The Founder Journey with Brett Adcock ($2.7 Billion IPO)

His best advice on fundraising and handling tough times

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For this week’s deep dive, we’re trying something new. Brett Adcock took his first startup through a $100 million acquisition and his next one through a $2.7 billion IPO. Now he’s building autonomous humanoid robots all while growing a Twitter following of over 100,000.

He also was incredibly active and helpful during the SVB crisis in March.

Brett and I recently sat down to chat for this piece, and I’ve pulled together the insights he shared during our wide-ranging conversation.

You’ll learn how he thinks about fundraising outreach, why a founder who’s IPO’d spends time on Twitter, and how to “attack the impossible.” 👇

The Founder Journey: Brett Adcock

Building in Public

If you spend any time on Twitter, you’ve probably seen some of Brett’s viral threads:

Plenty of founders “build in public” like this, but Brett may very well be the most successful of them all.

So why would a founder who’s experienced massive success multiple times, and is now building a new startup from 0 → 1 (a time when every second is precious), bother writing detailed and tactical threads on Twitter every week?

When I asked Brett about this, he emphasized how helpful is can be for fundraising (at any stage). If Figure, his new autonomous humanoid robot startup, is successful then he’s “going to need to raise enormous amounts of capital.”

Building in public, or at least building an audience, allows him to get consistent exposure to prospective investors and top-tier talent. In fact, Brett said he’s already hired over a dozen people via Twitter for Figure.

Later on in our chat he hinted that driving positive, founder-led PR (something he’s written about before) was also a factor:

The bottom line is that people want to feel like they’re part of the ideas that change the world, and the founders who embrace that are more likely to build successful startups.

Tough Times

If a startup is successful, it’s easy to look at it through rose-colored glasses. But a founder’s day to day life is typically overrun with problems and trying to solve them:

When I pressed him on this, Brett shared that his mindset was not to dwell or fixate on any particular problems — instead, he just treats each problem (large or small) as something else to figure out and solve.

This is what sets great founders apart. Huge problems don’t phase them. They don’t let their startup get into a “death by a thousand cuts” scenario because they’re aware of and actively fixing even the small problems too.

Keeping yourself at an even keel and not letting the ups and downs sidetrack you from your mission is one of the key founder skills that’s not only hard to teach, but also often not emphasized enough to first-time founders before they start building.

Naming a Company

Take a second and think about the startup with the best name you’ve ever come across. What actually makes it a great name?

Successful founders almost never talk about this. In fact, most I know hate naming things — it’s one of my least favorite things to do too. But there is a science to it that can help make it easier. Brett shared his framework on Twitter earlier this year:

You can break his framework down into these rules:

  1. Be unique in your category

  2. Use words that can turn into verbs

  3. Limit your syllables

  4. Easy to spell

  5. Easy to pronounce

  6. Domain availability

  7. Trademarking availability

When talking with me Brett shared how, with Figure, it’s a word that is:

  • “Easy to say and easy to use”

  • Unique (in robotics)

  • Taps into the idea of a human figure

  • And is simply “just a really cool word”

It’s easy for founders to overlook naming their startups, or a new product — don’t do that. Your brand can become a massive moat (Google vs. Bing, Uber vs. Lyft, Airbnb vs. Vrbo, etc.).

Take every advantage you can — your startup’s name can be one too.

Fundraising Advice

Brett has raised over $1 billion in his career. Given the current macro climate, I asked Brett for his best advice for founders while fundraising:

He advised that founders not neglect the top of their fundraising funnel. Especially early on, before you know what investors will look for from your startup or how they’ll evaluate it (and you, and the market), founders should treat their outreach like “impressions” on social media.

Brett advocates for getting “the story you want to tell” in front of as many people as possible. Track the “impressions”, grow your top of funnel, and see how well (and, more importantly, who / what type of investors) they’re converting through the different steps of the funnel.

When we were fundraising for my last startup, we tracked the following statuses within our fundraising funnel:

  • Investor Identified

  • Intro Identified

  • Intro Made

  • Meeting Scheduled

  • Backchanneling

  • Committed

  • Signed

  • Wired → Remember, you don’t have the money until it’s in the bank!

  • Not a Fit / Passed

Once you’ve identified the types of investors who are moving down the funnel, you can narrow your outreach to find more who fit that mold.

Brett also shared how it is important to understand the mandates and theses that investors have when fundraising. Virtually every fund has verticals and specific sectors that they are looking to invest in. Almost always, your lead investor will be passionate and have a core thesis around your area of focus.

Attacking the Impossible

The number one thing that stands out about Brett’s overarching founder journey across his three companies is that he keeps taking on harder and harder challenges.

First, a software-powered hiring marketplace. Then, electric vertical takeoff aircraft and now, autonomous humanoid robots.

After he sold his first company, Vettery, for $100 million it would’ve been so easy for him to go relax on beaches for the rest of his life. At the very least, most founders don’t choose harder problems after success. Brett’s styled his career in the vein of two founders I have considerable admiration for in this regard — Elon Musk and Travis Kalanick.

When I asked him why he chose this path he said that, for him, being a founder isn’t about money — it’s about making a real difference and better future for the world (but that it’s completely fine if, for someone else, it actually is about the money).

He also compared “hard” startups vs. “easy” ones by saying that “hard” startups (aka hard problems to solve) have advantages:

  • Investors want to back big ideas

  • Hard problems make recruiting great people easier

  • I would also add that you’re likely to have less competition

Overall, Brett said “hard” startups are “2-3x easier to build than easy ideas.”


As startups experience hypergrowth, new challenges emerge at increasingly quick rates. It’s simply impossible to keep up, and relying on the systems you have in place is key.

Brett shared that the best way to solve hypergrowth-related issues, though, is through growth.

“Growth cures all things” — it’s intoxicating for your team and helps overcome or reduce the impact of problems.

He also pointed out that the biggest factor that allowed him to go from 0 employees to 70 in a short time period was the ability to communicate clearly. And that having singular documents, especially around company culture, that are shared clearly with newly joining team members, can make a big difference.

That’s a wrap — let me know what you thought of this format below 👇

📚️ Founder’s Library

💭 Brett talked about the importance of naming — here’s a useful and incredibly well curated resource of tools to help make each part of naming easier (from brainstorming to etymology)

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