Founder! What does a fund want to know about you before they decide to invest?
Have you had your first conversation with a fund yet? Before you do, see what kind of features investors pay attention to during their initial meetings with startup founders.
The features that we pay attention to at Unfold.vc are discussed in MamStartup with Rafał Sobczak, our managing partner.
A popular saying at most workplaces is, “we don’t have to like each other, but we should respect each other.” At Unfold.vc, we definitely agree on respect — but we are also looking for people that we like. What does this mean? A bit like in well-known comparisons of marriage to the relationship between an investor and a startup – we are also looking for chemistry here. This is not easy to find, because chemistry could also turn out to be just a temporary crush which could end badly (like infatuation). However, when you do find this spark, with time, it might turn out that you’ve gained more than just business partners, but also friends. Then, between the financial report and the summary of activities, you start to get pictures of babies, share good and bad moments, and also support each other. The English term “likability” is often used here, and it is as subjective as any person’s opinion.
Practicality and honesty
The feature that impresses us the most is the practicality of the founders. The market highly appreciates the go-getter attitude and the ability to “storytell”. However, in many cases, these features tend to obscure the actual business situation as well as the company’s prospects. Therefore, we always ask ourselves whether the founder sees the situation as it is, or as he wants it to be? At Unfold.vc, we value the worst truth much more than the best lie. When we are at the office, we carefully analyze the real value of the project, and after-hours — we enjoy its unique and often unconventional vision.
We look at the scope of dedication to the project to date and take into account even the smallest steps toward achieving each goal. But we analyze more than just the work and the dedication that you’ve put into the project. The very path of the founder, before establishing the company, is also important. Summer odd jobs, volunteer work, unsuccessful previous business attempts, how they’ve handled past crises – all of these stories often tell us more than the history of the project alone.
Consistency in action
This is definitely one of the most important features that helps to develop a project in the long term. Someone once said that building your own startup is a marathon, not a sprint. In long-distance runs, it is important to maintain a comfortable average pace, while sudden jerks break the rhythm and can lead to an incomplete race or poor finishing time. Going faster than you should, frequent changes in direction, lack of consistency in communicating value, and burning money too quickly – these are the “sudden jerks” that we’re talking about. Consistency also refers to decisive actions and decision making.
Peace of mind and a balanced approach regarding the tasks performed – this is what we look for in leaders when we are deciding which companies are good investments. This means looking at many areas: talking to other investors, team building, and company management. At Unfold.vc, we like to invest at a very early stage, and we are aware that a company may experience more than one crisis on its way to success. Whenever we begin a cooperation, we often ask ourselves if we could picture ourselves in a crisis situation with this founder? The answer to this question is crucial for us.
There are many features and types of behavior that make up the ideal founder in our minds. Each subsequent investment has taught us something new.
Are you curious about the features that other investors pay attention to? We encourage you to read this article, where this question is answered by other investors, such as: Mateusz Bodio, managing director at RKKVC; Greg Albrecht, founder of Albrecht & Partners and partner at NxtGen Angels; Kajetan Kietliński, managing director at Xplorer Fund; Beata Turlejska, Leonarto’s Managing Partner; Zofia Banaszewska, Carlson ASI EVIG Alfa Investment Manager; and Makary Mulczyńskiego, investment analyst at SpeedUp Venture Capital Group