Announcing the agenda for TC Early Stage — Operations & Fundraising


As an early-stage founder, how do you identify the right investors? Or know how to hire the best possible team to set up your company for growth? Should you bootstrap, and if so, how do you do it successfully? How do you nail virtual pitch meetings? What about product-market fit? Board construction and good governance? How do you make sound financial decisions both for your company and yourself?

You’ve got questions. TechCrunch Early Stage will have answers for you on April 1 and 2.

At the virtual event, we’re bringing together some of the most seasoned operators in the fields of legal, recruiting, product, data security and sales to help you find your way through a tactical quagmire to the bright light of success at the end of the tunnel.

Of course, the show will cover more than operational challenges. We also have many, many sessions around fundraising, from how to think about raising your Series A to how to get an investors attention.
If you’re in the midst of building a company, this show is worth making time for. Plus, audience members will be able to ask expert speakers their own questions to in each and every breakout session.

Finding Your Product-Market Fit (Sean Lane — Olive AI)

Olive AI founder and CEO is no stranger to the pivot. Hear how he practiced patience in the search for product-market fit, how he knew it when he finally found it and tactics he used to build on it.

How to Get an Investor’s Attention (Marlon Nichols — MaC Venture Capital)

Marlon Nichols is an expert in early-stage investments, having invested in countless successful ventures such as Gimlet Media, MongoDB, Thrive Market, PlayVS, Fair, Wonderschool and Finesse. Right now, there is more seed-stage fundraising than ever before, and Marlon will speak on how to get noticed by investors, how to grow your business and how to survive in the crowded, competitive space of tech startups. He will provide insights on how to network, craft a great pitch and target the best investors for your success.

How to Nail Your Virtual Pitch Meeting (Melissa Bradley — Ureeka)

The rules of the pitch meeting have changed. Instead of traveling across the country, wasting time in planes, trains and automobiles, founders can take upward of 30 meetings in a day from the comfort of their home. Entrepreneur and VC Melissa Bradley will outline how to make the most of that half hour on Zoom and lock in the next one.

10 Things NOT To Do When You Are Starting a Company (Leah Solivan — Fuel Capital)

With voices across the internet giving their two cents on how to run a great business, Fuel Capital’s Leah Solivan, who was CEO at TaskRabbit for eight years, will share a list of things that a founder should NOT do. Avoid the pitfalls that could break your momentum, or worst case, your company and ask Solivan your own questions.

How To Get Into An Accelerator (Neal Sales-Griffin — Techstars)

Accelerators provide an incredible launch pad for early-stage startups, offering a built-in network, accessible advisors, and of course, capital. But first, you’ve got to be accepted. Hear Techstars’ Neal Sales-Griffin outline how to get into an accelerator and make the most of the experience.

4 Things To Think About Before Raising a Series A (Bucky Moore — Kleiner Perkins)

Founders looking to raise Series A capital know that it’s an entirely different ball game than seed-stage funding. Hear Kleiner Perkins partner Bucky Moore outline the most important ways to mentally prepare for heading into Series A fundraising.

How to Build Your Early Team for Future Growth (Sarah Smith — Bain Capital Ventures)

More than your investors, or even you as a founder, your early employees will have a tremendous influence on the trajectory of your company. You hire them, and oftentimes, they hire everyone else. Hear Bain Capital Ventures partner Sarah Smith talk through how to recruit a top-notch early team that sets your startup up for future growth.

Contracts, Cap Tables and other Legal Questions (Dawn Belt — Fenwick)

No matter the industry, your startup requires legal help. Whether it’s building out the cap table, writing up contracts, understanding the laws around hiring or simply feeling secure with a TOS. Whatever the question, Fenwick partner Dawn Belt has the answer.

Finance for Founders (Alexa von Tobel — Inspired Capital)

As a founder, you not only have to master your company’s finances, you also have to tackle your own personal finances. Managing your money as a founder comes with a unique set of questions (see: QSBS). Leveraging her expertise from LearnVest and as a Certified Financial Planner™, Alexa will share financial planning best practices so founders can remove this layer of stress from the pressure of building a business.

Leadership Culture and Good Governance (David Easton — Generation Investment Management)

David Easton is a growth-stage partner at Generation Investment Management with portfolio companies that include Asana, Andela, Gusto and Docusign, among others. Easton will talk through how to choose your board and foster a leadership culture that keeps sustainable, good governance top of mind.

Building and Leading a Sales Team (Ryan Azus — Zoom)

Contrary to popular opinion, even the very best products don’t sell themselves. Salespeople do. Hear from Zoom’s chief revenue officer, at the helm of the company’s sales team during the biggest period of growth of any software company ever, lay out how to build a stellar sales team.

The All-22 View (Eghosa Omoigui — EchoVC Partners)

Improving line of sight and dynamic field of play aperture is rarely discussed but hugely important. Great founders, operators and investors have an understanding of playbooks on both sides of the ball. We’ll talk through lessons and some ideas on how to build muscle memory and skillsets so that founders never lose perspective when it’s time to make a big decision.

And we’ll also have some great sessions from our partners too!

Creating and Protecting IP Value in Connection with VC Financings (brought to you by Perkins Coie)

How do venture capital investors value formal intellectual property (IP) rights in connection with a decision to fund a technology or life sciences startup? How do they conduct IP due diligence? How do investors and founders, post-funding, ensure their startups are pursuing an IP strategy that optimizes exit valuation for all? Perkins Coie partners Michael Glenn (Patent Prosecution) and Matt Oshinsky (Emerging Companies Venture Capital) will be joined alongside a seasoned venture capitalist to discuss these and other questions regarding safeguarding IP rights and maximizing the value of all technology development activities.

Scientist Entrepreneurs — Scaling Breakout Engineering Biology Companies (brought to you by Mayfield)

Biology as technology will reinvent trillion dollar industries and enhance human and planetary evolution. In this session, two early-stage investors and company builders, Arvind Gupta and Ursheet Parikh, will be in conversation with leading author and seed investor Po Bronson, managing director of IndieBio. They will share their playbook on scaling startups touching upon three seminal areas that influence trajectory— fundraising, hiring and product design. Their insights will draw on their experience with companies including ingredients-as-a-service leader Geltor, which raised a $91 million Series B in 2020; CRISPR platform Mammoth Biosciences, whose dream team includes Nobel Laureate co-founder Jennifer Doudna; and Endpoint Health, started by the founding team of GeneWEAVE (acquired by Roche) and former YC Bio Partner Diego Rey, which is designing a new class of therapeutic products that focus on hospital conditions that kill as many people as cancer.

Using Fast Feedback to Make Higher-Confidence Decisions and Accelerate the Dev Process (brought to you by UserTesting)

We’ll discuss how to use fast feedback methodologies to make high-confidence product decisions based on objective customer data in real time, without slowing the dev process. Quickly diagnose problems, settle disputes, reduce the risk of rework and iterate faster. This session will include real-world case studies.

An M&A Playbook for Startup Founders: Lessons from Google and Microsoft (brought to you by Merus Capital)

One of the most important decisions a founding team can make is when to consider selling the company to a strategic buyer. In this session, learn the tactics for approaching acquirers, avoiding common pitfalls and maximizing the likelihood of achieving an eye-popping valuation. Hear from Sean Dempsey, founding partner of Merus Capital who spent 10 years leading acquisitions for Google and Microsoft, and Dave Sobota, VP of Corporate Development at Instacart and former M&A leader at Google.

Why Founders Should Adopt OKRs Now? (brought to you by Dell for Entrepreneurs)

Execution is key to a startup’s survival and growth especially when it comes to fast-moving software and technology products. Being in the tricky intersection of investors, customers and employees, a founder needs to balance priorities, align teams and create a visionary product that works. Moreover, in this age of hyperfeedback loops and changing business models, the founder has to be agile enough to absorb and quickly react to changes in the product roadmap and consumer needs. OKRs — a toolkit used mostly by engineering and product teams is more than relevant now for founders of all kinds to embrace. Join the session to learn the history of OKRs, what they are about and witness case studies of successful real-life adoption.

Naming and Protecting Your Company’s Intellectual Property (brought to you by Brainbase)

You have an idea for a game-changing product or service — what do you call it? Once you’ve picked a name, how do you make sure nobody else is using it? Is the domain and Twitter handle available? Brainbase makes it easy for anyone to file a trademark without a lawyer and instantly own your brand across all channels. In this session, Brainbase co-founder and CEO Nate Cavanaugh will explain the importance of owning your company’s trademark, both for brand protection and for fundraising due diligence.

Nailing the Little Things: How Startups Can Achieve Operational Excellence from “Day One” (brought to you by B Capital Group)

The early days of launching a company can be a whirlwind for founding teams as unexpected challenges and opportunities require flexibility, agility and speed. But implementing a few key operating best practices and processes early can be a crucial part of a startup’s success or failure when it prepares for rapid growth. Join partners from B Capital Group, a multistage global investor, to learn about the most important things you can do to set your startup up for success early in your journey, and what will be most important to investors as you raise your Seed, A and B funding rounds. Speakers include Howard Morgan, chairman of B Capital Group and co-founder of First Round Capital, and partners Karen Page (formerly of Box) and Gabe Greenbaum (formerly of Pritzker Group).

This year, we’ve added a pitch-off on day 2 of TC Early Stage, showcasing interesting startups from a variety of sectors. All-star judges will give their feedback live. You don’t want to miss it! And if you’re interested in pitching, you can still apply to pitch by tomorrow, March 9.

Of course, TC Early Stage dual event ticket holders will get access to both events (April 1-2 and July 8-9) and have access to 2x the content that comes out of the event live or on demand. Plus, you can take advantage of additional savings with early-bird pricing on dual event tickets until March 26!

Mercenary CEOs know all too well that this is about the most bang you can get for your buck. Period. Grab your ticket now and save up to $100!

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