The Panel Pile Up

I really hate doing panels but I did two of them yesterday for my friends Diana Rhoten and Dave Winer. As panels go, they were fine, in fact both were pretty entertaining.

After both of them, I experienced the "panel pile up" where people line up to pitch me their ideas and companies. Anyone who has done a panel, certainly anyone in the venture business, knows what I am talking about.

I really want to be accessible to entrepreneurs and their ideas and pitches and I tend to be very patient in these situations. But they are hard for me for a few reasons. When there are a dozen or more people lined up to pitch me, I have to cut off each and every person because they are holding up everyone else in line. And sometimes the next panel has to start and we have to take the line outside. Then more people join the line and it can get worse. It's often loud and it is hard to hear. And I am often a bit tired after being on stage for an hour trying to be entertaining and informative. Bottom line is it is not an ideal pitching opportunity for anyone certainly not me.

I have a suggestion for entrepreneurs in this situation that should make this better for everyone. Limit your pitch in this situation to sixty seconds. Communicate three things and ask for one more. The three things are your name and your company, what you are working on, and why you want to meet with me (money, advice, whatever) and then ask if I would do that. If it is something that fits in our investment sectors or if it something I can help with, I will almost always take the meeting. 

I think I am going to start enforcing the sixty second rule in these situations. It should make these panel pile ups better for me and I think it will make it better for everyone.