I've been wrestling with this one for a while, and I think many entrepreneurs have as well. See, as soon as you start a company, raise some money, and launch your business, suddenly people want to 'buy you coffee/lunch' to 'pick your brain' and 'get networking introductions'.
I can appreciate that. I did it too. But, when you're accommodating (as I, Andy Sack, Marcelo Calbucci, Joe Heitzeberg, Roy Leban, and many others try to be), you tend to get overwhelmed with the requests. And, then, my days disappear on me, I end up working nights to catch up, and sit here on the weekend with 5-10 favors in my inbox which take 1-2+ hours to complete (I met with a woman last week, who I really liked... I told her I'd be happy to make some intros... she wrote back with 9 companies in the list... acck!)
So, here's my offer:
- I'll meet with you for free, at Hops and Chops (I helped organize it for exactly this purpose... sort of a lightweight office hours... I think Andy Sack created Seattle Open Coffee for the same reason) or another Seattle startup event that I happen to attend (you can find out my schedule via twitter/daveschappell or plancast/daveschappell). I'll be happy to talk with you, give you advice, and make any in-person intros, assuming the other folks are there in person. But, that's it. Don't ask for more, because it comes at the expense of my family, loved ones, and personal sanity.
- You pay me $1,000 for up to 3 hours of my time talking with you about entrepreneurship. That will likely be spread over two 1-hour meetings, and another hour of my time making introductions, if I think they're warranted. If I don't, I'll be honest with you, and we'll spend that last hour working on your plans, or whatever. Then, when you've started your company and booked your first $1,000 in revenues, I'll give you $700 back. That's it. I want you to get off your ass and build whatever it is your dreaming up. But, if you don't, I keep your money, because you took up 3 hours that I could have been spending on other tasks. Sound fair? Do I think my advice is worth $100-333/hour? No! But, you seem to think I'll help you somehow, and I likely will -- and, if you don't want to pay, there are tons of other folks around who will surely help you.