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The Startup Solution with Heidi Roizen
The Startup Solution tackles the make-or-break situations that entrepreneurs face, offering clear advice on how to survive and thrive in an early-stage company. Who’s it for? Founders, startup execs, and investors who want to learn from real-world situations, unpacked by Heidi Roizen, a “recovering" entrepreneur and current VC who has seen it all through 40 years and 40 boards.
OUR HOST
Heidi Roizen
Heidi Roizen has spent 40 years in the tech startup world, the first dozen years as an entrepreneur herself, and since then, 25 years as a venture capitalist. She’s served on over 40 boards, from seed stage to public companies. She also co-leads the Threshold Venture Fellows program at Stanford University and is a partner at Threshold Ventures.

Episodes

Jul 19, 2024
SEASON 3
EPISODE 7
The Case of the Compromised Capital
A person with a big online presence is calling out Athena for the seed investment she received from a big corporation that appears to be in opposition with Athena’s company’s mission. Heidi points out why founders need to know as much as they can about potential investors before they take their money to avoid being blindsided by an association that may lead to reputational fallout.
Jul 3, 2024
SEASON 3
EPISODE 6
The Case of the Verbal Term Sheet
Rudy, a founder in fund-raising mode, received a verbal term sheet. A what? Heidi informs Rudy that there is no such thing as a verbal term sheet and flags all the other issues with the investor’s offer. In this episode, Heidi resets Rudy’s expectations of what is involved in the fund-raising process, including the time it will take to properly diligence investors.
Jun 19, 2024
SEASON 3
EPISODE 5
The Case of the Radical Recap
Simone is a founder in a challenging situation. The only financing she can raise comes with a catch – she needs to do a recap. Heidi reviews how Simone landed in this position, what a recap entails, and the best path forward for the company and investors.
Jun 5, 2024
SEASON 3
EPISODE 4
The Case of the Dubious Debt
What do you do when you want to exercise your startup’s stock options but need to borrow money to do so? Do you take an interest-free loan from your company? Heidi counsels her former student Aisha on why that may sound like a great offer, but the devil is in the details. It’s likely that a loan could lead to painful financial consequences later.
May 22, 2024
SEASON 3
EPISODE 3
The Case of the 409a Freak-out
Many founders, like Alyssa, worry that a 409a valuation is considered a true market-based assessment of a company’s overall worth or potential. It is not. Heidi points out factors that influence a 409a valuation along with what is not reflected, namely, leadership, team quality, and disruptive potential.
May 8, 2024
SEASON 3
EPISODE 2
The Case for the Independent Director
An independent director can play a crucial role in mitigating conflicts of interest among board members while also providing valuable input. Heidi explains what an independent director does and why it’s important for a founder to include one on their board.
Apr 24, 2024
SEASON 3
EPISODE 1
The Case of the Infallible Founder
Chester, an early-stage entrepreneur, wants to put terms in place so he can never be fired by his board. Like many founders, he saw what went down with Sam Altman at OpenAI and wants to know what he can do to avoid a similar situation from ever happening to him. Heidi explains why boards are set up the way they are and reassures him that a board and accountability are good for an entrepreneur and their company.
Mar 6, 2024
SEASON 2
EPISODE 10
The Case of the Fraudulent Founder
Some ambitious entrepreneurs embellish the truth to achieve their goals. Is this seemingly innocent practice appropriate, or is it a gateway to engaging in illegal activities down the road? Heidi shares why well-meaning people become frauds and the steps every founder can take to catch and prevent this behavior.
Feb 21, 2024
SEASON 2
EPISODE 9
The Case of the Ace Advisor
Miles wants to hire an advisor, a well-respected University of California professor, but needs help defining the role, setting expectations, and formalizing the rules of engagement. Heidi, an experienced advisor herself, walks Miles through a step-by-step process to help him establish an advisor’s obligations and compensation to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship.
Feb 7, 2024
SEASON 2
EPISODE 8
The Case of the Nepo Nightmare
The CTO needs to fire someone who is awful at their job but is the big brother of the CEO. Heidi recounts firsthand her experience of navigating a complex commingling of family and startup dynamics to strengthen a healthy and productive company.
Jan 24, 2024
SEASON 2
EPISODE 7
The Case of the Secondary Showdown
Secondary stock sales can be tricky. Heidi shares a financial drama where the founder is upset that her VC is selling, and the VC is upset that the founder is selling. Learn about the ins and outs of a process that can lead to happier, wealthier, and wiser stakeholders.
Jan 10, 2024
SEASON 2
EPISODE 6
The Case of the C-Suite Shuffle
Leon no longer wants to be the CEO of the company he founded. He makes his decision after completing an exercise Heidi suggested to him in Episode 5 – “The Case of the Frustrated Founder." In this segment, Heidi helps Leon take the steps needed to communicate his decision to the board, identify and onboard a new CEO, and transition into a new role and happier life.
Dec 13, 2023
SEASON 2
EPISODE 5
The Case of the Frustrated Founder
Leon is a founder who wants his company to succeed but hates his job as CEO and is unsure if he’s the right person to lead the team. In this first of a two-part episode, Heidi shares how the founder role changes over time, what a founder can do to navigate that change to still love their job, and an exercise to find out the best path forward. In part two, we’ll find out what happens to Leon.
Nov 29, 2023
SEASON 2
EPISODE 4
The Case of the Email Evidence
Luka is sued! As part of the lawsuit, he must hand over all his email messages and texts as evidence. Heidi reviews what “digital communication hygiene” every founder should follow to avoid any bumps in the road if served papers. She also shares how the term “legal privilege” can protect you – but only when correctly used.
Nov 15, 2023
SEASON 2
EPISODE 3
The Case of the Carveout Conundrum
Anya needs to sell her company, but to do so, she needs to keep her team. She decides to financially motivate them with a carve-out agreement that will pay them when the company sells since their common shares will likely be worthless. Learn all the important steps to make when putting a carveout together.
Nov 1, 2023
SEASON 2
EPISODE 2
The Case of the Mythical M&A
Julian is running low on cash and starts to prep for an M&A way too late. Heidi shares what’s involved in an M&A process and the importance of building relationships with potential acquirers early so you have options in place.
Oct 18, 2023
SEASON 2
EPISODE 1
The Case of the Social Media Meltdown
Eddie reposts an inappropriate meme on social media and ends up with angry employees, disillusioned investors, and a tarnished reputation. In this episode, Heidi addresses how to develop a personal social media strategy to minimize the chance of creating a situation like Eddie’s.
Sep 27, 2023
SEASON 1
EPISODE 10
The Case of the Company that Wasn't
For the final episode of the first season of The Startup Solution, Heidi tackles what is, perhaps, the single most difficult thing an entrepreneur may ever have to do: wind down a company when it clearly just isn’t working.
Sep 20, 2023
SEASON 1
EPISODE 9
The Case of the Boardzilla Board Member
Felicia’s boardroom has become a battlefield due to the disruptive and even destructive behavior of one of her board members — but he is also one of her largest investors. Heidi lays out a variety of options for addressing this, including the nuclear one: how to unseat a board member who's causing problems.
Sep 13, 2023
SEASON 1
EPISODE 8
The Case of the Exposed Compensation File
Carl, a startup CEO, accidentally left a list of every employee's pay and equity in the printer. Soon enough, it was circulating on the company Slack. Heidi helps him understand that the most troubling thing exposed wasn't the payroll. It was the company's lack of a proper compensation philosophy.
Sep 6, 2023
SEASON 1
EPISODE 7
The Case of the Deadweight Co-Founder
In the process of closing her startup’s first round of outside capital, CEO Claire hit a snag. One of her co-founders had already left the company, and his massive share position for only a year of work concerned the new investor. Heidi explains how to allocate founder shares fairly, and what can be done if you may have already done it differently.
Aug 30, 2023
SEASON 1
EPISODE 6
The Case of the Millionaire Mirage
Nate has a first-world problem: As VP of engineering at a startup, he thought he'd become a millionaire when the company had its big exit — but he was crushed when he got only 5% of what he expected. Heidi helps Nate understand what likely went sideways, and what to consider the next time around.
Aug 23, 2023
SEASON 1
EPISODE 5
The Case of the Soggy Software
Heidi changes gears from recounting other entrepreneurs' challenges to share a story of her own from when she was the CEO of a software startup. Learn how a mishap with the office sprinkler system led to a reckoning about her company's culture.
Aug 16, 2023
SEASON 1
EPISODE 4
The Case of the Strategic Sucker Punch
Trent hits a crisis when his strategic investor lets their term sheet expire, and his $50 million round falls apart. Strategic investors are a huge part of the startup ecosystem but differ from regular VCs. Learn about the pros and cons of strategic investors, and how to craft a good deal for both sides.
Aug 9, 2023
SEASON 1
EPISODE 3
The Case of the In-law Investors
JJ, a Threshold Venture Fellow at Stanford, has in-laws who want to pull money from their retirement fund to participate in a “friends and family” allocation in JJ's seed round. Heidi sets JJ straight about the ins and outs of seed investing — and suggests at least one way to reward his in-laws for their support without putting them at risk.
Aug 2, 2023
SEASON 1
EPISODE 2
The Case of the Downer Round
Founders often think of valuation as the grade at the top of the paper, which is why few things take an emotional toll like the prospect of a down round. When Ann's company is faced with just such a thing, Heidi explains that terms end up mattering more than valuation — and that a down round needn't be a downer.
Jul 26, 2023
SEASON 1
EPISODE 1
The Case of the Boardroom Blow-up
When Priya informed her board that the company missed its quarterly sales target, she was met with a barrage of attacks. The real error wasn’t the business shortfall — it was how she managed the situation. Learn how to avoid her mistakes.
Jul 10, 2023
SEASON 1
EPISODE 0
The Startup Solution - Trailer
Threshold’s new podcast, The Startup Solution, hosted by Partner, Heidi Roizen, is coming soon! Each week, founders, startup execs and investors can hear about rarely discussed challenges that occur at startups. With each episode, Heidi will share advice and a clear review of lessons learned.