Yesterday I went to the Ask a VC event put on by Tech Breakfast in Georgetown. This even offers startup founder the ability to ask questions directly to a panel of Venture Capitalists about funding. It was broken into a few different sections. There were 2 45 sections where a set of VC’s were asked questions directly from the audience. The there were 1 minute flash pitches where founders could give a 1 minute pitch on their startup and elicit feedback, and then there was a time for founders to have one on one discussions with VC’s. Overall it was a very good event, and I’d definitely recommend anyone pay a few bucks to go to one if they can.
One thing I did notice during the flash pitches was that almost no one said the name of their website. Some said their startups name, but when I’d try to do a quick Google search the startup would not show up in the list. I found this to be interesting and annoying because the founders seemed to miss that they were in a room of 200 people that may be able to help them because they were so focused on the VC’s at the front of the room.
A lesson I learned long ago is that the featured speaker, or panelists, probably don’t care about you. When you are featured for an event it means that a ton of people that show up to the event are going to want to shake your hand, get your advice, and have a selfie. It’s nearly impossible to keep track of everyone trying to get your attention. Something to realize though is that many times people in the audience are the ones that are willing and able to provide resources if they are interested in what you are doing. I had a half hour conversation with an angel funder who was just sitting in the audience to listen for good ideas. So when you get to stand up and present your question, pitch, or such to the panel or speaker the real people you should think about communicating with are the attendees. The 8 people in the front of the room probably won’t remember you by the end of the session, but out of the 200 people sitting in seats there is a good possibility someone there can do something significant for you.
The thing is in the crush of an event it can be nearly impossible to track someone down if you want to talk with them. If you lead your pitch or question with your website people can look you up while you’re talking, and then if interested simply bookmark your site. A week later when they have few minutes they can go back and take a look at what you’re doing, and then be able to easily reach out. A memorable, easy to find, website beats a business card many times. People can look at your site while you’re talking, and if they book mark it you don’t have to worry about your business card getting lost.
This is an important lesson in remembering who is actually important to your success. There is a desire to get the attention of the billionaire, VC, serial founder, but many times these are not who can help you. The woman in the audience who just developed a platform to be able to advertise on video game live streaming, or the real estate investor that’s sitting on 50,000 square feet of unrented space may be the ones that can really do something to push your ball forward. Make sure when you’re talking to a presenter or panel, that your SPEAKING to everyone.