Focus, discipline, honesty, resilience, and integrity in the startup world.

Hi! I work with startups and venture funds on strategic operations and finance. I'm what some call a "systemic thinker", an expert in both the big picture and the details, I just call it thinking. Descriptors others have given me include: full-stack business, fixer, and fabulous. My style of "fixing" never breaks the laws, just the rules.

I work with startups, venture capital firms, venture studios, accelerators, and more. Here are some of the companies I've work(ed) with:

Backstage Studio and Capital
Greentown Labs
Sourcemap started at the MIT Media Lab
Vital Labs
(so many labs!)

IFC part of the World Bank Group
(acronyms with a "C"!)

A bit more background

A little more about my business experience and background:

I have industry experience in: clean technology, advanced materials, robotics, healthcare, sustainability, water security, supply chain transparency, operational efficiency, economic development, humanitarian relief, and management consulting.

I’ve also worked at or with many types of institutions: an R&D product studio with a venture capital fund, venture studio, venture capital, startups at many stages of growth, an incubator, international finance, a think tank, and private services firms.

I have a bachelors in International Development Studies, with a minor in cultural anthropology, from UCLA and an MBA from Georgetown University.

One of my hobbies is homebrewing. I started in 2007 and enjoy the combination of science, art, economics, and marketing. Beer is a fabulous synecdoche for innovation, industry, and history. You can check out some of my thoughts on beer here.

Feel free to reach out and say hello, Especially if you're curious, ambitious, and fun. See the Say Hello! button at the top of the page or email me hi at clairsamuel dot com. My full name is Lotus Clair Samuel.

Companies/people I work with

"Good" people.
Integrity, respect, accountability as a start. As the aphorism about art goes: you know it when you see it.

Mission driven
Partly the buzzword areas of: triple bottom line, CSR, ESGR, sustainability, diversity, and access, but also a more systemic approach to business. What this doesn't look like: making the world a better place through easing bothersome inconveniences of a small, privileged area of society.

Among other areas of culture, I work with companies that truly respect and value their employees. And truth and integrity over ego, always.

Remote or mix of remote and in-person
I love my home in the Rocky Mountains and work well from here, but I also highly value in-person meetings when appropriate.

I like travel.

Hourly, project, and/or equity mix.

I don't believe in them... for the most part. Thus, there are likely exceptions for any of the above.


Systems and processes
From human resources to vendor management, having functioning systems and processes can set a company up for success. The best systems and processes are designed so well that you don’t even notice them, everything just works. Key areas are human resources, vendors/customers, and financial reporting.

Due Diligence
When a company is getting ready for investment or 409A compliance, due diligence often happens when you least want to spend weeks on paperwork. Creating a diligence ready company will save time (weeks hunting down documents), money (lawyers), and mental bandwidth. For investors, there are often small but important warning signs, Van Halen understood the importance of the little things.

Growth planning and management
Who to hire and when to hire are crucial decisions. Hiring people for operations and finance can be an extra challenge for many companies. For example, a different approach is needed for non-technical vs technical hires.

Change management
Mergers, acquisitions, spin-outs, and organizational change are all big changes, ones that need to be navigated carefully and decisively.

Nondilutive funding
Working with government grants and/or contracts can be great ways for small companies to grow. However, there are a number of key things to consideration before, during, and after working with grants. Some of these things could change the organizational processes and systems, or cost a lot of money to fix down the road.

Planning and forecasting tools
Planning and forecasting doesn’t mean you’ll know the future, but it does mean you’ll be more prepared, adaptable, and resilient. These tools are often needed when working with investors, advisors, and key employees.

Organizational review
Some questions to ask are: is the company registered with all the correct entities? does it have the right insurance? is it in compliance with local and state agencies?

A workplace culture that empowers everyone
There are many recent and infamous cases where an unhealthy company culture either destroyed the company or derailed its growth. I believe that a can company “make the world a better place” by creating a better place for people to work. Culture doesn’t exist in a vacuum, see "The Al Capone theory of sexual harassment".

Founder and employee training
Training content created include the following: business models, market segmentation and personas, business plans, social media strategy, content marketing, brand positioning, corporate citizenship (e.g. CSR), hiring, leadership, corporate finance, investment process, funding models, exit.


Do you know the difference between a bookkeeper and a CFO?
When to hire the following roles externally?When to bring these roles in-house?What is the division of responsibilities? Who is accountable?
Human Resources a.k.a. People Operations, your most important asset.
Onboarding: process, documentation, and compliance with local, state, and federal laws.Offboarding: process, documentation, and compliance with local, state, and federal laws.Employee retention.Creating a sustainable company by ensuring that diversity and inclusion are integral part of the company’s culture.

Nondilutive funding from the government
In most cases government grants are net positive, but managing the grant can be a burden, though a very manageable burden if done right from the beginning. If things aren’t done right, things can become a nightmare wrapped in bureaucratic ribbons, yes plural ribbons.

Why should a small company or startup consider grants?Why does the government give grants to startups?Why do people say government grants are a pain to deal run?Does the government own the intellectual property created through grants?