The event

Thursday, March 31 2022

Recording of the live event

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What others have said...

RobertsaigeFBFebruary 14 24
I’m not sure where you’re getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for fantastic info I was looking for this info for my mission.

Sanjeev MittalApril 18 22
This was my first time attending BRIIA event and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. discussions were rich in content, there was enormous amount of help offered to startups, panels spoke from heart, they wanted startups to succeed, environment was very friendly and it was truly done in a Tri-valley (no tunnels no bridges) style. Les and team has done a fantastic job to create this platform in Tri-valley to help startups from all over the world. I am thankful to Les for all his hardwork on this and all the sponsors. Looking forward to more such in person/hybrid events.

Melissa WidnerApril 5 22
Really enjoyed participating in this event. Thanks, Les and team!

Ravi PolumuruApril 5 22
The best combination of people on the panel, having an open hearted discussion on how and what startups can do to grow and apply for fundraising options. The best part was(Not Happy Hours :D) everyone there wanted the startups to succeed.

Les SchmidtApril 5 22
This was a great event - great panelists, great community and great sponsors and supporting team. A must-watch for any founder.

The topic

In this era of unicorns and mega fundraising rounds, there is a quiet revolution happening in startup fundraising. The traditional path - from angel investors to venture capital and IPO - has been the holy grail for high-tech founders for decades. That playbook is starting to gather a little dust.

Reality, however, is much harsher.

By some estimates, less than 5% of companies that get initial funding ever make it to an IPO. Those stats imply that almost all startups will never access IPO capital.

But there's growing hope that a broader array of startups can actually get funded and grow. Why? because the traditional path is being challenged by all kinds of new investment approaches. What are these approaches? Which startups can take advantage of these new approaches? Will they replace the traditional angel-vc-ipo path?

In a vibrant Q&A format, our esteemed panel of experts — a venture capitalist, an angel investor, a revenue-based investor and an "alternative" funding advocate — will wrestle with these new opportunities and their associated pitfalls.

Our panel

Angel Investor - Gwen Edwards

Gwen is co-founder of the Silicon Valley chapter of Golden Seeds, the female leader focused angel network, where she focuses most of her angel investing. She also serves as Board Chair of the Angel Resource Institute, through which she delivers educational programs and leads research in the field. She is also a global advisor to the Astia Angel community. She seeks opportunities to work with ecosystem leaders around the world, from Scotland to Vietnam, and loves finding new ways to structure investments and encourage growth. She is a constant supporter of entrepreneurs in their efforts to deliver new products to market, find beachhead customers, and deliver returns to their investors. more...


Crowdfunder and more - Esteban Alvarado

Esteban is a Fundraising Manager at Wefunder - a leader and pioneer in driving equity crowdfunding. Esteban Alvarado's goal in life is to help innovation grow across the globe and to help founders connect with capital. He believes that startups are a preview into the future and wants to take part in shaping the future. He loves the scrappiness, the creativity, and the difficulties that come with creating new businesses. Esteban is also a co-founder of Project Unicorn.

Feel free to reach out to Esteban if you want to talk about early-stage startups, venture capital, or crypto!


Venture Capitalist - Lilia Shirman

Lilia is a tech industry executive, investor, and thought leader in B2B go-to-market. She is currently Venture Partner at West Coast Equity Partners, a growth equity firm that supports the development of technology companies that are transforming markets, lives, and the world.

Lilia literally wrote the book on customer relevance, 42 Rules for Growing Enterprise Revenue, and is a frequent speaker on maximizing corporate value. She holds a BS in engineering from UC Berkeley and was an Honors Cooperative Fellow and earned an MS in Management Science at Stanford University. Lilia was born in Odessa, Ukraine and lives in Silicon Valley with her husband from Moscow, Russia, and their two daughters. more...


CEO, Lighter Capital - Melissa Widner

It would be hard to find a more-qualified individual to talk about revenue-base equity financing. Lighter Capital was one of the first companies to offer this type of financing and the CEO of Lighter Capital is none other than Melissa Widner. She's connected globally to sources of capital from Europe to New York to Australia. But, perhaps more importantly, she's walked in the shoes of entrepreneurs and understands, first-hand, the challenges of growing a business.

Since 2012, Lighter Capital has been a pioneer in fueling growth-stage companies. Melissa's broad experience prior to taking the reins at Lighter makes her a perfect candidate to talk about the role of revenue-based financing! more...


The moderator

Les Schmidt - Executive Director at BRIIA

Les's breadth of experiences, an unquenchable thirst to learn and his “native language” (numbers and metrics) empower him with the ability to add value to almost any startup. For the past decade, Les has deployed these tools in support of entrepreneurship by • co-founding BRIIA • advising/mentoring AI/ML-powered startups and entrepreneurs • angel investing • working to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs at high schools and colleges. He even spent some time nurturing the San Francisco 49ers into the digital age.

This event was proudly sponsored by


At BRIIA, we believe that entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of our civilization. Without innovators and company builders, the human condition would stagnate. Our startup accelerator programs support entrepreneurs from idea to scalability. Our latest program — The Intelligent Accelerator Foundation Program — is available to any founder - no applications, no waiting. Our Advanced Programs in Healthcare AI and General Business AI prepare founders to raise capital and scale their businesses.