Builders Conference / Philly Tech Week / Startups

The VC reset lets ‘quality deals’ shine, and it’s even more important for founders to ‘be kind to people’

Insights from a keynote panel session at the 2024 Builders Conference.

Sherrod Davis of EcoMap Technologies facilitates a panel at the 2024 Builders Conference (Holly Quinn/

Following is a recap of one of the sessions at the 2024 Builders Conference, a daylong convening on building better innovation ecosystems. Notes for this piece were documented in real time on our community Slack — join here. Find other takeaways from the conference here.

Raising venture capital has never been a given, but economic factors in the 2010s led to a historic flood of startup investment that gushed forward throughout the last decade. Now, the tides have turned. The return of interest rate hikes has sobered the VC community. 

That’s a positive thing, according to Nasir Qadree, founder and managing partner of DC-based Zeal Capital. “I think the market needed a reset,” he said, “to understand quality deals.”

Take investors out of the focus!Mac Conwell RareBreed Ventures

In this environment, it’s important for founders to share their funding stories with others, said Crystal Berger, whose company EBO enables fast booking of talent for media appearances. 

Some founders are so focused on pulling in money that they forget what they’re trying to do with their companies, said McKeever “Mac” Conwell. His company, RareBreed Ventures, specializes in pre-seed funding for companies based outside the VC havens of Silicon Valley, New York City or Boston.

Now, instead of chasing growth at all costs, entrepreneurs must strive for that quixotic business standard called profitability. Said Conwell: “Take investors out of the focus!” 

AI has made starting businesses faster and easier, but it’s important to be intellectually honest about funding and just build, said Bob Moore, a serial entrepreneur who now runs partnership platform Crossbeam. “Part of the narrative,” he added, “is just, ‘Don’t die.’” 

He argued that in the end, there never was such a thing as “cheap money.” The grand majority of what he calls fake unicorns (or “candy corns”) still have to pay their investors before themselves. 

Moore is the author of a recent book called “Ecosystem-Led Growth,” which champions reliance on relationships instead of cold cash. With that in mind, he put forth a simple caveat for lasting entrepreneurial success: “Be kind to people.”

➡️More from the 2024 Builders Conference

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