There is a movie called “Things To Do in Denver When You’re Dead and we just couldn’t resist.
It’s nearing the end of summer. Things tend to slow down. The investors traditionally unplug this time of year. What’s an entrepreneur to do?
Carpe diem. Unlike in other years, quite a few investors have mentioned lately – either while speaking on panels or to us personally, that they’re not unplugging for the month (or most of it), as they often do, or at least seem to do. And because they’re around and most people believe that they’re not, guess what? They’re available. Just make sure to use your time – and theirs –wisely. Two points to remember:
That old adage: when you want money, ask for advice.
That other adage as well: Do not ask them if you may take them out for coffee.
Meeting for coffee takes time and planning and travel, what to speak of the lines for ordering, then the wait time for fetching the coffee. And you don’t even know if the investor even wants or likes coffee, so make sure not to make that mistake that everyone makes, and that they’ve heard ad nauseam: not a good way to start the conversation, trust us.
When you reach out to them, offer a context: did you meet at a networking event, and which one? Did you attend a panel on which they spoke and you chatted briefly afterwards? Warm introductions always work best: check your LinkedIn and see whom you know who they know as well, and ask for an introduction. Shameless plug for an SOS member:
Investors: if you don’t mind taking calls, and want to make sure to limit them without having to come up with some excuse like, you hear a baby crying in Cleveland and, sorry, gotta go, do look into sparemin, and as one VC said in his testimonial, “SpareMin makes it easy to listen to pitches and give feedback, without the hassle of scheduling.” It also allows you to limit the time allotted to the call – before taking the call – so no worries about getting stuck on the phone, and there is a timer/count down, so both parties know to get right to the point. (NOTE: This is not a paid advertisement: we happen to like the service and we’re not the biggest fans of the AI schedulers.)
There are still plenty of events taking place, so get out there and network. Speaking of networking, Mark Birch wrote an excellent piece on The Exponential Upside of Events, with some guidelines on what constitutes a ‘High Value’ event as opposed to a ‘Low Value’ event and note to self: as Adam Quinton of Lucas Point Ventures pointed out at a recent SOS investor breakfast, don’t go to events just to meet or speak to the speaker/panelists: make sure to network with each other; you never know what might come from it, and frankly, you’d be surprised at how many of our breakfast attendees have done business with each other – or gotten business from each other. That’s one reason why we make it breakfast rather than an after-work event: people who make the effort to show up for breakfast usually mean business. And investors don’t make the effort to speak at a breakfast because they have nothing better to do with their mornings: they’re looking for something, and it’s a far more casual and relaxed way to meet people: the groups are usually smaller, so people tend to get more face time.
Mark Birch also warns to “Be careful of events with gimmicks like “speed-dating” or contests, charging a high cost of entry, incessantly sends out spammy requests by organizers and attendees, and anything that makes audacious claims like guaranteeing you will find the perfect co-founder, eternal inner peace, or massive wealth.” And thanks for playing.
If you’ve already raised funding and need some advice from your investors, also a good time to reach out to them. Don’t be shy. Remember: they have skin in the game; they want to hear from you. Preparing to raise another round soon? Good time to consult them about what you need to get there, whom you might want to approach for the next round, and are they open to making introductions – if/when appropriate? Is your investor (preferably) a subject-matter expert in your space? (S)he may have wisdom to impart to help you get to the next level: you won’t know unless you ask, and good time to ask.
Entrepreneurs don’t have time for the so-called summer doldrums and it seems that investors may well be on the same page. Strike while the iron is hot, and there’s nothing hotter than August, in this part of the world. This is a great time for reaching out, following up and/or getting out there and networking. And remember: that’s a strong sun beating down on these mean streets, so wear a hat as you go forth on that never-ending quest to move onward and forward.