With The New York Times declaring the power lunch dead, Inc. wondered what, if anything, this might mean for the fledgling entrepreneur in search of a mentor's or investor's feedback. When taking a pitch or request for a favor, do people like investor Dave McClure prefer Gchat, WhatsApp, or something else? And more importantly, are these modes of communication any more effective than lingering over scallops at Michael's in Midtown Manhattan? We asked a handful of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, and here's what they said about the best ways to get their attention.
Hayley Barna, co-CEO and co-founder of Birchbox
"The coffee shops in the Silicon Alley area [of Manhattan] might be the best equivalent to the shoulder-to-shoulder experience of an old-school power lunch. You can see a lot of familiar faces picking up 8 a.m. lattes at Birch Coffee or Stumptown. If you really want to get someone's attention, send them a text. It [won't crowd their] email inbox and signals urgency. If you're feeling cheeky, comment on their Instagram with a few emoji."
Hunter Walk, partner at Homebrew
"I tend to love the 'walk and talk,' or chatting over coffee or tea. Especially when doing one-on-ones with founders we've backed, my ask is that unless you're showing me something on a screen, let's not put a barrier between us. Just talk and tell me how you're feeling, what's going on, how can we help."
Kathryn Minshew, co-founder of The Muse
"The best way to get some of my time is usually via a smart email with a very specific question. If I feel like I, uniquely, can help, I'm much more likely to do so. People also have successfully gotten some of my time by going to events where I'm already going to be and meeting me there, or asking a mutual connection for a favor."
Brendan Synnott, co-founder of Bear Naked Granola
"The best place to catch time with me is: walking retail stores in person or in a collaborative place, such as a Google doc or a hangout."
Dave McClure, investor at 500 Startups
"I would say [getting lunch] is really tough, and I actually don't prefer to do that. The way that usually happens is through a friend, founder, investor, or someone else, particularly when someone is trying to pitch me. Occasionally, if they have a profile on Angel List or a creative pitch on Twitter, I might eventually proceed to a phone call.... I want a strong signal from something, whether it's a project they're working on or a [referral] from a co-founder or investor I know."
Bryan Goldberg, founder and CEO of Bustle
"Email is the best way to get to me unless you have my phone number, in which case text message is."
Shane Snow, co-founder of Contently
"The thing is, I think a lot of people in my position don't want people to 'get some of their time.' I'm happy to give my expertise, introductions, or otherwise help, but time is expensive--especially during work hours. The best way to get a quick response from me is a Twitter DM, an SMS, or a WhatsApp message. This means that I'm only interrupted by people I've opted into my circle. The rest can email, and I'll typically respond during less expensive blocks of time, such as over the weekend, when I'm on the train, and so on."