Thursday, July 14, 2005

Commandment #2: Be On Time

Commandment #2: Be On Time

So this really seems like a platitude, doesn’t it? Something your mother would have told you if she knew you were pitching an idea to the venture community….And, of course, seven or eight times out of ten, it’s not an issue. But every so often timeliness (or lack thereof) becomes very important. Here’s why you always want to be early to a meeting with a VC (even though 95 times out of 100 they’ll keep you waiting). I call it the problem of the HARD STOP.

Arriving early at the VC’s office avoids two main problems, both ultimately having to do with the fact that VC’s often over-book meetings (given everything else they have to do during the work day) and often have a HARD STOP after an hour or so (and are often, themselves, the cause of a late start – more on that below).

First, believe it or not, the presentation technology provided by the VC doesn’t always work (shocking!). Sometimes it’s the fault of their projector, sometimes it’s a glitch in the laptop the entrepreneur brings, and sometimes it’s just gremlins, or the failure to have made a large sacrifice to the Presentation Gods prior to the meeting. In any event, if this happens you want to have plenty of time to fix the situation. No matter what anyone thinks, it certainly doesn’t make one look good if the presentation isn’t working (no matter what the cause). VC’s (who consider themselves very important) hate to sit around waiting.

Second, VC’s, themselves, are often late to your presentation. Since this doesn’t alter the HARD STOP, if you are not ready to go as soon as the VC walks in the room, you run the risk of having an even more hurried, pressured presentation – which is not the way to show your best stuff.

So arrive early if you want to give yourself the optimal chance to do well. Don’t worry, this means that you’ll often spend 10 – 15 minutes ready and rarin’ to go, while waiting for the VC to get off the phone. Unfortunately, that’s life, and life’s not fair -- but maximize your chances of success: show up early.