Years ago after I had worked at one company for over ten years, I decided it was time for me to move on. The money was great, but I wasn’t growing anymore. I had hit the ceiling of what I could accomplish.
I decided that my next move should to become an executive or CEO of a startup. There was only one problem with my plan:
I didn’t know anyone in the startup ecosystem:
- I didn’t have any friends that had started any companies, and…
- I didn’t know any VCs.
I was literally at ground zero. But I’d been at ground zero before. I didn’t know anyone at my current employer before I joined them.
I found them. They didn’t find me. So, I decided to do the same thing I did ten years earlier:
I would send letters to every venture capitalist I thought I could help.
The first step was building a list of the people I wanted to contact. I used the internet to research the various VC funds and the partners at the funds.
Then, I developed a short form letter that introduced me, explained my background, and gave a couple ways I could help their portfolio companies. I think I used mail merge to complete the letters.
Then I sent the letters and waited to hear back.
Within one week, I started getting phone calls and emails from VCs and their assistants.
The funniest response I got was from one partner at a large fund on Sand Hill Road. I had sent letters to all five partners at the fund. I’m paraphrasing, but here's what he wrote back:
Thanks for sending your letter to Partner X, Partner Y, Partner Z, Partner AA, and Partner AB…”
He asked me to come in and meet with him.
In fact, many of the responses were positive. I now had plenty of opportunities to pursue.
This same network would lead to me becoming an EIR (Entrepreneur in Residence) at a VC fund in San Francisco that led to the start of my company.
I had build a network where I didn’t have one previously. You can do the same thing.
You don’t need connections to start your business. You can, just as I did, build up a network of connections.
Maybe you will not send letters like I did. You’ll find your way, and you’ll build your network. Just get started and put yourself out there.
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