I’m documenting this journey to share my experiences with other founders considering making the trek for the first time. Thanks for tagging along!
My previous posts:
Highway 5 heading north from LA to SF is a long, lonely road passing through rolling terrain in the baking California sun. Let’s just say, it’s not the optimal place to run out of gas.
Yep. I did it. I ran out of gas two hours away from San Francisco with a pitch event scheduled 3.5 hours out. After 15 minutes of hail mary phone calls to cabs and half-assed thumbs up gestures out of my black Mazda rental, I knew it was time to make the four-mile walk to the nearest gas station in the 100+ degree heat.
15 minutes into my walk, I was drenched with sweat, self-criticism and the desire to be anywhere on Earth besides that road at that time. But just when I had given up all hope that I would make the pitch event, I saw the brake lights of a white construction van pulling onto the shoulder of the highway. As I walked up to the passenger side of the van, I noticed the door crack open, and the driver give it one last push open and say, "Hey man, need a lift?"
Did I ever...
We drove down the road talking about the heat, our families, how my wife would kill me if she found out I ran out of gas, and other things total strangers would discuss in the given situation. We reached the gas station, I picked up a gallon of gas, and he told me he would be happy to give me a lift back to my car. For all he knew, I could have been a random dude looking for money with a yeti suit in the back of my car.
When we got back to my car with the yeti suit in it, I didn't know how to thank him enough. The man had just found me on the side of the road in the sweltering heat and drove me around for 40 minutes when he could have been at home spending time with his family on his day off. I offered him cash. He looked at me, smiled and simply said, "If you don't believe in God, now is the perfect time to change your mind" as he handed me his card and drove off into heat waves hovering above Highway 5. I looked down at his card. He was the local pastor, and he had just delivered the perfect pitch.
I made it to my pitch event, did my thing, met an angel investor, and have follow-up meetings scheduled this week. Looking back on my third week in Silicon Valley, my biggest lesson came from the pastor in the van.
He no doubt was going to give me his card and say that closing line and he knew it. But, he didn't just start preaching the good word as soon as I got in the car. He genuinely got to know me, he helped me, he was kind and subtle, but when the perfect opportunity arose, he hit me hard with a one-sentence pitch that will stick with me forever. It was perfect timing.
Note to Self
1) If given the opportunity to connect with a potential investor, always try to build a relationship first and wait for the golden opportunity to make your pitch. Timing is everything.
2) Try to take public transportation whenever possible.
Things are moving along nicely. I'm having several follow-up meetings with investors and have scored three new clients in the past few weeks. I am so blessed to have an amazing wife and family, a kick ass co-founder and so much support from the NC startup community and the readers of this series. Even still, fundraising for your company is a long and sometimes lonely road. But every now and again, you get lucky and find an angel when you least expect it.
Thank you, Pastor.