Most investors agree that a startup’s founding team is the most important factor when making an investment decision. I think that the underlying attributes of a great founder include authenticity, caring a great deal about what you’re doing, and getting things done.
One way to evaluate founders is to evaluate each of these attributes one by one.
Another way is to think of another founder feature which is the direct result of having each of these underlying attributes. A great example of such a feature is whether you look forward to seeing or hearing from the founder. Independent of how a startup is performing at a specific moment in time, if the founder is authentic, cares about what they’re doing, and gets things done, chances are that you look forward to seeing and hearing from them. If they fall short on one or more of these attributes, chances are that you don’t look forward to seeing and hearing from them.
Startups take a lot of time and effort to build. So it makes sense for investors to work with founders who they look forward to seeing and hearing from.
Similarly, founders benefit from working with investors who, independent of the short-term pleasure or pain which their honest feedback may provide, they look forward to seeing and hearing from. If an investor isn’t authentic, doesn’t care about what you’re doing, or doesn’t get things done when they say they will, they’re unlikely to be the right partner for you.
In fact, it’s even more important for founders to work with investors who they look forward to seeing and hearing from than for investors to work with founders who fit this profile. The reason is that a founder has one business while an investor has many. If an investor doesn’t enjoy seeing and hearing from a founder, they can spend more time with other founders. If a founder doesn’t enjoy seeing and hearing from an investor, until they develop into a later stage company with a greater number of larger investors, they have to continue dealing with their current investor.
Also published on Medium.