…after you’ve crossed my palm with silver.
There’s always been a healthy market in one group of people selling access to a small second group of people that a third, larger group of people value. In many circumstances this is entirely right and proper.
I was recently at the 31st International Conference on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, this was a massive gathering of academics researching the world of the small business and entrepreneur (slightly devalued by the lack of small businesses and entrepreneurs but that’s another story). Part of the value was the stellar network of UK and International academics interested in supporting and developing businesses. It was certainly cheaper than schlepping my way around the UK and most folk were already in an ‘open mindset’ to making new connections. For the academics, part of the value was in presenting their research to other academics.
On the other hand, there are plenty of networks and the like that will provide access to potential investors (for a fee). It could just be coincidental timing but I’m seeing more of these networks and events pushing themselves harder than before.
I’ve nothing against introducing people to potential investors (something I try and do in a small way around Bristol), nor have I anything against events to get people networking for business benefit (e.g. OpenCoffee). It’s the bit where you fork out hard cash for the opportunity, to possibly, meet someone that might be interested in your business. And lets face it, no one sensible is going to hand over a wedge of used £20’s on the basis of a 1 minute pitch over lukewarm coffee and limp biscuit.
I can see a valid business case for someone that can introduce me to a sizeable chunk of funding receiving a suitable fee for that service, but a fixed fee rather than an arbitrary % and that should be no-win-no-fee.
As a business development professional, I would expect to get paid for adding value to a business. Sorting out a business strategy, or identifying new markets and executing an exploitation plan, or implementing an efficiency plan following some process mapping, etc.
I can see that with the profile of Kliner Perkins / Sequia / etc comes a great deal of attention and that access might need to be managed. On the other hand, folks like Fred Wilson, Rick Segal and others are openly out there sharing their stories of how to approach them (and how not to)! So why pay someone else good money to preview your business plan and then mailshot their contact list?
So get out there and have confidence in your business. If you feel you need support with the business of building a business, have clear deliverables contractually agreed before you hand over the cash. It’s a sales channel just like any other, the only difference is that you’re selling a stake in the business (or buying entry to a particular market) rather than a website or set of APIs.