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Advice Entrepreneurship Startups Venture Capital

Founders Doing Due Diligence On Investors

Doing due diligence on investors is something that should be discussed more frequently. It’s important for founders to take the time to understand who the investors are, how do they help and support the companies they invest in, how do they react when things aren’t going as well as hoped for.

Spending some time doing due diligence on potential investors can save you lots of grief in the long run. I’ve talked about this often and it’s great in theory but it’s not as easy to do in person. Now that I’m back on the operating side of a startup, here are some tips on how to diligence possible investors:

  • Start with making a list of the investors you think would be interested in your startup keeping a few broad things in mind (use a spreadsheet or a CRM)
    • Vertical the company is in and is the VC firm + partner interested in the space
    • Stage of the company and does the firm invest at this stage
    • Check size that you’re looking for and what the firm writes
    • Any existing competing investments that the firm has made
  • Find people you know that may be connected to these individuals
    • Have a prepared email that you can send to the people you know who can possibly connect you to these investors. The email should be a very short email that explains why you would like to connect to the investor, a summary of your startup and have a teaser deck attached. Some people like to use DocSend but I prefer a PDF.

Once you’ve exhausted your personal network, find 5-10 founders that the firm and the partner have invested in (ideally should include failed startups).

  • Reach out to them on social media, via common contact or a cold email to see if they will chat with you about your startup and provide some advice on your round as well as share some info about the investor(s). If they say yes to a meeting, do some research on them, e.g. understand what their startup does, maybe check out the product, use Crunchbase to get an idea of some of their investors, how many rounds they’ve raised, you can use tools like Workomo (shameless plug) to get some background about them and common interests you might have.
  • Founders can be very open with other founders. Do what you have to in order to maintain that trust. Use the meeting to do your due diligence on the investor. Ask the founder about the firm on your list and how they were to work with through the ups and downs. Make sure you are clear that this is confidential and DO NOT repeat it to anyone, even in conversation. Don’t be shy about getting into details as long as the founders are comfortable sharing. Don’t pry but don’t hold back on asking the questions you think will help you get an understanding of who the investor is and how they work.

In short, make sure you take the time to do your due diligence on investors. It’s critical to know who you’re potentially partnering with for the duration of your startup.

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Advice Angel Investing Bangalore Business Delhi Entrepreneurship India InvestStream Video New Delhi Startups Venture Capital Video

Early-Stage Startup Deal Terms in India 2020

There was a recent thread on Twitter about how even in 2020 angels and VCs in India continue to put ridiculously onerous terms into early-stage deals.

I recently invested in an Indian startup that closed a pre-series A round and the documents were more than 100 pages. When I was at 500 Startups, with the help of BMR Legal, we modified the 500 Startups KISS Agreement for India and open sourced the documents in the hopes that it would simplify early-stage documentation and reduce the amount of time to close a deal and the cost of doing early-stage deals in India, much like Series Seed docs and the SAFE have done in the US.

Here’s a presentation I gave in January 2020 at CIE-IIIT Hyderabad on some of the deal terms in India to watch out for. Unfortunately, there’s no video of the actual presentation I gave so I recorded a voice over for you.

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If there are additional terms you have questions about or terms you’ve come across that are onerous, please leave a comment on the YouTube video and I will respond. Hopefully, other founders will benefit from it as well.

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Angel Investing Business Entrepreneurship InvestStream Video Startups Venture Capital Video

How are Pre-Seed and Seed Changing in 2020?

A lot is changing in the startup world. Even before getting hit with COVID-19, the definitions of pre-seed, seed, post-seed/pre-series A were changing at a fast clip. Many early-stage VCs were moving downstream, writing larger checks and investing in later rounds. At the same time, larger, late-stage VCs were either ramping up their scout programs and investing earlier than every before, other VCs were directly investing earlier and earlier. From Silicon Valley to New York City, this has created new opportunities for some, while creating additional competition for other investors.

Join us on the next InvestStream Live on June 9th, 2020 to hear two well known early-stage VCs discuss how they see the landscape changing over the next six to twelve months. What will this mean for the number of deals getting down, the size of the deals, the check sizes and more.

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Shruti Gandhi is the Founder of Array.VC, a Silicon Valley based venture firm investing in category-leading startups that take advantage of data, analytics, workflows, and new platforms to change the way an industry works.

Paul Sethi is the Co-Founder of 2048.VC, a New York City based venture firm investing in founders who are creating companies that have differentiation and defensibility through technology. They are geographically agnostic but invest in enterprise SaaS, AI/ML, FinTech, HealthTech, Cybersecurity, Dev tools, Hardware, Genomics, Marketplaces, and B2C/D2C in cities like NYC, Boston, Atlanta, Austin, Toronto/Waterloo, Nashville, Pittsburgh and more.

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