Before investing in a startup, investors evaluate and develop a view on the startup’s team and market. Similarly, entrepreneurs do the same on the investor and the terms being offered.
However, it’s useful to complement this methodical business analysis with an understanding of the person that you’re partnering with, beyond their role as entrepreneur or investor. In other words, it’s useful to understand the human you’re about to partner with.
What are their values? What do they enjoy doing when not working? Do they have a family and kids and if so what do their family members do? Where and how were they brought up? When they are hopefully old and look back on their life, what do they want to have achieved?
Exploring questions like these over an informal breakfast, lunch, or dinner serves two purposes.
First, it lets you understand if your personal backgrounds, values, and goals are likely to make you good partners.
Second, in the event that you decide to partner and something goes wrong in the future, which to different degrees it always does, it helps you recognize the human behind the business problem. This makes it more likely for you to, together, show the intent necessary to overcome the problem.