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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



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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Advice - While advising entrepreneurs over the past six years, I observed distinct patterns amongst insanely successful entrepreneurs. I observed that those who experienced the most dramatic trials and tribulations in their formative years,...
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Lifestyle - A winner is a loser who was relentless in his or her pursuit of success. Life is hard. 80% of companies started today will fail. As entrepreneurs, we must constantly arm ourselves with the tools needed to maintain our sanity and...
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Advice - I attended Venture recently. The closing session, End Game: Exits & Liquidity Options reminded me of one of my favorite sayings from my technology investment banking days in Silicon Valley, “Anyone can launch a company. The hard...
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Advice - In my past six years of advising early-stage companies, I have come across a myriad of founders who fear the F word. Finance should not be feared. Understanding finance empowers you to build your company, motivate your team,...
Patent Trolls
Advice - Whether or not it is wise to invest time and money to apply for a patent, trademark or copyright on your startup’s core intellectual property (IP) assets depends on the nature of the IP itself, your industry and its competitive...
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Advice - Regardless of market conditions, anyone can raise internal capital. Raising internal capital requires a deep look inside operations – physical, virtual and mental. During the recent downturn, many of the companies I advised were...
Company Fail
Advice - 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...
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Advice - Venture capital investing decreased by approximately 30% from 2011 to 2012. This left many companies unable to secure funding. So, where do companies go when VCs say no? We all know about crowd funding, but there are several...
Fundraising
Advice - 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...
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Advice - There is no sure-fire way to prevent failure, but one can always fail smarter. Entrepreneurs fail smarter by understanding the basics of their term sheet, understanding how much capital is needed, and having an exit plan. Term...
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Advice - Oh, the lure of the VC. When they call you had better answer, right? I get the phone call often, “VCs are calling us, what should we do?” My response is always the same, “Take the meeting. Explain where you are in the...
Startup School
Advice - 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...

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