Brad Feld

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How Not To Impress People

Jun 12, 2007

I answer my own phone.  I always have.  If I’m sitting at my desk working on something and my phone rings I’ll usually pick it up, even if I don’t recognize the phone number.  I know this doesn’t fit the “be hyper-productive” method of life, but I like the randomness of it.

A few minutes ago I got a random phone call from a guy in Oklahoma.  He was calling (I have no idea how he found me) to raise some money for his business.  He started off by saying that he needed $150k, thought he had it raised, but was looking for some venture capital.  Before I had a chance to say anything he launched into a description of his business.

I was able to interrupt at some point and tell him that I didn’t think he should be bothering talking to VCs if he was only raising $150k.  I started to explain and again he cut me off and started telling me how he’d proven the business worked he needed to find VCs that would invest less than $3m, and he really didn’t need much money to build the business.

This went on for a little while.  At some point I got more forceful in our conversation about his financing approach.  He then started pushing on the idea and explaining why it was going to be so successful.  He also explained that he could raise $3m and spend it if that’s what I wanted by simply going after more markets.  When I suggested that I thought that was an irrational approach, he started getting angry and explained how he’d proven things already and could go after more markets if that’s what I wanted.

I eventually managed to tell him that regardless of his financing approach, this wasn’t a market (mobile phone software) that I liked to invest in.  The conversation then spun into a really weird place where he told me that he could respect an answer like that, but not the advice I was trying to give him about how to raise money since I sounded “just like another one of those VCs that just gives advice but doesn’t do anything.”  He got even more indignant and told me he didn’t respect my point of view and didn’t know why he was talking to me.

I said “ok – goodbye” and hung up.  While I clearly didn’t impress him, he completely blew an opportunity to get some help.  While I’m not sure that any of the angel investors that I know in either the mobile phone software universe or in the Oklahoma / Texas area would be interested in his business, I could have at least made an intro for him to someone that might be relevant (which is where I would have gone with the conversation if he had let me.)  Instead – he got nothing from the call while I got a blog post out of it.