A healthcare company started by President George W. Bush’s cousin Jonathan Bush has the tagline “More Disruption Please” for their program designed to help foster the building of innovative ways for the healthcare industry to operate effectively.

The Disruptors

A few years ago I wrote the article The Dark Ages of Austin Startup Capital on TechCrunch and it received its fair share of boos and hurrahs. The hurrahs came from the entrepreneurs themselves who found great value in reading me openly discuss something that caused me great pain over the years: the hidden world behind the closed doors of venture capitalists.

Confirmation Bias

They were once supportive of me disrupting.



One who causes disorder or turmoil in

One who destroys, usually temporarily, the normal continuance or unity of; interrupt

One who radically changes (an industry, business strategy, etc.), as by introducing a new product or service that creates a new market

The very people who used the term positively to describe me and my work taking on the automotive repair, education, hospitality, and healthcare industries, had morphed it into a new meaning.



He who threw a grenade in our backyard and exposed our abuse of the confusion of facts.

I am very proud to wear the new D that sits emblazoned across my chest. (Your jokes are welcomed and appreciated)

For the first time ever — damage control pieces started flowing

The venture capitalists themselves were forced to do something they had never done or expected to do before. They put together discussions to help quell the fears of their industry’s disruption. I was offered a seat at the table to participate in some of these forums. I enjoyed it.

What they didn’t know is that the attachment of the new scarlet letter to my chest had the unintended consequence of propelling my work on the other side of the table from them.

Value creation for the entrepreneurs

Yes, you read that right. The entrepreneur had a new-found power and a list. Another time saw a local firm fighting with another local firm about the poor deal terms that they thrust upon the entrepreneur in a previous round. This started to demolish the firm’s poor deal terms as their standard operating procedure.

Look for me walking around like Austin’s subversive super hero

Interestingly… I became the outspoken ass I am, demanding more from others, because of my own health scare.

I wrote the “Dark Ages” to give something back to the community I love because I came inches from not being able to ever help my colleagues again. I felt a responsibility to share my information.

I may never get another investment from the authors of my scarlet letter and that is of little consequence to me as I continue to build and grow great companies. Investment comes from many sources and in many forms. When we as entrepreneurs create something of value, investment will come as people’s eagerness and interest to offer high returns to their general partners shadow any scarlet letter that may have been previously applied.

My current role has me helping propel a company from early-stage through growth stage. They have been raising capital without challenge and they are growing quite well. While I am not in the trenches creating fire with two wet sticks anymore, I am indeed leveraging my experience to help transform this company from the inside-out.

Where do we go from here?

I like to think of Jack Lemmon’s phrase “send the elevator back down” as my call to action, helping the younger and less-experienced entrepreneurs. In this case, I send the glass elevator back down filled with sticky notes on its walls.

“Be open about your warts and the right investor will help you freeze them off”

“Be cautious about the first offer as the only thing better than one term sheet is two”

“The only thing worse than a no (which really isn’t that bad) is a firm who drags a slow yes over months and months waiting for you to be in a worse position to negotiate.”

“Focus 85% of your time building your business and only 15% looking for funding to ensure your business gets the love and attention it needs to prosper”

What post-it notes would you leave on the elevator as it heads back down?

Kindly post them in the comments below.


Richard Bagdonas

Principal Disruptor In Charge


Disruptor & Austin entrepreneur with 4 acquisitions and 2 exits to the public markets. Proud father, husband, and philanthropist. @richardbagdonas