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I’ve been going to meetings for the Boston Entrepreneur’s Network for a while now. I like the group a lot and have found the meetings to be very well moderated and timed. (This is a big deal for me; it means I know the guest speakers have had a chance to say what they wanted to say. Hearing them is the primary reason I attend.)
Last night they had three real VIP’s: two partners at venture capital funds and one director of an angel fund.
I laughed at Art Fox’s presentation. He gave a formal introduction about the kinds of things he looks for at a startup (passion and enthusiasm, intelligence and expertise, honesty and integrity, people skills and likeability). He summarized this introduction by saying startups were about three things:
Later on he plugged Toastmasters. He said they had helped him get over a stutter. His slide said, “Practice, practice, practice.” To which he added, “I still like saying things three times.”
After the meeting, the speakers were swarmed, as always happens. There was no chance I was going to fight my way in, and I think it’s rude, anyway, especially when they just gave two hours of their evening to the audience. So I talked with a few folks I had known from previous meetings, then headed for the elevator.
One of the speakers had escaped the throng and was hurrying — smiling, professional that he is, talking to everyone who assailed him — in a harried way towards the elevator. He got in, dragging the crowd with him. I got in after the speaker and plugged the entrance, which closed on the crowd, the speaker, and me in the elevator. I handed him my card, on which I had scrawled “business plan/exec summary,” and offered that if he wanted to give me feedback on the one-pager, I’d greatly appreciate it. He asked what I did and I gave him — wait for it! — the 10 second elevator pitch.
Smiling and waving, he sprinted out the doors and into the night.
Usually this “write on the card, let them escape” tactic works decently, because you haven’t been too pushy. I’ll let you know how it goes.