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Lili Balfour
Lili Balfour is the founder and CEO of the SoMa-based financial advisory firm, Atelier Advisors, creator of Lean Finance for Startups, Finance Boot Camp for Entrepreneurs, andHow to Crowd Fund a Million Dollars, author of Master the Finance Game, and host of the Finance for Entrepreneurs broadcast on Spreecast.

After spending fifteen years in investment management and investment banking, she decided to develop a firm to cater to the specific needs of early-stage companies. At Atelier Advisors, Lili advises leading brands across industries: from tech to consumer goods. In the past, she has advised over 100 brands, including:

Bag, Borrow, or Steal, Visual IQ, Alpha Theory, Derivix, Practice Fusion, Peeled Snacks, Sustainable Minds, Firescope, Chix 6, Duchess Marden, Erin Fetherston, Eckart Tolle, and Stuart Skorman (founder of, Elephant Pharmacy, Hungry Minds, and Clerk Dogs (sold to Netflix)).

While advising companies at Atelier Advisors, she observed a common theme - -brilliant founders avoided finance. She began writing about entrepreneurial finance to solve this problem.

As a native of Silicon Valley and a first generation Mexican American, Lili understands the importance of imparting wisdom learned in Silicon Valley to the rest of the world. Her goal is to teach the entire planet about entrepreneurial finance.

Entries by Lili Balfour

Lessons Learned at Female Founders Conference

(0) Comments | Posted February 23, 2015 | 4:35 PM

Y Combinator's Female Founder Conference couldn't have come at a better time. Silicon Valley has been inundated with negative stories about the role women play in the region. Female Founders Conference gave us the other side of the story.

The event featured Black Girls CODE...

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What Every Startup Founder Needs to Know to About Acquisitions

(0) Comments | Posted January 14, 2015 | 11:40 AM

I wrote about the long and arduous IPO path a while back. Here we discuss the equally daunting mergers and acquisitions (M&A) path.

The growing trend in early-stage M&A is to ditch the suits. According to Dealogic, 73 percent of acquirers utilized a formal investment banking firm...

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11 Slides You Need to Sell Your Vision

(0) Comments | Posted October 27, 2014 | 3:21 PM

Delivering a compelling pitch is Step 0 in building your company. Whether you are pitching to a customer, an investor, or a potential hire, you need to sell your vision with clarity, passion, and conviction.

Listed below are the 11 slides you must have when pitching to an investor:


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How to Stop Holding Yourself Back From Building a Billion-Dollar Business

(3) Comments | Posted October 6, 2014 | 6:43 PM

It is true that there are fewer women getting funded and building billion-dollar companies. The numbers are improving, yet we still have a long way to go. The answer to this problem is to start early and to focus on the internal factors causing this imbalance.

"What's holding you back...

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How Entrepreneurs Can Raise Capital With Ease

(0) Comments | Posted September 19, 2014 | 3:21 PM

The future looks bright for early-stage companies seeking capital as we prepare to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the JOBS Act - Title I.

Emerging growth companies (defined as a company with total annual gross revenues of less than $1 billion during its most recently completed fiscal year) have...

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The Devil Made Miuccia Prada a Multi-Billionaire

(0) Comments | Posted September 12, 2014 | 11:16 AM


We all know the old adage, "The love of money is the root of all evil." I joke. Of, course. I don't believe we need to be "evil" to build wealth. However, I do believe we need to be focused on wealth creation...

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Top 10 U.S.-Based Venture Capital Funds

(0) Comments | Posted April 22, 2014 | 12:28 PM

The Top 10 U.S.-based venture capital funds, based on amount of capital raised during the first quarter of 2014, pulled in $7.3 billion over eight venture capital firms. Accel Partners and Draper Fisher Jurvetson each raised two funds. When it rains it pours.

The first quarter of 2014 was a...

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Silicon Valley's Brain Drain

(0) Comments | Posted April 7, 2014 | 9:07 PM

Where Have All the Innovators Gone?

Growing up in Silicon Valley was a magical experience. The area was full of innovators who came to this country to build their dreams, which were built on ideas that served a real purpose. From 1939, when Hewlett Packard developed their first audio oscillator...

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The 3 Deadly Mistakes of Crowdfunding

(0) Comments | Posted April 1, 2014 | 11:53 AM

As with any form of monetary solicitation, crowdfunding has its perils and setbacks. Let's walk through the three deadly mistakes entrepreneurs make with crowd funding.

Not Explaining Equity

When Oculus was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion, their 9,522 Kickstarter backers were upset to learn...

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The New Rules of Fundraising

(0) Comments | Posted March 25, 2014 | 6:38 PM

The world of fundraising has been turned on its head. A decade ago, entrepreneurs had limited sources for capital -- angel investors, venture capital funds and rich Uncles. Today, entrepreneurs have a plethora of options.

AngelList pioneered online funding platforms, which spawned dozens of similar offerings to...

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4 Steps to Prepare for an IPO

(0) Comments | Posted March 19, 2014 | 5:14 PM

The first quarter of 2014 has experienced the largest number of IPOs in the past decade, compared to first quarter data from previous years. With the JOBS Act in place and an improved economy, the accelerated pace is not expected to slow down.

If you are building a company...

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How to Silence Critics and Cultivate Fans

(0) Comments | Posted February 23, 2014 | 8:32 PM

If you are doing anything worthwhile, you will have critics. Learn to discern between those providing valuable feedback on your product or service and those who simply have too much time on their hands and a sour attitude.

When you encounter valuable feedback, determine whether you should implement the...

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Anatomy of an IPO

(0) Comments | Posted February 3, 2014 | 10:17 PM

This post originally appeared on

On January 31, 2014, 16-year-old dot-com darling filed for an IPO. To put this event in perspective, PayPal was founded in the same year. While PayPal filed for its $70 million IPO in 2002 and received an acquisition offer...

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This Is Why I'm Not Presenting at Launch and It Has Nothing to Do With Gender

(0) Comments | Posted January 21, 2014 | 2:21 PM

On January 9th, I publicly requested to present a Skills Session on Finance on the Startup Stage at Launch.


I noticed a storm of twitter activists claiming that Jason was blocking women from speaking at his conference. I ignored the keyboard...

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How My Addiction Helps Me Win and May Eventually Kill Me

(1) Comments | Posted December 26, 2013 | 12:11 PM

I grew up in a family of addicts. In order to escape the daily chaos, I locked myself up in my bedroom with earplugs. I would study, rehearse presentations, and obsess about building a life far away from poverty, pain, and suffering.

There was one thing I failed to...

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The Resolution All Entrepreneurs Should Make

(0) Comments | Posted December 23, 2013 | 11:04 AM

For 2013, I made a resolution to teach the world about finance. Finance has been my passion for the past 20 years, and I felt it was my duty to impart wisdom on the topic. In 2013, I wrote a book, developed an online course, and hosted a...

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Top 5 Lessons From Startup School

(0) Comments | Posted October 22, 2013 | 6:20 PM

As an entrepreneur building a company, you should always be focused on learning from those who came before you. With that goal in mind, I've documented five lessons from five entrepreneurs who shared their wisdom at Startup School.

Diane Greene

Current: Founder of stealth-mode company and board...

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How Much Are You Worth to Twitter?

(0) Comments | Posted October 16, 2013 | 5:27 PM

I had the pleasure of hearing Kevin Weil, VP of Product Revenue discuss Twitter's monetization strategy at Ad Age Digital. His presentation gave me insight into the question that everyone wants to know: How much am I worth to Twitter?

By now, we all had a chance to look...

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This Is Why Your Company Is Going to Fail

(1) Comments | Posted October 7, 2013 | 8:34 PM

About 50 percent of all startups will not make it to year five and approximately 67 percent won't make it to year 10, according to historical data gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics over the past 18 years. The good news is I've documented why the average...

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Silicon Valley Investors' Advice to Young Startups

(0) Comments | Posted September 26, 2013 | 12:19 PM

At Boxworks 2013, Box CFO Dylan Smith led a lively discussion with a panel of Silicon Valley investors, from newcomers The Social Capital Partnership to blue chip General Atlantic.

The Future of Venture Capital

With so many VCs entering the full-service arena, the question was poised: Is VC now...

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