Startup Interview with Blair Silverberg, Hum Capital CEO and Founder by@humcapital

Startup Interview with Blair Silverberg, Hum Capital CEO and Founder

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Hum Capital

A funding platform making funding equitable, efficient and accessible.

HackerNoon Reporter: Please tell us briefly about your background.

I began in finance as a principal investor at Draper Fisher Jurvetson where I sourced and managed venture investments during my four-year residency. While I was there I sourced and worked with Nervana Systems, Flux, DroneDeploy, Periscope Data, LendKey, and a stealth insurance company. My passion for investing began when I invested my Bar Mitzvah money at the age of 13 growing $2.5K into $100K. Because of my background in finance as well as product design from my time at Stanford, I am committed to empowering funders with options and information during fundraising, ultimately bringing fairness and transparency to the process.

What's your startup called? And in a sentence or two, what does it do?

Our startup is called Hum Capital. We are the funding platform that is connecting great companies with the right capital by operating like Kayak for fundraising. We offer a single destination where companies can understand all of their financing options and be matched with pre-qualified investors -- which helps make the fundraising process more efficient for both entrepreneurs and investors.

What is the origin story?

When looking across the landscape of new lenders, we see very few building a nimble, multi-asset foundation. When I was an investor at DFJ, I tried to find and finance a multi-asset lender but couldn’t find anyone doing this and doing it well. That was why I decided to start Humalongside cofounders Csaba Konkoly and Chris Olivares.

All companies should be empowered to see their businesses as clearly as seasoned investors do. We believe that with the right tools, accessing institutional capital can become as predictable and efficient as buying a product on Amazon or finding a flight on Kayak. Most investment firms do not have R&D budgets.

Hum is set up at the intersection of tech and finance to solve capital access problems in an automated and tech-enabled way. We know that every qualified company should be able to raise the capital they need to flourish without bias or friction - and that more transparent capital access unlocks a more bountiful, efficient, and fair economy.

What do you love about your team, and why are you the ones to solve this problem?

Our team is half Silicon Valley and half Wall Street. By combining the perspectives of investors, financiers, and technologists we’ve been able to develop a platform that brings the scalability of cloud-based solutions to private investing -- a notoriously inefficient and non-transparent process. As a team, we have been able to set ourselves apart from other alternative funding platforms by facilitating choice and transparency between companies and investors, rather than financing investments from our own balance sheet.

If you weren’t building your startup, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t building my startup, I would continue my work as an investor. The investment industry has been a passion of mine since I began my career and is the heart behind Hum. I started Hum when I realized I needed a tool like this to make my personal investing more efficient and effective. By developing an industry-wide solution, I hope that we can make the fundraising process more inclusive, efficient, and transparent by evaluating companies based on their performance, and not on who they know in their network.

At the moment, how do you measure success? What are your core metrics?

We measure our success through growth in Hum’s Intelligent Capital Market. That’s our SaaS-based platform that connects to companies’ financial systems, analyzes their performance, and then connects them with investors interested in companies like theirs. Today, we have a growing list of 2,000 companies who have connected to the ICM, and 250+ institutional investors looking at the companies who want to raise funds. By bringing both sides together in an online platform, we’ve already helped companies secure more than $400 million in capital commitments in 2020.

Every time a company is added to Hum’s ICM, it means more choice for investors, and every investor means more choice for companies. Overall, Hum is working to modernize the $5 trillion private capital market with a funding platform that matches companies with the capital, and investors, that’s right for them.

What’s most exciting about your traction to date?

That we’ve helped companies secure more than $400 million in capital commitments so far. At the same time, we’re helping increase the efficiency of the traditional fundraising process, accelerating the time to funding, and providing more entrepreneurs with access to capital.

In the long term, we want to make access to capital more fair and equitable. From that perspective, I’m happy to say that companies on Hum’s platform come from 46 states, with almost half of them coming from areas outside the traditional VC focus areas of New York and California.

What technologies are you currently most excited about, and most worried about? And why?

Having been a venture capitalist previously, I get excited about a lot of different technologies and the opportunities they’re creating. In the context of Hum, I’m most excited about the market’s shift to using cloud-based business systems which are making huge volumes of real-time performance data available for analysis with machine learning and AI. We’ve hit a tipping point for both of these technologies, and starting to see tremendous value being unlocked.

What drew you to get published on HackerNoon? What do you like most about our platform?

Hacker Noon is great at marrying the current state of technology with compelling angles on difficult topics. Since your content is from real tech professionals, the nuances of technology are detailed in an interesting and easily understood way.

What advice would you give to the 21-year-old version of yourself?

Don’t underestimate the value of setting clear, easily explained goals in helping your organization move more quickly. Make sure you invest the time so your goals are unambiguous and disseminated across the entire organization. It’s not rocket science, just hard work.

What is something surprising you've learned this year that your contemporaries would benefit from knowing?

I've been surprised to learn how little information venture investors are using to analyze growth-stage companies. Particularly, due to accelerated funding timelines, at the series C to pre IPO. Investors get a deck, the company's model, and sprint in 3-7 days to come up to speed before writing a $150M check. In the era of cloud-based financial systems, it seems archaic for investors to rely on Excel and data files sent by email as the best solution. Very hard for investors to play the role of productive check and balance when optimizing for speed.

This makes private transactions feel more like the adversarial trading environments you find in public markets than the partnerships that VCs love to talk about. I'd love to see the markets embrace speed AND partnership which do not have to be mutually exclusive.

Vote for Hum Capital as New York’s best startup of the year!

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by Hum Capital @humcapital.A funding platform making funding equitable, efficient and accessible.
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