It Is All About The Team! No Kidding!

'It is all about the team'. A phrase I have heard more times than I can remember from interviewing over 600 VCs. However, from my experiences the truly great VCs think deeper. They think far more than just about the team. This can be approached from 2 different perspectives. 

1. Fred Destin, Founder/VC Fit:

I interviewed Fred almost a year ago but one very prominent strain of our conversation has stayed with me since our interaction. Fred emphasised the importance of founder/VC alignment. However, unlike many investors who have no way of measuring in a quantifiable way the alignment or not. Fred likes to utilise the '8 Hour Drive'. A drive whereby it is just Fred and the Founder sitting in a car. No distractions. Just each other to talk to. What better way to determine whether this will be a good fit for the next 8-10 years (by the way, longer than the average marriage FYI.) 

2.) Rishi Garg, Co-Founder Relations:

All VCs deep dive on the quality of the team and engage in extensive reference checks but what many forget is the true and human relationships between the core exec. In a recent interview, Rishi Garg @ Mayfield stated there are defining questions that will distinguish the strength of the founding team's relations. Not just the obvious; how long have you known each other but how did you decide equity split in the early days? What did that decision making process look like? How did you decide early employee incentive structures? Asking the questions behind the questions, not what is the split but what is the chain of though and dialogue that led you to this conclusion.

Ultimately, the best investors are those that see beyond the logos on the team page of the deck. The likes of Fred Destin and Rishi Garg appreciate the academic rigour and personal psychology of the core exec. It is individuals like Rishi and Fred that have taught me to engage in a new process, 'founder dating'. The first interaction I have with founders now, I ask them not to bring the deck and not to discuss their company. I want to see if we have the core personal chemistry required to have a successful business relationship. If we do not, no matter how great the company, it will not be optimal for me or him to work together. 

 

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