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Answers by Tim Hwang, Founder & CEO, FiscalNote, on Quora:

A: Pretty unbelievable actually. We cold emailed Mark as we were raising our Seed Round. I believe it was a Friday night; I was in Chicago for a conference and my two cofounders were at dinner (ready to go see a movie).

I sent the email and an hour later, Mark responded saying that he was interested and asked about some diligence items. I immediately called my cofounders and told them to stop what they were doing and get to their computers to respond to the items. They literally got out of dinner, skipped the movie, and grinded on the questions. A couple days later we had the makings of our very first venture deal.

A: Two lessons that are interrelated. 1) Never give up. It's such a cliche, but if you truly have conviction in your idea and you see the traction in the marketplace, you'll get there. 2) Build a strong culture within the organization from the very beginning. That's the only thing that matters, especially in difficult times.

As an example: when we were raising our Series A, we lined up several investors and ran a clean process. There was strong interest as we went into the process and ended up choosing between multiple term sheets.

However, as we began the process of due diligence with the fund we picked, we realized our visions of the future did not fit. We looked for three things while raising capital: 1. A strong operational background 2. An interest in our space and 3. A long term capital partner that would stick with us through thick and thin. We had chosen wrong.

As hard as it was, with only six weeks of payroll left in the bank, we parted ways from the financial marriage. That afternoon, I gathered the entire company in the kitchen and stated that despite the deal falling through, we were still confident that we would close out a round. I, for one, would not give up and insisted that we could power through this hardship together as a family-that when we got out on the other side, we would be stronger and more determined than ever.

Astonishingly, each member of the FiscalNote team volunteered to either cut or forgo their salary until the round was closed. Focused on our goal, everyone worked harder than we ever had-many staying late into the night, contributing to document preparation, and acquiring customers. When it seemed like the entire world was against us, our team stood shoulder to shoulder and took it on. It took two more months, but we closed the $7 million Series A for which we had hoped. The sacrifice and trust shown by the team had gotten us here, and for that I will always be grateful.

A short two months later, we closed our Series B--adding an additional $10 million.

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Published on: Feb 10, 2016