Today, we had two great meetings with some of the smartest guys in the startup scene in the Valley. Both are angel investors, and potentially people we would go to when we start raising funds, but their advice and advisement is much more valuable to us right now than money is.
We had a morning meeting with Ariel Poler, a Stanford GSB Alum, entrepreneur, and investor in a number of successful companies including Outright, RockYou, Speeddate, Xobni, Seesmic, Realty Nation, Blippy and more. This guy is a rockstar. Even more, he has extraordinary insights into the way we think about our business every time we meet with him. He is also one of the most connected people in the valley and an overall great guy.
In the afternoon, we met with Mark Goines, who is the guru of startups in the financial technology area. If it is fin-tech-related, Mark is probably connected to it in some way. He was part of the Intuit gang and now is on a bunch of boards, advises some VC firms on fin-tech startups and does a bit of angel investing. You can’t bullshit your way past Mark Goines and that is why I love meeting with him. He is exceptionally bright and you know he will ask the tough questions so you better be ready to answer them before you go in. Again, he seems to be connected to anybody and everybody in the valley, especially if it is financial in nature.
Ariel and Mark and just a couple of examples of amazing people that have been offering us advice along the way as we are launching our startup. A lot of entrepreneurs wait too long to talk to advisors and even longer to start talking to investors. It is extremely valuable to be talking to investors along the way, even when you are not yet raising money.
For one, these guys have seen a LOT of startups…. easily in the thousands over their careers as entrepreneurs and investors. They are filled with insights and perspectives that you probably won’t be able to get yourself.
Secondly, developing these relationships early means it will be much easier to get meetings with them when you are fundraising, the process will be faster because they already know what you have been working on and how it has been going, and they know the type of person you are. Further, choosing investors is truly like dating– you need to find a good fit so talking to them early and having them help along the way can help both parties decide if marriage is in the picture so when you do propose, you can both make a good decision.