We get a lot of requests from aspiring entrepreneurs to meet for coffee and look at their ideas. They want feedback, or they’re looking for funding, or they’re hoping to get a review here.
All-in-all we love meeting ambitious entrepreneurs to talk about new ideas. We also have our own work though so we try to help people without having to invest an hour of time into a meeting. Often once we hear a story we realize that we could’ve helped them better with just an email and an introduction to an investor (2 minutes work) instead of a whole meeting (15 minutes to get to the meeting, one hour to talk, 15 minutes back).
To smooth things over we have decided to write a post with some pointers. If you are having a meeting with us about your idea or startup please read these posts first to see if you can get enough advice from that. More often than not we’re just repeating these concepts.
Excerpt: “Wanting to start a technology start-up without knowing technology is about as stupid as having a great idea for a book but not knowing how to write. So unless you learn how to write code, get married to a developer or start your company together with a developer you have no business in this business.”
Excerpt: “These days, when someone tells me ‘I have a great idea for a web service’ I just don’t get excited anymore. I have learned not to. The reason is that ideas really don’t matter anymore.”
Excerpt: “More often than not the entrepreneur will try to do something in a market where he has no experience, using technology he doesn’t completely understand, with partners he doesn’t know. Such projects are so far off from ‘coming together’ that the chances of success are slim.”
Excerpt: “Now a description that does whet my appetite: Two geeks with no business plan who hacked together something funny and showed it to their friends who all liked it too.”
Excerpt “Don’t worry about people stealing an idea; if it’s original, you’ll have to shove it down their throats.”
Excerpt: “Remove the need for funding by starting small so you remove the need to persuade investors. Ask your buddy to do the development so you don’t have to spend 6 months learning PHP.”
Excerpt: “There is a joke amongst investors that when an entrepreneur comes along with a plan you can double the amount of money and time he predicts he will need, and half the amount of users he predicts he will have to get a realistic prediction. Unfortunately that is about right for 99% of all projects.”
Excerpt: “One tip: if you need an NDA to protect your idea that simply means it is very easy to steal. Not a good sign.”
To close off things here are a few other things you should know:
We are not consultants, but you can always ask us for some advice. We don’t invest in other companies. But we do know a lot of people who do. We do have TNW Labs but that is an ‘by invitation only’ incubator. If we do have a meeting, try to keep it to 20 minutes or shorter. We don’t steal ideas and we don’t sign NDA’s. If your idea is that simple to steal then maybe it isn’t such a good idea in the first place.
A great way to meet with us is to find out to which events we attend and schedule some time with us there. As we will be in a ‘meeting people’ mood anyway it will be much easier to get our attention. Follow us on Twitter or Plancast to find out where we are going or feel free to email us to find out.
When you request a meeting make sure you tell us something about yourself (include a link to LinkedIn or a profile, if possible) and add an Executive Summary to your email so we know what you are talking about. No business plans please, just a summary of what your plans are.
Most importantly; let us know what you expect from the meeting. Need funding, attention or a review? Let us know in advance and maybe we can help you even faster and better.
Read all those posts?
Got your executive summary ready?
Great! Looking forward to meeting you! :-)