I don’t really like musical theater (it’s the people sorry) but I’ve been humming a tune from The King and I called “Getting to Know You” as I codify my process for meeting founders and startups. It turns out Julie Andrews through Rogers and Hammerstein lyrics may be a viable strategy for finding out if someone is a fit for Chaotic.Capital. The actual play is racist, colonial nonsense but you know take art for art’s sake.
Getting to know you
Getting to feel free and easy
When I am with you
Getting to know what to say
Haven’t you noticed
Suddenly I’m bright and breezy?
Because of all the beautiful and new
Things I’m learning about you
Day by day
She’s talking about being a teacher and getting to know her pupils but it’s also maybe about falling in love, but I like the sentiment that learning “beautiful and new” things “day by day” feels bright, breezy, free and easy. That’s a good template for relationships of all kinds.
Pitching is none of those things. It’s practiced, formal, and exhausting. It may be a necessary evil for founders as you need concise and clear communications about what you are doing and why it requires capital. But I don’t think it’s the best way to get to know people. Getting to know someone should feel easy.
I like to get to know someone over the course of conversations. My preference is through asynchronous communication mediums like chat, direct message or email. There is something about the volleying back and forth of information that helps me more. I like a back and forth that is informed by revealing thought process but also context and background. I’ll chat with virtually anyone and keep my direct messages open on Twitter because I value conversation so much.
I generally don’t feel that phone or video calls are that helpful to me in getting to know someone initially. I don’t mind short 10 minute bursts. What I do dislike is the planned hour long call for an initial conversation. Rarely am I able to be emotionally and physically present for something like that if I am not already interested or invested in story.
But if we’ve had conversations through Twitter, direct message or email where I have more context and connection then it’s possible I can be present for you. But I wouldn’t recommend asking for an hour synchronous medium as your first interaction with me. I’ll do it as a favor to someone now and again but I almost always resent it.
I’d rather get to know you over time before I’m trapped in a room for an hour to put it bluntly. I promise this is for both of our benefit. You wouldn’t take someone on a two week vacation for a second date so why would you hinge your chance to work or get investment from someone by insistence on spending an hour together right off the bat. Let it simmer a bit. Give me an appetite for wanting to help you. Then you won’t be able to get me off the phone or Signal. I will be your most available investor if you take the time to show me who you are.
So go ahead. Message me. Message a bunch. Send an email. If you don’t hear from me message some more. If I’m being evasive tell me straight me. But the end goal should be that getting to know you is free and easy. And you will be able to tell if I’m excited. Don’t give up. Just keep the conversation flowing like Julie Andrew’s did.