How we make decisions.
It depends. It may be short and project-specific (think commenting on a pitch deck or negotiating an agreement) or comprehensive and ongoing. In either case, we work with our clients to develop understandable goals, reasonable budgets—and reasonable timeframes.
We believe in adding significant value to our clients’ businesses, and we charge for that. Fairly. Before beginning a project, we’ll discuss our scope of work. Our timeline. And our proposed budget.
While we work with all types of businesses at all stages, we are selective in the clients we work with. We look for clients that we can add value to, or we don’t engage. We also look for clients that are open to constructive feedback. That can disagree agreeably and, through robust conversation, end a conversation in a better place than where it began.
Many innovators and leaders don’t come to us with a clear plan that describes in exquisite detail how they’ll scale or transition their businesses. They might understand the science behind their idea, know how to onboard pilot customers, or have a trusts & estates plan in place, but every leader and company is different and faces different challenges as well as opportunities. In a World that is ever-changing, we believe that the best way to make progress is to learn from experts who have been there before. In addition to being entrepreneurs ourselves, our vendors, partners and investors have worked with countless founders, leaders and family-owned businesses on their growth and transition plans. We’ve worked with companies from every sector, at every stage. And we’ve helped develop strategies and tactics for our clients along the way. But if we don’t have the answer, we know someone else who will or we’ll tell you that we can’t help.
Our colleagues and partner network are available to help source candidates and making introductions to help you grow your team—smartly.
We have worked with countless entrepreneurs, leaders and family-owned business for over three decades, and have helped our clients raise millions of dollars across countless financing rounds. As a result, raising capital is one area where we will typically have more experience than our clients, no matter how brilliant or successful they are. We leverage our knowledge, our experience and our network to do everything we can to help our companies secure the capital they require. Whether for a seed round, Series A, Series B or beyond—our Fundraising-as-as-Service™ platform helps reduce your fundraising burden so you can focus on your business.
Yes, we do in some cases. What’s consistent is that we’ll be extremely active helping you build, grow or exit your company. Often, we’ll take an advisory board seat to provide strategic advice and support, but without the formality and authority of a directorship.
Do I need to engage Varia through its Management Consulting Platform before I am able to access capital raising?
Usually, yes—but that’s not always the case. Occasionally, we’ll work with a founder or leader who is “investment-ready” and so does not need the additional support or resources that our Management Consulting Platform provides.
We are company-focused. While we do have a continuously growing investor network, we do not represent the investors in a Varia financing round unless requested to do so by our clients. We note, however, that many of our investors are our clients and friends, and so we are careful to present them with well-vetted and supported opportunities, which are often (but not always) companies with whom we work through our Management Consulting Platform. When we capital-raise from our investor network, we help our clients develop terms and conditions, including valuations, that we think are reasonable and appropriate based on numerous factors, including the industries in which you operate, the location of their businesses, market conditions, as well as what we believe would be attractive to investors. It is our goal to help our clients get funded—but we do not guarantee success.
Varia’s Co-Founders, Scott Friedman and Andrea Vossler, are also Partners at Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP (“LMWF”), Varia’s preferred legal vendor. Scott is also Chairman of LMWF, and Scott and Andrea Co-Lead the Startup, Venture Capital and Family Business Practice Teams at LMWF. As a result, and only at your request (some clients prefer to retain their own separate legal counsel), LMWF will represent, from time to time, both you and Varia in connection with various matters, including financings. This relationship is disclosed publicly on this website and in Varia’s and LMWF’s engagement letters with you. We also discuss these relationships at the commencement of our engagement to ensure that any potential conflicts are not only disclosed, but carefully considered and thought through and, if desired, waived.
We have found that conflicts of interest are very common. We have further found that “conflicts” can create “opportunities”—to make helpful introductions, reduce fees and expenses, and shorten a learning curve. As a result, we find that our clients not only request our assistance on such matters but substantially benefit from our joint efforts. But, you are not required to engage LMWF to work with us at Varia—we simply offer our legal services through LMWF as a resource to our clients because of the business and cost-synergies and efficiencies of this joint representation. Our goal is to make sure that you always remain comfortable with what we are doing and why we are doing it. We are happy to work with you as lawyers. Or as consultants. Or both. If you are comfortable with those conflicts, we’ll further disclose them and ask you to acknowledge that disclosure and waive them in writing, as required by the rules of professional ethics governing lawyers in New York. And, if you’re uncomfortable with those conflicts, we will work only as your lawyer or through Varia, but not both.
We don’t think so. It is well known in the venture capital community that lawyers were critical to building Silicon Valley. Those lawyers played—and continue to play—a very different role than “suburban lawyers” who give “useful advice about incorporating, writing contracts and such.” Those lawyers have deal-making roles that involve, among other things, business advice, making connections, helping fill out top management teams with appropriate personnel, and, in “advisory roles,” “offering general business advice, rather than purely legal advice.”
As noted Silicon Valley attorney Craig Johnson observed, “[a] would-be entrepreneur… Often lacks credibility and has great difficulty reaching the right people who can help the new business. By enlisting the services of an experienced business attorney and law firm, the entrepreneur can be introduced to potential investors and board members who otherwise would not be willing to spend the time… Silicon Valley can be thought of as a network of networks, with certain people acting as gatekeepers. The successful business lawyer is one of the gatekeepers. Others in the network value their judgment and experience.”
We believe that our clients benefit from our network of partners—each of whom has valuable expertise in the areas that you need. They deeply understand the unique challenges that come with leading a business. They’ve been there, done that—with success—so that you can more quickly and cost-efficiently start, grow or transition your business.
While we don’t represent investors in Varia-related financings, our investor network does include our clients and friends, as well as venture funds, family offices, private equity firms, and others across the U.S. and globally. Our ability to help our clients raise capital requires that we thoughtfully vet and support our clients to ensure we present these investors with compelling investment opportunities. For these reasons, we focus on quality over quantity of deals—and most, but not all, of the investment opportunities that we present are our clients with whom we’ve worked through our Management Consulting Platform. In a way, our Management Consulting Platform provides our “seal of approval” that investors value.
The impressive bios of our core internal team can be found here. Our developing network of partners can be found here. We believe that the best companies are built and backed by teams with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and experiences, and by applying strategies from other disciplines and industries to develop innovative ways to solve complex business and people problems. As a result, our core team and partners are lawyers, entrepreneurs, MBAs, doctors, engineers, economists, mathematicians, marketers, business developers, philosophers, writers, artists, technologists, architects, etc. And even a priest. Depending on the nature of our engagement, we may include our preferred vendors’ fees in our agreed-upon fee.