I offer up a lot of intros to people, and when you add them all up, they can take a lot of time. That's why I try and push off as much of the work to the person being introduced by asking for a clean, forwardable email.
What is that?
Well, first, it starts with the person being introduced hitting Compose, not Reply. We don't want the history of how the guy I'm introducing you to is an asshole sometimes finding it's way into his inbox.
Then, you've got to set the context. Don't just send a blurb for copying and pasting. Write me an actual note: "Hey Charlie, great seeing you. As I mentioned, I'm looking for intros..."
This way, when I hit reply and cc the person I want to intro you to, they understand what's going on.
Then, give me two or three bullets on what you're offering. It's gotta be the kind of thing where if someone reads it, they're going to say, "Hey, thanks for dumping that in my inbox."
So, "Dear Charlie, thanks for offering to make introductions for me. As I mentioned, I just won the lottery and need help spending it."
See? Who doesn't want to get that in their inbox?
Also, make it generic. Don't ask me for an intro to a specific person. I'm going to want to use that same email multiple times, without changing any names.
Also, make the subject specific and catchy. "Fool giving away money needs intros for help spending it" would be a good example. "Intros" would not be.
Now you know what I mean when I ask for a forwardable email.
I first met Chris Quinn in person three years ago. She came to a Startup Weekend and gave a speech about how New York wasn't doing such a great job supporting tech entrepreneurship. It was frustrating, because we had come such a long way, and having a public figure deride our progress and tell the world we're not doing a good job wasn't going to help the situation. Sure, we could always do better, but by focusing on the negative, it would have the effect of scaring off people who wanted to build their business here.
So, I got an introduction to her and her staff and invited her to come to an event I was throwing at Madison Square Park so she could meet the entrepreneurs firsthand and hear about the growing businesses we had. I introduced her to Dennis Crowely and Anthony Casalena who were both coming off hugely successful fundraises.
That's when I first got exposure to one of her best qualities--she listens. She considers new information carefully and is open to revising her thinking based on new data.
Since then, her staff has been open and extremely responsive with regards to issues around tech and entrepreneurship. Her support made the Brooklyn Tech Triangle study possible and I'm always getting questions from her team about making sure their policies are keeping the fast growing tech sector in mind.
But her effort and responsiveness in the tech sector isn't why I'm supporting Chris. It's her empathy. She got to witness one of the most well run administrations any city has ever seen--so she's got enough experience seeing the operational side to make this city work. However, I think most New Yorkers can agree that if there's one thing that we've felt that has been a bit missing, it's on the softer side of dealing with the public. Mike Bloomberg was effective, but a lot of people have felt like the city's policies and efforts didn't extend to as wide and diverse a community as possible--and that we built something that looks a little more like a well-run machine than a caring community.
That's what I've experienced firsthand from Chris Quinn--in a way that I'm not sure her campaign is doing a good job representing. If you ever catch her backstage at an event or after a taping, she's genuinely charming and really loves meeting people. She actually seems to be at her best off camera. My friend works at the Joy Behar show on the production side and couldn't wait to tell me how Chris won her over in person--and this was someone who had been somewhat lukewarm about her at best. If you want to like Chris Quinn, find a way to meet her is all I can say. Personally, I think their campaign team should just have a camera trail her 24/7 and release documentary style videos all day--kind of like when we got to see Obama getting burgers.
For I don't know how long, Chris has been subscribed to my weekly tech newsletter, and do you know when I hear from her? Not when I write about tech--it's when I write about myself. If I mention my mom's health issues or the fact that I'm travelling, she's quick to respond from her phone with a "Get home safe!" or "Hope things turn out ok." For over a decade, the Bloomberg administration has put together processes that make this city work--extremely well. My sense is that Chris Quinn is the best person to make sure these are processes that work for *everyone* in such a way that you feel like a person living here, instead of a number.
This next administration is not going to be an easy one. The next mayor will have to deal with unions, pension reform, and the challenge of keeping up the city's economic growth--but these are things that can't be done by a machine. They need to be handled delicately, by someone who will care about competing demands and limited resources.
I know there are a handful of tech folks supporting Jack Hidary, and I got to meet Jack recently. He's a great guy and I really hope he decides to stay in public service. I wish he would have set his sights on a council position or something like that, because the city is a complex machine that demands some more experience. He should be in public service, but if you want someone who understands and has already supported the tech community who has the qualifications to be Mayor, I can tell you firsthand that person is Chris Quinn.
I'm voting for Chris Quinn not because she's not the other guy, but because she's the best person for the job, and in my experience, the best person I've ever met in government.
Sometimes, you sit and stare at your computer--overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff you need to do. How are you ever going to get it done?
Well, you know what? You won't. As soon as you get this stuff done more stuff will follow. In fact, the more you do, the more people will give to you to do--or that you'll notice can get done.
So what do you do?
1) Accept that you can only do the best you can--and that you have limits.
2) Your health and wellbeing needs to come first, because it supports your ability to do everything else.
3) Do one thing each day from the following categories:
- Make progress on a longer term project.
- De-risk yourself by eliminating something that could trip you up later--pay a bill, address a conflict, or get the answer to a question whose answer you're relying on for something important.
- Do something to make someone else happy.
- Do something to get your heart rate up or to make you stronger... or just go for a walk.
- Practice relaxing and letting your mind drift.
- Be vulnerable to someone.
- Get something off your plate that you hate doing, but you have to.
- Turn off phone and e-mail for a little while... or turn off the computer completely and go draw in a book or on a whiteboard.
- Talk to someone who inspires you.
- Delegate something to someone else.
- Say no to something.
- From Mike Chan: "Do/read/watch something that makes you laugh"
Got any others to be added to the Daily Basics?
At accelerators like Techstars, the "Office Hours" is a standard part of the program. A mentor comes in and a whole slate of companies are scheduled to meet with them for around 20 minutes or so. It's more than an elevator pitch, but not enough time for a full pitch. So what are you supposed to get accomplished in that time?
First of all, get it out of your head that Office Hours is time to pitch. In fact, any short meeting--an Office Hours or rushing the speaker after a speaking event, or an actual elevator ride--should never be thought of as a pitch. Your goal at these short meetings should either be to:
a) Seem interesting/smart/personable enough for me to want to meet you again.
b) To get a specific, thoughtful question answered that I might have a unique perspective on.
It should really just be a bridge to another meeting or interaction.
If you make it the kind of meeting where you rush through everything you're doing for me to just say "yes" or "no" to, you're missing out on all the other potential value you get get out of the meeting. You'd be abbreviating your pitch, missing out on the back and forth of a longer meeting where you can do a deeper dive, and probably not leaving enough time for me to get to know you. It's the worst possible time frame for an actual pitch.
Here's what I'd suggest instead:
1) First off, research beforehand. Know the types of investments I make, and if you can't figure that out, ask the leaders of your program. Don't waste your time getting me to talk about myself.
2) Spend the first three minutes saying exactly what you do. We can dive into that later. Basically, just describe to me what it might say on your landing page. "We're a human powered bookkeeping service... you just upload all your financial docs to us, scanned receipts, and we have an outsourced staff who will make sense of it and track it for a low monthly fee. We're aiming for the one billion small businesses out there who are too small to hire a CFO or comptroller." Bam, done, I get it. We can do a deeper dive later to understand the inner workings of that, but now I get what you do and that you're going after a big market.
3) Why you? Do you have a killer team of coders, or are you the sales guru? What is it specifically that makes you the right team for this problem. This is not for you to describe your resume back from elementary school. It's a way to tell me, "I led the team who built eBay Motors--I can sell cars online."
4) Explain to me what you're aiming to accomplish over the course of the program--why are you here--that's another 3-5 minutes.
5) Right around midway, let me know what you think I can be helpful with--besides money. I don't invest in anything where I'm just money. I want to be able to help the company in some way. Do you need introductions to customers, feedback on the customer messaging, or perhaps insight into who may have tried something like this before?
6) Spend the rest of the time on next steps--is there a specific list of people that I think you should talk to?
7) Follow up!! Send me a freshly composed note saying, "Hey, thank you for meeting, we'd love to follow up with the people you mentioned today. As a refresher, here's three bullets about what it is that we do." Then send me another e-mail with a reminder of the 6 people I said I'd send you to.
8) Kill it with those intros. Your goal is for me to hear back from the people I sent you to thanking me for the intro, because you were so smart/awesome, helpful, or solved a pressing problem they had.
And that's how you make the most of 20 minutes.
Congratulations New York Metro area. Not that VC dollars are the be all and end all, but it's one important measure of the health of a startup community, and NYC's latest quarterly numbers from the PWC Moneytree report are continuing a positive trend--not only relative to the Valley, but in the aggregate. We're up 11.5% year over year this quarter, while Silicon Valley is down a whopping 21.8%. Results are similar for the first half of this year overall in each region. Furthermore, we're up quarter to quarter 22.4%, outpacing the Valley's 16.8%
What's also interesting is that the relative size advantage of Silicon Valley's dollars has never been this low. Right now, 3.8x the number of VC dollars go into the Valley as they do into NYC. For the first half of last year, that number was 5.5x. What's also interesting is that based on the number of deals themselves, the numbers are even better, coming in at just a touch under 3x. I shared the numbers with Fred this morning and he noted anecdotally that if you strip out cleantech, biotech and the like, the numbers are more like 2:1.
Either way, if that holds, it will be the fourth year in a row that Valley gets under three deals funded for every NYC deal.
To put it in perspective, if you've got a VC firm that plays in both markets, they should be doing *at least* a quarter of their deals here. Or, for every four investment professionals, they should have at least one that focuses here.
So, congrats NYC! Onward and upward!