Michael Basch is the Managing Partner at Atento Capital, a return-focused early-stage investment vehicle investing directly in startups as well as through venture funding. In addition to driving returns, Atento Capital concentrates on job creation in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Michael is a serial entrepreneur who — after starting as a barista at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf — later began operating 22 stores and managing a $19 million revenue operation. After angel investing in college, Michael successfully scaled and sold two businesses. In 2016, he served as a volunteer for the Clinton Campaign, helping to organize and deliver Madison, Wisconsin.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Michael Basch’s entrepreneurial journey
- What did Michael learn from acquiring and operating multiple businesses?
- Tips for organizations promoting diversity and equity
- Why Michael exited his investment business to become involved in politics
- Michael’s key lessons from running for mayor of New York City
- How Atento Capital helps companies achieve their full potential
- How Atento benefits from having a diverse team
- Michael’s advice for entrepreneurs
In this episode…
Raising capital can be a great way to get your business off the ground, yet many startup companies struggle to acquire the funds. So, how can you obtain the finances to launch your business?
Michael Basch says raising capital is not the end goal but is one of the many strategies for scaling your business. Considering capital from a growth perspective will help you find willing investors in your company. With Atento Capital’s collaborative and supportive environment, you can share ideas with other startups and gain valuable insights for raising funds, managing clients, and boosting sales.
In today’s episode of The Same Day Podcast, Mat Zalk sits down with Michael Basch, Managing Partner at Atento Capital, to discuss raising capital to achieve high-level growth. Michael talks about what he learned from acquiring and operating multiple businesses, how Atento Capital helps companies realize their potential, and his advice for entrepreneurs.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Michael Basch on LinkedIn
- Atento Capital
- Pod Save America
- Pod Save the World
- We Refuse to Forget: A True Story of Black Creeks, American Identity, and Power by Caleb Gayle
- Scott Reeves on The Same Day Podcast
- Lee Easton on The Same Day Podcast
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Keyrenter Property Management.
Keyrenter Property Management is a full-service property management company who helps their clients buy, renovate, and operate real estate assets.
They help clients build wealth while taking the headache out of property management.
That’s why, no matter what rental you have — single-family homes, condos, townhomes, or apartments — they can give you the management solutions you need.
Welcome to The Same Day Podcast where we discuss driving incremental business growth and other topics related to real estate, property management and entrepreneurship. Now to the show at hand.
Mat Zalk 0:21
Mat Zalk. I’m the host of The Same Day Podcast where I connect with top business experts and real estate leaders. Our past some of our past guests that I’d love to mention Sean Printz owner and founder of Elect Technology, Scott Reeves, and Chickasaw Community Bank. And Lee Easton had a great podcast on his business AeroVision and some of the things that it takes to be an entrepreneur. Today’s episode is brought to you by Keyrenter Property Management at key rental property management. We’re a full service property management company helping our clients buy, renovate and operate real estate assets. We help our clients build wealth while taking the headache out of real estate. Listen, Mike, you’re a prime example of a great client that we’ve helped you and I have purchased and rented, sorry, purchased and renovated and then rented nearly a dozen properties together, we buy them for cheap, we fix them up, and we refinance out of the assets so we can do it again. In fact, so much of our ability to service our clients on the contracting side has come from what you and I have done together in our partnership from the early days of Keyrenter are so I want to give you a huge shout out on that for sure. But that’s why no matter what your what rental you have, whether it’s a single family home, a condo, a townhome, an apartment, we’ve got the management solutions that you need, go to Keyrenterpmc.com or [email protected] If you want to send us an email before introducing today’s guests, I want to give a huge shout out to the original Christy Hemric for introducing Mike and I back in 2014. She actually was the initial person that put us in touch and I’m forever grateful to Christie for making that connection. So it was Tulsa, Oklahoma, I should say. Mike Basch is our guest today is a serial entrepreneur and a political enthusiast with a bachelor’s bachelor’s degree and an MBA from USC all by the ripe old age of 24. Mike was managing 22 Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf stores at the same time which is both a testament to his managerial skills which he was honing at that time and also a testament to his capacity as a as a leader and just as a human being that doesn’t sleep as much as he maybe should. Mike has had two successful business exits bapco and spot ad one was manufacturing business among as a an ad. I don’t even remember Mike, you have to tell us Atento an ad tech business Atento it was a Tulsa based Atento I should say where Mike is now founder of that business is a Tulsa based investment firm focused on returns quality job creation and being helpful, which is where the name of Atento comes from. Atento the premier VC firm in Tulsa focusing on early stage investing, fund investing, and even recently expanded into northwest Arkansas. It’s also worth noting that Mike is the preeminent expert on the conspiracy theory that promotes me Mat Zalk as the potentially a current or former CIA member and he spends his free time investigating my whereabouts during the 2008 to 2014 period. That often comes with investigation like direct investigation, interrogation of me at social events, which can be fun or awkward depending on the situation. Welcome to The Same Day Podcast. Mike Basch. I’m so happy that you’re here. How are you?
Mike Basch 3:21
I’m good. Thank you for having me. How are you?
Mat Zalk 3:23
Absolutely. I’m great. So let me talk early. Your early days you’re at USC, born and raised in LA How did you end up working at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and managing 22 stores? What was the trajectory from like, your first day of employment to managing all the stores?
Mike Basch 3:37
Yeah, so at age 16, I started working at Coffee Bean as a barista, and a bunch of inefficiencies. And so I started, it took over the scheduling and the ordering and hired a bunch of my friends and became the system manager and 17 was eating manager quit. And I started running the store in Beverly Hills. And from there, we opened a store a couple blocks away and then over a bunch of stores. And by the time I was 23 years overseeing 20 to 22 stores a 90 million revenue, p&l and a 400 person team.
Mat Zalk 4:08
How did the manager whoever you reported your 16 when you were like mmm, excuse me, there’s a couple of inefficiencies was that guy like what a punk kid trying to tell me how to do my job or whatever did they did he just or she just embrace it? Like how did that conversation go
Mike Basch 4:23
is his name was James Morales and he really didn’t embrace it we’re still friends to this day. He really did embrace it and and I added significant revenue and reduced cost to our operation by and I freed up his time have really so So for him it was like truly like a win win. It allowed him to not have to be in the back in the schedule ordering and and also having to be able to receive have more revenue because we were better staffed as well as like less wastage. And so it was like it was it was really just better for him and he just got to at least let it give him some credit. Like he tested it out and it worked and let me kind of just fully take Over, if she went 16 This guy’s coming every day, I remember and he’s gonna double semi dry nonfat cappuccino and dama Slammer cake. And one day yesterday, I don’t want to be when I grew up, and I told him I wanted to be the CEO of coffee bean, because at the time that was as big as I could dream and turns out that he was the CEO of coffee, no way. And yeah, and so. So you didn’t know that when he didn’t? I didn’t know that Undercover Boss. He was just like, daily customer. I was like, you know, work in the mornings. And, and, and yeah, and and we became friends. For a long time after that.
Mat Zalk 5:36
How did he? How did you find out that he was the CEO? Eventually, somebody was like, Yo, that’s the CEO.
Mike Basch 5:40
Yeah, that’d be my job. Someone else knew and told me,
Mat Zalk 5:45
that’s amazing. But you know, in this process of, of, of solving problems, the average person, it seems to me would just be like, Oh, scheduling kind of doesn’t work and blah, blah, you know, that doesn’t work and whatever, but you, you somehow grabbed the bull by the horns and took control the situation and actually provided a solution when nobody there to forehead, right. I mean, why? Where does that kind of problem solving gene come from?
Mike Basch 6:11
I really don’t know. I love efficiency and optimization and kind of everything. So if I see like long lines at the door, and other people working as I think of myself, okay, like, how could this be better? If I see like many people working and no customers, then that doesn’t make sense to me either. And so starting understand, like, if you schedule based on number of transactions per hour, especially in the mornings, when is your peak business, if the line is past a certain point, people will stop coming in. So you literally don’t capture business? It’s not just slower business. And so I think like, I think like, from a macro basis, it’s like life is about maximizing potential. And, and everything like you should like giving people a different potential different businesses that have potential, but like, you should always be in the potential maximizing, I think you’re also very much the same way with Keyrenter in terms of like constantly improving efficiencies and automations. Like, how can you improve, improve, improve, and I see the world the same way.
Mat Zalk 7:02
And so So transition or fast forward that a little bit? How did you end up exiting Coffee Bean? And how did you transition into your next business?
Mike Basch 7:10
So in it, it was kind of a serendipitous. Did Coffee Bean through undergrad and into business school. During undergrad at a couple of side businesses. One of my friends had a t shirt company selling T shirts to charities and sororities. I was doing some part time sales for them as just like a hustle. When they finished, they actually rented an office from one of my Coffee Beans on Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Glen that was their office and started getting more and more involved with that helped them actually get transitioned from fraternities and sororities to corporate and actually referred copying as a customer. In 2007. By time we got 2007. So they had been working on my coughing for a couple of years. I kind of felt it was, it was I felt the opportunity to be bigger, with Damco than a set of coffee and coffee and was amazing. But it I was a run its course. But it just it there was more exciting to be able to coffee bean for seven years, and kind of made the jump over to Vanco and bought it and is the fifth partner and me my four friends from our fraternities, five of us kind of guys, bootstrap that business, kind of, for next decade to 160 people, something like $37 million in revenue across six countries, and sold it. And now it’s a division of a public traded company, I think is like a $300 million plus division, even three to five guys are
Mat Zalk 8:35
still there. Wow. And so what was your role? I mean, you started off doing sales, you’re hustling that element of it, but after a while you you grew a team? I mean, how did it work? We always in sales, or were you helping with efficiencies and, and processes were there?
Mike Basch 8:48
Depending on who you asked, you’d say I was I was I was I was creating the need for other people to create efficiencies and processes were moving very fast. But But I love it.
Mat Zalk 8:56
It’s a good point that oftentimes a sales sales function have done really right cannot, you know, exceeds the abilities of the operations team, which is a challenge in any business.
Mike Basch 9:05
Yeah, so I’ve. So I actually, so a couple of thoughts on that. I mean, one is the way we set up the company, there’s a kind of a head guy, Phil, who’s the CEO, and then the other four of us each had their own divisions. My division ended up by the time I left was like two thirds of the company’s revenue and profit. I had a really good operations guy who I hired in 2009, who kind of rode rode the wave up with me, named Ronnie Moray, who actually has his own company called rod here, and he isn’t gonna go first. And that that’s doing pretty well. And, and, and he helped, you know, under him, you know, we had a pretty sizable team, both in China, in the US and UK. And he helped us scale skills we grew and we were in and we were able to kind of the sales were out was moving faster than the operations throughout the entire time, which is what kind of what’s been in New York and London, but we we were able to kind of not not lose too much of a beat and and I think I think we consistently redid our org structure and our systems to keep up with our new with with our growth and I give you know Phil the CEO, Jake the CFO and instant COO and, and the whole team bunch of credit for from a cash management perspective from a systems perspective from a hiring perspective or software perspective, are they really keeping up and and that really did allow us to grow bootstrapped? For as long as we did.
Mat Zalk 10:28
We were talking yesterday with a couple of days ago with Sean Printz owner of Elect Technologies. And he was mentioning that, you know, when he was early in the business, he had cash, he was buying stuff, technology, he was selling it into businesses, obviously, he’s got 60 or 70 days of working capital out of in the world. Did you ever face a situation where you you know, needed something you bought it from a factory in China, and you were 30 days and 30 days terms with with your buyer and you like got into a precarious situation? Or otherwise, just like feeling the heat? Or was it? Did you always have anything where you needed like resilient?
Mike Basch 11:02
Yes, I’ve got a great story about this. Since 2010, we kind of fell into it Season 10 Season 10 we kind of we kind of felt we kind of fell into the 2010. And we kind of felt we kind of fell into silly bands slash zany bands and crazy bands and wacky bands and these like animal shaped silicone rubber bands. What is that? He’s like, if you Google like silly bands, Z, you’ll see all these like animal shapes, silicone, rubber bands, and it went viral dozens when we met a bunch of the different companies in the Toy Fair and end up producing 10s of millions of them in a very short period of time. Wow. It was interesting about that is like we needed a huge amount of cash very quickly. And so we essentially called like every mother, father, grandmother rich aunts, you know, person we met on the street that kind of liked us and borrowed like, I don’t know, might be close to, I don’t think those eight figures but could have been close for a very short period of time to be able to fund the orders that quickly. And and, and we kind of put it on the line. And then God worked and delivered and we are air shipping. So the cycles were fast, you know, the cast cycles are fast, but they were deep. And because it was very clear as a bad. And so if it didn’t deliver by the end of the school year wasn’t sure it would be interesting in the fall, and then got the orders in April. So we needed all the cash at once to deliver what’s all get paid at once. And so we just like bet the house on it, like find it and manage it. And it’s kind of a life changing event. Actually,
Mat Zalk 12:33
why didn’t you go to a traditional bank, it would have taken too long. I mean, just go get go get so we had
Mike Basch 12:37
a line of credit for the amount of financing we’re talking about in relation to the size of the business. And we weren’t I mean, I don’t know where in 2010, maybe we were low eight figure revenue business barely. And we were talking about thought the other half of that in borrowing. And so you know, and we’re up to under a million dollars, probably the time when Bond borrow five, you know, I don’t know the numbers exactly. But if that isn’t that, that is like at the house
Mat Zalk 13:01
of bet the house risk, it was
Mike Basch 13:03
a big bet. I think about silicon on of that particular silicon, it’s kind of a commodity, so you’re buying huge amounts of raw materials, you could sell it back. And that says the dollar to this, I mean, so like the bigger thing is on this product is it’s like a 25 day production cycle. And it’s a very specific kind of silicone that’s like CPSI compliant for California, so like children, etc. But there’s a long production cycle. And so you have to take a position get to this production cycle. If for some reason your orders don’t come through, you could sell the raw materials back to the suppliers, almost.
Mat Zalk 13:32
But the factory wasn’t handling the raw material, you had to actually ship the raw material to the factory.
Mike Basch 13:36
So there was like there’s like a handful of this particular silicon raw material factories in China, but there was like hundreds of like die cutting in mass production factories, but they were buying them from these much smaller like like petrochemical factory basically, like a much larger but fewer petrochemical factories. And so there are two different factories and materials are a huge percentage of this and the scale that we were buying. It would save us some money to buy the materials and then ship them to we were producing like 15 factories. The actual die cutting, which it ended
Mat Zalk 14:09
up working. I mean, did you have to ship back a bunch of raw material or you basically ran through I think we ended
Mike Basch 14:14
up with like half? I think I forget the numbers. Now it’s been 12 years, but I think like, let’s say we made something like something like 8 million packs or maybe 12 Somewhere, let’s say 10 million plus or minus 2 million packs. And we got left with half a million packs for so far. And we sold those happening facts packs, we got rid of all raw material. We had half a million packs in inventory at the end, which we sold to like someone distributor in Spain in the fall are still above cost. And so we ended up ended up working out.
Mat Zalk 14:44
Wow. Okay, so fast forward. 2014 Bamako sold. Is that right?
Mike Basch 14:49
2014 I took a sabbatical. I think it was at the beginning of the process. I forget when it closed it might have been 2015 that it closed.
Mat Zalk 14:58
Its founder there was a period that you and I were in is Ready to go? Yeah.
Mike Basch 15:00
And I was on, I was on sabbatical from Vancouver deciding if I wanted to continue or not. But you know, I’ve moved to New York and I moved to London, set up offices there. If my partners were kind of saying, come back to LA, you know, we’re all in LA and things are, you know, that’s honestly, like, let’s get back on the same page with it all started families and businesses, kind of turning into more of a cash cow than a high growth story at the time. And to me, that was not exciting and insights sabbatical. And I think just culturally, we diverged a bit in terms of worldviews. And, and I, by the end of summer, I was like, Okay, I think I think I don’t think I’m coming back full time. And I think I’d be very open if there was an acquire to acquire as well, we were still very happy here being to finding a strategic they got that did acquire US, which is super nice and unpaid,
Mat Zalk 15:50
you know, so you cashed out cash? What’s the most important thing that you think you learned in the business either from from doing the work or from a mentor? What what can you share with somebody else that I mean,
Mike Basch 16:02
I’ll say things that I try, look, I mean, I think I learned a great deal. From my business partners in different capacities at different times, I learned to deal with moving fast and learned a great deal that like closing deals, and building things and recruiting people. I’ll say some of the things though, that I would do differently. And I’ve tried to do differently, since I mean, if you look at our leadership of that company, it was like five white men, our company was almost all male, almost all white in all leadership positions, except for the actual Chinese people in China, and indeed, people in India. And I think like it also the wealth of the company that understood the company was also all white men, best friends, you know, when we sold the company, no one else got rich from it, not that we got so rich, but it wasn’t distributed in any way. There wasn’t a party. It was we, I think we gave them some champagne at like, 930 in the morning. And it was like, it was a weird, it was a weird moment, and then ended up laying off like 20% of the workforce. It was really like not, and it was really not like a way that I would I would want the company to grow, that we’ve invested in or that I lead again, I’d want a more distributed leadership and whatever leadership was created well,
Mat Zalk 17:15
but let’s pause let’s pause on that for a second. If there are five people that found a business or four people that had a business, how do you how do you create that distribution? For you know, greater equity of the people in the organization? And then how do you how do you promote diversity of people of color of women, of people of all, you know, it looks in general so that you so that it can be, you know, generally more equitable and you have more, you know, more wealth creation across a better swath of people.
Mike Basch 17:43
Yeah, so I mean, I, and I think they have you looked at their team now she has like 400 people on LinkedIn, I looked the other day. I think it looks like they’ve adjusted but I think it’s a it’s like being intentional about who you hire beats about, like stock options and long term incentives for your key people. And we there were people that had been there at the time, more than a decade that didn’t have any ownership in the company that were very key to the company’s success. And so if you really intentional about who you hire, and then attention about the professional development, the people there, you don’t have to fall into having you know, probably the seven lead executives when I left we’re all white men. I’m trying to think there was like any female leadership anywhere and and
Mat Zalk 18:25
what now that you and we can fast forward to Atento in a second but now that your that your senior leadership team is far more diverse, what do you think that that diversity could have added to to
Mike Basch 18:33
different different differences of opinions? I think we, you know, we made a lot of, you know, we I don’t want to say we were in an echo chamber, but there’s definitely homogeny and we were all white Jews from LA. May one was from San Diego, and one was from Bakersfield. So we had like a 300 mile gap. And all
Mat Zalk 18:54
Bakersfield by far by far the most diverse in opinion there. Okay, so you close down that chapter with with a with bambo you take a sabbatical and you end up starting spot at tell us about that transition like why why that?
Mike Basch 19:09
So I didn’t start spot I didn’t start BNPL I was the fifth person for both in partner for both. I saw Vanco look, it was a great run super great.
Mat Zalk 19:17
Yeah, so I shouldn’t say I shouldn’t say that you’re you’re like predominant historically, your predominant skill set has been like running fast and scaling things that’s a good point. Yeah.
Mike Basch 19:25
Even the Tulsa component as well and so that’s correct and so not the idea guy I’m someone that I think has decent news to recognize good idea and figures it out figures out how to grow very quickly and and so I BMO provided me the ability to become an accredited investor start investing and start investing real estate doesn’t five start investing in venture and angel investing. He says well, doesn’t 13 One of my first 10 investments let’s say was an Israeli ad tech company called spotted I knew now to knew that I wouldn’t be investing in ad tech but but but I’m the company It was the time trying to be the forefront of algorithmic rich media. So interactive media buying and buying and installations and selling and acquisitions and using like highly engaging gamified ads. The rich media market wasn’t that mature. I, when I was a 14, when I was with you in Israel, I had nothing to do because the war broke out and you left. And so I started kind of consulting for them and helping them I think this summer, they talked me into to coming in as president,
Mat Zalk 20:25
you said left, you said left in the same sentence as like, war broke out as if I fled, I just went back to a job.
Mike Basch 20:32
kind of left, but the combination of those two things made us I didn’t have very much to do all that.
Mat Zalk 20:42
Also, like it’s like, war broke out. And I had to go back to my CIA post somewhere and like, do reconnaissance.
Mike Basch 20:47
And I remember I remember like having like a very inconspicuous meal with your Lebanese contact, and it’s like undisclosed restaurant. It wasn’t clear how you two knew each other and, and he was like, twice your age and very influential in Lebanon. And then all of a sudden, we never saw from him again. And he went back to Dubai. That’s a series of events I
Mat Zalk 21:02
spoke to LA to really recently actually is just such a great guy. I spoke
Mike Basch 21:06
to him recently. How’s it going? What’s it like over channels or
Mat Zalk 21:09
he’s there, it was over telephone. He’s in New York. And he wants to invest in Tulsa real estate. So I was chatting with him. I want I want to get him involved. For sure. It’s such a great guy. Anyways, so it’s a war breaks out, I flee. You you get involved with spot at?
Mike Basch 21:23
Yeah, so I was an investor. You know, it was kind of a technical founder, three, the four guys were were pretty technical one guy was kind of odd to have, but didn’t have any of us relationships, all the customers in the US I get involved. Actually, Uber had been recruiting me at the time as well. Uber ends up being their big customer, work with the business, the business kind of goes live in 2014. And it says importantly, but it’s like very low scale. Gotta have this kind of the big moment for the business was this internal conflict of like, do we stick with rich media? And I’m basically saying, Look, I’m an ordered from Uber and Expedia and StubHub and Amazon and like, all of which they’re getting huge scale on static, which is like non interactive ads. Why don’t we just do the static until we reach media catches up? Intellectually, the technical founders that this is like, not exciting, but I was like, it just bought a much bigger market, even though we have like point 1% It’s so big and we have like 100% of this other market and it’s not and so we end up doing it, you know, going to like from zero to $16 million in revenue and under two years 85% margin I was like, Yeah, let’s go set up you know, my my non solicit bam, go expireds, like hired old BAM Countians in London, and the US set up in New York, London, China, California, very similar geographies, to Banco and under 12 months and like just like turned it all the way up. It was a crazy roller coaster. You know, I’ll never forget we were Google addicts is product there in 2015. And 2016. Like Google’s like internal DSP, which is, like what we were ended up like, copying our code. And then they like, turned us off in a way and doing like 70 grand in revenue day to zero. Over Memorial Day weekend, one year from the day we turned on. But then we like got on to Baidu. And we’re up to like a million dollars a month on Baidu, it was just like this crazy was out of a movie, really amazing experience. But I left for the reason why I left bam, because I kind of, you know, I had this 30th birthday that you were at in in cancer pay and I was beatings. All the time. That was not the right girl for me. And I remember waking up that morning after my 30th birthday thinking like oh my god, like what am I doing with my life, like the world is no better for me, I haven’t been in it. And I want to like change my life. And I don’t wanna wake up at 40 feeling like, like, I’ve not contributed to society, my parents book to do gooders, verse dwellers, and I wanted to be both, I just to do well, and so and so going to work in ad tech was uninspiring, and I was kind of involved in the Hillary Clinton campaign as a volunteer since since she announced basically and by the summer of 2716, December 2016, and watching the Republican National Convention, and note that I was Republican, young in my younger years, so not that I’m wasn’t a devout anti Republican, but watching the convention to me as a grandson of a Holocaust survivor, and on one side and on both sides, one side Auschwitz, one side, German I kind of felt like the rhetoric of blaming immigrants and blaming in in demonizing press and all these things was was the was fascism, and I had this kind of out of body experience. So you know, in watching each night that convention, Giuliani, Christina Ingram, and finally, Trump, like called an emergency board meeting with spot and said, Hey, I think we should move the entire company to Wisconsin, we’re so far ahead of our revenue goals for like, we’re ahead of our next year revenue goals at this point, you know, and have an entire company you can work a couple hours a day to keep things moving, and it can work for cleaning the rest time. Remember, these are all my friends and my brother and like, I control it all.
Mat Zalk 24:38
How was that received? How was that received? I want to take all the company resources and I wanted to especially Israeli Trump was pretty good for Israel.
Mike Basch 24:46
So it was received first of all, they actually didn’t believe that Trump could win and so they kind of laughed at me on on one hand, and on the other hand, there’s like you’re clearly like not your mind is I think he’s a fiduciary this company like you should take a leave of absence No, you can’t get everyone with you. And so I did and and I never get back and I’m really happy about that. And that was like the beginning of my journey to Tulsa in a way.
Mat Zalk 25:09
Is that how you met Jodie Finer my wife, by the way.
Mike Basch 25:13
I met Jody in 2014 When I lived in Los Angeles, after leaving Israel, I moved in with Korean Daniel, our mutual friend in Malibu. And I met Jody during I was there for three or four months. And I met Jody during that window of time.
Mat Zalk 25:27
Okay, so part of part of the reason I’m married to Jodie Finer today’s is because you met her in 2014. And connected us later.
Mike Basch 25:33
And the reason I’m in Tulsa, Oklahoma is visiting YouTube. So I guess I guess that for better or for worse, you know, this
Mat Zalk 25:38
is our avid we’re here together. Okay, so, so fast forward from there, Hillary doesn’t win. That what happened after that?
Mike Basch 25:47
That’s actually the next God. I was with God that night. And we went to this conference. And you you meet Jodie Foster The next night, is actually the most immediate thing that happened after that. And then we were all summit at sea by then the summit at sea, I decide to run for mayor of New York on social and economic justice and generational change.
Mat Zalk 26:02
Wow. And what led to that what catalyzed that change that change that thought? I mean, you came into you came into that, to that event? You’re kind of depressed, you’re, you’re out of sorts, and what led to that change?
Mike Basch 26:13
I mean, I didn’t know what to do, I think cities states and governments, non federal governments would never be more important. Because our federal government was going to be it. Our federal government would not be so scary under the Trump administration that I felt like, you know, I’m Friends of the founders of Tinder Friends of the founders of Uber, and the founders, always people that changed the world, you know, no one’s working for in government. And so like, Well, why can’t we use generation like, you know, hack government takeover government.
Mat Zalk 26:43
And so that’s the Singapore model. Right?
Mike Basch 26:45
Yeah. But I mean, if you look at like, there are countries out there where the best and brightest to work in government. And that’s to say that the people in our government aren’t the best and brightest. Our political systems, gridlocked and not functioning, unfortunately, and so and so. So yeah. So we did that for four months and four days really happy, did it really have a dropped out? One of the toughest things ever did, was dropping out and kind of recovering from that.
Mat Zalk 27:07
What are the lessons that you learned from running for mayor of New York City? What were the challenges that you overcame? And what would you do?
Mike Basch 27:12
Yeah, so I think I think it was a big learning about myself, I think, I think I feel really good. And kind of what I do for a living now in a way is similar to this is I feel really good about sitting in rooms of people like us to have the ability to help people. And utensil capital really means help. Like, I feel very comfortable telling, like talking about how we should help people. And like what we can be doing to help people you know, be it volunteering, or donating or mentoring or, or investing or whatever, in helping get being in the business of helping more people help more people is literally what I do for a living now. But it’s something I’m super comfortable with what I’m not comfortable with and what like ultimately, like crushed me and like the the burden of it put me in a really bad place for mental health perspective is that looking people in the eyes, and that the people I want to help and say, Hey, if you vote for me, you know, I will change your life, your life will be changed. And like never in a million years that I really actually really come to think that some person might think that Michael Basch would represent hope into me as Barack Obama, or that like like, they would kind of irrationally some person who’s stuck in public housing and their kids are at a high school with a 3% pass rate for state exams, and they don’t have access to childcare and don’t have access to health care. And they end up their father their children’s in prison for three strikes law that that for nonviolent drug, drug crimes for 20 years, like deep complex systemic issues, like never did. I think that someone who would actually like look to me to kind of irrationally, you know, get them unstuck. And it might have only been 50 people that were sending me text messages, Slack messages of my stickers on their kids lockers and all this other stuff. But but there was a nonzero chance, you know, that let’s say de Blasio gets indicted and all of a sudden somehow the next mayor of New York with 40,000 people in the $90 billion budget on a 1.3 trillion economy with $1,000,000,000,001.3 trillion economy, you know, there’s nonzero chance that somehow I become mayor and if I become mayor, there’s a nonzero chance that their lives could actually be worse. Not better, because it really is. You know, de Blasio is that was a known c plus. But I, you know, I think at some point, I wondered, like, Could I definitively say, I’d be better than that? And I thought I felt like I think so. But I don’t know so and I, I worry that the people I want to help could actually be worse. If somebody for some reason all the teachers strike and everyone’s strikes the first day trying to gain leverage for me, and it really was, you know, it just it was too heavy a burden. So I withdrew.
Mat Zalk 29:37
So fast forward to the time now that try to tend to let’s skip for a moment how you got to how you got to Tolson and the journey through Tulsa to Atento Capital. But you do in the end found a tentative capital, and how are you not helping people’s lives? How are you helping people be better help other people be better and what lessons did you take from everything you did prior to founding Atento Yeah, so why don’t we just start with what Atento is tell us a little bit about Atento. And then I want to hear about all the lessons that you learned how you implemented it?
Mike Basch 30:09
Yeah. So actually, we, you know, the way we describe ourselves these days, when we’re actually rebranding Our website is we’re Atento’s in the business of unlocking unsung potential through financial and human capital and bridging networks. And, you know, we invest in, well, first of all, we invest in early stage companies, we’re really humans both at work here, as well as in our portfolio. And we essentially in the business of trying to help them achieve their potential. And, and we do so to me is helpful in Spanish. And we do so by trying to provide you know, financial capital, but human capital, that can look like we’re helping them recruit helping them with customers, helping them strategy, you know, helping them raise additional capital, and we’re very hands on and so, you know, if you look, you know, I’m We’re in San Francisco, raised in Los Angeles, and lived in New York, London, and Tel Aviv, those are all huge cities with huge access to capital markets, huge amounts of entrepreneurs, huge amounts of venture, what do you think about, you know, the middle of the country, there’s a deficit of venture capital, a lot of the smart people went off to college, never came home and moved to Costa Rica, Google or Facebook, or wherever. And so there was a kind of a void of value, add capital, and network and network, you know, it’s part of the country and, and so a tempo in Tulsa, Oklahoma, looks to fill that void, and looks to kind of be the bridge between founders here and the coasts and we invest in both founders that are from here, as well as vendors, they’re willing to move here. And we’re generally willing to invest at an earlier stage and other funds might, you know, can be a high potential human with a really good idea that other VCs may say, Okay, we’ll make some traction first, we’ll say no, we’ll make a bet on you and work with you to make that traction, because they might not have the people we invest in, like, what if someone can’t afford not to work? And when someone doesn’t have access to rich friends to invest in them, then why should they not be having the right to build a company and we try and democratize access to venture capital by investing earlier than others would and working with them more than others would to try and help people achieve their human potential.
Mat Zalk 31:57
So when I walk into your office, I see a lot of that like in person I walk in there people there’s there are some kind of co working elements to your office, there’s a big kitchen area where people can cross pollinate ideas and a bunch of other stuff. But principally, what you see when you walk into the office is there’s like a little bit of co working space, and people are actively working on their ideas. And they can they can walk over a couple of desks over and solicit help from other people to do all the stuff that you just said, What? What role does that play, like being just access not just in the capital to the, you know, to what you’re offering, and you can actually actively make connections, but you can do that theoretically, you know, to somebody in LA? What role does it play to have a co working space where people are, like, actively engaging with other people other I guess, portfolio companies that you have founders, you know, in the same space?
Mike Basch 32:42
I mean, I think I think there’s a strong component of people getting ideas and learnings from one another, that is play space and destiny based intersection based and, and just having kind of other people that are also trying to think through main ideas that are going through some of the same challenges that are going through difficult fundraising and all the things that having a network component, like helps, like helps raise all ships.You know, I think I think in a way, we I could functionally do what I do in any city, I go to LA or New York and New Kind of the same thing. But the big part about what we’re trying to do is the unsung component, meaning like, we really want to be the difference between the person that could be amazing, but isn’t today that needs a couple of couple of little things, you’re there to help them achieve that potential. First, the person that’s gonna be amazing, no matter what, and like, we’re just capital. And I think like, like, you know, we think our place is a further our physical space further helps that by having that kind of collaborative environment. But that’s why we’re playspace interested.
Mat Zalk 32:42
And so tell me a little bit about the diversity component of your senior leadership team and the lessons that you learn how you carry those lessons forward from previous organizations. You said that bancos five of you and you’re all white and male, what have you done and what is your senior leadership team look like? And how was that really impacted? The growth of Atento?
Mike Basch 34:00
Yeah, so we’re majority minority and and I think about 50% But majority minority I love it. Yeah. And about 50% Female I think that’s on a given day and we put a lot of thought and intention to it. You will get our attention management team which has managers that Atento which kind of leadership team managers and tangent we didn’t management 10 tanagers continued concerns. And an artist management team is, you know, got two white men got two white women of African American woman and African American man so it’s like three men, three women, you know, 1/3 black you know, you know, it’s pretty diversity we could be more diverse but but but it’s something we really think a lot about and we don’t see it as like, man, we have to do this. We see this as like, this is a competitive advantage for us because we really do have a diversity of opinions and perspectives and backgrounds and I think it gives people in different rooms it makes decision making can make this making slower because you have more different perspectives coming into decisions. But it also can make things more comprehensive and holistic, because you really have a bunch of different worldviews. And so we also kind of think through how many people are local from Tulsa versus we recruit here. And it’s, I think it’s something like half and heads between 35 to 50%, from Tulsa and 50 to 65%. We’ve recruited at Tulsa. And I think that also creates a good diversity of opinions coming geographic perspective. And so it’s something we think about often.
Mat Zalk 35:31
And so what else about the 10? Turns, as you call them? Where are they coming from? How are you recruiting him? What are they adding to your business? And what are you adding to their lives as they go back into whatever they were doing before?
Mike Basch 35:41
Yeah, so the attend turns. We think it’s in a few ways. First of all, we are a tensor program, this summer has 29 people, probably a third of them from Oklahoma, two thirds from out of state. Three MBAs, the rest are undergraduates graduated undergrad, and we put them into two dorms, and we program it with a day of professional development and a bunch of each week and a bunch of social events as well. Like like we kind of think of it is sleepover camp meets first job with the KPI goal of being best some of their lives. And, and the way we do it, as we recruit all these folks at town, you know, we have a couple Princetonians a couple people from MIT, Cornell, we also have Oklahoma or you I mean, it really runs the gamut, Michigan, etc. And we recruit them, we give them a venture capital one on one experience, they like understanding venture, but they work in the portfolio. And so we’re meant to be a beachhead, to get these really talented people who may never come to Oklahoma, come here for a really well programmed summer, we’re going to portfolio and then hopefully, a if they’re from here to think about coming back when they graduate in the not from here opposite in Tulsa is on the radar, and they have some direct relationships with potential employers and that that experience is there for them,
Mat Zalk 36:51
so that they attend turns actually create capacity for the portfolio company. So the CEO or founder of a portfolio company can say, I’m working on this really hard problem, I need somebody to help me with this component of it so we can get to a solution and the intentions are actually working. And is that like a two month or three month thing? They’re working to solve that problem?
Mike Basch 37:09
Yes, 10 weeks? And that’s exactly right. And we cover two thirds of the cost of portfolio company covers about 1/3 and they’re meant to be leveraged into doing market research. Some of them are software engineers, or some of them are doing financial modeling or or like project management is a variety of functions, but we correct that they are meant to be like a value added employee to them.
Mat Zalk 37:28
I love it. How awesome What a great experience for both the attentions and also the founding the founders let’s turn for a second what are you reading? That’s not related to your business? How do you relax what do you what podcasts are you listening
Mike Basch 37:43
I listened to a Pod Save America which I didn’t realize that you incredible such big fans. You know, they look good political propaganda. But no, I listen to daily, everyday Pod Save the World is what I listen to as well by the Americans, sometimes Wall Street Journal sometimes, in terms of reading. I don’t get to read as much as I want to, I probably read the news the most and the kinds of macroeconomic trends is a there’s a need for personal reasons or because you it helps you make smarter investment decisions on the I really enjoy understand what’s going on in the world, politically in terms of foreign affairs, and economically and I also think it’s important from investment perspective to understand what’s happening the world to make better investment decisions and secular trends. So yes, I stay busy in that regard. In terms of books, the most recent book, I read, or I’m in the process of reading, is actually I recently I recently purchased Caleb Gil’s book. For Tolson, we refuse to forget, and I’ve kind of started opening up that I’m excited for that. And so I strongly recommend it for those of you who are listening to buy Caleb guilty a y le, really interesting guy. But yeah, I think, you know, my biggest challenge is lack of time. And I’d like to have more intentionality around getting to read more. But time is limited resources currently.
Mat Zalk 39:08
Yeah, I understand that’s, that’s certainly a problem that we all face with 24 hours in a day. Any final advice or thoughts or experiences that you can share on on helping young entrepreneurs get a business off the ground? And or experience that you can share for founders that are looking to find capital that are maybe in tier three tier two markets?
Mike Basch 39:30
Yeah, I mean, I think my big my big message is not all businesses should raise venture capital venture is a very specific kind of capital for high growth businesses. There’s a lot of other forms of capital or other businesses that should be bootstrapped like yours. That can be huge cash cows that might not require outside capital, even though I’ve tried to put capital in your business.
Mat Zalk 39:46
unsuccessfully, the chairman of the board, so that that is helpful. That’s true, and
Mike Basch 39:50
I appreciate that. But yeah, I think I think you know, capital is a MEK, a pet cat raising capital is not success as a mechanism to hopefully achieve and I think too many people that see capital raising raising capital as the ciment itself, it really is just a means that the ends and so but for those businesses that require capital to get certain point at which there’ll be high growth, capital can make a lot of sense. And for the that’s a situation where you know, you give us call.
Mat Zalk 40:13
I love it. Mike, thank you so much. I appreciate you being here. We’ve been here talking to Mike Basch, who is the founder of Atento Capital, a font of knowledge. And also, thank you for being my social chair in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Jodi, and I really appreciate it. Mike, thanks so much for being here. We appreciate you. Thank you. Let me back.
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