Be Prepared

It’s not just the Boy Scout motto, but some seemingly obvious advice that I’ve seen some folks screw up lately. 

As I often say, there are only two resources that venture capitalist don’t have enough of and that is time and money (to invest in companies).  The money is my issue.  I’d love to invest in more companies, but realistically don’t have the bandwidth to properly advise more companies than our current pool of capital implies.

And while I don’t want to infer that my time is worth more than anyone else’s it really frustrates me when people waste my time.  I take a lot of meetings with folks looking for either funding or networking opportunities.  And despite the amount of meetings I take, there is a constant backlog and folks who can’t manage to get onto my calendar. 

I wrote previously about three things to not do if you are pitching me, which dealt with poor preparation in pitching. Today’s post is directed toward folks whom aren’t going get funding from me and are looking to network.

If I spend some time on someone’s behalf, I have little tolerance for people being unprepared.  I take it upon myself to be as prepared as possible and completing as much background diligence as possible to lessen my cluelessness factor.  (Although admittedly, there are still plenty of meetings where I am still clueless, but it’s not for a lack of trying).

I routinely try to help out folks with introductions to trusted friends and colleagues.  In most cases, I can find a “win win” situation where each party really enjoys meeting each other.  Other times there is not a mutual win situation and I’m calling in a favor on behalf of someone. 

Sometimes, however, the person whom I meet with and then introduce them to a valuable resource doesn’t come prepared to the second meeting.  It’s really insulting to both me and my friend/acquaintance.  I hate getting calls from folks telling that I’ve wasted their time.  I feel horribly, in fact.

Secondly, I am always bummed out when a conversation begins with “tell me about yourself / Foundry Group.”  While most folks like to talk about themselves, this is a total throw away question which makes me think that you haven’t spent any time thinking about our interaction.  I’m sure there have been sometimes when this is just small talk and I’ve misinterpreted it, but perhaps the ex-lawyer in me judges people as much by the questions that they ask, than the answers they give. 

Life is short.  Time is massively valuable and I promise to try my best to be efficient and respectful.  While a small minority in my life, I wish everyone else would too.