Having a beer with a global VC sounds good but try to arrange it and you will learn it is not easy at all. ;-)

Here’s my HOW TO and case study from a night before TMT.Ventures’08 Kiev conference.

First – you have to understand that a VC may have plenty of money under management but has very little time for having beers with entreprenuers. Perhaps the easiest way to have a beer with a VC is to register at a conference s/he is speaking at. But if you think offering a beer before or after the presentation is a good idea – think again. You have to count on inconvenient flight connection which places an unsuspecting VC in a strange city the evening before or after the official event.

Ewa StepienSecond – you have to know the right people. Sometimes there’s an unofficial networking dinner before or after the conference. Sometimes there isn’t which doesn’t mean a VC will stay in his/hers hotel all night. Good intel is crucial at this point. You must know the organizer like Ewa Stepien of New Europe Events.

Third – you must understand that even if there’s no official networking party your chosen VC will not wonder around the city at random. S/he will choose a place in order to maximize ROI making the most of the limited time at hand. Most probably s/he will choose a hotel bar/restaurant or an irish pub where there’s a chance someone will speak english and signs on the toilet doors will be in English and not in some unrecognizable and strange language. And s/he will let the organizer of the event know where s/he is in order to make some people go there.

Denis DovgopoliyThen – you need one more person to accomplish your mission. A local guide with an intimate knowledge of the local night live, bars and restaurants. Not just any guide but a person doing business with VCs and having experience in dining with them. I was lucky to meet Denis Dovgopoliy of BayView Innovations who knew all Kiev irish pubs which allowed me to have a beer with a global VC.

Paul FisherThe three of us – Ewa, Denis and myself – met Paul Fisher of Advent Venture Partners in Golden Gate Irish Pub which sounds like Sillicon Valley but is very European. In fact it’s named after the ancient gate to the city which it is situated next to. But VCs do not really care – they just maximize the ROI in clubbing and Golden Gate sounds familiar and promising.

We found a table, exchanged initial ‘who-does-what’ information and proceeded to exchanging contacts and coming up with business development ideas for each one of us. One meal and two beers later we started spilling more tasty bits and pieces of gossip and tips on how to handle a VC. Having a beer with one was high up in the top 10 ranking.

UPDATE – I recalled some more: We also discussed VC-psycho-analysis methods used by some VCs. Paul suggested that if someone talks a lot about some area of his/hers plan or operations at expense of other topics it means that this area might be his/hers weak point. Or s/he’s just excited about it. Anyhow be equally brief whatever you say when a VC is around. ;-)

We also discussed dynamics of “sexiness” of a project. Paul said that if a project is not initially sexy it will never be. However if it is at least sexy a bit it might get more sexy in time. At this point I didn’t know if we’re talking about investment projects, women or something else. Ewa said the rule applies to everything so I concluded we reached a Theory of Everything for which some scientists have been looking for decades.

Right before we left the place it turned out that Paul is a really talented actor. Ewa pointed out that he really resembles another talented actor Jason Statham. To prove his skills Paul provided us with some of his best faces like “I’m not satisfied with the results Mr.CEO”, “Where are the profits you promised” and “What do you mean by market is down right now”.

Mission accomplished: relationship established, contacts acquired, lessons learned.

What Paul didn’t confess to is blogging at www.thecoffeeshopsofmayfair.com

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