I couldn’t help but laugh when I read Paul Kedrosky’s post Tribble Trouble last week, where he laments that the number of people who show up at an entrepreneur’s first meeting at a VC’s offices can multiply,
“And then … you show up for this first meeting, thinking that you’ll have a nice, informal chat — and wham! There are five people in the meeting. There’s the person you emailed with, but there’s also an an entrepreneur-in-residence, two associates, and a partner who comes late, then keeps going in and out, checking email, and generally acts like he/she is double-parked… A one-VC meeting turns into a two-VC gab-fest, which turns into a four-VC presentation, and so on.”
It’s indeed true that this situation can and does occur… often. But I think the situation can be proactively managed (see #4 here) by asking beforehand both who is invited and who will likely join the meeting. The answer may (read: will) change on the day of the meeting, but raising the issue will serve as a good guidepost and could lead to a discussion about how many people are appropriate, if need be. And if a more informal one-on-one conversation is ideal, directly asking for it makes intentions and preferences known. Also, while some VCs don’t drink coffee, I think meeting somewhere for coffee or breakfast, when it is purpose-driven and/or genuine advice-seeking, is a good way of ensuring an audience of one. For some reason, VCs don’t travel in packs outside the office.