Blended approach is enriching our startup community

One of my favorite things to do is to sit down with a startup founder or investor to chat. Face-to-face meetings strengthen the connections that are the cornerstone of our ecosystem. There is no substitute. Recently, however, I was struck by how much we can accelerate our connections to the local and regional startup community by integrating technology into our day-to-day communication by creating a blended approach. Blended learning, but for startup communities.

Here are examples of a blended approach:

  1. At the Endeavor Peru Matchmaking event, the team from Carao Ventures participated by videoconference from Costa Rica to talk with 8 founders in Lima.
  2. For the WeXchange pitch competition, over 400 founders connected with 50 judges by video before choosing the 6 finalists who came to Lima for the final, in-person pitch.
  3. At a recent Angel Ventures monthly committee in Lima 5 investors and 1 founder participated in-person, while 1 investor (located on the other side of Lima) and 1 founding team (located in Colombia) connected over video.

If Endeavor, WeXchange and Angel Ventures had relied solely on in-person interaction, none of these connections would have happened.  Instead they opted to create a blended, semi-presencial, experience.

The lesson for me is: don’t prioritize in-person meetings so much that it holds you back from making a connection. 

Here are some ideas for founders and investors:

  1. Don’t delay Board meetings because people can’t make it in-person, instead set up a video dial-in so everyone can connect
  2. Don’t travel across Lima to meet with a mentor to review a few new slides from your pitch, instead connect by video for 15 minutes to share slides.
  3. Don’t wait for you next trip to Mexico to set up a meeting with an investor (or startup) there, instead ask them for a short call now

Use technology to have the most engaging connection possible: Set up a group call on Zoom, Share slides through Hangouts, Send screenshots or audio notes through WhatsApp.

You may even find that these ideas and tools enrich the personal connections you are looking for. I often find it’s much easier to connect with people in-person if I already have a rhythm of connecting with them by phone or video.  

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