Evaluation Should Go Both Ways

One of the biggest opportunities I see founders miss is the chance to evaluate the people who are evaluating them—specifically, when an investor asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” the founder saying no or asking superficial ones. It’s a missed opportunity for the founder to gauge whether the investor is a good fit as a partner.

Evaluating a partner starts with knowing what you want. Investors usually have a clear idea of what they’re looking for. Unfortunately, some founders don’t, and they don’t evaluate their partners until after the deal is sealed.

Founders can do a few simple things to increase their chances of being in a good partnership:

  • Write down your criteria for a good partner. Putting things down on paper usually leads to more clarity.
  • Before meetings, don’t be shy about letting the investor know you want to allocate a certain amount of time for your questions.
  • Skip the superficial questions; ask only questions that will help you understand whether the investor satisfies your criteria.

Partnerships are important. Founders should make sure they’re evaluating for fit, not just letting themselves be evaluated.