Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Those early customer meetings

I was reminiscing with my co-founder (Don Springer) the other day about one of the early customer meetings we had waaaaaay back in mid 2005. Early in the lifecycle of a company you often have "opportunistic" meetings. That is to say, you meet with anyone willing to meet with you, and use the feedback to try to hone your product and message. This can take you in a lot of funky directions and is the early crux move for a startup to survive and move to the next phase of existence.

We had scheduled several meetings during this particular week long trip to NYC, many with fairly large names in the hedge fund business, but one was a small hedge fund out on Long Island. This was our first meeting of the week and we literally had to catch a cab from the airport and go straight to the meeting. On the cab ride there we talked through the pitch for the 10th time in 2 days and were feeling fairly confident as we moved closer to our geographical target. The cab driver had a hard time finding the address (which should have been our first clue) and I think we got into a debate along the way on how many hedge funds were located on Long Island.

It turned out to be this guy's house. He was running money for one wealthy guy and was very into commodity trading, describing it as where the real money would be made over the next few years. His house was in sort of a middle class neighborhood and his "trading area" was a room off to the side of the living room that he shared with a hot tub and large screen television. As I recall, he was fond of the idea but not sure how he would use it in the commodity trading space and he talked to us for a good long time. In the meanwhile our cab driver who we had paid to wait, left us there. We were trying to figure out how to get out of there, had no cab, the conversation around how we might work together was exhausted, and then came the uncomfortable silence followed by rambling conversation. He offered us snacks and came back from the kitchen with some cold pop tarts and Hawaiian Punch. The cabbie no-showed and the guy finally drove us in his minivan to the train station.

Bear in mind that this was just prior to the huge run up in commodities in early 2006 so the guy probably made a trailerful of money.

what are your stories?

No comments:

pull your banner ads until google does a better job