Pitching Hyde Park Angels

Posted: May 23, 2012 12:01 AM

Today I am going to hold office hours at 1871 in Chicago. I posted them a long while ago and people made appointments. I know other people that do this randomly. I have tried random office hours but they don’t work as well. At least in the midwest. On June 12, some Hyde Park Angels will be doing it for the first time in Hyde Park.

I have previously set them up on ohours.org, but I have found that platform buggy. I don’t like it. Next time I do this, I will use Slottd.

What do entrepreneurs expect out of office hours? What do you want to get out of them? I am interested to know.

For me it’s fun. I get to meet new people, hear new business ideas and try and help in the small way I can. The idea for me is not to write a check to the entrepreneur. It’s more of being a sounding board. Office hours can be a practice pitch-but it’s better if we really work on something you are stuck on.

It’s a newer thing in Chicago. Troy Henikoff turned us onto the concept and it is certainly worth a try. This isn’t the first time I have done it and it won’t be the last.

In many cases, I ask the company to simply apply to HPA to go through our screening process. In a lot of others, the entrepreneurs get something out of it and continue developing so they can get to a position that they are mature enough for screening. For some, I can connect them to someone else in my network that are far more able to help them than I.

When I do office hours, we keep it to 30 minutes. You can’t begin to know everything about everything in 30 minutes. But, you can do a lot. If entrepreneurs tailor their presentation to bare bones things, we can accomplish a lot in the short time we have. At the very least, you get one angel perspective which is one data point.

Many times the best thing that happens is we work on one item that’s holding you up. Figuring out a target market, figuring out a revenue model for that market. Figuring out how to sell it. Brainstorming about that can be a great use of office hours.

If I were an entrepreneur, and I absolutely wanted to pitch it, I’d set it up this way.
1. Prove the pain point at the top. No fancy introduction, just say what problem you are trying to solve. You might say how it occurred to you to solve it.

2. Tell me how big the market is, and if I don’t know that market, have a couple of data points that prove it.

3. Tell me how you are going to solve it, and whey you are qualified to do it. If there are competitors, tell me their names-and if there aren’t competitors tell me what people are currently doing to solve the problem.

4. Tell me a ballpark valuation and how much money you will need to raise to keep you in business 12-18 months.

I am curious what other angels and entrepreneurs think about office hours. Are they beneficial? After going, how do you want them to have changed your perception of what you are doing?