My business partner, Yury, and I moved to San Francisco just a couple of months ago. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting dozens of entrepreneurs, engineers, and life enthusiasts – people that I’m happy to surround myself and associate with. All have been equally willing to sit down, grab a drink or cup of coffee, and chat about SF life. Being new in this fast-moving city, I’m very thankful for the warm reception.
Most recently, we’ve been trying to get intros to the investment community to learn more about investors’ thoughts, processes, investment criteria, trends, and more generally, the SV ecosystem mentality. We read investor blogs regularly (Josh Kopelman, Paul Kedrosky, Jeff Clavier, Paul Graham, Fred Wilson, Brad Feld, Mark Suster, Bryce Roberts, and many more), but there’s only so much insight that can be gained from these generalized thoughts.
I’ve been asking some of my new friends to make introductions to investors they know. Because we’re working on a new product and are getting ready to start pitching soon, I included a short summary of our new concept in the request email thinking that some context would be helpful. Big mistake. Essentially, what I did was frame the introduction in the context of “these guys are looking for money”, which is partly true, but that’s not why I want the intro. The framing should have been “hey, these guys are smart and doing great work, you should sit down with them”.
Now, my friends are waiting on me to send them our pitch deck so they can forward it to their investor contacts. Here’s the problem: investors don’t make decisions based on a deck. They make the final decision based on the entrepreneurs. A deck does not convey passion, expertise, and dedication – the crucial elements that get people excited. In addition, you’re not able to amply describe our business or the space we’re in. Most investors don’t understand the SMS industry and you don’t have the 6 years’ experience that we do to appropriately address their comments/concerns or accurately describe the trends in the market.
More importantly, cash is not why I want the introduction. I want to network with other smart folks in the area – speak to them about their goals, aspirations, history, and experience. I want to get to know them and why they’ve made the decisions that they have. I want to send them deals if I come across something they might be interested in, and, if I like them, invite them to one of the many dinner and cocktail parties we host.
Mark Suster makes a good point in Invest in Lines, not Dots, where he talks about finding trends in an entrepreneur’s journey. The only way to gather enough data to forecast a trend is to meet and speak with the entrepreneur – plot the dots that make up trends.
Please, make intros based on your personal thoughts of me, not my deck. If you don’t feel comfortable making an intro, you shouldn’t need our deck anyway. For all you know, you might be ending a great relationship before it has a chance to start.