Archive for February 2009
The most dynamic entrepreneurs don’t have a pitch – they tell you a story.
Everyone loves a good story, and I think that story can really help connect you with potential investors.
For example, I recently spoke to an entrepreneur who started a company based on his experiences from being hospitalized for a severe illness. You could sense that he was intrinsically motivated by his experience and was leveraging that motivation to bring that day in, day out intensity that leading a startup requires.
Not all pitches are going to have elements of life-threatening illnesses or transformative experiences.
However, it can be just as compelling to share detailed anecdotes from your previous work or less intense parts of your life and use that to paint a picture about why you’re the right person to have started your company. And why you are intrinsically motivated to succeed, no matter the odds.
So, the next time you meet an investor, think about telling them a story.
This is a quickie post but there a few blogs that I’ve been reading for a while that I absolutely love and wanted to share them.
- Rick Segal’s Blog (The Post Money Value): Rick is a Canadian VC with a great sense of humor and you can tell that the way he blogs is the way he acts in person – very authentic. I can’t prove that because I haven’t met Rick, but judging by how he writes I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a good guy to grab a beer with.
- Dave McClure‘s Blog (Master of 500 Hats): This blog is hilarious, irreverent, and incredibly informative if you’re building any kind of web startup. There are not many things on the Internet that make me laugh out loud and this blog is one of them. Where else can you read about tactics for acquiring users and the world’s oldest profession in a single blog post? I thought so!
- Seth Godin’s Blog: I know, I’m Captain Obvious to point out Seth’s blog, considering he is one of the most well-known bloggers out there. Still, I feel like I need to spread the word.
Recently I have been approached by people looking for an internship or job with our firm. We’re not hiring or looking for interns right now but a few things jumped out at me about the methods that were used to reach me.
Most people who contacted me sent a blind email having found my email address on our firm website. Also, almost everyone sent a generic cover letter that was not customized.
Now, I did read and reply to each of these inquiries, but my guess is that many VCs (and I’m speaking from experience when I was looking for a job in VC over the last year) would not answer this ‘cold call’ email.
So if I were looking for a VC job, what could I do to improve my chances of getting a meeting with the VC about potential internships or jobs? Some thoughts…
- Use LinkedIn to find someone in your network who may know the VC you’d like to reach.
- If you have no other way to reach the VC except through a blind email, take time to customize your cover letter pitch to the firm (or the person at the firm) you’re targeting.
- Talk to me about some interesting companies in spaces our firm might be interested in and offer to connect me with them.
- Don’t ask for a job or an internship – ask for advice. If you ask me if I am hiring and I’m not, I will probably say “we’re not hiring” versus if you ask me “can you talk to me about careers in VC, I want to learn” I’m more apt to engage in a dialog (and I don’t think I’m unique in that respect amongst VCs).
If you’ve had some success reaching VCs to discuss jobs or internships, what has worked for you?
I spent Friday in Philadelphia at the Wharton Entrepreneurship Conference. It was a worthwhile trip although my networking circuits were fried afterwards. I had the chance to put some faces to folks who I’ve spoken to at various times over the last couple of years and take in some very good keynote speeches (given by Donny Deutsch and Julian Brodsky of Comcast) and panels. And I also met some new companies and investors whom I’d never spoken with before.
I think the organizers did a pretty good job with the format and agenda of the conference. I was a little concerned when I saw both keynote speeches were 45 minutes long but thankfully both Julian Brodsky and Donny Deutsch were very engaging and I didn’t look at my watch once. The panels were also kept to 45 minutes which gave enough time to flesh out whatever topic was being discussed as well as leave plenty of time for audience questions.
Good job, Wharton, I look forward to seeing you next year! :)
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- The Story is Where It’s @: Wharton Entrepreneurship Conference 2009 (greenskeptic.blogspot.com)