Recently I have had a chance to go and visit a few local startups in an organized event to get to know the team behind some local technology startups. These events are always a good chance to meet with new people, expand your scope of knowledge and experiences. Most events don’t typically involve too many Life Science companies that interest me at face value, but I go and try to keep an open mind. I’m always trying to learn in general and at the minimum, these types of events are usually a great opportunity to learn about technology from experts in their fields. This particular night, I went to a table of a company pitching a product that could best be described as a life-style play. I went over to their table and asked a very young looking lady about the company. I could tell that she was not rehearsed in the art of pitching so I decided to cut to the chase and ask some questions. The questions were routine but the answers were very nebulas. Some more senior looking men quickly surrounded me. One had a nice nametag that read “Chairman” on it. So I posed the same questions to him, and the answers were only slightly more satisfying in as much as phrases like “Proctor and Gamble guys love this” or “our legal team thinks”. Name-dropping at a startup level is really passé and sure sign you haven’t done much with your technology. Also, I’m no fan of making sentinel business decisions based off of legal opinion, especially when I’m asking repeatedly about regulatory matters. Eventually, the CEO came over and we began talking. I offered him some sage advice and said I wanted to help. He took this the wrong way in front of the rest of his team now huddled around me. Now, I’m not one to mince words and I may come off as aggressive, especially when I’m considering an investment, but it’s often because my threshold for bullshit has been reached. Anyhow, after I made a few suggestions as to how to best save time and resources, the CEO says “he needs to go talk to an investor as opposed to a potential investor”. I shock his hand and continued to discuss matters politely with the rest of the technical team members. When I left the event, I reflected a little about the entire 15-20 minute discussion with the many layers of this team. I had a few thoughts that I think are worth sharing to my readers who may be in the position of management leadership and find themself in a situation where they are pressed by investors. First, get your team in a room and go over at least the value proposition of your company or technology. Everyone needs to be able to capture the main narrative of your company in less then 5 minutes, sometimes called the elevator pitch. Second, it’s perfectly fine to admit you don’t know something, especially a technical question, don’t regurgitate an answer that doesn’t make much sense, sometimes it’s fine to say “I will investigate further and get back to you”. Third, NEVER dismiss a question or the person asking it, you never know who that person is, what their background in the field is, and what their level of interest is. Remember, if they’re a savvy investor they won’t be salivating over an investment opportunity at any point. Lastly, remember that much of the real “job” of a startup is learning. You need to take every opportunity to evaluate your hypothesis, your business model, your technology’s USP, and some times just process the situation and how you handle it.