Photo: Joi via Flickr
If you’re a budding entrepreneur, you know you need an elevator pitch. But what about a taxi pitch?Last August, Alex Moore and Aye Moah were visiting Silicon Valley to try and get funding for their startup Baydin.
The three-person company was only a few months old, and had already shipped a product called Boomerang, which lets email users set a reminder to respond to a message later in case they can’t decide what to do with it when they read it — perfect for those emails that fall somewhere between urgent business and obvious spam, like long catch-up messages from old friends.
But Baydin wasn’t having any luck getting funding in Boston, and had planned a week long trip to the Valley in between two friends’ weddings in the Bay Area and San Diego.
They were holed up at a crummy motel in Sunnyvale, nursing their wounds from a canceled VC meeting, when Moore noticed a tweet from angel investor Dave McClure. His car had broken down and he needed a ride to the garage.
Moore made an offer: we’ll give you a ride if you listen to our startup pitch.
The company had already passed McClure’s test of “who do you know?” — he only listens to pitches after getting an introduction. But was so busy and travelling so often, they hadn’t been able to schedule a formal meeting.
Another entrepreneur up in San Francisco made the same offer, but Moore tweeted “I’m driving there now.” Sunnyvale is a lot closer to Mountain View than SF, so Moore won.
During the 40-minute drive to the dealership, Moore and Moah explained Baydin and their vision for using game-like features to improve business productivity — an idea that later came to life in the Email Game, which helps users clear their email inboxes.
McClure listened. At the end of the drive, he agreed to fund the company, as long as they didn’t compete with any of his other investments. They got the clear, and are working out of the 500 Startups incubator space in Mountain View today.
Some useful lessons from this story:
- Go where the money is — this kind of opportunity wouldn’t have happened in Boston
- Be prepared — you need to be on and ready to pitch your idea anytime, anywhere, at any length.
- If you’re visiting Silicon Valley, always rent a car.