You Never Know Who You’re Going to Get

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.

David Beisel

David Beisel is a co-founder and Partner at NextView Ventures. He has been focused on early stage Internet startups his entire career, both as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. As an investor in the digital media space, David was most recently a Vice President at Venrock and previously a Principal at Masthead Venture Partners. Prior to becoming a venture capitalist, David co-founded Sombasa Media, an e-mail marketing company best known for its flagship product BargainDog. Sombasa was successfully acquired by where David served as Vice President of Marketing. David holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an AB in Economics, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Duke University. He also founded and leads the Boston Innovators Group, an organization which holds quarterly entrepreneur events drawing a thousand attendees.