What do investors consider an ideal team of founders?
BY Rhonda Abrams
Writing a Business Plan mentor Rhonda Abrams responds: If you want to build a business with real growth potential, you can't do it alone. No matter how smart or driven you are, you need help. Investors know this, so when they look at a company, they want to see a management team, not just one person with a great idea.
You may already be working with another person -- or a group of people -- as you build your company, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have a good team in place.
In my experience, many investors look for a founding team that includes two people with complementary strengths: They are often described as the "visionary" and the "businessperson." In other words, one founder has the technical skills -- the ability to invent, design, and/or produce the product, service, or technology -- and one has the business skills -- the ability to make sales, build the company's infrastructure, find strategic alliances, manage a budget, etc.
That can be a good balance to begin with in the early days of your company. But as you grow, you'll find you need more help. Often the technically adept founder is unable to actually develop and lead the rest of the technical staff, and the businessperson is often overwhelmed with the time-consuming chore of raising funds.
Other key roles that you'll need to fill -- and which will help reassure afunding source that you're a viable company -- includebusiness development/sales, marketing, and those key roles handling the technology you're developing or using (e.g., chief technology officer or VP of engineering).
Finally, make sure the team works well together as a team. I find that investors are seeing more business problems as a result of dysfunctional management than they are from dysfunctional technology.