Entrepreneurs guide to hacking meetings in Silicon Valley

If you are a first time entrepreneur planning on travelling to Valley and set up investor meetings, this might be a good list of hacks

  1. Plan early: After meeting 30+ technologists and investors during our recent trip to SV, this is what we can tell: Plan early.
    You should probably avoid travelling,spending substantial amount of money if you are relying only on a couple of meetings.
    We booked our tickets for February visit in December and started approaching people for meetings since then. Nearly two months of effort and we managed to line up 30+ meetings.
  2. Know your people: Once you have made up your mind that visiting valley is a necessity. Start by honestly narrowing down on who are the people you want to meet and what you want to achieve out of it? This will help to create a list quickly and start approaching.
    In our case, since the primary intention was to on board investors and technologists from biggest technology companies, we knew exactly whom we wanted to talk to
  3. Start from your network: You cannot be in a dreamland thinking SV is a magical place and the moment you arrive you will start getting things done. If you don’t have things lined up, chances are you will end of terribly disappointed.
    After you have created a list of 100 people you want to meet, look for introductions from your personal network. Are there entrepreneurs you know who have been to Valley earlier and will be able to connect you with a few investors? Ask as many as possible. Be shameless in your pursuit of asking. We kept asking for 1.5 months and ended up lining up meetings on each and every day of our 15 day trip from 25th Feb- 11th March 2016.
    Recall every interaction you have had with people in recent past, are they in Valley right now? Are they working for some big technology company? Are they an entrepreneur there? Are they studying in Stanford/Berkeley?
    For every instance where there is yes, approach them and ask if they will be able to put you in touch with a relevant person. Trust us, it always works!
  4. Approach Directly: Although approaching directly i.e cold mail/messages via email/LinkedIn is not advisable. In our case, it has always worked for us. In fact, two of the most important meetings we had during the visit were enabled by messages sent on LinkedIn. Don’t think, that one message will get you through. 
    Be clear in your message and why you want a meeting. In our case, it was after a couple of calls with both of them that we finally got a physical meeting as by that time, they started loving what we were up to at ShotPitch
This is from the meeting with Mr Raghu Vohra( Angel Investor) at St. Regis. Follow him here on Twitter

Will you expect to have a three hour marathon meeting with an investor whom you didn’t know a couple of months back,in the heart of SF on the last day of your trip? Yes, we did that and the meeting lasted till 12:30 am in the night, we had a morning flight to catch back home the next day :)

5. Network Effect: Every meeting you have make sure to leave a lasting impression, so that by the time it ends, you can shamelessly ask them to connect with a couple of their investor friends for you to meet. If you fail to impress during the meeting, then they might not oblige. We did this with every investor and met 10 more people apart from the planned one’s. From Sand Hill Road to marquee angels we met a lot of them via this route.

PS: One of the reasons why our trip was extremely extremely fruitful was because there wasn’t a single day when we didn’t have work to do/ meetings to take. If you go to SV with this in place, then its an experience you won’t forget for life. But, if you go unprepared then you have to be prepared to be disappointed

With ShotPitch our intention is to make sure that you don’t have to waste weeks and months trying to get through Investors. If you are a startup raising money and wanting to pitch to investors in Valley, you can give ShotPitch a try :)