Office Hours and the 10 minute meeting
On June 10th First Round held Office Hours at our office in San Francisco. In two hours, the team of 7 investment professionals met with more than 75 companies and over the past week, many of these conversations have continued. The opportunity to meet excellent entrepreneurs in the Office Hours environment has been inspiring, and I feel like a lot of value has been created for all involved. Kent Goldman, one of my West Coast counterparts, summarized the success of Office Hours here.
As successful as these events have been, from the energy to the ideas to the connections made between entrepreneurs over food and drink, I think the value of the ten-minute meetings would be exponentially higher if there were no 10-minute pitches. When an entrepreneur chooses to fill the allotted time with a pitch, I cannot ask clarifying questions and it is very difficult to provide constructive feedback.
My best conversations have been with entrepreneurs who begin by letting me know what they hope to get out of the ten minutes and then structure the time around this goal. Typically, they will use the first half of our time to describe the business and some key challenges they are facing or questions that keep them up at night and leave the second half to discuss potential solutions or approaches to these challenges.
10 minutes is an extremely short meeting, and we treat Office Hours as the beginning of a conversation with each entrepreneur, not the completion of one. It is important to also recognize that when an entrepreneur allows time for a discussion they get a glimpse of what it might be like to work with First Round as a partner in their business. Rather than feeling that we are evaluating the business plan, each entrepreneur should take the opportunity to evaluate our culture, how we think and how we might add value to the business after we fund it.
When you come to Office Hours, the ten minutes are yours and how you use them is up to you. But, I have found the most valuable conversations, the ones that continue well after the Office Hours event, are those that recognize the constraints of the format. I look forward to meeting more great people at our next Office Hours (stay tuned for date and location) and having valuable conversations with each of them.