About me

Diane Tarshis, expert startup advisor.

Diane Tarshis

Founder . Principal . Master Distiller

Hi, I’m Diane. I provide one-on-one startup consulting that gives founders the clarity and guidance they need to fast-track success. The people who choose to work with me are more likely to get funded, less likely to fail, and become profitable sooner because they learn to think like smart entrepreneurs early in their business journey.

The Official Spiel

I’m a seasoned startup consultant and founder of Startup Distillery. Since graduating from the Wharton School and leaving the frenzy of Wall Street behind, I’ve spent the last two decades helping entrepreneurs from all walks of life launch successful businesses and secure funding. I bring a broad background in finance, retail, manufacturing, and operations, which informs all the work that I do.

I differentiate my work with a hands-on collaborative approach, relying on my years of experience along with both right-brain and left-brain skills. This allows me to become a mini-expert in your business.

Even though I’m based in Chicago, I work with clients around the globe, across all industries. I’ve helped founders with businesses ranging from clean energy to life sciences, retail to consumer products, food & beverage, technology, consulting… and distilleries, of course.

The No-B.S. Spiel

(Because I’m a firm believer that candor is highly underrated.) Here’s the scoop… When you’re starting a business you have TWO choices:

  1. Go it alone and figure it out as you go. It’s tempting with so many free resources available online these days. You might save a few thousand dollars up front, but in my experience you will almost certainly spend more money, more energy, and more time in the long run. The stark reality is that 1 in 5 businesses fail within the first year, 50% are on shaky ground after five years, and by the 10-year mark more than 65% have failed.1
  2. Get expert support and personal guidance from the start. This is the way you can avoid making expensive mistakes, accelerate your learning curve, and condense your startup timeline by half (or more). Yes, it’s an investment. But if you want your business to take off sooner rather than later, it will hands down be the best one you make.

The truth is, success is never guaranteed and you won’t be able to avoid making mistakes. But the great thing is that you’re in the driver’s seat. You have the power to reduce your risk of failure and become profitable sooner.

The Personal Spiel

Lest you think I’m all work and no play, my favorite ways to unwind are reading, biking, kayaking, and eating Graeter’s ice cream (mint chocolate chip and black raspberry chip are my faves).

With a husband, two sons, and a dog named Super Cooper, I swear the occasional Jedi mind-trick is used only in the service of good.

I’m also a published author of humor book, M.I.L.D.E.W.: Mothers-In-Law Do Everything Wrong (Andrews McMeel, trade paperback), a fun-filled look at one of life’s oldest marital challenges (if you know, you know).

What it’s like working with me.

Every startup expert brings their own approach to the business-building process. Here’s mine:

I use a collaborative approach from start to finish.

At Startup Distillery I don’t do it for you, I do it with you — combining your vision and my expertise to help you achieve your goals. Working closely together, I help you through the “tough stuff.” Facing new challenges? Difficult dilemmas? We’ll tackle them together, with me leading the way.

I’m unapologetically candid.

I wouldn’t be helping if we only focused on the bright side, so I’ll always give it to you straight. If the numbers don’t add up or the market potential isn’t there, I’ll say so and help you make a course correction so you don’t waste your time or money. When it comes to your success, there’s no room for fairy tales.

I rely on my decades of experience and proven expertise.

More than 20 years of proven startup expertise informs all of the strategies and guidance I share with you. With me, you’re getting advice from someone who’s been in the game through booms and busts and everything in-between, helping entrepreneurs like you grow businesses built for long-term success.

My Superpowers

I use four key skills concurrently:

1. Listening.

To everything. I don’t give advice without understanding everything you’re thinking, considering, and dreaming about.

2. Organizing.

Everything we talk about flows into a flexible framework in my head. (It’s just how my brain works.) From there, I pull together everything we talk about and share it with you in a way that gives you clarity in how you think about your business and what your next steps should be.

3. Synthesizing.

A particular strength is seeing the patterns and connections between thoughts and ideas — from myriad sources — that may, at first glance, seem unrelated. This is how I find the hidden opportunities and strategies for you that others don’t notice.

4. Creative problem-solving.

This is where my synthesizing shines. Combined with creativity, tenacity, and experience, these skills are my secret weapon in helping you navigate any roadblocks or obstacles you encounter.

If you’re ready to get clarity and to feel confident you’re doing this startup thing right, let’s talk.

There are 3 ways to work with me.

Whether you need to attract investors or you simply want to accelerate the startup process, you’re in the right place.

1:1 Startup Consulting

Whether you bring expertise, passion, or both, you know that having an experienced guide in your back pocket will help you reach your goals faster. Creating a roadmap, building financial projections, or pricing your offerings for maximum profit, together we’ll develop your recipe for success.

Investor-Attracting Business Plans

If you need outside funding to get your business off the ground, that means you need a custom business plan that’s tailored to your unique business and can withstand the scrutiny of the most sophisticated investors. Before you start Googling “free business plan templates,” let’s talk.

DIY Business Plan Kit

A limited budget doesn’t have to mean a limited plan. I’ve distilled all of my methods and expertise into an all-in-one, step-by-step Business Plan Kit that shows you how to get it right — using worksheets, templates, and an ebook that explains it all. Instantly downloadable and right for any industry (at an affordable price).

Don’t be shy.

It all starts with a phone call.

Book me

(it's free!)