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What to wear to a VC meeting?

What do you recommend a tech entrepreneur in southern California wear to a meeting with potential investors? I would assume a suit, but it's tech and it's southern California (read: very relaxed). Also, when I was a stock broker, if a company's execs showed up looking to raise cash and they drove up in a limo or wore expensive watches or clothes, the assumption was that the capital was going more to their luxurious lifestyle than into the company.

Lastly, the dark jeans, button-up, and sport coat feels too 2016's version of middle-management pleated khakis.

Do I just do what I feel confident in?


25 Replies

Andrew Lockley
0
0
Andrew Lockley Advisor
Investor and strategy consultant
I wore shorts to the last VC meeting I went to. Doesn't pay to let them think you care too much what they think of you... A
Mark Sendo
1
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Mark Sendo Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder, CEO, Forbes Contributor, Conference Speaker, TechCrunch featured story twice
I too was a stock broker and wore expensive suits. For past 15 i've been and loving being a start up founder/ceo and have had dozens of investor meetings.. My feeling on what to wear changed over time but if you're startup is killing it, you can wear whatever you wish. however, if its in its early stages, a sport coat, slacks, nice shoes, etc is being respective. I don't think a tie is necessary. However, i often wear jeans/sneaker/pressed dress shirt for most meetings.. maybe its being lazy or maybe i prefer to be comfortable as what's important is the content of the meeting, not so much on appearance.
Meredith Collins
3
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Meredith Collins Entrepreneur
CEO, Co-Founder at Perspicacity, LLC
Peter Thiel is famous (infamous?) for saying he'll never invest in a CEO who wears a suit. And I've heard other investors discourage people from getting "dressed". Granted, I'm in NYC, but the uniform here seems to be chinos and a light blue shirt if you want to look like everyone else. I have a music startup so they expect us NOT to look like them (thank God). If you're in fashion, music or something creative, I would try to look the part. If you like suits, maybe skip the tie? That seems very formal these days. But most importantly, make sure you feel comfortable in whatever you wear.
Noah Webster
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Noah Webster Entrepreneur
Co-Founder and CEO at Joir
Wear what's comfortable and is you. I've always found that if you are comfortable, you come off more genuine, as opposed to dressing up for someone who likely will not be. Even our bankers here in Austin don't wear suits. They wear t-shirts and jeans. Dress to fit the area you're in. I imagine when you get outside some tech sectors, it would be different, but Southern California wear what you would wear any other day.
Joseph Wang
0
0
Joseph Wang Entrepreneur
Chief Science Officer at Bitquant Research Laboratories
I'm more familiar with New York and Hong Kong, but for business meetings with people that I don't know, I always go for the suit and tie. It turns out that it's not to show wealth, but quite the opposite. Chauffeurs, butlers, and waitresses dress formally out of a sign of respect. Also if it turns out that you are dressing too formally, you can leave the suit and tie and formal becomes business causal.

The one time I got in trouble for being overdressed was when I went to a tech meeting. It became obvious that people assumed that I didn't have tech skills because I was wearing a suit, and in that case I wished I'd come to the meeting with a t-shirt and jeans.




Sidney Amster
0
0
Sidney Amster Entrepreneur
Member Investors Circle
A good suit is for....weddings and perhaps funerals. It is what you say that is important not what you wear so be comfortable when you speak.
Ema Chuku
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Ema Chuku Entrepreneur
Designer. Product Developer. Founder @ NuPad
What would you wear to your grandmothers Sunday brunch... What would you wear to your best buddy's dinner get-together? What would you wear to a breakfast job interview (you are the interviewer)?

Hope you get the point.

Bottom line, be comfortable. The simpler the better. What you bring to the table is what matters. Not what your body brings. Although grandmothers will advise "Always wear your best outfit, regardless of occasion"

Liza Kimbo
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Liza Kimbo Advisor
Director
Definitely wear what you are comfortable in as long as it is clean and not wrinkled. VCs should be able to take you as you are, it is not a job interview.
Peter Baltaxe
3
0
Peter Baltaxe Entrepreneur • Advisor
Consultant, product leader, serial entrepreneur
As an investor, if you showed up in an old t-shirt and flip flops I would treat that as a lack of respect. If you come across as too cool to care, then maybe you'll be too casual about spending my money. Show that you recognize that this is a business meeting and that in future when you are talking to potential customers or partners you'll take it seriously.
That said, the most dressed up I ever get is a nice buttoned shirt, nicer jeans, and shoes. That is enough on the West Coast to show that you get that it is a business meeting. A very popular outfit that I see at my angel investor meetings where CEOs are pitching is a t-shirt with the company logo and a sports coat (jacket). My 2 cents.
Richard Reed
1
0
Richard Reed Entrepreneur • Advisor
Director of Marketing at Labdoor
If your primary concern is to make a good impression, dress as you would if you were meeting the CEO of the major tech company closest to your business in that region. San Diego is more laid back than Silicon Valley, and a suit up here would raise eyebrows. It is hard to go wrong with west coast business casual. Khakis or jeans and a non logo plaid or blue shirt are always safe bets.
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