I recently offered to introduce a founder to a legend in their field who was interested in investing. The founder hesitated and argued, “There’s no more room for angels” or “I’m worried they might steal my idea.”
My advice? Take the darn meeting anyway.
🗣️ Conversations open doors
My counsel to the founder was that they were being too binary in their thinking. A meeting might unlock so many potential collaborations. For instance:
- The VIP may not want to invest but could introduce the founder to talented executives.
- They might impart invaluable wisdom that could alter the startup’s trajectory.
- The founder might be so impressed by this luminary that they accept slightly more dilution to bring them on board.
- Perhaps the connection remains informal, but down the line, this KOL decides to join the board.
Countless outcomes can stem from a simple conversation, but they can only be explored if you take the chance and engage!
🪟 Windows of opportunity close
Timing is critical. People want to learn about exciting new ventures and join your thrilling journey at the start. Receiving an introduction from a VC when you’re their fresh, shiny portfolio company is far better than after you’ve struggled for a year or two (potentially making mistakes that the contact could have helped you avoid!)
The few months following a funding round are a period of peak optimism, which can rapidly dissipate. Use it well!
Some argue that founders should focus on products/customers rather than networking. Alexis Ohanian Sr. makes an excellent case for staying focused on your work in this thread. And he’s right — startups struggle when founders spend too much time on fruitless networking with low-value contacts.
However, when you’re being given the opportunity to meet someone famous in your field and interested in a 1:1 chat, don’t overthink it. Instead, say yes and request to be connected at your earliest convenience.