We had the good fortune of connecting with Dani Fontanesi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dani, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
A part of me always knew I would start my own business one day. It was an instinctive drive since I was a little girl. What I didn’t expect was that I would start my own law firm. I studied Business Administration in college, and after working for a few years, I decided to go to law school. The first law firm where worked was made up of many brilliant women — but very few of them were at the top. The partners were almost exclusively male. I learned from my mom that if I didn’t see a path to get to where I wanted to go, I’d have to pave one. So that’s what I did. I worked my way through the ranks of private practice and in-house counsel before finally taking the leap and starting my own practice. I wanted to be my own boss, set my own terms, and break the glass ceiling. I was inspired by other San Diego women (including Ashley Peterson who started her own real estate practice, The Law Office of Ashley Peterson, many years ago) who’d done the same thing: They created the life they wanted to live, and they didn’t let fear and self-doubt stand in the way.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Fontanesi Legal is redefining how startups and founders gain access to the tools and legal expertise needed to help their businesses grow, scale, and thrive strategically. San Diego is known as one of the top startup hubs in the world. Most recently, it was ranked #8 in the world by Crunchbase.com for the most innovative cities during the COVID pandemic. It’s no secret that San Diego’s entrepreneurial culture is thriving. However, what’s lacking in San Diego (and across the U.S.) is access to top tier, affordable legal expertise to guide these startups through their journeys — from forming a legal entity to raising capital for funding their operations. Prior to founding Fontanesi Legal, I was the lead in-house counsel for a tech company in Silicon Valley. When I needed external counsel, I found it very difficult to find top quality law firms that were responsive, approachable, and didn’t charge $600-1,000+ per hour. If I wanted quality legal advice, I had to sacrifice responsiveness and good service. If I wanted flexible, reliable service, I had to sacrifice quality. There was a gap in the market that needed to be filled.
I eventually left my role at an Andreessen Horowitz backed company to found my own law firm. At Fontanesi Legal, we help startups and founders manage their legal risk, protect their IP, raise capital, hire new employees, negotiate contracts, and all the day-to-day legal tasks that come with running a company. We see each of our clients as a partner, and we work to help them grow in a way that works for them. We provide high quality legal advice, along with templates, tools, and resources, at affordable rates with flexible service.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
San Diego is filled with so many fun and beautiful places, it’s hard to choose my favorite spots! I had a friend visit from Iceland a couple years ago, and the first place we went was Poseidon in Del Mar. We sat on the porch and watched the waves lap against the sand as we enjoyed a Mai Tai and fish and chips. When some friends visited from New Zealand, my husband and I took them to Stone Brewery in Liberty Station where we sat in the outdoor garden, soaking up the sun and enjoying a flight of aromatic microbrews from a world class, San Diego brewery. We also went sailing around San Diego Bay on the legendary Stars & Stripes, an authentic America’s Cup racing yacht.
I always take visitors to my favorite brunch spot: Cafe La Rue at La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla. Their mimosa menu is one of the best in the city, and you can’t beat the view! Another fabulous brunch spot is Brockton Villa in La Jolla Cove. The food is delicious and the views are spectacular. For the best coffee in town, we always take friends and family to Bird Rock Coffee Roasters in La Jolla or the newer location in Little Italy. Beaumont’s in Bird Rock is also great for chilaquiles!
For some outdoor fun, La Jolla Shores has surfboard and kayak rentals that are great for visitors. Hiking Torrey Pines is another a great way to burn off some extra vacation calories while taking in the beautiful views. And no trip to San Diego would be complete without a trip to Balboa Park. I like to bring a blanket and a picnic basket, and enjoy an evening sitting in the grass in the botanical gardens.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My mom, Terri Boyd-Davis, has always been my role model since I was a little girl. She taught me that life’s circumstances don’t define me — they just create opportunities for me to see things differently than others. She taught me to take my life experiences and pave a path that is uniquely mine. My husband, Matt Fontanesi, taught me that odds are for other people — that I’m one of one, and I can do anything I put my mind to. My friend and mentor, Ashley Peterson, taught me to let go of fear and self-doubt and trust my instincts. I followed her lead in starting my own law practice and couldn’t be happier with the decision.
Other: To learn more about me personally, you can visit www.TeamFont.com. My husband and I created this blog after he was diagnosed with cancer on our honeymoon. Thanks to the incredible work of the world class doctors and nurses at UCSD Health, Matt had a successful bone marrow transplant in 2015 and celebrated 5 years cancer free in November 2020.