Blair Silverberg – CEO of Capital, Digital Investment Bank

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Blair Silverberg – CEO of Capital, Digital Investment Bank

Q: First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times? 

I grew up in Austin Texas and have owned a house here since 2016. We came to Austin from New York in February of 2020 to have my second child around the grandparents with the expectation that we would be back in New York in a couple months. Then COVID hit – we got pretty lucky on location and it’s been fascinating to see how many of my friends from New York and San Francisco have now moved to Austin. Fortunately, all is well so far.

Q: Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company.

I got started in investing back when I was a teenager, by investing my bar mitzvah money into the stock market. After graduating from Stanford with a degree in Product Design, I went on to work as a principal investor at venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson. 

During my time as a VC investor, I realized that from an entrepreneur’s perspective, the venture capital process had significant problems and inefficiencies. Too many great companies weren’t getting discovered or funded, in part because of the traditional VC process’s institutional and systemic shortcomings, partly because of biases held by investors, and partly because the capital allocation process was too complicated and mysterious. 

As a venture capitalist and company founder, I’m deeply interested in using data to democratize access to capital, and to create new and better ways for the right founders and companies to get funding. I’m passionate about making the fundraising process fairer, predictable and transparent for entrepreneurs, with funding decisions based on accurate data instead of hidden biases.  

Q: How does your company innovate? 

Capital is a digital investment bank. We help companies raise capital by providing it ourselves and connecting them to a network of institutional investors – banks, insurance companies, funds, family offices, endowments, etc. We do this with analytics that turn company financial data into benchmarked analytics. This helps investors see the brilliance in great companies quickly. It also helps operators focus on their core financial drivers of their business and marry great execution with bountiful capital access.

Through our work telling companies stories with data, Capital is leading a movement to allocate capital more effectively for the benefit of society. When capital goes to wasteful or fraudulent investments, when promising entrepreneurs don’t get funded, everyone ultimately suffers from that waste of resources. We want to make it easier for promising businesses to get funded based on their performance, especially companies that might otherwise be overlooked because their founders don’t fit the usual mold of what VC firms are used to seeing. 

Q: How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?

When the virus hit in March last year, the private markets had to learn to make investments online. Coffee meetings were replaced with Zoom calls and in person diligence was replaced by Capital. Capital made it possible for companies to communicate their businesses in detail to investors interactively which became critical to making private financing work in an online format.

Q: Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?

No – we were very lucky to benefit from offline investment processes shifting online and fortunately, Capital is not the only beneficiary here. Society benefits from more efficient capital allocation and it turns out that choosing investments over Zoom opens the door to more data-driven decision making by investors and a great focus on results by founders. One of the most maddening parts of running a business is feeling like raising money is separate from great execution. They should be one in the same. 

Q: How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and your company in the future?

In addition to having a company that grew from 10 to 50 people in the last year, I have two children under the age of 4. I sometimes joke with my parents when they call me to check in on their grandchildren that I really appreciate us spending my daily 90 seconds of free time together. Juggling is part of life, especially if you run a company. I was fortunate to start working with a great therapist in college. I also, like 10% of the population in the US, take an SSRI (Lexapro).

This has been critical to my performance under stress and I wish it were talked about more. People are happy to go on TV and talk about the green juice they drink in the morning or their yoga routine. Nobody talks about taking SSRIs and they are widely used and for many people, incredibly effective. Building a great life, however you define it, takes persistence, focus and endurance. For me, therapy and Lexapro were quite helpful in developing those things!

Q: Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Large companies that are raising hundreds of millions of dollars work with great investment banks – like Goldman Sachs. They help companies to navigate the financial markets and find the best kind of financing for them. Great investment bankers are extremely expensive (Goldman’s investment bank pays out 75% of its revenues in salaries) and smaller companies have always had to raise money by themselves. I’ve done it and it is no fun – as a founder it becomes your full time job for 6 months. Capital is the investment bank for every company.

We help companies answer questions like whether they should raise venture capital or debt, the difference between revenue based financing and factoring and ultimately what their business results need to look like to unlock their ambitions and put the full power of the capital markets behind them. Nobody else is doing this for companies raising less than $100M and I wish they were.

Making the private capital markets hum is so important and as a society we need to get much better at efficiently matching capital to opportunities. Imagine the potential – could we reverse the decline in small businesses? Could our GDP grow twice as fast? Could we cure cancer faster? The world is getting better in so many ways but nobody knows if we are moving as fast as we can. That is a problem we are extremely passionate about fixing and frankly, we wish more people were working on this mission.

Q: Your website and link to online video if any. 

You can visit www.captec.io for more information.

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