Thursday, July 14, 2005

Commandment #3: Tease, Don't Overwhelm

Commandment #3: Tease, Don't Overwhelm

First he tells us to "Be on Time" (Commandment #9), he advises: "Tease, Don't Overwhelm"...What the hell does this mean, readers (if any) will be tempted to ask.....But stay with me for a minute. There’s a subtlety here that might help you.

The goal of your first meeting with a VC IS NOT to get a funding commitment. The goal of your first meeting IS to get a second meeting. On extremely rare occasions, funding commitments are made in the first meeting, but only in very unusual circumstances: e.g., where the entrepreneur has worked (successfully) with the VC firm before, or where the proposing partner in the VC firm has been working with the entrepreneurs in the development of the startup idea, etc., etc. In the vast majority of cases, I’d guess that the average number of meetings a startup has with the VC firm that eventually funds it ranges between 3-7 (but curious to know from any entrepreneur readers if their experience is, or data are, different).

So, what does this mean? Here are a couple of thoughts:

Don’t try to cram six or seven meetings’ worth of information into one meeting. Pique their curiosity, don’t pulverize their attention span. More on this in the next few “Commandments”, but think of the initial meeting as a way to say: “I’ve got a very cool business idea that you should want to know more about.” – that is, almost more of a “teaser” than an overwhelming deluge of information.

That said, absolutely do make sure you obey the three “Uber Commandments” (see my post on Commandment #1) and tell why: (1) you have a great technology idea, (2) being implemented by a great team, and (3) attacking a huge market in the midst of a transition.

This is probably overkill (and I’m sure goes without saying), but just in case…..this is NOT to advise entrepreneurs to “hide the ball” in any way in the initial meeting. If you want to “succeed” (remember: success in the first meeting is getting the second meeting), you absolutely need to do something that’s really hard: crisply and clearly reduce a complex business message into a short set of slides that intrigues the audience and makes them want to find out more.