We’re pleased to introduce Brianna McDonald from Keiretsu Forum Northwest as this week’s Sponsor Spotlight.
How would you describe your role in the entrepreneurial community?
Keiretsu Forum Northwest helps facilitate funding in companies across industries in their growth stage, including entrepreneurs and investors. With entrepreneurs, I work on pitch coaching, structure review, capitalization plan, exit strategy, making sure that the CAP table is clean and that everything is all ready to go to be fundable for investors. Then I work with investors to help facilitate that investment by providing all the information they need and educational support to fund these opportunities.
What compelled you to start getting into this work?
Well, that’s a funny story. I met my husband in 1998 at the University of Washington, and he was doing a research paper at the time on angel investing. When we got engaged I had a real estate business, and when he ended up launching the Keiretsu Forum in 2005, he asked me to come support him and sit at the table. I was 26, and I didn’t really know why I should go, except to support my then fiance and his new endeavor. He kept bringing me to these different events, and people would ask me what he does, and I’d say, “Oh, he has coffee with people, and they talk about things, and he makes money, but I’m not sure.”
I sat down at this table with many old gray-haired men and listened to these companies pitch, and I had imposter syndrome like no other. I’d write down questions like, “What’s your business?” and “How do you make money?” and “What’s your product?” and I would think to myself, “You’re dumb. You do not deserve to be in this room.” And then I’d listen to these investors asking the same questions. And after a year, I finally raised my hand and asked a question. I don’t remember what the question was, but one of the investors sitting next to me, who’s still one of our members today, turned around and looked at me and said, “That was a good question.” And I thought, oh, okay, maybe I do have something to contribute.
It was not very comforting to be so young and a woman sitting at a table with men, but I came to love it. I made my first investment about six months after joining the forum at 26 into a local chocolate company here in Seattle.
What do you think is unique about Oregon’s entrepreneurial economy?
One thing that fascinates me about the state of Oregon is how many successful retail and food businesses come out of that state. There are also great technology and life science companies. That said, consumer goods is a tricky space and hard to create, build, and most importantly, get successful returns. The successful Oregon companies in the sector are very impressive.
When I have companies that we need to diligence either in the food or retail sectors, I look to my Oregon members! Many of our investors are serial entrepreneurs who have built and sold companies before, so there’s a lot of knowledge and expertise that can help the company move through the different stages of its life cycle.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I love music! I’m a huge Dave Matthews band fan. I have attended the Gorge Amphitheatre for 23 years to see them perform.