Carrie McIndoe read a great quote once and, although she doesn’t know who said it or if she’s even quoting it right, it spoke profoundly to her: “‘Savor the time you spend with the people you love and on the parts of your life that matter the most, so much so that it makes you so happy you could dance in the street.’”
After a long career in strategic business planning and financing for start-ups, McIndoe is living those words as the founder of Economic Ventures, a not-for-profit dedicated to entrepreneurship. “I’ve learned a lot of lessons, many the hard way, and want to share these to help others transform their lives. I can’t imagine doing anything better.”
A student at Indiana University, McIndoe transferred to Boston to attend BU and scored a full-time job at securities firm Kidder Peabody that reimbursed 100% of her business degree tuition. She worked hard as a secretary and later assistant to retail brokers and saved money, attending night school and getting her securities license before graduation.
“I had the job of calling high net worth investors while at home at night sometimes during dinner … not so glamorous, but I became very financially literate and learned a great deal about what it takes for a company to go public.”
After four years, now with her degree and securities license finally in hand, McIndoe headed to the corner office to pitch herself as a broker. “The company manager thought I was crazy. Even though they’d paid for my education and my securities license, they weren’t ready to hire me as a broker. They loved me too much as an assistant. So I quit.”
After briefly working for another brokerage house, McIndoe teamed up with some brokers who were starting out on their own. Together the six pooled their licenses and formed Beacon Hill Capital where they raised large sums of money for real estate syndicators. One day a great cashflow deal crossed McIndoe’s desk and she took it to her partners. “It wasn’t a real estate deal so they voted me down. It was Blockbuster Video with 300 stores growing to 3000 … so I found some new partners and spent the next year raising money for the company.”
She was on a roll. After Blockbuster, McIndoe teamed up with what would become Boston Market. She single-handedly raised $1.5M, “I’d fill the room with 12 guys at a time, feed them chicken, bring in the President and CEO and put on the dog and pony show with my Kodak carousel. Afterwards, I’d get on the phone and convert them to investors.”
But as before, as soon as she raised the money, McIndoe was out of a job. “I went home and sat among the prospectuses of all the deals I’d done and it hit me. I knew how to access the people and the funding to get Boston Chicken to the next level. If people take a Blockbuster video home, they could walk next door and take Boston Chicken home. All you needed to do was talk to some of the big cheeses at Blockbuster, I had their contact information to bring them on board, and get the locations of outlets next to which you would want to put a Boston Chicken.”
After typing up the business plan and drafting a prospectus she went to the head of Boston Chicken presented her idea of how to raise $5M to fund and scale Boston Chicken. “The President and CEO of Boston Chicken stands up and says, ‘Are you done? You’re a lovely young lady but I’m going to ask you to leave right now, thank you.’ I walked out so embarrassed, I thought I had wasted their time.”
Later observation showed a similar plan was executed. A hard lesson learned: Get your deal in writing. Read all legal documents and sign and date everything you do.
It was a turning point for McIndoe, who vented her frustration to her mentor, attorney Richard Gold. “He said, ‘Stop complaining and write me a business plan. You’re going to start your own company. And I’m going to bill you at top dollar for my advice but you are only going to pay me if you do well.’ So I started my own company. If the world didn’t want me to be a banker, I would be the most ‘lovely young lady’ ever, the type of young lady who would help you raise $1–5 million for your early stage venture.”
Through her firm, Strategic Capital Resources, McIndoe spent the next 14 years raising capital for companies in Boston, including Boston Duck Tours. And, yes, she did pay Richard Gold back.
McIndoe’s passion was creating opportunity, but it frustrated her to see so many deals coming through the door knowing she could only work on one at a time. So she approached Boston University to establish a 30-hour Business Plan Bootcamp and volunteered to run it. She brought in lawyers, investors and others specialists to share their expertise with a rotating group of entrepreneurs. It was a win-win for everyone and BU gave her an award for her work.
In 2000, McIndoe’s sister, a single mom, adopted her daughter from China. McIndoe commuted every week to NY to help her sister and her mother who was living in New Jersey, ill with Parkinson’s. “I felt now was family time for my mother, sister and me, so I moved to New York.”
Through her network, one of her connections led her to a great opportunity with a national organization that had received grant funds from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to run a suite of youth entrepreneurship programs. After the grant ended, the Kauffman Foundation set up a three-year exclusive licensing arrangement where McIndoe would run one of the programs she revised and rejuvenated – EntrePrep℠ Summer Institute. If she maintained the quality and value of the program, the Kauffman Foundation would gift her the rights to the program in perpetuity. Because they can only gift to a non-profit, McIndoe launched Economic Ventures.
McIndoe piloted her revised EntrePrep℠ program for diverse groups of high school students. The training takes place on college and university campuses and is developed around a strategic Business-for-a-Day™ methodology.
“You might as well have shot adrenaline through my veins. It was the most fun experience I have ever had in my life. It forced me to take everything I knew and challenge kids who think they are at the height of their game. It was transformative for me and and the youth who actually launch and operate a Business-for-a-Day.”
The 3-year license agreement ended in September 2014. Up to now, Economic Ventures is self-funded and has been supported with help from friends, family, and small grants. But now that she owns the IP rights, McIndoe plans to apply for larger grants and partnerships. In the meantime, with a teacher’s license in hand, she has brought in income from teaching, coaching, mentoring women’s groups, doing business bootcamps, and, ever the deal-maker, McIndoe always has a couple of transactions on the side to keep the cashflow going.
“I’m able to pass along my hard learned lessons gained from my experiences pounding the pavement for investment. I’ve been there, done that. Now I get to work with these young students and create opportunities for entrepreneurs. That has been and always will be my passion. I love my job. I’m dancing in the streets.”
Click here to donate to Economic Ventures.
- Do something that makes you so happy you dance in the street.
- Don’t take no for an answer. You can create your own opportunities.
- Being financially literate is empowering. It protects your future.
- Always do your best work and know your worth.
- Mentors are invaluable in your entire life. Be a mentor, teach others what you know.