Timing the Market and Optimizing Capital with Shawn Bercuson, BullVC

Meet Shawn Bercuson, Founder & General Partner of BullVC, who took center stage as the Featured Founder at May’s RevRoad University. Here are four lessons we learned from Shawn at the event:

1. The Relationship Between Success and Luck

Through Shawn’s entrepreneurial experiences, he has learned that you need to have the right idea at the right time.

“I’ve seen really great ideas and good teams fail because the time was wrong; and I’ve seen really bad teams and bad products succeed because the time was right.”

Shawn claims that he and the founding team at Groupon became the fastest-growing company ever partially because their timing was right. In 2008, there was little focus on small businesses. This allowed them to directly contact the decision-makers of small businesses, a task that would be much more difficult today.

“I don’t think we were any different than any other scrappy startup, aside from the fact that we were just really lucky and had the right idea at the right place and right time.”

On the flip side, when Shawn later launched a video analytics platform, known as Prescreen, he suffered from poor timing. Though a promising idea, the venture failed to build meaningful traction demonstrating that even the most promising startups can fail if the market isn’t ready.

2. Walk a Mile in Their Shoes

Entrepreneurs often overlook the challenges that venture capitalists in raising their own funds. 

“When I was raising, what I quickly realized as an entrepreneur is that I have to put myself in their shoes. What are they looking for? How is their portfolio constructed? What are they missing? What are they focusing on? Even though they invested in a company in a similar space and maybe it’s fintech—well, maybe they don’t want another fintech company. Maybe they have to balance that out with cybersecurity.”

He follows this same principle as a general partner at a venture firm pitching to big family offices, endowments, and institutions. Do your research beforehand to see if there may be a potential fit, or if the conversation would be a waste of time for both parties.

Time is a limited resource. And if I’m talking to them for an hour, I’m not talking to somebody else for an hour.

Understand what the investors seated at the other side of the table are thinking and looking for before requesting a meeting. Be smart about who you are talking to and how you position your company.

Shawn Bercuson of BullVC sits on the stage at RevRoad University.

3. Competing for VC dollars in a Crowded Market

“You’re not competing against all your individual competitors in the space. You’re competing against everybody else who wants to raise capital and is talking to these same [investors].”

Shawn estimates that even small boutique VC firms are meeting with approximately 400 companies a year and only investing in 6-8 per year—that’s just over 1%. He advises entrepreneurs to keep this in mind when building their pitch deck to strategically position their companies to stand out from the crowd. 

4. What Investors Are Looking For 

As in most things—it depends. 

In early-stage companies, investors want to see capital efficiency, profitability, and really big markets. In late-stage companies, the focus is profitability, gross margins, and a proven track record of growth. 

In years past, companies may have spent $0.80 to earn $1, and that was acceptable because they were growing a strong user base. Venture Capital dollars would be spent to subsidize those costs and help scale. Shawn reckons that we won’t be seeing that type of allocation in today’s VC environment.

“The good news is we have a lot more resources at our disposal that reduce costs. There’re all these tools available to us as startups so that we can be more capital efficient. And I think that investors want to see that those companies are utilizing those tools”. 

RevRoad University is a monthly lunch & learn event for entrepreneurs. Enjoy a short training on the best practices for your business. Then, hear from a Featured Founder on the ups, downs, & lessons they have learned throughout their entrepreneurial journey. Join us online at youtube.com/revroad or in person at 412 W River’s Edge Dr., Provo, UT 84604 (RevRoad HQ).

Scrappy Startup Strategies with Chari Pack of Persnickety Prints

Meet Chari Pack, the entrepreneur behind Persnickety Prints, who took center stage as our Featured Founder at April’s RevRoad University

In this interview, Chari divulges her scrappy strategies for scaling her business – and we’re not just referring to her love for scrapbooking! 

Here are five lessons we learned from Chari.

1. Scrappy methods lead to big successes. 

Chari bootstrapped Persnickety Prints from $0 to $1 million in only three years, never spending a dime on advertising. 

The infancy of her business coincided with the rise of the Internet. Chari got creative and found free marketing channels through online forums and blinkies on blogging sites.  

She printed coupons and handed them out anywhere she could find a crowd—parades, rodeos, etc. Chari purchased second-hand equipment for her print shop and used furniture for the lobby. 

“Sometimes we think we need to have a glass house up on the high corridor with our big name out front in order to be a legit business—or think we need to have all this money and funding. But I didn’t believe that. I didn’t want it. For me, it wasn’t really about the name or the status.”

For Chari, true success meant sticking with lean strategies and staying debt-free while growing her business.

2. Patience + passion = perseverance

Chari started her business when she was 35, after years of changing diapers and scrapbooking from her kitchen table.

When she found something she was passionate about—telling stories through printed photos—working through problems was fun and she enjoyed the journey. 

“I think a lot of us see the end result of a business and we don’t realize how hard it is to get to that point. A lot of people start businesses and quit, saying, ‘This is too hard.’ But it’s been hard for everyone.”

Very few businesses go from zero to hero in under five years. There is no get-rich-quick scheme and there is no predictable path to scaling.

In the era of instant gratification with everything at our fingertips, Chari emphasizes that building a business takes time. There will be ups and downs and in-betweens. But those who are willing to hustle and pivot along the way will rise to the top.

Chari Pack, founder of Persnickety Prints, chats with Brittany Ouimette, RevRoad PR specialist, during RevRoad University

3. Experience the world to find problems to solve. 

Everybody has some entrepreneurialism inside them. And people rarely set out to start a business just for the sake of starting a business. 

Most businesses are born from someone who discovered a problem that needed solving.

“I had no business plan, zero education, and had no clue what I was doing. I just tried everything,” Chari recounted.

She taught her children to get out and experience life because that’s how problems are discovered.

“I think one disservice we offer to our kids sometimes is giving them everything.”

Chari believes that great things need to be worked for.  From wishing your ski boot clipped differently to wondering why some photo shops print richer colors than others, thinking outside the box to find solutions will lead you down the path to solving real-world problems. 

4. Success looks different to everyone

It’s easy to compare your business and your success to others. You may read a headline that so-and-so company raised $20 million, or so-and-so landed a deal with Elon Musk. But that doesn’t mean those things are right for your business. 

“Every person, every entrepreneur is different—they have different strengths and weaknesses. And every business model is different,” Chari said.

Chari advocates that success is not one-size-fits-all and counsels that comparison is destructive to growth. 

For some, success is defined by money and raising funds to scale quickly. But for Chari, success meant balance in life and financial freedom.

5. Letting go to grow

For the last decade, Chari aimed for consistent 10% year-over-year growth.

Business was thriving and her team was shipping out thousands of orders per day, but Chari knew there were additional growth opportunities. Expanding into different markets, buying new equipment, building out larger teams—there were so many avenues, but Chari didn’t feel she was capable of doing it herself. 

“You start a business and it becomes your baby. It’s my fourth child. I’m so emotionally invested in it, but I also want it to succeed,” Chari shared.

Despite this deep connection, Chari recognized the need to step aside to facilitate the business’s expansion.

“I felt like I was the one stalling it a little bit because there’s so many opportunities with it,” Chari reflected.

“I have to put it in someone else’s hands—someone that has more people and resources.” 

Last year she found the right buyer and sold her company to enable its continual growth. 

RevRoad University is a monthly lunch & learn event for entrepreneurs. Enjoy a short training on the best practices for your business. Then, hear from a Featured Founder on the ups, downs, & lessons they have learned throughout their entrepreneurial journey. Join us online at youtube.com/revroad or in person at 412 W River’s Edge Dr., Provo, UT 84604 (RevRoad HQ).

RevRoad Entrepreneur Competition Spring 2024 Winners Announced

RevRoad Spring 2024 entrepreneur competition

Securing funding is the lifeblood of startup ventures, propelling companies forward from mere concepts to tangible realities. Beyond the glitz and glamour of winning a giant check, this pitch competition offers invaluable exposure and access to vital startup resources by making connections with fellow founders, mentors, and successful business leaders.

The Spring 2024 competition broke the standing record of applicants, bringing in over 250 startups nationwide. From this pool, the top 36 companies were invited to attend the in-person pitch competition on March 2, 2024 at the Experience Event Center in Provo, Utah for a chance to win awards totaling over $30,000 of value.

Without further ado, we are honored to introduce the winners of the Spring 2024 semi-annual Entrepreneur Competition, sponsored by Squire

$15,000 Squire Grand Prize winner – Success Fund

Mark Walker (SuccessFund), Jesse Myrick (SuccessFund), Joe Hillstead (Squire and Company, PC), Jonyce Bullock (Squire and Company, PC), Derrin Hill (RevRoad)

School districts use SuccessFund to prevent mishandling of funds (fraud) in schools. SuccessFund’s fundraiser approval management tools give districts oversight and unprecedented visibility into every initiative that solicits money from the community. School faculty use SuccessFund as a payment solution that manages fundraisers, events, school stores, and more. SuccessFund is expanding quickly and currently operates in nearly every district in Utah, with additional districts in Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and others.

$5,000 Runner up – Proactive Health

Alec Gustafson (Proactive Health), Derrin Hill (RevRoad)

Proactive Health keep seniors from going back to the hospital by monitoring their biometric data as they sleep, identifying their unique baseline, and leveraging multidimensional scaling analytics to identify concerning deviations. When concerns arise, the company reaches out to the senior, sees how they’re feeling, and coordinates with their care providers when necessary.

$2,500 3rd place – HoneyGrid

James Delorey (HoneyGrid), Derrin Hill (RevRoad)

HoneyGrid provides data-driven location targeting for local advertisers to boost ad performance, resulting in lower cost and better results.

$1,000 Fan Favorite – Interval

Brandon Davis (Interval), Connor Ashton (Interval), Derrin Hill (RevRoad)

Interval is a virtual AI receptionist for the automotive industry. Its AI receives all inbound calls to answer customer questions, schedule test drives or oil changes, track valuable insights, automatically send reminders, and connect directly to business CRM / DMS. Interval handles all things front office for auto dealerships or repair shops. The company mission mission is to help automotive businesses drive customer experience while still increasing sales.

WTCUtah Trailblazer Award (Value) – Whelm

Chipper Whatcott (Whelm), Ben Ruckman (Whelm), Matt Wunderli (WTC Utah), CEO Derrin Hill (RevRoad)

Whelm is an all-in-one business administration platform, built specifically for freelancers. Invoicing, digital payments, legal contract templates, eSignatures, project management, asynchronous client feedback, and more. All in one simple app. With Whelm, freelancers no longer need 5 different apps and subscriptions to run their freelance business.

Kiln Membership Award (Value) – Levo Therapy

Amber Linebaugh (Kiln), Thomas Lund (Levo Therapy) , Keanna Nabrotzky (Levo Therapy), Derrin Hill (RevRoad)

The Levo App provides personalized tools to amplify the benefits of each therapy session. Designed to complement your therapist’s guidance, it offers a suite of intuitive features like mood tracking, journaling, and custom reminders. This ensures that the insights and progress made during therapy are integrated into your daily life, fostering continuous growth and self-awareness.

Thread Consumer Product Award (Cash) – Breath of Life

James Drake (Breath of Life), McKenzie Bauer (Thread), Derrin Hill (RevRoad)

Breath of Life is an industry disruptor designed to actually solve the trauma of a terrifying choking incident. We are determined to see this brilliant choking rescue device save lives and give peace of mind to establishments all around the world.

Soul Seed Academy Growth Training or Services Award (Value)- Best Foot Forward Consulting

Sarah Asay (Soul Seed Academy), Reneé Rodriguez (Best Foot Forward Consulting), Derrin Hill (RevRoad)

Best Foot Forward Consulting helps protective parents who are in a custody dispute with an abusive co-parent to get the custody arrangement that is safe and best for their children.

We congratulate the incredible entrepreneurs who made it to the semifinals and especially those who won. This event is only made possible through the contributions of our fantastic judges, sponsors Central Bank of Utah, Squire & Company, PC and RevRoad Capital, and all the competitors, team members, and community who support entrepreneurship.

For information about future RevRoad Entrepreneur Competitions, please visit ecomp.revroad.com.

RevRoad Entrepreneur Competition Fall 2023 Winners Announced

RevRoad is proud to announce the winners of the Fall 2023 semi-annual Entrepreneur Competition, sponsored by Central Bank. 

As a beacon for emerging startups, both in high-growth and lifestyle sectors, the competition provides a platform for participants to showcase their innovations. With an impressive lineup of judges, this competition is an ideal  arena for entrepreneurs to forge connections, receive valuable feedback, and hone their pitching skills.

The Fall 2023 edition broke the standing record of applicants, bringing in over 200 startups nationwide. From this pool, the top 36 companies were invited to attend the in-person pitch competition on Oct 14, 2023 at the UVU Keller Business Building. 

Of those top companies, the following companies received awards with over $30,000 of value. 

$15,000 Central Bank Grand Prize winner – Gnara

RevRoad CEO Derrin Hill, Gnara Founder Georgia Grace Edwards, CB Vault Executive Director Jake McHargue

Gnara is on a mission to help everyone answer nature’s call (quite literally) via our patented GoFly zipper technology. We’re revolutionizing women’s clothing and adapting it for everyone’s needs—from hiking to serving on the front lines—through innovative and inclusive design that makes people feel safe, comfortable and confident to explore as they are, whether at work or at play. 

$5,000 Runner up – Team Nation Sports

Team Nation Sports CEO Whitney Clayton, RevRoad CEO Derrin Hill, Team Nation Sports Co-Founder Matt Clayton

Team Nation Sports builds software that turns sports learning into games on phones. The company believes that if you can learn how to learn football, you can learn how to learn anything. 

$2,500 3rd place – ILLA

RevRoad CEO Derrin Hill, ILLA Founder Tana Hoffman

ILLA is an AI-driven adventure platform for women+ who walk, run, ski, hike, bike, climb, paddle, surf, brap, and more!

$1,000 Fan Favorite – KAXI

Kaxi Founder and CEO Lexi Cuillard

Kaxi is a women’s hair accessory company that focuses on both style, function, and most importantly — hair health!

WTCUtah Trailblazer Award (Value) – Nani Swimwear

RevRoad CEO Derrin Hill, Nani Swimwear Fo-Founders Jana Barlow and Amy Rasmussen, WTCUtah COO David Carlebach

Nani embraces strength and confidence with active swimwear that not only looks good but feels good. Designed with adventurous women in mind, Nani is made for movement. Nani is the Hawaiian word for “beautiful”, and our mission is to create active swimwear that empowers women of all shapes and sizes to #livenani by seeking adventure, being kind, and striving to give back.

Kiln Membership Award (Value) & Thread Consumer Product Award (Cash) – Powder Baby LLC

RevRoad CEO Derrin Hill, Powder Baby LLC Founder Kylee Black, Kiln CEO and Co-Founder Arian Lewis
RevRoad CEO Derrin Hill, Powder Baby LLC Founder Kylee Black, Thread Wallets Co-Founder McKenzie Bauer

Powder Baby LLC provides dry shampoo that is made of 5 natural , vegan, ingredients. The products are packaged in a paper bottle that is completely biodegradable and healthy for the environment. It is the only dry shampoo on the market to come in 5 unique colors that match your hair shade and leave absolutely no residue. Because the dry shampoo is made with only powder and no aerosol, it is more effective in absorbing grease long term and keeping your hair healthy, smooth, and looking clean.

We Congratulate the winners and offer our heartfelt gratitude to everyone that participated in this pitch competition!

We couldn’t have done it without our incredible judges, sponsors Central Bank of Utah, Squire & Company, PC and RevRoad Capital, and all the competitors, team members, and community who came together.

For information about future RevRoad Entrepreneur Competitions, please visit ecomp.revroad.com.

Pitch Deck Template – Get Ready to Pitch Investors or Compete in a Pitch Competition

Mobly pitching at RevRoad's entrepreneur compeition

What are pitch decks?

A pitch deck is a concise presentation (usually made in Google Slides or PowerPoint) that provides an overview of a business, typically delivered to potential investors, partners, or stakeholders. It serves as a visual aid to communicate key aspects of a startup’s vision, mission, product or service, market opportunity, financial projections, and team. Pitch decks are crucial tools for entrepreneurs seeking funding, as they distill complex information into a compelling and digestible format. Below, we’ll share a pitch deck template to help you get started. 

In a competition setting, where time is limited, a well-structured pitch deck ensures clarity and leaves a lasting impact on judges. Judges often rely on pitch decks to evaluate the viability and potential of a business. Pitch decks serve as a storytelling tool, allowing entrepreneurs to concisely convey their business narrative, influencing judges to positively sway their decision in favor of cash prizes. 

What Should I Focus On During a 5-Minute Pitch In a Competition?

pitch deck template for pitch competition

In a five minute pitch, it’s important to eliminate fluff and cut to the chase. Each judge may be looking for something different, so it’s hard to make a blatant statement as to what your primary focus should be. In general, judges will evaluate a company based on the following criteria: 

  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Market size
  • Validation and traction
  • Go-to-market plan
  • Investability 

How to Create an Impactful Pitch Deck 

Entrepreneurs gearing up for the upcoming RevRoad pitch competition need a focused and concise pitch deck to stand out to the judges. When you only have five minutes to share your pitch, it is critical to focus on the what matters most. Here’s a pitch deck template to guide you when creating a 10-12 slide deck that showcases the business you are building:

  1. Cover Slide:
    • Keep it simple with your logo and a tagline. 
  2. Introduction:
    • Start with your company’s vision or mission to set the stage with your “why.”
  3. Problem:
    • Clearly outline the problem you’re solving, emphasizing its significance in the market you’re addressing.
  4. Solution:
    • Showcase your innovative solution to the problem succinctly, avoiding unnecessary details. This may be more than one slide if you have a few products you want to show.
    • Don’t get too fixated on product features. Investors are going to care more about your traction (see below) than your solution. Anyone can build a product. The big question is whether or not that product actually has paying customers.
  5. Market:
    • Define the market size and your target customers. Consider using a TAM, SAM, SOM approach for a comprehensive view.
  6. What Makes You Different:
    • Show investors what sets you apart from competitors in the market. What enables you to break through the noise? Communicate your unique selling proposition, be it product features or brand differentiators.
  7. Traction:
    • This is arguably the most important section of your pitch. Dedicate a few slides to showcase your revenue, partnerships, and business model. Investors will want to know exactly how your business makes money, the current financial standing, and the growth potential.
  8. Projections or Big Picture:
    • If time permits, this is where you will dive deeper into the growth potential, presenting 3-5 year financial projections.
  9. Team:
    • Introduce your team, emphasizing their expertise and backgrounds. Investors invest in people as much as ideas.
  10. Conclusion:
    • End with a gracious thank you and provide clear contact information.

BONUS: If you are currently raising capital (outside of the competition), add a slide detailing how much money you’re seeking and what you need the money for. This slide would come after the “team” slide. 

How to Present a Pitch

Crafting an effective pitch deck (using the template above) will make your presentation stronger, but only if you know the information well. Avoid reading the slides—you should know the content inside and out. Remember, less text, more impact.

Before pitching investors or competing at a pitch competition, you should practice your pitch multiples times to ensure it fits within the allotted time frame. You should also anticipate questions from the judging panel (or investors) and practice your responses to those questions. Practice leads to confidence, and confidence leads to positive impressions!

With a well-rehearsed presentation and a pitch deck that focuses on the most important aspects of your business, you’re sure to do well at your next pitch presentation!

Apply to pitch your company in the next RevRoad Entrepreneur Competition, or apply to be part of the RevRoad portfolio

RevRoad Raises Over $15 Million From Private Investors as Demand for Venture Services Surges

Derrin Hill and Tony Allen of RevRoad


Provo, Utah – June 29, 2023 – RevRoad, a venture services firm based in Utah, today announced over $15 million in funding from private investors. RevRoad has already serviced 73 portfolio companies and helped raise their valuations to a combined enterprise value of more than $1.5 billion. In light of this growth, RevRoad appointed Tony Allen as president of its new Orlando office to work with entrepreneurs and startups in the Florida area. Tony has worked for Zoom, Disney, and many other enterprises to produce large scale events worldwide and has extensive experience scaling business operations and professional services.

The entrepreneurial landscape is currently facing unprecedented challenges in raising venture capital, with global funds down 53% from Q1 of 2022, according to CrunchBase. Startups are struggling to find venture capital firms eager to assist them in their growth. RevRoad gives entrepreneurs a different option, a new model they call “venture services,” working alongside growth-stage companies in twelve areas—including marketing, software development, strategy, and legal. By partnering with RevRoad, portfolio companies are able to raise their valuation and accelerate their path to profitability.

“At the time we applied to RevRoad, raising additional capital would have been extremely difficult and time-consuming,” said AJ Brau, founder of portfolio company Wander. “RevRoad’s services model was a great alternative to capital at that stage of our business—the idea of having services on demand for two years was a game changer. We worked directly alongside RevRoad’s service teams, to focus our attention on growing the business, time we would have otherwise had to spend fundraising. Instead, our common shareholders were teams of dedicated specialists who were committed to understanding every aspect of our company. As a result, we’ve gotten more value from our partnership with RevRoad than we would have if we had simply raised cash.”

A key factor contributing to RevRoad’s success lies in the strategic pairing of portfolio companies with experienced professionals from various business disciplines. This ensures that entrepreneurs receive valuable mentorship from individuals who have experienced the challenges of growing startups. As a result, more than 80% of the companies that have worked with RevRoad remain in business, many of which are thriving today.

“I see companies in Florida who have potential to make a massive impact but are struggling to find the available capital they need to grow,” said Tony Allen, President of RevRoad’s Florida Office. “The problem is that traditional venture capital firms look for specific signals that reduce their investment risk, often leaving promising startups unsupported. At RevRoad, we bridge that gap by working closely with startups and leveraging our extensive resources to help mitigate risks. Our focus is on driving revenue growth, increasing valuations, and providing a solid foundation for startups to approach venture capitalists with confidence.”

The current funding round will further RevRoad’s core mission of supporting entrepreneurs and assisting them in reaching critical milestones, while focusing on expanding services to the East Coast.

For more information, please visit revroad.com.

For media inquiries, please contact Brittany Ouimette, brittany.ouimette@revroad.com, 801-717-7027.

About RevRoad

RevRoad is a venture services firm that focuses on helping entrepreneurs succeed. The company empowers portfolio companies to get to market faster, maximize profitability, and create a solid foundation for their venture. RevRoad’s experts work shoulder-to-shoulder with these founders in 12 service areas for up to 24 months. RevRoad further supports startups through its sister company, RevRoad Capital, a traditional venture capital firm that provides funding to companies inside and outside the RevRoad portfolio. Visit revroad.com to learn more and apply for the venture services program.