The first meeting with start-up
During the first meeting with the start-up, my preference is to really just chit chat and get to know the founders better. Questions such as their motivations to be a founder, why this particular problem, go deeper into the problem statement, traction details, and so on.
Deep dive into business
I would say the business related questions asked here could very much overlap with the email questions, but with more prompting to understand deeper. Eg. if we notice the user churns over the quarter, we could go deep into how they define and measure the churn.
Conversations and Interactions
Through these conversations and interactions, there are a lot of things to observe about the founders, and also a very effective way for angels / investors to learn about the space they’re in.
Example, I might ask what their original assumptions about the customers were and if they were right, how had they adapted or what had to change to get to the traction today?
Also, through the design of the solutions (or solution intended), are they really ready to “change the world”? And I would try to figure out from their responses, if the chosen space is ready to be disrupted / changed.
Who should be present in the meeting?
It is really helpful too if we could meet the 2 or 3 core people behind the business. Personally, I would like to know how they come together to form a team, how long they have worked together, what’s the business rhythm already established etc.
Beyond what I could ask, I like to observe how they interact with each other as well. There could be tell-tale signs to spot if the founders are not exactly getting along well.
As data would tell you, founder breakup is a top-three reason why startups fail within the first few years. So it’s important to observe their interactions. Of course, it always takes more than one meeting to really understand their relationships.
A very important criteria for me to decide if to continue the conversation is whether I am comfortable with the founder, can a/he be respectful to women, can I see myself spending time over more coffee with this founder in the future, and if the founder has value systems that align with mine.
Usually depending on the conversation thus far, we would roughly know if we would like to proceed to the next stage here. If we are to proceed, we will be asking the founders for more detailed information to further support what they have shared, detailed financial projections to understand how they intend to grow their business for next 18-24months, incorporation support etc.
This post is a part of an angel investor’s evaluation framework, you may read the following posts for the full version:
- How do angel investors evaluate start-ups before first meeting?
- What do angel investors look out for during the first meeting with start-up?
- What to follow-up after an angel investor and start-up meeting