jason: [00:06:32] So actually want to pause you here, because this is super interesting given that that was probably your first exposure to real fundraising.

And tell me a little bit about like, deciding to go to start fundraising for spout. And did you have an idea of what it would be, or did you feel like this is a sales process? I'm just going to run it like a sales process. I kind of knew. 

Zach: [00:06:54] Yeah. That goes back to the scrappiness in me, probably like we did sort of the opposite.

Like I actually built a product that was working in live before we ever even thought about raising money. Crazy. In fact, when we took the first money, it was from Mucker and we took like $20K from them. And I had already, I was already built into like 12 banks at that point. And ironically, I was actually building like a Mint 2.0 at the time.

And we ended up pivoting because as I showed people, they kept saying like, how are you getting this data? Like, how do you get this level of data? And that was sort of my background. Being able to pull data out of crazy places. So my first currency discovery, which was a fancy way of saying that we scan paper OCR, didn't rip Techstars had a PDFs.

I was really good at those sorts of things. And I learned that LFX standard really well, but I think that was, that was sort of, my mantra was like, look, I I'm just like hungry and want to do well. And so the best way to do this is just shut up and build, and so that's what we did.

And then frankly, I think mucker kind of pushed me to go out and do some fundraising. Cause they were like we had, at that point we had more MRR than we had capital raised. So it was actually a real business. And in fact, like in some ways that was the, the, the real mistake there was trying to like force something that just wasn't happening in the market and letting my morale get sort of killed by it.

Jason: [00:08:13] Morale is a funny thing, especially as it, as it applies to fundraising. So, okay. So you, you, you really weren't thinking about fundraising, but you started going out and. You said it was unsuccessful, at least, the fundraising component of that with hindsight 20/20. And thinking about that, do you think it was just wrong place, wrong time?

Now that you know what you know around fundraising, do you think things would have been different if you applied a different mindset? 

Zach: [00:08:40] Probably, I mean, I think the thing that has always been in the back of my mind since then is really that like, sure it was wrong place, wrong time in some ways, but honestly, like we could have kept going.

We could have kept it,running other ways, like we were already producing revenue. It was really letting ourselves kind of like get caught up in the belief that maybe these people were right. I believed in it to my core and I kind of let myself be convinced that maybe I was just wrong.

And I think that was actually the biggest mistake in it. It wasn't the timing. It wasn't anything else. I mean, the timing was bad, right? Yodlee was 15 years old. It hadn't gone public yet. People hated that business, but we weren't building Yodlee and frankly, we weren't building Plaid. In fact, like I, I beg Zach Perrett after we sold to like, just build this, like I wanted to build OAuth for finance and I had this like vision of

I want to eventually like pull into a parking garage and it just charges my Amex because it's saved to my car. Right. Like kind of ping the Mac address, that, that sort of thing. And like, that was kind of where my head was going. As far as like, where that could really take you and way outside of just like connecting your bank account.

And I still think that vision was right and I still really want that product. And so like, ultimately it was really not having enough conviction in my own beliefs. Honestly it paid dividends here because at HMBradley, like most people, I probably, I don't know, 95% of people would have quit before we got our seed round done.

Right. Our seed round was a miserable, 18-month fiasco where like you had to convince a bunch of people that like, no, we promise people really don't like their banks. I always joke that investors are a lot of rich white guys, and it's really hard to convince a rich white guy that banking's not good.

Jason: [00:10:23] Let's talk about this idea of getting pushed off your mark, like you believed it to your core. But first I'm talking to investors, people that represent millions and millions of dollars, people that may, might have backed big companies. Let's talk about the feedback that you got from, from investors and how you think about that today.

Zach: [00:10:44] Yeah. I mean, the thing that most people probably realize, but maybe don't know how to compartmentalize or really internalize when they're talking to investors, is that almost none of these investors are subject matter experts in what you do, like they might've backed a company in a similar space, but like, even then it doesn't mean they know truly, like, I mean, the, you know, I always tell founders now that an investor has a portfolio of 80, you are a portfolio of one, you have one job and you better know damn well your market better than they do.

And so anyone understanding your market or even if they understand it deeply, it doesn't mean that they're right. If they don't believe the same thing that you believe. And also, I think so much of it is really about like, Sticking to like, not, not stubbornly what you believe, but at least the, the core fundamentals of what you believe in, why you got there.

Because ultimately that probably came out of a lot of like passion and knowledge and understanding. Now, if you did, like you mentioned, like, just have an idea and kind of threw it out there to see someone will give you some money then like, yeah, that, that may not be the thing, but if you truly like know a market and you believe in something and you understand why it can work.

I mean, my biggest piece of advice to founders is like, look, just, don't worry about what anybody else says. Worry about what you know, what you can prove, what data that you can use and drive off of that. Because even the smartest people in the world have really terrible ideas. I always joke that like when, when I went through YC, I was like enamored by having met PG.

And I sat next to Robert Morris in my interview the first time. And I was like, scared to death. Like he was reading my code. I was like, oh my God, idiot. You know? And then. When I would go to office hours with PG, I realized something like somewhere along the way, which is like PG, who was like a really smart six year old, right?

Like he had like 90 ideas and every meaning. And you had to figure out which like 87 of those actually made sense and like, or sorry, which three of those actually made sense that you could throw out the other 87, because like, it was just like rapid fire, like, oh, what about this? What about that? And I think the thing that you realize later when you kind of have the hindsight to kind of look back and go, oh, actually like a lot of that was terrible advice was that it's just a smart person riffing on something they don't fully grok.

And so like, some of those ideas might be wonderful and some of those ideas might be absolutely horrible. And as a founder, it's your, your job to kind of pick out those things. So it doesn't mean you can't glean it inside from a VC, like you certainly can, but you're probably not going to like crack the nut of your company based on something a VC told you.

Jason: [00:13:20] Yeah. And, and, and just so we can eliminate some of this for maybe our non insider listeners PG is Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator modern day philosopher. If you follow him on Twitter with tons of great advice, but I, I think like is such a great quote that coming from a area of expertise an investor, even an incredible investor that seen gigantic wins like Paul Graham or PG the things that they tell you can sound like a smart six year old that is just throwing out everything they see.

And I think like that comes with experience to, to understand the value of what you hear from a VC, but also the sort of confidence in what you know, to not get pushed off your mark, because there was a lot intelligence. And there is a lot to be learned from what you hear from a venture capitalists, but there's also a lot of distraction, right?

There is a certain value, I think, in VC seeing thousands of deals a year and being able to say like this ten percent made it to the next level, and this is kind of what they look like. And so they will be pushing pattern, recognized ideas your way. But I think that's the extent of it, right? Like you have to be great at taking in information.

Processing it through your own filter and then moving on and then maintaining that, that 

Zach: [00:14:40] confidence. Right? 

In fact, I would say like our investors, like the best thing about them is that they've seen so many deals. They know what metrics are going to make other people, move. Like they know what to tell us, like, Hey, optimize for these things.

Because like, this is going to matter at the fundraise, even if, even if it's not the number one thing to you, you've got to make sure that you've got something to show for that. Because we frankly wouldn't think about that. Right. I would, I, if I had it my way, I would like 100% focus on like strictly the customer, the end experience.

And, and I actually, that's still right most of the time and that's probably 98% of what we do, but there is like a 2% of like, Hey, what matters in the rest of the market? And how do we make sure that like we've got numbers that, that are going to level up there. So when someone is pattern matching and doing pattern recognition, we can actually hit those marks.

Jason: [00:15:25] Yup. Let's tie the two experiences, right? Yeah. So sprout, doesn't make it rip, but you end up having another idea, right? Like it, it, it takes you a little bit of time. Can you bridge us to HMBradley and where you started 

Zach: [00:15:39] there? Yeah. So let's see spout, basically what happened there was, I ended up with two sort of soft landing options.

One was to sell to a guy named max Levchin at a company called affirm that some of you have probably heard of, and the other was to sell to this like, sort of unheard of investment bank called Cyndex, which maybe some of you have heard of. And I spent a lot of time with max and like, max was for me, like a hero, right?

He's this like famous computer programmer, like invented the captcha. Like, I mean, how many people can say that. Right. And we spent a lot of time together and I remember the first meeting I met with him. I actually originally met with Jeff who was Affirm's original CTO, one of the co-founders. And I was telling Jeff what I'd built at spout.

And Jeff was like, hold on. I got to bring somebody in. Comes in. And he brings max and max starts asking me questions and I started giving him the answers and he gets up and starts whiteboarding. And I was like, wait a minute, am I teaching you something? And he was like, yeah, this is great. Keep going. And it was like, really funny.

You're like, from that moment forward, I was like, oh wow, okay. Like, I, I, I can teach smart people, things too. He's not a mythical creature. Like he's just a human. And, it ended up building a really good rapport between him and I. And when we were kind of going through the process, he wanted to basically build plat inside of a firm at the time.

And he was like, look, I need, I need you to come do this because you can do it. Like you have the ability and Yodlee sucks. And Plaid still really small. Like we can, we can crush this thing and, you know, stupidly you're I, you know, I don't know. I still, I don't have any regrets around this. Ironically, I would've, I would've made a lot more money, but I don't have any regrets around it.

I spent a lot of time with max and I would always ask. Kind of the question over and over again. Like how are you, how are you going to make money in this business? Like, what's this going to look like? And then my number one concern was what are you going to do when we come out of quantitative easing. Tthis was 2013, 2014.

We're, we're printing a lot of money, but what if we stop? And the cost of capital rises, how do you compete against the bank? And, his answer was sort of like, ah, you know, it's okay, I'm really good at raising money. And I sort of heard like, ah, you're really good at deluding me.

I don't, I don't think I'm into that. And like I said, hindsight's 2020, obviously that ended up being like a pretty solid company. They just IPO they're worth billions of dollars now, but I had conviction in that. And, so I did, you know, the lived everyone's dream job and I, I sold to a little boutique investment bank and I became the CTO of an investment bank.

Yeah, which was an interesting path. But I did it for a very specific reason, which is, I felt like everyone, I knew that worked at affirm or were thinking about it. They sort of just wanted max to back their next company. Like that was their goal. It was like, oh yeah, one day I was sort of company held back it and that's probably a good way to go.

And I'm sure it worked for a lot of them, but for me it was like, how do I learn the most? How do I understand the most of what I need to know? And our board at Cyndx was actually incredibly interesting. So we had Artie Minson who at the time was the CEO of time Warner and became the COO of WeWork. Chuck Davis, who was the CEO of Fandango, at one time sold that company and was just like a team of heavy hitters that had been around the block.

And I was, I think, I guess I was 26 at the time, 27. I don't even, yeah, something like that. I was in my mid twenties. Right. And I basically told my mom, I was like, look, I. I think like I'm gonna learn more from this group of guys that are like been there and done that and kind of been around the block. And so I kind of took it as this opportunity to like sit in a boardroom full of people that I had no business sitting in a boardroom with and learn.

And honestly, that's, that's basically what I spent four and a half, five years doing. I was just soaking in the knowledge and trying to listen twice as much as I talk, so to speak and then really kind of dug in on a whole lot of things. And I think towards the end of my time, I was really happy.

We built some really cool tools at Cyndx. We, I mean, the, the company's still going and growing. And basically what we did was we, we identified companies that should raise money based on their current metrics. And I think as we were sitting in doing that, I realized a couple of things. One was that like, I was really good at going from zero to one.

And I knew that. Two, is that I had a chip on my shoulder because I had watched Plaid in that time go from like a fledgling $3.2 million seed round to a multi-billion dollar company. Yeah. And I knew that I had them beat, like I knew in my heart of hearts that like, if I had to just stuck at it, I would have been, we would have spout would have been the Plaid of the space.

Yeah. And that would hurt. And so, we w it's at Cyndx, we raised $10 million at like a nine figure valuation, right. About the time I was about to leave. And as part of that, I kind of realized that like we had different visions, like, you know, Jim really wanted to build the world's best investment bank that use data really well and like use it to run deals more efficiently.

And I really wanted to build a software company and those are two very different things. And so we left on very good terms. 

Jason: [00:20:34] Funny, because let's talk about what a neobank is I'm very curious how that desire transition, but yeah, like you decide to go and see an opportunity and the new bank space, how did you reconcile those things?

And how did that fundraise that thought come to mind. 

Zach: [00:20:52] Yeah, well, it's funny. It's like when I originally left Cyndx my, my goal was to go into insurance. If you know me, you know that I love two things dearly, which is insurance and finance. 

Jason: [00:21:05] You sound like a really exciting guy, Zach. 

Zach: [00:21:10] Yeah, no, I like, I it's funny.

Those businesses are so great though. I, 

Jason: [00:21:14] I actually totally agree. 

Zach: [00:21:16] I will say they are the two most interesting businesses in the world, because even think about it in banking, I pay you a small amount of money to use your money. Yeah. And insurance, like, you actually pay me some amount of money to use your money.

And both of those models, it's fundamentally wonderful. Right? Like, and begging the model is like really simple. It's like, look, you give me $10. I promise you 11. I lend that $10 to someone else. And they promised me 12, like, you get to keep the extra dollar. That's a huge win. Right. And I think overall that was something that like, just logically made sense, but we started out, I was digging into finance and I was digging into to insurance.

And ironically, when I went and chatted with max originally, it was about the insurance idea and he really liked it. And yeah. And I basically, I wasn't sure yet, but he's like, look, you're going to do something in FinTech. Just like, come do it at HVF, which is Max's kind of incubator. And so I sort of made the decision to, rather than sit on my couch and work on this, I would go to HCF and I'd work on it.

And so I spent some time there as an EIR. So that that's kind of where it started. And then honestly, the funny part of the reason HMBradley exists is because early on in that process, we were at a mortgage servicer and they were telling us about the technology they'd built. And we were really there to kind of tell them, was there any other technology, like, can we squeeze another penny out of this thing?

So we're kind of walking through it and it was the "technology expert" there. And so they're kind of trying to impress me with the stuff. And at some point, the CEO goes, oh Zach, you're not going to believe this. We've got this piece of software that any time a loan is non-performing meaning someone's not paying their mortgage.

And the house goes to the MLS. We immediately get a notification. And we find, we call the real estate agent. We find the borrower and I kind of chuckled. And I said, oh, skip tracing. Nice. You knew that 

from before easy. Exactly. Yeah. And, and I looked up and I said, I have a question. I said, yeah. And I said, do you also do that?

When the loan is performing and every one of the rooms were looked at me and I was a ghost. And finally somebody said, Why would we do that? And I said, because they're paying their mortgage and they're going to buy another house. And to me, that was just blatantly obvious. But what I realized that day and what Dimitri and I went and talked about that night was that the outside world that seems obvious and to the normal human, that seems obvious.

But to the finance industry, they've never spent any time building software for the right customer. They spent all their time thinking about the wrong customer, which is why your checks have a hold on them for five days. Sometimes randomly, you know, like I just sold a house. I had another home in Louisiana and I was back home and I sold it and I like, wouldn't put the check in the bank.

And they told me it was gonna have a five day. Hold on. I was like, I don't care. But like what? It didn't, it ended up like being released. It was fine, but it's like that kind of thing. If those policies were built for like the handful of customers, that actually cause a problem. But what a bank will do is just like inconvenience 95% of their customers who are never going to be a problem.

And I think we realized that was so prevalent in banking that it just like, that was the opportunity for HMBradley. It wasn't. Building a better mobile app. They're not bad. I don't like walk around, hating them. What's bad is the experience I have to go through and like getting a new mortgage.

Jason: [00:24:25] Step 1 of starting a starting a venture backed business, identifying a real problem. 

Step 2, figuring out how to fundraise off of that. When we come back, Zach deeply understood problems with banks, but learned that when you're an innovator, most VCs just 

won't get it.

I spend most of my days one-on-one with entrepreneurs, helping them understand strategies that make a difference in fundraising. Some things vary from founder to founder because not everyone's story is the same. One thing I'm super consistent about no matter who the founder, is making sure they send their decks and materials using a document-sharing tool.

And for that, I always recommend DocSend. DocSend lets you know what's happening with your deck after you send it, along with real-time analytics and notification. Did the VCs actually open it? What slides did they spend the most time on? And if you think it got shared with the wrong people, or maybe you made a mistake and sent it too quickly, DocSend lets you control access

and Nick updates the content, even after sending. Sign up for a free two week trial at that's D O C S E N Okay. Back to the show.

Getting a revolutionary idea off the ground means converting some of the old guard. You know, that type they're the same people who probably said, who would ever choose a stranger's house over a hotel, or how could a digital currency ever be mainstream? Shaking up an industry means being compared to the way an industry is now.

And sometimes you're going to get people who are deeply entrenched in the status quo and will try to tell you it's impossible to change as you're about to hear Zach met a few of those people along the way, which made the whole fundraising thing a whole lot harder.

Zach: [00:26:50] No, actually, that was part of the problem from the beginning. Right? It's like thinking like, oh, well, like Max Levchin is my first investor. Like I'm going to easily raise money. And now I'm doing a bank that's even more no-brainer and max actually really hated the idea. Like tried to talk me out of it.

And he's like, don't do this. Like, you're going to get valued, like a bank. Like you don't want to do that. And I was just too far down the rabbit hole. And that, that goes back to being too stubborn. Right? Like that's had spout not happened. He would probably would have talked me out ofHMBradley 

Jason: [00:27:19] But you had that experience where like this is not happening to me again.

Zach: [00:27:22] Yeah, no, it was just like, no, I like, I absolutely believe in it. And so, yeah, like I think that was the interesting part was like now my first investor sort of like, oh, I don't know if this is a good idea.  I'll support you,  I'm still going to give you the money. I told you, I would give you, but like, probably not any more than that.

And, and that created for like a super interesting dynamic where now we're like trying to raise kind of a lot of capital originally, we're going to raise like 6 million right out the gate, 6 million right out of the gates. That was the goal. Right. And, and that's probably why the fundraisers are so miserable because like, everyone was like, I can't give you 6 million though.

You don't have anything, like, are you out of your mind? We flapped around for a really long time. And then we eventually just said, you know what? Like give us half that, like, we'll figure it out. Like we're scrappy. Yeah. And so we ended up saying, okay, we're going to raise 3 million. Like if we get a 3 million, we'll like, get this thing done.

And that was probably 14 months or so into the fundraising. We paid ourselves a salary and over nine months, and I remember actually going to Dimitria and Jermaine and being like, Hey guys, like we can't pay ourselves anymore. And my attitude has always sort of been like, If you need a job help you find a job.

I went to Jermaine who I've worked with for like a decade now. And he basically said like, you'll figure it out. I'm not worried about it. 

Jason: [00:28:37] I mean, by the way, that story probably went into raising money, right? Like that, that sort of cohesion among, amongst the co-founding team is incredible to hear.

But when you think about how you launched the $6 million raise, like post-mortem style, what do you think you did wrong? 

Zach: [00:28:54] I think it was definitely aggressive on the number. I think actually the biggest piece of it though, was the storytelling part. We were so caught up in like how banks work.

Like I was like explaining like what Nim was and all of these things. And like, no one cares. They don't care what Nim is. Like, they don't want to be educated on how to run a bank. They want to know why you can build a billion plus dollar company. And I had probably completely lost sight of that. And it was just like so focused on like, these are huge businesses and I thought it was.

I thought it should have been obvious to a VC that look, just look at the, like the top four banks in the US they're they're all worth over a hundred billion dollars. Like clearly there's gonna be a big business. That's not obvious. You have to like paint the picture very clearly. 

Jason: [00:29:35] So like, abstract the complexity and like spoonfeed them of really amazing.

So, I mean, it kind of goes back to what we started with, which is, VCs aren't experts in these spaces. And they're not necessarily looking for an expert to teach them that they're looking for a storyteller to tell them the story that they want to back. That's super interesting. Okay. So you probably started with a bigger number than, than was probably comfortable for the market retrench to something a little bit more manageable, but still

post-mortem where we're looking at it. You probably made the story a little bit complex, but you got it done. 

Zach: [00:30:16] Yeah. Well, there's the story was like way too complex. And honestly like we were getting passed on left and right. I think we had something like 90 passes and we met, Josh Diamond from Walkabout who ended up leading our seed round.

And like, before I even met him in person, I was just like, here's a list of everyone that's passed on us. And here's like all the things that they said, and like, I don't know what to do. Like we're just like kind of up a Creek without a paddle. It feels like. And he said, look, let's just sit down and let's talk through like what you're doing and I'll see if I can help.

And we were probably 45 minutes in the first conversation and I was talking about what we're doing. And he said, I have a question for you. And I said, yeah. And he said, what are you going to quit? And I said, "When I go completely broke, like that's, that's the answer. And he looked at me, he said, you mean that don't you?

And I said, a hundred percent. I like, I already gave up everything. I bet my whole life on this company. I'm not stopping until I don't have a penny left to do it. And he was like, all right, you're insane. I love it. And he basically said, look, I'll help. Let's see what I can do.

And so he, he got people that already said no to take second meetings. Like he just like started helping. And what I didn't know was that he was actually leaving to start a new firm. And basically I got a phone call a couple weeks later that was like, Hey, I'm going to lead your seed round. And I was like, what?

Like how I thought you guys didn't write lead checks. And now I'm starting a new firm. Like you're going to be my first term sheet. I just signed the paperwork today. So it's going to be a little bit, but I'll help you along 

Jason: [00:31:44] the way. 

You're at 14 months in raising. And everyone's saying, no, you're ready to drain your bank account.

When Josh calls you to say, Hey, out of the blue, I'm going to read you a term sheet. Do you remember where you were? Do you remember the feeling? 

Zach: [00:32:01] I framed it. Yeah. Yeah, no. I, I remember exactly where I was. I was, I was actually in my office at the house sitting there working and I was on slack and I got this phone call and I was like, wait, what what's going on?

We'd already texted back and forth a lot. Then at that point, like he had been really helpful and like making intros, but when he called me, I was like, that's weird, but right. I know. And yeah, so I'll probably never forget that moment. That was the moment I realized that like we had a chance to like to build something and it was also, I think the thing that's always been

keenly important to me is like, making sure that like you do right by the people who like around you. And so I think from that moment forward, I was like, I'm going to do everything I can to make this guy as rich as hell. I want this company to succeed so badly because someone finally believed in us.

It was just like, it's a really cool feeling. It's just like something that I can't quite explain, but it was really nice to have that conviction from somebody. Yeah. 

Jason: [00:33:00] No, that that makes total sense, especially with the grind that you went through, right? Like you'll never forget that call or that, that sort of changed the trajectory.

What I'd love to transition to is to how many months later, when you went to go raise your next round, but if I'm reading my notes, correct. Things were very, very different. So like let's kind of set things up what happened between, and then how you started thinking, I think we're going to go raise another 

Zach: [00:33:23] one.

Yeah. I mean, between was like a whirlwind. We went from, like I said, nobody would give us money to, I, I think we ended up with something like $8 million of commitments to a $3 million round. We were just like, no, we don't want your money. We don't want we'll take your money. It was bizarre.

Jason: [00:33:38] You're either dying of thirst or you're drowning.

Right? Like that always happens. 

Zach: [00:33:43] Yeah, for sure. I mean, it's exactly that. Exactly it. Some people had last minute, like were like, oh, I want into, and I was like, I just can't like, I can't take any more. So we really just like, we, we got that round closed super quickly. It was like almost instant after that, that was great.

We just went to work. We built a credit card and a debit card. Like we, we actually did a lot of things differently. Like kind of went the old sort of traditional processor route. And then we launched. And like, I think honestly, we thought things were going super well. They were like going like growing as fast as we could expect, we like, and we crossed like a million and a half dollars in the first month in deposits and we're like, oh wow, this is, this is working.

But yeah, I mean, actually the next raise it's like so much easier and it was almost by accident, right? Like I've actually known Vishal who led our a round from Acrew for a long time. My most lasting memory of him prior to catching up about our A was actually him and I having dinner in Venice one night when he was still at Greycroft and him being like, I don't know, I think I might have to go back to business school so that I can be taken seriously.

I don't know if we'll ever make partner and then like to be catching up with them. You know what I'd caught up with them, obviously multiple times along the way, but be catching up with them like seven, eight years later and realizing like, wow, Co founded this firm done some really great investments.

He's become a really successful smart investor in his own right. And like really coming to his own adventure. That's really cool. And so honestly he just like had texted me and was like, Hey, let's just like catch up about like venture in general. What's going on in FinTech. I know a lot of people there and that was the plan.

And so like w caught up with him, but I wasn't really sharing much. And he was like, Hey, how are things going? I was like, oh yeah, here's how it's going. It looks really good. We're excited about the growth. So he started kind of scratching on like, oh, well, what about direct deposit? I was like, oh yeah, that's the crazy part.

80% of our funded accounts have a direct deposit. I think at the time it was like 70% of our fund account that had direct deposit. And he's like, what is that? He was just kinda like mind blown by the numbers. And ironically, I did the thing that like. I, I, I didn't even mean to do it.

Right. So Michelle and I have known each other a long time. He was like, Hey, let's get another meeting on the books. And he's like, I want you to meet Lauren. Who's, who's our other, the FinTech partner there. And like, she's really great. And she's sometimes bored. And I was like, yeah, that sounds awesome. I'll take him to the meeting.

And then he emailed my personal email, because like we'd known each other a long time and it was my right. And I didn't check my email. So like three weeks go by and he like texts me and he goes, dude, I'm trying to set this meeting, like what's going on? And I was like, oh, dude I have no idea. I didn't know.

You he's like, I sent you emails like, oh, did you send him my personal email? And he's like, yeah. So like forward it to myself responded, we get something on the calendar. I think immediately in that conversation, With him and Lauren and Matri, I sort of knew. I was like, man, these people are awesome.

They get our business, they understand what we're doing. They read tea leaves that I couldn't have read. The growth that they could already see in the numbers trending that we couldn't see yet. And. Yeah. I think part of that is like, if you're like me and you're like the scarred founder who had a terrible first fundraise and like, everyone's like, I want to give you money now.

You're like, yes, please. Like, where's the term sheet, that's fine. But honestly, the more we talk to them, the more we realized, like this is just the right partner. It's the right people that grok the business. They understand exactly what we do and why we do it. And I think we signed the term sheet and we had to like 18 million in deposits.

And then 40 days later when we closed, we had over 60, it was just like, it was just this wild trajectory of like every day was like millions of dollars. 

Jason: [00:37:15] It was great timing on their part to start this conversation. 

Zach: [00:37:19] Been a wild ride. And they saw it. 

Jason: [00:37:23] If you were to tell the story at different.

It would have been from start to close a six-week process or a four week. I don't know how long, right. A really, really quick process. But I think what founders really needs to know is that Zach you've been in the game now for a what YC class were you in 2012, 20 10, 2012. So, you know, you were 9 years ago.

And you developed a relationship with Vishal when he was a junior investor at Greycroft, he became a founding partner at Acrew, and you did so much to develop credibility amongst a bunch of different dimensions, especially with the investor that ended up leading the deal for you. And so the, the takeaway for me, there are a few ones that I think are worth pointing out is that there will be a lot of founders that need to go raise money.

That don't have the experience that you have, or have the network that you have. But what's really required of the founder is to realize what someone like Zach Bruhnke did. And figure out how to condense that sort of relationship building process quickly, because when you read a headline, HMBradley raises whatever $15 million, and you find out on some flashy podcasts that happened in four weeks, it doesn't really tell the force full story of what was out there.

And so I think what I just try to encourage founders is if you're trying to get into this game, like realize how important it is to be a known quantity. How important it is to start creating relationships and to go forward. And then I think you talk about them having great foresight and reading the tea leaves certainly made a, decided to make a great bet at a great time.

But I think in both cases with, with Josh and with Vishal, you're making a good call to decide on a partner, not a number, right? Like you, you probably could have at some point bid up the evaluation, but you're answering into multiple marriages and jumping into these investment relationships.

And so I think having a great team and a great partner like Vishal on, on your side is a good, yeah, no for sure. So, I'm really happy to hear how that all played. What I like making sure that we talk through. We've hit on a lot of great comments here is just like, as you step back from all of this and understand, and actually we've been breaking down live, what happened?

Do you want to repeat the sort of message that you gave in terms of lessons you would give to a younger Zach or maybe another founder looking for advice around fundraising, especially. 

Zach: [00:39:55] Yeah. The biggest piece of advice I think I have for anybody is don't burn bridges. What you just said is so true.

I didn't didn't raise any real significant amount of money for spout because of kind of quitting too early. But the people I met along the way, a lot of them became friends. A lot of them called me on diligence, on deals over the years. A lot of them respected my opinion. And in fact, like I would even contribute it to hiring, right?

Like when we hired our first employee, one of the, one of the people that he went and sought advice from was someone named Colleen Ponton and Colleen used to be a VC at core. And she was now working at a, at another company, but unknowingly to me will went to her and was asking for advice because he had friends in FinTech and they say, oh, go talk to Colleen.

And she basically told him, oh no, that's a terrible idea. Nobody can build like what they're trying to build. That's crazy. I don't know if you should try that. That sounds like a really tough thing to do. And then about a week later, I was meeting Will, again, It was that a kind of a shared workspace and Coleen happened to be there and Coleen saw me and gave me a hug and we're talking and just kind of what's going on.

And then, and then Will walked in and she looked, looked at me and she looked at will. And she said, wait, is this, is that who you were talking about? That's who's building the company. It was you. She had no idea it was me. And he was like, yeah. And she said, oh no, whatever. I said, like, I take it back, Zach can do it.

Wow. And it's those kinds of things where they didn't give me money, but it's not because I didn't think I was smart or that they thought I was an idiot. It was that it wasn't the right fit for them at the time. For whatever reason. Yeah. You know, if I'd done, like a lot of founders attempted to do and read some snarky, email that said like F you don't, you know, like you're passing on the next unicorn, like, it just wouldn't have worked out right.

Very different. And I think those relationships matter, even if you can't tell why they matter right now, just being, being graceful and being a decent human just goes a long way overall. So like, that's the other piece of advice I always give founders is like, look, take the nose, take the lumps, say, thank you, move on.

Like, don't worry about it. Be helpful if you can. It was one of the most things I love to do when someone passes. It's just say like, Hey, if I can ever be helpful to you, let me know. And you wouldn't believe how many diligence calls I do from VC firms that have passed on me. And like, I think it's totally fine to do that.

Yeah. Yeah. Bbecause ultimately it all kind of comes back in the why. I dunno, I love this movie, Charlie Wilson's war. It's about a Congressman and basically there's a line in the movie where they say why is it that a guy that is known for nothing except for getting elected six times in a district that nobody cares about became the most powerful man in Congress.

And he said, because my district didn't need much and I have more IOUs than anyone on the hill. And what he'd done is just collect favors over the years. Like he kept collecting favors and honestly, like I kinda tried to do the same thing, right. I I'm happy to do a favor for anybody or do whatever I can to help somebody because like, I would rather have a bunch of IOUs that if I have to call one day, I can.

And I started this company. I was like, I'm gonna call every one of them in like, I will pull out every stop and do everything I can to, to make it. That's what I have to do because I spent the last 10 years building that and building that credibility. 

Jason: [00:43:13] But it's no, I think that's, I think that's great advice.

Two different ways. I say this is are to founders. Behave in a way that makes people want to help you. So this is a different way of saying what you said. Like whether it's your demeanor, the way you treat people or the help that you give, just be someone that people want to help. And then secondly, a hundred percent, what you said is like, I always encourage people.

I imagine you've lived your life in a good way. I hope you have, but when it comes time to fundraise, it's your time to be that person that asks for a favor, you have to like pull out every stop. And like you're no longer the person that's kind of like, oh, I don't want to bother people. Now you're asking for help now.

Like you you've done all this to this point. Yep.

Okay. So stocking up on IOU's all over town is great, but you can't make time for everyone. So how do you decide who to give your time to when we come back a conversation with my producer, Olivia, about what meetings to take and which ones to pass on.

Olivia: [00:45:26] Okay, can I start this time? Okay. Cause I've got a burning question and that is what is Plaid. 

Jason: [00:45:34] So Plaid is a multi-billion dollar valued FinTech startup that started by building essentially APIs. Okay. What is that? API stands for application programming interface, I believe. But essentially what they do is they create the technology layer that allows people to build new software experiences that integrate with like Banks.

So for example, let's say you are a customer of bank of America and you have your account information there, you have your balance stuff and you want to use something like mint or, or QuickBooks. And those experiences would be better if they could pull in the information from your bank so they could give you accurate

pictures of how much money was in your bank, how much you spent over the last month. That's a really hard thing to do if you have to integrate with every single bank, like bank of America, Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade. But Plaid makes it really easy for a new experience like QuickBooks or mint to just integrate with Plaid's technology and Plaid would then integrate with all the other banks and just make it a very seamless experience.

Olivia: [00:46:51] I see. So Plaid seemed like the perennial yardstick that Zach was compared to throughout his fundraising processes. Like it seems like something that, cause he's interested in this space, it seems like something that people kept bringing up. And that made me wonder, as a founder, is that super common?

Like when you go into a pitch meeting where people. They don't even really listen. Maybe they're like, oh yeah, I've heard this that's you know, so like that exists. That's this company, like, is there something that, is that a common dynamic that VCs try and pin you against another startup? 

Jason: [00:47:34] Well, certainly VCs want to know what the market looks like and how you fit into a market.

And so VCs take thousands of pitch meetings every year. So they are, they have, especially if you are in a space that they, they follow on cover, they S they will know a lot of the landscape. And so for any founders listening, you should be prepared, for investors to ask you. Maybe straight up, who else is in the space and they want you to answer, they want you to tell them other companies that are in the space or they might say, well, what about Plaid, Zach?

Like, aren't you building spout? Isn't that very similar to Plaid? So one Olivia, that, that is a very common, direction for an investor pitch meeting to go into and two, in terms of just practical advice. I really coached people to not ever get defensive or antagonistic against people and other companies that are in this space.

What I tell people is that they just really need to know why they exist and they have to very have a very specific point of view. Aand for two companies that are. Pointed in a similar direction for the two companies to be exactly the same with how they articulate the problem and solution is virtually impossible.

And so as long as a founder can be very articulate and committed to the direction they want to go in. They shouldn't be as scared about this possibility of it competitor being brought up. And the other thing that I'll bring up is that. Investors want you to be going after very large markets. And when markets are really, really large, they actually make room for multiple players and slight variations in multiple winners.

In my own past is when I was at Greycroft, it was, it was sort of the beginning of ride sharing. People probably forget very quickly forget that it wasn't just Uber and Lyft. There were three or four other competitors, even in the very beginning.

And, and I think people incorrectly thought it was going to be a winner take all scenario. And in fact, two public companies came out of that, both Uber and Lyft. We could loop it all the way back, but HMBradley the company that Zach is running right now is considered a, a neobank or a challenger bank.

And they are, there are many, many, very large companies being built in this space, right. So he's probably very familiar with this idea of having to talk about different startups and different competitors in the space. 

Olivia: [00:50:18] Yeah, that's good advice. Okay. I wanted to talk about his level of conviction.

I am wondering how often you encounter that because as an outsider, I feel like the entrepreneurs that we do hear about are the people with that attitude. And so my assumption is like, therefore, every entrepreneur has this crazy level of conviction, but how often do you encounter founders 

Jason: [00:50:47] like that? So it's a funny question.

I'll just, I'll answer it a different way in that. I think a lot of investors are always looking for that. They're like sniffing it out. So how often do you find it? Not every pitch cause you pass on a lot of pitches at the end of the day, to get through a startup, to get through the earliest stages of startup

especially you have to have a certain level of craziness and conviction because for so long, the market will be telling you no investors will be telling you now. And something has to drive you in a direction where you essentially believe. It at your core, even in the face of everyone telling you it's not going to happen.

So that's one thing around conviction and the second is, he certainly had it. I, I think he's, he has it to an extreme level, especially in the beginning of him Bradley, he had it to an extreme level as a side product, a bit of scar tissue from what happened with spout financial. Cause if, if you remember at the beginning of our conversation, he was like, I, I knew we had it, but I just listened to the investors who said that it wasn't there and we essentially gave up.

So I think he, like, I wouldn't say over-corrected, but like extremely corrected in a different direction where he was. Yeah, 14 months into a fundraise that just wasn't happening and he wasn't going to stop. And it just so happened that he talked to an investor who was compelled both by the company vision

and I think like very compelled, he, he was probably had light interest in that, but the combination of that with Zach answering the way he did of like, when are you going to quit? I'm never going to quit. I think really says something because of a smart person who has all the opportunities in the world, like Zach, like he could be making tons of money at an investment bank and doing his old job decides to do what he's doing and getting paid nothing, because he just knows in his heart of hearts that it's going to work.

I think investors take note of that and they realize like this person knows the space better than I, and has the grit and conviction to get this done. 

Olivia: [00:52:59] Yeah. Yeah, no, that relates back to a lot of stuff that we've talked about before, where you've made it clear that VCs are betting, not just on the startup idea, but the founder too.

And if they think they can pull it off, but one thing he said, so I guess he was raising for 14 months, for people who aren't familiar years are 12 months long. So that is over a year. Does that sound long to you? Like, is that normal? 

Jason: [00:53:29] It's it's very long. Yeah. And that, that couldn't have been fun. 

Olivia: [00:53:34] Wait. So like what helps explain that length?

What are you able to deduce from that? Does that mean like he was having trouble getting yeses or like couldn't find the right people or why does that happen? 

Jason: [00:53:46] Yeah. It's a great question. And like, obviously I spend all my time thinking about this. So if I were to do a forensic analysis, just based on what he said, I imagine there are a few components to this.

He probably started off with a bad combination of things. He wasn't, he wasn't telling his story correctly. He even admitted it. He was like, I wanted to explain every technical details to investors. And that was how I pitched. Big mistake. He wasn't storytelling. He wasn't describing the big picture to get people excited enough to then potentially do diligence later, where they would have Zach explained to a more technical person, what the technical details were.

So that was strike one, strike two. Is he, just put the number out there of $6 million of what he wanted to raise and out the gates raising $6 million. But if you're not able to tell a super compelling story and have a bunch of momentum is a difficult, it's a difficult pill to swallow for an investor.

And so investors may get scared off if you, if Zach, if any, an entrepreneur starts telling a story that is a little bit unbelievable, like, oh, at, at raising $6 million right now, that means you're you think that you're worth $20 million out there? 

Olivia: [00:55:03] Wait question. You tell investors like how. You're trying to raise total.

Jason: [00:55:09] Yeah. Well, you have to be able to explain to an investor. This is what we think the milestones that we're going to need to achieve to get to the next stage are, and this is the money that we need to do it. Do you ask them for a specific amount? You, you generally have a target amount that you want to raise and you'll have that discussion with the investor.

Olivia: [00:55:30] Yes. Right. Okay. The last thing I wanted to talk about was this guy, Vishal, who seemed like just like the key breakthrough that Zach needed. And Zach then went into this big discussion about like how he tries to always take meetings with people and give them favors if he can and kind of like collect IOUs.

And that kinda got me thinking about my own approach, because I guess I'm at a point in my career where like the only people who reach out to me are like lower than me, which is crazy. And I mean, not that I'm getting like inundated with offers or anything, but they just are at this like bright-eyed stage where they're like, I want to be an editor of a magazine and I'm like, okay, well I'm a podcast producer and you're a college sophmore.

I'm wondering if you can walk me through what that philosophy looks like in a practical sense. Like how do you, you're someone who is so efficient with their time. So how do you decide when someone does reach out to you? You know, whether you take the meeting or not. 

Jason: [00:56:53] Yeah. I mean, it's hard to be a hundred percent prescriptive for every person, whatever industry you're in or what stage of career you're in.

But I think, a philosophy that I've lived by, which kind of dictates how I think about a lot of different things is like you kind of never know when somebody is somebody. And then at least for my own decision-making, if it's easy for me to help, I actually always try to help. When an entrepreneur or anyone looking for a favor from me, really spells out and feeds me on how I can be helpful to them, whether it's I just need two seconds of your time.

Here's this very specific situation. And can you just give me one sentence on it? That'd be super helpful. If I'm going through my day and just want something quick to do. Yeah, I'll go with jump. I'll jump right into that. And if they want an introduction and they, they do the research and they don't say, Hey, Jason, like, do you know anyone that would be interested in investing in a FinTech, FinTech, startup?

Do you know what they're, they're essentially asking me, do you want to invest? Well, that's one but two. It's like, they're putting the responsibility on me to go research and think like, oh, who could do this? And that's just cognitive overload. That's just too much overhead for me to even think about doing, for sure.

That would be the sort of the teachable moment I give around. You know, how I think about creating relationships? How's Zach probably thinks about this idea of collecting IOUs of just helping people whenever he can. 

Olivia: [00:58:32] Okay. That that is vindicating because I, okay. The kind of requests I'm getting are just like, Hey, can I talk to you?

But it's also just a good reminder regarding Vishal that you really don't always know why you're meeting someone and to like also invest in kind of like non-transactional relationships too, because I think those, those are the deepest ones obviously. And those are the ones that I think you can really call upon.

Jason: [00:59:02] I think the other thing I just thought of that I wanted to point out was Zach talked a lot about how pleasant he is to investors that passed. People that say no things that feel really painful. And yet he responds to the passes and says, you know, totally understand by the way, if I can ever be helpful, let me know.

That's so crazy, which feels crazy. And I don't, and Zach didn't actually describe this. In a way that really reveals how powerful that is. So what he probably doesn't realize or just didn't think about. And a lot of entrepreneurs won't know is that the reputation of an entrepreneur is really important in a VC's decision-making process.

So they may ask around town, like, have you talked to Olivia Reingold? I heard she's pitching a deal. And someone might be like, I talked to him a couple of years ago. And whether it's Zach being incredibly pleasant or one of those entrepreneurs you hear about that writes an email that's like, you're going to regret the day you pass on me because we're going to be the next whatever unicorn is a huge difference, because if they do a quick check and say like, Hey, have you ever met this entrepreneur

Olivia? And someone says, we looked at our business, I really liked her. I really liked her. We just didn't see it at the time. That itself is positive. 

Olivia: [01:00:20] We, is that what he called? Like a diligence test or whatever. 

Jason: [01:00:24] Oh, D he was saying that other investors are looking at other investments, that investment opportunities that he might understand.

And so they'll ask him, like, what do you think about this deal? And that's his favor to the investor? So when he was going out fundraising or in the future, when he goes out fundraising, if anyone asks an investor about him, where he had done a diligence call, they're going to be so positive without even knowing.

Without even knowing what business he runs, they're going to say, he's a really great guy, which like great guy seems like a very ambiguous description, but happens through th very influential description of an entrepreneur. As far as the investment process goes. 

Olivia: [01:01:05] Cool. I think I, this interview also made me rethink, like, got to rethink my banking situation.

Jason: [01:01:13] You got to join a neobank. I love it. All right. Thanks Olivia. 

Olivia: [01:01:17] Bye.

Jason: [01:01:21] By the way we asked Zach where the name HMBradley came from, it turns out it was inspired by someone you might've heard of in Omaha, Nebraska. 

Zach: [01:01:30] If I have a hero outside of my parents, it's Warren buffet. Everyone that knows me knows how much I love Warren buffet ever at every shareholder letter, multiple times at this point.

And so I said, look, I'm just gonna, you know, reverse the BNH Berkshire Hathaway, and I'm going to name it like an old defunct textiles mill. And so we took literally the B in the age and reverse them. And I just picked two names that sounded like it could be a defunct textiles mill. So originally it was called Halliman Bradley.

Jason: [01:02:02] Thanks a bunch for listening. There are tons of insights that each founder we cover on funded has around startups, fundraising, and life, and we don't have time to cover it all. So if you'd like to get a free insights packbased on Zach Bruhnke from HMBradley go to

If you have any questions about today's show, or maybe you're raising money yourself and want some help, problem solving, find me on social I'm @jayyeh that's J A Y Y E H. Or shoot me an email at I also send out a weekly newsletter that covers fundraising insights and strategies. You can subscribe to that at

This episode was produced by Olivia Rheingold. "Hi!" Thanks also to Jordan Pascasio from Adamant Ventures. Hey guys, and thanks to Zach for doing us a solid by being such a great guest. We definitely owe you one. If you've enjoyed Funded, please rate, review and subscribe. It goes a long way to helping others discover.

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