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Sahil Lavingia

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Josh Miller is the 21-year-old CEO of a buzzy little startup called Branch.

He recently raised a big seed round of financing, $2 million, from top-tier angel investors like TechStars' David Tisch, Foursquare investor Rick Webb, and Twitter cofounder Evan Williams.

Like many founders these days, Miller has been hit with unsolicited term sheets from investors.

Unsolicited term sheets meaning investors are pledging to give founders thousands -- sometimes millions -- of dollars without them ever asking for it.

One investor offered Miller $500,000 out of the blue.

And it wasn't flattering. It was weird.

"There was a weird experience for me at a Starbucks once," Miller told us on stage at Business Insider's Startup 2012 conference last week. "I was in San Francisco for a brief trip and I didn't have a lot of time and this guy really wanted to meet so I said, 'Sure, I've got 15 minutes, meet me here for coffee.'  I met the guy for 15 minutes and at the end he offered me $500,000."

Miller was taken aback. "That was really weird -- it was really bizarre," he laughed.

The other two founders on stage, Brad Hargreaves of General Assembly and Sahil Lavingia of Gumroad, could relate, and it doesn't make them think highly of investors.

"It happens a lot to GA these days," says Hargreaves.

"There's a saying, 'I don't want to go out with a girl who wants to go out with me," says Lavingia. "If an investor offers me that after 15 minutes I don't know how good of an investor they might be -- if they're making such an impulse decision."

Video produced by Robert Libetti

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How do teenagers and twenty-year olds land huge investment deals?

"Investors are looking for 'social proof' and that doesn't necessarily have to come from working at a hot startup before," says General Assembly co-founder Brad Hargreaves, 25, who started his first company in college.

Watch below the Startup 2012 panel with Hargreaves, Sahil Lavingia, 19, of Gumroad and Josh Miller, 21, of Branch discussing what this new type of street cred is and how to use it.

 

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Produced by Robert Libetti

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