In 1997 I was negotiating the sale of my first startup with a large ISP. We had been meeting for weeks and had invested a lot of time explaining to this company what we did exactly, what our plans were and how our technology scaled. It seemed that every time we had a meeting with new people that we had to keep explaining things all over again.
At one point we got fed up with explaining and demanded that at the next meeting we would talk to someone who could make decisions. We arrived for the meeting and started talking about the details of the deal when suddenly someone who hadn’t introduced himself asked me a very basic question about our service. I lost my patience, ignored his question, and turned to our main contact.
I said, “I’m getting tired of explaining our service to new people who have no clue about what we are doing. We requested someone with the power to make decisions and here we are back explaining basic details to someone who doesn’t know anything about our business”.
The room went very quiet for a moment and then the new guy spoke up. With an icy voice he looked at me and said, “I have the power to make decisions. I’m the new CEO here”.
I swallowed hard, offered my apologies and went back to answering his question. I really tried to win him over after that but it just didn’t seem to work. He didn’t smile and his questions didn’t seem like he was interested in the answers. We had a few more meetings after that and even got an offer, but it was too low and we ended up selling to a different company a few months after that.
I learned a few things from that incident. First of all, I learned to be more patient and not let my emotions take over during important meetings.
But I also learned that it is important to keep introducing yourself to people. It is easy to assume everybody knows who you are and what you do but your name and function isn’t written on your forehead so it doesn’t hurt to introduce yourself to people every now and then.
So, my name is Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten. I’m one of the founders of The Next Web Holding which owns this blog, a few events (including The Next Web Conference) and TNW Labs. I also started Twitter Counter.com, Social Statistics.com and a bunch of other companies and have even sold a few.
I guess I could be described as a ‘Serial Internet Entrepreneur’ but I’m also an active blogger and developer.
So, now that I’ve introduced myself; who are you?