The new year came and I was ready to hit the road. We needed to close the round, and close it fast.
Mother nature had a different plan. At 3am on January 9th, an ocean of rain fell from the sky above the Thomas Fire burn zone; one-half inch of rain in the first five minutes to be exact.
Like investors, Mother Nature calls the shots.
When I woke up the next morning, I was unaware of the tragedy that occurred overnight. I was unaware that my neighbors to the south were buried in mud and at that moment, rescue workers were launching a major rescue operation. On top of that, I was unaware that US 101 was closed, the railroads impassable and the town I needed to traverse through to get to LA was a disaster zone.
As CEO, I have one job -- make sure the Company doesn't run out of money. Now, I was late to the game and a literal mountain stood between me and our potential capital.
When it comes to cash, investors are the puppet masters. If an investor says they are available to meet, you drop everything and run. Missing one meeting has the potential to delay or even kill a deal. A poor cash position magnifies this issue, significantly.
I had a day full of back-to-back pitches with an emergency Board call sandwiched in the middle. Missing any of these meetings had the potential to be catastrophic.
Getting a deal done requires fighting against all odds.
What followed can only be described as a modern day "Planes Trains and Automobiles," minus the comic relief and the snow.
I called United and drove to the airport as I listened to the hold music. I was inside the terminal before I got a real person on the phone. The next flight out was not for three hours.
Amtrak was out of the question as the freeway and parallel railroad was now a swamp. Driving north through the mountains -- the only other land option -- would take six hours so that was not a choice.
I have a buddy who operates private planes, but even that would take three hours. My first meeting was scheduled to start in two.
I was driving back and forth on the freeway, trying to simultaneously handle phone calls and u-turns. Tired of the aimless driving and unsafe phone calls, I decided to stop. As I was pulling over, my phone rang. My friend had found a pilot. "I can have you in the air in 45 minutes."
Obstacles are inevitable, don't let them beat you.
We flew over Santa Monica and lined up for our approach. Over the wing I noticed a hoard of people on the apron. A large figure with a beautiful bald head was the center of everyone's attention. It hit me like a rock. It was Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. We were landing in the middle of an episode of HBO's TV show Ballers.
As cool as it was, there was no time for Hollywood. We ran off the plane to meet our Lyft, but the driver was on the wrong side of the airport.
After all this effort, I was still going to miss the meeting. I could feel the stress eating my shoulders and the soon-to-be migraine bearing down on my temples. About 100 yards away, I saw an Uber dropping off another passenger. I broke into a dead sprint. As I caught him I slammed a $20 bill on his window and gave him the address.
It takes more than great performance to raise money.
We made every meeting that day, although the day continued just as it begun. We took a Board call from the backseat of a car, ran a half mile in the pouring rain and drove the long way home, which took six hours.
But, we got the deal done. And if I had let Mother Nature call the shots we most likely would not have, at least not in the same timeframe.
When raising capital:
Make yourself available whenever the investors are willing to meet.
Once you set your meetings, never miss them and never be late.
If you go through hell to get there, tell the investors. They will appreciate the effort.
A special thank you to The Rock. Although I'm sure it was exciting to see a couple hard-driven entrepreneurs land in the the middle of his episode, he didn't bat an eye and definitely didn't attempt to get in our way as we were hurrying to our meeting. I owe that guy an autograph.