No matter how good the company’s product or service, angels agree that it’s the management team that can often make or break a business.
The UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) even goes so far as to say that “investing in the people not their product can be a wise strategy”. So, spending time learning about the founders and their team could pay dividends in the longer run.
Start by doing as much due diligence on the team as you can. If there is a chance to meet them, for example at an event, then take the opportunity to do so. This may help you to get a ‘gut feeling’ about them and their abilities.
Follow the founders and other key team members on Twitter, check them out on LinkedIn and do some Google stalking to find out more about them. You may discover that you have common connections who can give you useful additional information and insights.
Have the founders started a business before? If they have and it failed, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it may have taught them a lot that will help them avoid making the same mistakes with the new venture.
Do they have specific industry experience in the sector in which the new business is operating? And, do they and the team have skills across the functional areas needed to run a business successfully - such as accountancy, marketing and operations for example? Has the team worked together before and do they have complementary skills?
Do the founders have any other achievements in their previous career - either business or academic - that could add value to their new venture.
How well do they communicate the investment opportunity to potential investors like you? Does this give you confidence that they can sell their product or service to customers
What’s their commitment to the business? Have they put a lot of their own money into the business already and how much will they lose if it ultimately fails? And finally, do they have the drive and the passion to tackle the highs and lows of running a startup or early-stage business and make it succeed?
As well as the founders and management team it is also worth paying close attention to the board of directors and any current investors as they may also have a say in the running of the company.
Ultimately though, a business’s chances of succeeding or failing are largely determined by the quality of the management team. So when you are evaluating an investment opportunity, do as the the BBAA recommends and “focus on the 3P’s: the People, their Passion and their Perseverance.”