A NOTE FROM SARA… TO BE A SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR, SHARE YOUR SANDWICH
Your number one job as an entrepreneur is to build your product and raise money to grow and scale. A lot of conversations I have go like this: “Hi Sara, would love for you to see my pitch deck, and perhaps connect me to your investors”; why of course, let me just pull out my rolodex.
While this is may be acceptable in some scenarios, what’s missing is the human element that can propel you further. Allow me to demonstrate with a story about my friend Bob. (name changed)
Bob had a great product, which he kept building with his team waiting for the day to come to share his pitchdeck to investors who will throw checks at him once they meet him. Bob kept to himself at the coworking space he worked at while heavily attending networking events in the evening where he could potentially meet the investor of his dreams. Bob always wore the right suit and had his business cards handy for such an occasion. While he met a few, he never really connected with them; needless to say no checks were thrown his way.
I met Bob at a coworking space in Chicago, while he was working on his laptop with his Beats headphones on avoiding eye contact. My phone battery was dying and I desperately needed to charge my phone and spotted his unused wire. I waved at him to get his attention and asked to borrow it. He gave it to me with slight discomfort that I interrupted his flow. When I saw him stop for a minute, I asked him his name and started to ask what he was working on. The woman sitting next to me at the table overheard and joined in on the conversation as well. As Bob spoke we listened, gave feedback, and shared ideas on his product. We also asked Bob why he never joined the many activities organised by the space to which he responded “no time”. As we were wrapping up for the day we asked Bob to join a few of us for dinner downstairs, he declined at first but we wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Fast forward a few months later, I run into Bob again, and he is now making eye contact, waving, and chatting with people in the room. So I sit next to him and ask him what he has been up to. He shares that after that dinner he felt connected to the community and started to open up more and hang out. He said that people gave him feedback, watched his dog when he was away, introduced him to other friends, and one entrepreneur introduced him to his investor. A warm introduction to a vc from a fellow founder builds credibility and is always better than a random introduction.
Opening up to a community and spending time with peers can be a catalyst to so much more; you make friends, form a support group, and have a group invested in you ready to spread the word about your product. But what matters most is that you show up and with the set intention of connecting and adding value. None of that happens while you are sitting on your sofa plugging away with Seinfeld in the background.
So when you find yourself, sitting in a co-working space at lunch time with your roast beef sandwich primed for that first bite, consider splitting it in half with the person next to you with the intention to connect, and maybe just maybe the karma is so good they end up being Peter Thiel’s first cousin.