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EP 16: Keith Luedeman Champions Mentorship in the CLT Start-Up Scene

by | Jan 15, 2020 | Episodes

Keith Luedeman is an active venture investor in the Charlotte Region. He’s also the Executive Director of Innovate Charlotte and the Board Chair of the Queens University Entrepreneurial Leadership Circle Advisory Board. Keith’s business experience began with IBM where he spent the first 7 years after college working in a variety of technical and sales positions. After leaving IBM, he helped grow a Retail Services 

Technical Consulting Group and an e-commerce consulting division that were both acquired. He later became the Director of Software Marketing for JBA as they were being acquired by Avnet, a Fortune 100 $7B Hardware, Software & Services firm. In 1999, seeing a large opportunity in the e-mortgage market, Keith left Avnet to found goodmortgage.com — an award-winning direct-to-consumer internet mortgage lender. The company received the Online Lender of the Year Industry Award at the Mortgage Bankers Association National meeting and was subsequently purchased by a PIMCO backed entity in 2016.

In this episode, we discuss:
  • How working at IBM inspired his entrepreneurial journey
  • How he came up with the idea for goodmortgage.com
  • Why he decided to “bootstrap” the business from Day 1
  • Why his competitors criticized the decision to provide content for his customers — and how it ultimately “helped bring our cost-to-market way, way down”
  • What Innovate Charlotte is – and what he does there as Executive Director
  • Why being ADD and OCD can be attributes for an entrepreneur
  • What happened after his company bought a 44,000 sq. foot building — right before the mortgage crisis happened in 2008
  • Why Terry Cox at TechWorks of Gaston County founded a support group for Founders and CEO’s in 2003
  • Why Charlotte is lucky to have Sam Smith (the CEO of Vishion) organizing Seed the South
  • What the #1 thing he looks for (as an investor) in the Founder of a start-up during a pitch
  • Why his “non-work-related superpower” was the funniest answer any guest has given so far (!)
Quotes:
  • “Go seek a mentor… If you have a mentor, you’re three times more likely to succeed.”
  • “If your kid plays football, they’re more likely to make it to the NFL than you are to get venture funding.”
  • “Venture funding is pretty rare but everybody lives off the stories of ‘Hey, I wrote a business plan on the back of a napkin and got funded in San Francisco.’”
  • “It’s okay to fail just as long as you recover, and keep going along the way.”
  • “Charlotte has three unicorns [billion dollar businesses] out of the five in North Carolina.”
  • On the look of the pitch deck: “If you haven’t spent the time to have a professionally put together deck… to me, that speaks to [poor] preparation.”
  • On doing the pitch: “Don’t read your slides. Speak from the heart.”
  • On not pursuing investors for your start-up – “The best money you can get is from a customer; it’s called profit.”
  • “Angel investors are called ‘angels’ for a reason; they’re hard to find.”
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