As an innovation and startup enthusiast, I’ve been watching a lot of Mixergy interviews lately. On Mixergy, this guy named Andrew Warner interviews high profile entrepreneurs to gain some insight as to what it was that made them so successful. It looked pretty easy, so I set out to interview some famous people myself.
After some Internet surfing, I found a local venture capital company called DreamIt Ventures that hosts weekly speakers. These speaker events are really only intended for the startup teams working at the incubator, but I figured I could slip in. The speaker at this particular event was Josh Kopelman, founder of Half.com. Long story short, he built Half.com up for about two years before he sold it to eBay for $350 million. He’s a big swinging dick in the VC/startup world, so I decided he’d be a good first interviewee.
I showed up to the building where the event was being held forty five minutes early. Conveniently, I had just come from work so I was wearing nice clothes and carrying an important-looking briefcase that was filled with stolen pens and jolly ranchers. The security guard gave me a nametag and directed me to the eighth floor. I hopped off the elevator and wandered down the hall where a bunch of fancily dressed people were congregating. Assuming this was it, I walked in and stood awkwardly until someone approached me.
Megan: “Hi, I’m Megan.”
Robbie: “Nice to meet you, I’m Robbie. I swear I’m allowed to be here.”
Megan: “Of course you are!” I wasn’t. “It’s great to have you.”
Robbie: “I’m here for the speaker. Am I in the right place?”
Megan: “Hmm… I’m not sure. I don’t know of any speakers today. This is the semi-annual networking event for our private equity investment firm. Either way, come grab a drink and have some hors d’oeuvres.”
So for the next half an hour, I wandered around chatting with millionaires, drinking expensive wine, and eating stuffed fish. After my fourth glass of wine, I was about to start a game of flip-cup with a wealthy German tech investor when I noticed a large group of kids heading down the hall. I quickly chugged a beer I had prematurely ordered and stumbled down the hall after them.
I sat down among a group of kids that looked similar to me, but less drunk. They were chatting about their project, some sort of iPad application for children. I listened and munched on some salmon bits that I had stuffed in my pocket. One kid took notice of my presence and asked what I was doing there. I explained that I owned a company, had published a book, and invented poncho pants. Clearly impressed, they started asking more questions. Before anyone realized they were less of accomplishments and more of lies, Josh Kopelman walked in.
He gave a great talk about product development, marketing techniques, and stories of his time with Half.com, eBay, and venture capital funding. By the time he finished, I had sobered up to a reasonable buzz. He was headed for the elevator when I ran up to him.
Me: “Josh! Hey, Robbie of Invisible Parachute. I know you’re busy, but could I get in a quick interview? Shouldn’t take more than a minute.”
Josh: “Eh… OK, I guess.”
Shit. I hadn’t expected that. Grossly underprepared and still a bit buzzed, I improvised.
Me: “Um… excellent. Great. Good. OK. First question. What… is your… name?”
Josh: “…Josh Kopelman.”
Me: “K, just needed that for the record.”
Josh: “You’re not recording anything.”
Me: “I mean, my written records. Just a minute.”
He watched me skeptically as I scribbled down his name on the back of a McDonald’s receipt.
Unfortunately, I had just finished the first two seasons of Dexter so I must have been subconsciously mimicking police interrogations rather than a journalist.
Me: “Good, good. So, why… did you do it?”
Josh: “What are you referring to? Half.com?”
Me: “Ahem. Yes. That’s correct.”
Josh: “Oh.” I began writing madly. “Well, we’d been working in e-commerce development in…”
Unfortunately, I missed the bulk of what he said during this question because I ran out of room on the receipt and had moved to scribbling on Megan’s business card.
Josh: “…so then when eBay came along, we [illegible]… and that’s pretty much how it happened.”
Me: “That’s a fabulous story. Unfortunately, we’re out of time, so I’m going to have to let you go. You’ve been a great guest, and thank you for being on the show. I’d like to give a shout out to our sponsors there at the Silly Bandz. We’ll see you next time.”
I had also been watching a lot of Price is Right.
Josh: “Who are you talking to? Are you drunk?”
Me: “I’m not sure, and slightly. Thanks for your time Josh. We’ll stay in touch.”
Josh: “Probably not. But OK, bye.”
We stood awkwardly waiting for the elevator together. I turned to him.
Me: “Jolly rancher?”
Me: “K. Me neither.”
Overall, I think the interview went pretty well. To spice things up, next time I’m going to try and interview either an actor or homeless person. Stay in touch.