91: How to Lose Money by Raising Money the Wrong Way with Amy Wan

November 16, 2017

Amy Wan is Founder & CEO of Bootstrap Legal, which automates the drafting of legal paperwork for real estate private equity, syndication, and crowdfunding deals. Previously, she was a Partner at Crowdfunding Lawyers and General Counsel at Patch of Land, a real estate debt crowdfunding platform. Amy is also the founder and co-organizer of Legal Hackers LA, which programs around the intersection of law and technology; was named one of the one of ten women to watch in legal technology by the American Bar Association Journal in 2014; and was nominated as a Finalist for the Corporate Counsel of the Year Award 2015 by LA Business Journal.

Time Stamped Show Notes

[5:11] After her first year in law school as a human rights attorney, she soon found that human rights does not cross borders, but money does. So she went on looking at how to use money for good.

[6:30] It is often the new people getting into real estate that make the most mistakes and have the highest failure rates. And one big mistake is they start networking late.

[8:35] Another novice mistake is not having an attorney to get their legal documents and have their deals structured the right way.

[11:14] Not having a contingency plan in case something doesn’t go well is a big red flag. It is necessary to have a several plans.

[13:03] It is important to have a proper structure when fundraising in order to be able to renegotiate and keep investors incentivized in case it’s needed.

[16:00] Consider having a coach, mentor or a good business partner when doing this for the first time and remember that oral commitment means nothing.

[20:10] The structure of a deal has to be right, if not it’s not worth doing, especially if it involves raising a lot of money.

[22:33] Don’t ever skip the fundamentals and have good reasons to do it and be smart about it.

[24:50] Failing Forward Segment

  • Why did this failure experience happen to you? – “I think because a lot of them are not willing or are not able to think five steps ahead and come up with all the plans that are necessary to put in place in case they fail.”
  • What is the single most important lesson you learned from this? – “Bring on business partners that you trust, they can help you a lot, specially if you’re just getting started. The second big thing is building that trust, because remember people are not just investing the project, they are investing in you, they are putting their trust that you will execute, if the project goes sideways you would do what it takes to make it right, even if it means admitting defeat, just be honest about it.”
  • How do you protect yourself from failing in this way again? ABN, Always Be Networking. You can’t wait until you actually want to raise money to start networking. It has got to be the thing that you’re doing 24/7, if you’re an entrepreneur, that is your job.”
  • Who do you turn to when you need help? – “I would say that when it comes to other stuff that entrepreneurs need to know for example, marketing and sales, that’s probably one of my weaknesses, and so I have a good group of advisors and mentors who help me with those things.”
  • What advice would you give to someone in a similar position? – “Networking. And educate yourself, if you are going and doing a real estate deal you should be looking at a ton of real estate deals on a daily basis to figure out what makes a good deal. And the third thing i go out and meet people who are already doing this.”

[33:25] At Bootstrap Legal, Amy built a software to automate developing legal documents in order to have a faster turnaround and being able to charge less. It is perfect for new syndicators.

[38:34] Amy’s final thought: “Keep it real. A lot of people like to go out there and beat their chest. I tend to find when you can keep it real, you’re honest, you’re humble, you’re optimistic, but at the same time your very honest with your investors about the limitations and risks, I think that makes them really trust you a lot more.”

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