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Angel Investor Series – Brett Reed

Hey, everybody, I’m Brett Reed. I’m the executive vice president of Partnerships at Mirah, a Boston based behavioral health technology company that helps behavioral health clinicians improve outcomes.

Tell Us About Your Journey

My journey as an entrepreneur is an accidental one, really. I was a retail operations executive living in Miami, Florida. I was looking, trying to figure out what I want to do in my career after operations, if I want to stay in retail or move on. And so I decided to get my MBA at the University of Miami. And on the first day, as you do, you pick a seat. I sat down and happened to sit down next to a gentleman that was wearing scrubs and just serendipitously chose that seat. And as the semester went on and we started talking, realized that we had some shared interests, and more specifically, he was experiencing a lot of pain in selling surgical equipment into hospitals and was looking for a way to do it differently. And a lot of it involved operations and logistics, which was my background. And he had a lot of passion for what he was doing and got me on board very quickly into starting this company together. And we started a company called Cohealo, and the rest is, as we say, history. Started in Miami and moved it to Boston, and here I am now. So that’s how I got started.

What Inspires And Motivates You?

What inspires and motivates me, first and foremost, is my family. They are always first in what I think about and what I’m doing and what my mission is and who I’m working with, what job I’m going to take, what company I may want to build one day. They are the number one priority. And if I ever lose sight of that and what I’m doing and what I’m seeking out in my career, I have to reevaluate if that’s what I want to continue to do or take another opportunity or do something different.

So always, first and foremost, what am I doing? Is it helping my families and improving our lives? Am I losing sight of my daughter who’s ten years old, and I’m not able to spend as much time with her because I’m on the road so much? So that’s what keeps me going every day.

What Attributes Lead to Success?

The attributes that lead to success, in my opinion, are really consistency and discipline and of course, motivation, but motivation without consistency and discipline and the application is just wishful thinking.

So I think those two, especially as an entrepreneur, being able to just be consistent every day, you don’t have to be a ten out of ten, you don’t have to conquer the world every day. But consistent approach in a disciplined manner really drives a successful business, especially as an entrepreneur.

What Are Your Must-Haves Before You Make An Investment?

My must-haves before I make an investment are a little bit of a lot of intangibles, especially as an early-stage or angel investor. You’re not going to have a lot of data many times to really understand the viability of the business. So first and foremost, what I’m going to look at at a founder is do they have a passion for this business? Did it come from some experience that they had working in the industry or is it something that’s personally happened to them in their family or personal life that has brought them on to this investment?

I’m not personally interested in, say, repeat founders who are just serial entrepreneurs who just pick up an idea as a technologist and say, oh, I can build a better mousetrap, or this looks interesting to me. I’m really looking for folks that are willing to invest the next 10 years, 15 years of their life, if necessary, to build this business because they care so deeply about the problem they’re trying to solve.

What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs?

Yeah, the advice that I would give other entrepreneurs is really twofold. One is I come across a lot of entrepreneurs who are looking for an idea or something to inspire them or hit them that nobody else is doing. And they do some research, and they find out that somebody else has tried this or there’s a website out there. And my advice is do it anyway if it’s your passion, or if you believe in it, or think you can solve it in a better way, do it. Because the likelihood that there’s an idea that you’ve had that either somebody else hasn’t thought of or has actually put out into the world in some form or fashion probably doesn’t exist. And if it does, you’re onto something and there’s probably a reason why it’s not out there or somebody hasn’t thought of it, so pursue your dream. And along with that, just get started. Don’t wait, get going. Put something out there. Iterate quick and just get it going.

And then the second one as an entrepreneur, is don’t look at money raised historically as some barometer for success. A lot of folks have raised a lot of capital, a lot of money from venture capitalists and private equity firms and have failed miserably. And so that is not a barometer for success. Success should be how you measure it. You set your goals and then when you’re ready to take money, you take it because you’re ready to use that money to grow. Don’t take money just for the sake of taking money, because once you take money from venture capitalists, the learning phase is over, and the growing phase begins. And making a mistake doesn’t matter anymore. You can only have to grow or improve your sales.

What Value Does Gesmer Bring to Scaling Companies?

Gesmer brings a lot of value to scaling companies in a variety of forms. So first and foremost, as an early-stage company, you have the optionality of who you work with. There’s a lot of different areas within Gesmer where they support an entrepreneur, whether it’s contracts directly with one of the attorneys, or tax advice, HR advice. I think I’ve, at this point in my career, used almost every potential resource available to me at Gesmer and even beyond that. Just as a connector within the community and in the ecosystem. And so as you grow, they can grow with you. They can add more resources or apply different avenues to supporting your company as it grows.

And so my first relationship with Gesmer began as an early-stage company, I think now eight years ago. And I’ve even referred other companies and friends to Gesmer and actually made investments from referrals from Gesmer. They definitely support you as your company grows.

Why Go With Gesmer?

I would say to go with Gesmer for really, let me say this by telling a story. So when we founded my company, Cohealo, we raised a bunch of venture capital. We were a real hot company in the Boston ecosystem. We had a great relationship with Gesmer. In fact, we moved to Gesmer from a previous attorney in Florida.

But like many companies, we hit a rough patch. My co-founder got over his skis as the CEO and we ran out of money. And ran out of money to the point where we owed a lot of money to folks including Gesmer. And Peter Moldave, who is our attorney, didn’t know that we were ever going to actually be able to raise more money again. Didn’t know that we would actually be in a going concern company in the next six to eight months. And we owed him money, but he was willing to invest the time and energy in helping me right-size the company and get it back into an investable entity and a going concern again. And literally just sat side by side with me to help figure it out, to get to the right spot.

And so, from my perspective, I don’t know of any other law firm that would have done that, especially when you’re owed significant money to begin with. And that’s why I will always recommend Gesmer. And that’s why I continue to work with Gesmer to this day. Because I’m not just a transaction. I’m not somebody that you’re just looking at as a billable hour. I’m somebody that you’ve said, we believe in this company. We believe in you, Brett, and we’re going to work with you on that.

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