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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 and Finance Boot Camp for Entrepreneurs, 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 Reel.com, 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.

Connect with Lili



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Advice - It is true that there are fewer women than men 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 focus on the internal...
RaisingCapital
Advice - 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...
Prepare for an IPO
Advice - 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...
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Advice - 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...
Personality Bias
Op-ED - The Problem:  I don’t believe there is a gender bias in the startup community but rather a personality bias. The startup world favors individuals who are focused on winning and are willing to go to any lengths to succeed....
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Advice - Regardless of the strategy you choose – IPO, sell or stay private – the best possible outcome for your company is to “make a dent in the Universe,” as Steve Jobs would say. While Apple was changing the way the world...
Expenses to Avoid - MM
Advice - The biggest mistake startup founders make in allocating their capital is not monitoring financial results. As a result, they end up engaging in activities that fail to enhance profitability. Here are three profit-eroding expenses...
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Op-ED - 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...
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Advice - Steve Blank covers the difference between a board of directors and an advisory board in “Don’t Give Away Your Board Seats.” I’d like to pick up where he left off. Now that you understand the importance of attracting advisers,...
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Advice - One of the top reasons companies fail is that they run out of money. That seems easy to avoid, right? Oddly enough, many entrepreneurs do not have clarity around their revenue sources and even fewer have a strong grasp of their...
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Advice - In Stiletto Network, Nancy Peretsman of Allen & Company confides that her female peers’ attempt to mentor young women had a surprising effect: “We thought the younger women would deeply benefit from the older women, but the...
The Best Investment
Advice - The biggest mistake I see entrepreneurs make during fundraising is taking too much money too soon and from the wrong people. Seed Funding: I believe the best money you can raise is from your customers. With the increasing...
Build Your A-Team
Advice - When you first set out to execute your brilliant startup idea, you may feel you have all of the answers. You are able to make decisions quickly and move at lightning speed. However, you will learn that you will go further by...
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Advice - The number one reason brilliant companies with stellar products and services fail is that they run out of money. They have rousing press. They have fervent customer acceptance. They revel in month-over-month increases in traffic and...
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Advice - Why do some brands achieve astronomical success while comparable brands fade into oblivion? The answer lies in the consumers’ hearts and minds. Winning brands focus on the consumer’s emotional and intellectual...
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Advice - A scalable startup has inherent qualities that promote infinite growth. The ability to serve 1 million users flows from the infrastructure that efficiently serves 10. As an individual, you have a finite number of hours to create 1...

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