For the last few days I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being in the Bay Area working. I’ve had exciting meetings with a couple of start-ups I’m helping, met with colleagues who have founded their own companies and had them backed by some of the largest tech VCs, and met with others who work at some of Silicon Valley’s most vibrant new tech businesses.
This evening I hoped to close the week out on a high by attended an angel group meeting, at which entrepreneurs were pitching. Why was I there? I’ve been considering joining an angel group so that I can engage more fully in the Bay Area tech scene and get more exposure to exciting new tech start-up opportunities. When I told one of my colleagues, who is well known in Silicon Valley tech VC circles, I was attending the meeting, he asked me “why do you want to waste your time with those old guys with jobs? They’re not entrepreneurs.” I felt it was worth it because they have a high profile and get to see a good volume of quality propositions. How wrong I was!
Firstly, on behalf of the group in attendance, I reluctantly count myself as one of the audience, I’d like to apologize to those pitching. I have never witnessed such a lack of respect to the presenting entrepreneurs. I think I was the only person in the audience of about 30-40 not stuffing my face with food, drinking, talking or wandering about the large conference room while pitches were underway. The audience of “successful angel investors” assembled looked more like they had just got off a long-haul flight from a 3 day white-goods conference wearing the same clothes for the duration. The average age could not have been less that 65.
The questions asked of the entrepreneurs were, more often than not, posed to demonstrate that the person asking the question was very clever and really very experienced. Please! It was absolutely astonishing and the one thing I appreciated about my evening was the different perspective I gained, as I am more used to being the one doing the pitching. My attendance finished abruptly when I took a photo of a slide I wanted to ask a question about. One of the audience hobbled over to me with surprising zeal and creepy eyes, asked me outside. I was particularly offended by his curt tone and when out of the conference room, without even introducing himself, or enquiring about who I was, and practically frothing at the mouth, told me that it was “uncool” to have taken a picture and stood over my shoulder to witness me deleting it. I thanked him for his help and left.
I fear lucky recipients of funding, provided by this group, will learn a lesson about receiving funds from meddling investors who have not had coalface experience. I will leave them to their quills and parchment, in favor of more enlightened entrepreneurial tech investors I hope to meet in my search.