Before I get criticized, I know this is gonna be a longshot....
The guy I'm meeting with is a member of a old-wealth family that has a business in an industry I conduct research for. I've been testing a concept that's attracted healthy interest from some key researchers in the space and would inevitably be purchased by the billionaire's company. The roadmap is clearly defined, but I'm pretty young and have never led a startup.
I got in touch with the billionaire through an alumni directory. Very gracious of him to meet. How do I graciously ask him to help me? Clearly, I'd love an investment from his family office, but idk how to phrase it.
i would say just be yours elf, when your try to pitch your startup make sure its filled with passion , investors dont just buy the idea, they buy the person who is leading the startup to work.
Limited information here, and I can only speak on my on experience. While there are some billionaires who undoubtedly like brown nosers because you can see them in the CEO's of some of their companies, the billionaires I have personally connected to responded to the fact that I could care less if they were a billionaire or not. I will say not caring about net worth can be a blessing and a curse. Its either in your blood or its not in your blood what impresses you. Its usually high net leaches that want you to be impressed. The more success the person has in general, in my experience, the more they are impressed by people who can talk to them as a person not a label. That is not to say don't be humble. But there is a difference between arrogance and confidence. Humble confidence that you are there as much for his benefit as your own can only help. There will be the whole alpha male personality with some. You just have to be yourself. I had a billionaire I met with drone on and on about how important he was ad nauseam. He was very negative toward me. I left what I felt was a toxic meeting. I followed up with an email in which I told him he was no different than anyone else, and would one day be "food for worms" just like everyone else :) I don't recommend that. Now..the reason I share that, is because he too was a big alumni supporter of one of the universities I had attended. AFTER, I hit send, I thought "Eghh..probably not the best thing to do..Im gonna catch heat from my university if that gets back around." To my suprise, the response to my email was "I like your style. I can help you." BUT...the meeting itself was so toxic, so stressful, so needless and pointless that I passed. On the other hand, I reached out to a billionaire and connected once...extremely humble down to earth. He called me stating "You are the only one who understood why I did that business deal. I appreciate it." Now...that was a case of me finding a genuine point to connect on. And here was one of a handful of guys worth around $7B in a city of several million..all the events..all the gallas...all the frivolous high society communities, and he is telling me Im the only one who understood what he was trying to do. And at first you think "How does that happen" And in that moment, you realize how fake most of the business and social world is and a lot of these guys with money realize who is real and who is only after their money,...AND "who cares what his finacial situation is." You have to connect as a person and a human being. If you can't do that, then who cares about an investment or a business deal. Life is too short to be involved with people you don't align with. All you can do is be yourself and be respectful. If it works out..great. If not, you say "next" and you move on to the next investor. You can also ask him if you can keep in touch and gain advice from him. Good luck!
Someone commented to take two people. Unless you have someone else that you feel connected at the hip where you have mind meld synergy as partners, I can not disagree more with this comment. Develop the relationship one on one if at all possible. He will also be less likely to open up on a personal level if he has an audience. I have tried both ways with many people. IF the other person, again, can enhance the overall energy you bring and for the company it makes sense. But to have a note taker? Absurd reason.
By the way, just an add on. You write "before I get criticized." Anyone who would criticize you for meeting with a high net worth individual is either 1. jealous, 2. insecure, 3. inexperienced, 4. negative. So the response to getting criticized would be utilize what little you can from such a person because there will usually be little they offer you...let the rest go into the trash can of negativity with all the other advice from self proclaimed entrepreneurs who fail to grasp one of the two biggest elements...the first being preparedness..and the second being absolute faith, belief and optimism. If you have both of those, there is no one's room and presence you do not not belong in.
How did the meeting go?!
Just be yourself. being young does not determine someone's success. Sell your idea by painting a bigger picture of goals. Elaborate on how you intend to manage your company and all is good. Goodluck
1) Listen and observe. The most important thing that you can do is carefully listen and observe what the billionaire says and does. What are they interested in? What are they not interested in? How do they react?
2) Get a contact. It's very likely that the billionaire is going to be extremely busy so if you need something from them later, it will be difficult to contact them, so you need to get the contact information for an assistant or secretary that you can talk to for routine matters.
3) Find someone else to attend the meeting. The reason for doing this is that it's really difficult to talk and listen at the same time, so it's useful to find someone else that can accompany you to the meeting.
4) Write a lot of notes. Also after the meeting you and the other person should write down your impressions separately, and then afterwards talk with each other about your impressions of the meeting.
5) Have a set of talking points and to your research. Figure out what you want from the meeting. Funding? Attention? Advice?
6) Keep expectations realistic. I've found that sometime extremely senior people aren't that useful for finding work or finding information, because they are so high up on the food chain, that they aren't that useful for getting work or networking.