Further, a founder should also feel comfortable that their prospective investors have done the work to really understand their business. If the investors have only done cursory work while rushing to throw in a term sheet, they are much more likely to be surprised — and not in a positive way — after the investment. Without properly assessing the start-up, they are much less likely to be able to help when problems arise. No entrepreneur wants a surprised, disappointed or unhelpful investor on the board. And no entrepreneur wants a board member who is prone to making important decisions off the cuff.
I should point out here that taking the time to get to know one another does not mean an excessively long period or slow process. Of course, the best scenario is when the founder and investor have been meeting multiple times over a period of months before an investment decision is required and can really get to know one another in a relaxed setting. But that is often not possible, and many times a founder and investor will have their initial meeting amid a fund-raising process. In that instance, the time-frame to get to get to know one another is usually measured in days, maybe weeks. It does not require months. But it is also not measured in hours.
When I was a CEO, I would have loved to have picked an investor after one meeting, in just a few hours. But today's speed bubble leaves entrepreneurs and investors prone to making rushed decisions. And rushed decisions can lead to long term pain for everyone.
For all involved: Take the time. Do it right.
Jeff Crowe was co-founder and CEO of Edify for nine years and is Managing Partner at Norwest Venture Partners, where he has been an investor since 2004.
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