As an entrepreneur it would always drive me crazy when I’d be pitching the business to a potential investor and receive nothing in return by way of feedback. It would happen often – you’d reach the end of your pitch and there would just be a brief thank you and a handshake.
I’d be left wondering what they really thought and also whether they’d even been listening. This was usually made worse by the constant checking of the Blackberry during the meeting. You would be left with the overriding impression that the investors felt they were much more important than you.
Now that I’m an investor myself I try hard to never be like this. Partly, because it’s just not good manners. But more importantly, because I honestly believe that the entrepreneur is the most important person in the meeting. I think any good investor feels the same way.
The entrepreneur is the person who has done all the preparation before the meeting and done most of the talking during it. But more broadly, the entrepreneur is the one putting their careers on the line for something they believe in. They are the ones with the big dreams and the big risks.
When an entrepreneur pitches to me I will try to concentrate 100%. I will also always try to give feedback there and then. This forces you to shape your thinking and your first instincts are usually the right ones anyway. I think this is the least I can do.
I hope that some of my feedback will be useful. But I also do it for my own benefit. By giving feedback I think I’m contributing to a more balanced and constructive meeting. I also think it will help to develop a better and more connected relationship with the entrepreneur. This puts me in a better place to be the preferred investor should we decide to move forwards. But, even if we don’t, it leads to a more positive experience which is good for my reputation in the market
So I think giving feedback in the moment leads to better meetings, better communications and better relationships. You could actually probably say the same thing about any meeting.