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Lili Balfour
Lili Balfour is the founder and CEO of the SoMa-based financial advisory firm, Atelier Advisors and Host and Creator of Finance for Entrepreneurs .

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

How Technology Is Creating the Next Wave of Filmmakers

(0) Comments | Posted December 10, 2015 | 4:12 PM

This year, the Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) celebrated its five-year anniversary, but the real celebration was amongst the wave of new entrepreneurs -- filmmakers.

This year, 300 aspiring creators submitted their ideas to the NVFF Pitch Panel Contest. Twenty semi-finalists were selected to participate in a...

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Lessons From Zulily: Fans Not Flashers

(0) Comments | Posted August 19, 2015 | 4:53 PM

Today, Liberty Interactive announced they would acquire Zulily for $2.4 billion. That's $18.75 per share, which represents a 49% premium to the previous day's close of $12.57. Keep in mind, the company went public less than two years ago at $22.

What Went Wrong at Zulily?

If we...

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Entrepreneurs: Don't Get Too Confident, You Might Get Burned

(0) Comments | Posted August 6, 2015 | 4:10 PM

As I discussed here, there are many lessons to be learned while watching TV. This week on Million Dollar Listing San Francisco we witness a case of an overly optimistic seller. This is a common occurrence, as it's easy to get attached to the sale price...

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How to Become the Next Steve Jobs By Staring at Your Phone

(0) Comments | Posted July 7, 2015 | 1:04 AM

Recently, Brian Grazer sat down with Marc Andreeseen to discuss the future of entertainment. You can listen to the full podcast here.

Grazer believes that scalability has not been fully realized in the entertainment industry. Social media has achieved the scalability element to some...

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How to Pitch Investors Without Looking Like a Clueless, Lazy, Know-It-All

(0) Comments | Posted June 2, 2015 | 3:31 PM

For the past 8 years, I have been advising entrepreneurs on their growth and funding strategy. I've seen the worst and I've seen the best.

Life is too short to learn from your own mistakes. Let's learn from others.

First and foremost, we must understand what the investor wants...

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How to Value Your Company

(2) Comments | Posted April 2, 2015 | 1:34 PM

Whether you're looking to raise a round of capital or sell your company, it's important to understand how to value your company. The best way to value a company is to research comparable transactions in the market. We'll take a look at Fortune Brands' acquisition of Skinnygirl for an easy-to-follow...

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Lessons Learned at Female Founders Conference

(0) Comments | Posted February 23, 2015 | 3:35 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 | 10:40 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 | 2:21 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 | 5:43 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 | 2:21 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 | 10:16 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 | 11:28 AM

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 | 8:07 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 | 10:53 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 | 5:38 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 | 4:14 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 | 7:32 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 | 9:17 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 | 1:21 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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