Being a founder is challenging on many levels. Most startups begin with a product or service that solves a real problem. But that’s the starting point.

The business needs an audience, product-market fit, and the capacity and runway to scale. Building traction and growth takes capital – often beyond what a founder or small company can finance. The entrance of investors introduces a new layer of complexity. Stakeholders want evidence that the company will succeed, and that requires entrepreneurs to tell a different version of their business story.

Startup Showdown winner Issac Hicks is the founder and CEO of Doxci. The company offers a solution designed to solve a pervasive challenge by automating and simplifying complex paperwork. He sat down with the Panoramic team to offer candid, experienced insights into why equity-based capital is a good option and how to pitch well. He offers Doxci as a dynamic case study of how the process can position a startup to achieve its purpose.

Why Choose Private Capital

Private capital helped to unlock sustainable growth for Doxci. Besides the funding it offered, Issac gained a community of interested stakeholders on his side. Investors want to see a company succeed. For Doxci, that has meant access to experience and a network that have made the entrepreneurial journey less lonely and more productive.

How did you decide that taking private capital was the right route for building Doxci?

“Whenever you look at different funding options, you can go the debt route or the equity route. What’s nice about the equity route is that you do not have to sign up for guaranteed debt – forming a startup is inherently risky.

When people have a stake in the business, they believe in it. They want to do what they can to help. When you get a private capital partner, they can open up new connections and new experiences and open your mind to things that you wouldn’t really get if you went a traditional debt route.”


The Art of Pitching

Through Startup Showdown, Issac discovered there’s a difference between a sales pitch and a venture capital pitch. Sales pitches focus on solving a problem for someone. The other is about convincing investors why the business will succeed and why they should feel safe investing in you.

When you are presenting your product, services, and company to a venture capital audience, you’re telling a different kind of story. What are the differences?

“You always want to focus on somebody else’s goals, right? It’s never about you in a sales process – it’s always about the person you’re talking to. Whenever you’re looking at a client, you’re trying to solve a problem for them. You want to draw their attention to the problem, the losses that they’re experiencing, the pain that they have because of the problem, and why your solution might be a great fit for them.

The problem a venture capital firm or an investor is trying to solve is different. They want to ensure that they make profitable investments. Instead of detailing the problem and solution, it’s more about detailing why you know the business and solution are going to work.

Investor audiences want to know what kind of traction you have. What kind of responses you have gotten from clients. What acceleration looks like. It’s much less about painting the picture of the before state and the after state. That’s why the pitch is less about how much better someone feels after buying the product and more about why we’re sure it’s going to work and why someone can feel safe as an investor.”


The Value of Observing and Learning from Other Entrepreneurs

Many of the most valuable lessons of entrepreneurship come from learning from others. By observing different founders and their pitch styles, Issac picked up skills and styles that have given him an edge and helped him succeed.

Is there any lesson that you’ve learned through the pitch process that would be helpful for other founders to know?

“As you meet different founders, you understand different pitch styles. You get to see how the audience responds and what they like and don’t like about a pitch. It helps you see what you can do to improve your own style.

You want to remain authentic to yourself, but you also want to grow. You’ll notice things that some people do – like maybe they have a more casual voice or that they use their slides in a different way. It’s important to pay attention to those little nuances to see what will get you that edge that takes you to the next level.”


Doxci is Set to Change Industries and Roles

Doxci is on a mission to fundamentally change how paperwork happens in industries with high information volume and complexity. The product automates document handling and information extraction, enhancing efficiency, effectiveness, and the happiness of those tasked with data processing.

What are you working on right now?

“We’re automating the process of reading through documents, extracting information from them, and putting the information somewhere else. For example, in insurance, we have the claims process, loss runs, processing, and more. In compliance, there are other issues. Invoicing has its own issues. Same with accounting. Each one has its own pain points.

We can take away the pain point – the need to read through 300 or 400 pages to get to the 20 or 30 things you care about. We’ve been improving our system to be able to do that in an automated fashion and to do it more quickly. We can do as many documents as required across an entire company, and we can do them all at once. And we can also parallelize, meaning we can do hundreds of pages of documentation in seconds. That’s not going to happen with a human being.”


Future Impact

Doxci has set its eyes on industries where the efficiency of document processing can facilitate or inhibit growth. Rapid advancements in AI have made this an opportune moment for the company, which has been at the forefront of this wave.

Why is now a great time for this solution to be rolling out to more industries?

“There’s an explosion of artificial intelligence. People are so excited about these ‘miracles,’ but there’s still a little gap in how we actually apply AI in a way that’s really going to move the needle.

The newest innovation that’ll take society and industry forward is the practical application of this technology within industries. There’s never been a better time than now, with all the attention that it’s currently getting.”

What does 10X look like?

“For some of our clients, like SaaS companies that process a lot of onboarding documentation or audit companies that do compliance automation, scale is dependent on their ability to process multiple documents. If we can improve the rate at which they can process their documents, we can improve their onboarding rate. If we improve their onboarding rate, they can grow faster. As they grow faster, we grow faster too. It’s strong mutualistic acceleration.”


The Joy of Being an Entrepreneur

Being an entrepreneur is invigorating, even with the challenges of solving problems, building breakthrough technology, and funding growth. For Issac, the best part of leading Doxci is the moment of awe that clients experience when they realize they’ve accomplished a week’s worth of work in a few hours. It’s a profound and positive impact that technology can have on people’s lives.

Why did you decide that this was a problem to solve?

“The sad reality is that the vast majority of people are not happy with their jobs. Coming out of my corporate career, I was looking at what it was that made people unhappy with their jobs.

Typically, they either don’t feel like what they’re doing has a point, or they don’t feel respected. One of the reasons for this is that the work is tedious, mindless, and awful.

If you don’t like your work, it permeates throughout the rest of your life. You spend most of your life doing something you don’t want to do. Then you come home, and it can turn into family problems, escapism – the problems radiate. If we can stop the problem at its source, we can make the work better, then probably we can make everything a little bit better.

And that’s really what I’m trying to do.”


Learn more about Doxci in Part 1 of our interview.