Investors and Serendipity

In 2010, I met over one hundred early stage entrepreneurs/teams who were looking to raise seed capital from microVCs, venture, angels, etc. One common thing I noticed is that the entrepreneurs were hungry to “get a meeting.” Now, I’ve fallen into this trap myself. “Getting a meeting” is a task that can drive someone, and sometimes getting it becomes so self-consuming, the person asking for the meeting may be so distracted as to not knowing why they asked for the meeting in the first place. From an investors’ point of view, one has to understand just how many emails and meeting requests they get. That’s why they follow less than 1,000 people on Twitter and that’s why they like referrals from their network to learn about new startups. Those filters help them keep sanity.

All of this is nothing new. I’m writing it to lay the context for the thought I’d like to share:

Investors’ days are typically very busy and hectic. They are over-scheduled, running around from this place to that. Like anyone else in a routine, many of them crave the opportunity for serendipity — running into someone on the street, at a coffee shop, etc. It breaks up the monotony of the day, and because they are looking for the next big thing to fall in love with, some of them are trained to tune out pitches they get through predictable channels. Their filters are fine-tuned. They want something to break their sound barrier, and oftentimes I think entrepreneurs who are chasing investors to “get meetings” don’t give this dynamic enough weight. Don’t try to get a meeting — try to get their attention. If you can do that, he/she will ask you to meet (out-bound sales) and won’t wait for you to contact them (in-bound sales).