This post is part of the Hyde Park Angels Entrepreneurial Education Series, which brings together successful, influential entrepreneurs and investors to teach entrepreneurs everything they need to know about early-stage investment through events, articles, videos, and more. If you are interested in learning more about raising a round, save the date for “Early Stage Investment 101” on June 17.
Accelerators, incubators, and even venture firms and angel organizations often offer open office hours with investors to members of the entrepreneurial community, generally to get a pulse on trends and potential deals.
This is a tremendous opportunity for entrepreneurs to get face-time with key influencers and check-writers who could move on to become their advisors or investors in the future. And yet, we see entrepreneurs fail to maximize on the opportunity all the time. But that doesn’t have to be the case! Here’s what you can do to make the most of your next office hours session.
1) Come Prepared
Office hours can feel really informal, but that doesn’t mean you have to wing it. In fact, winging it can do you a great disservice. Remember, the people leading these office hours are looking to spot potential. If you come across them again (and you probably will) months later after a super casual, highly disorganized conversation, that’s what they’re going to remember.
Make an excellent first impression by coming prepared to talk about what your company does, what problems you’re facing, what resources you need, and how you hope to achieve your goals. By no means are you required to give a formal pitch, but you should still be able to articulate your vision and value.
2) Establish What You Want Out of the Meeting
Along those lines, you should know before you go into the meeting what you are specifically looking to get out of the meeting. It could be anything, including:
· Pitching a potential investor
· Asking questions on anything from raising a round to restructuring a business model
· Getting feedback on ideas and strategies
· Seeking advice on the best technological, human capital, or industry-specific resources
Whatever it is, establish it from the very beginning of the meeting, or even beforehand by sending materials you want to discuss ahead of time (if that’s an option). This will highlight your preparedness and help you get the most out of the interaction.
You shouldn’t spam the people you meet in office hours, but that doesn’t mean you can’t follow-up. Touching base on follow-up questions or just checking in to share how you’re implementing their advice will help you keep the conversation going long after your session is over.
About the Author
Alida Miranda-Wolff is Associate Manager at Hyde Park Angels. Her role includes creating and executing marketing and communications strategies, planning and managing events, fostering and maintaining community and industry partnerships, and managing membership. Prior to joining Hyde Park Angels, Alida served as a manager, data analyst, and publication specialist at a multibillion dollar industrial supply corporation. She has led two of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns in Chicago history and worked with half a dozen startups in various marketing, content creation, and project management roles. Alida believes in creating valuable, spreadable multimedia content, and has done so as a freelance writer for several print and online publications.
About Hyde Park Angels
Hyde Park Angels is the largest and most active angel group in the Midwest. With a membership of over 100 successful entrepreneurs, executives, and venture capitalists, the organization prides itself on providing critical strategic expertise to entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial community. By leveraging the members’ deep and broad knowledge of multiple industries and financial capital, Hyde Park Angels has driven multiple exits and invested millions of dollars in over 30 portfolio companies that have created over 500 jobs in the Midwest since 2006.