Sometimes you get asked to do something that has zero intrinsic benefit or extrinsic benefit to you. I get a lot of requests for meetings. Can I ask your advice on this? Who should I talk to for funding? Will you introduce me to XYZ?
I don’t mind at all if I am able. I tell my partner Kenny it’s “working for the church”. In the early days of Hyde Park Angels, I did a lot of that. It wasn’t dissimilar from being a local in the pit. You had to grease the wheels to get the flywheel going. You had to be a Billy Graham of Capitalism and Entrepreneurship.
We do panels. We mentor. We make free introductions. We advise. We put people together that could have something cool happen if they knew each other, but we don’t get any renumeration out of it at all. Most the time, it can be handled with an email.
I don’t particularly care what the politics and all the other ways that people use to categorize and divide us up by. If you are trying to do business and do good for the community and yourself, have at it. I am seeing a lot more discrimination along these sorts of things now though. People won’t do favors for someone or make an intro for someone if they are on the opposite side of the aisle. Or, if they are the wrong gender/color etc. I don’t think that is cool. It kills community and as Gary Becker showed in his 1961 paper, discrimination raises the costs.
Doing business with someone is different than hanging out with someone.
What’s interesting is the more I watch entrepreneurship, the more Adam Smith’s lessons ring true. Do the best that you can do. The better you make yourself, the better it is for the community. Entrepreneurship is very singular. Sure, a community can support you. Mentors can counsel you. But, in the end it’s just the entrepreneur against the world. Not unlike a trading pit in a way.
Unlike a lot of funds, we will take a cold introduction. The caveat is do your research before you contact us. There is enough out there on the internet that you should be able to figure out what gets our juices flowing. I absolutely love it when a person has done their research and sends me an email. It shows they are on the ball. Much better than the things that come over the transom asking me to invest in the next solar farm. Clearly, we don’t do that.
Brad Feld calls these sorts of activities “give before you get”. I just think it’s being a nice person and being an active participant in your community.