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Office Hours Wrap Up

December 21, 2009

Office hours were terrific – thanks to the ten groups that came in to meet me. Without divulging any state secrets, I did want to provide some details of overall session and thoughts on how to make it better the next time. Overall, I really enjoyed it, got good feedback from some of the folks who came in and am looking forward to the next session in 2010.

The format was rapid-fire speed dating: ten 20-minute sessions in a row, which meant no real opportunity for power-point, although one guy tried (more on this later). Given such a compressed schedule, I started each with the simple question “what would you like to accomplish in our time together” – and then let the entrepreneurs take it away. I am not sure

The ten entrepreneurs presented businesses/ideas that fell into the following categories (broadly defined):

  • Green Farming:                                       1
  • e-Commerce:                                            5
  • Physical Security:                                    1
  • “Let’s Get to Know One Another:”      1
  • Content/Entertainment:                        1
  • SaaS/Cloud Platforms/Applications  1

What worked well for me:

  1. Those who came in with one or two specific questions
  2. Those how had simple demos or one/two page PPT, or no PPT at all – but great grasp on their concepts and therefore were very succinct
  3. Those who were not trying to get me to invest in their company in 20 minutes
  4. Clear time boundaries – our assistants were great at playing time keeper and giving the 2 minutes warning.
  5. Meeting a bunch of new entrepreneurs and hearing some great – and in come cases wild – new ideas.

What worked poorly for me:

  1. Rambling conversations where the “ask” was unclear; one session went for 18 minutes of a PPT pitch, leaving no time for any of the questions the entrepreneur wanted answered/considered.
  2. Too many sessions in one day? My friend and Flybridge advisor Nate Westheimer does weekly office hours in NYC and suggests doing it more frequently (weekly, biweekly) but only for one hour with four 15-minutes slices. I was energized the entire time, but will take it under advisement.

What worked well and poorly for the entrepreneurs? I am eager to get more feedback! So please comment.

I intend on holding office hours again in Jan/Feb of 2010, and look forward to seeing some new faces soon.

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