What are your three main criteria you look at when investing in a startup? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Christine Tsai, CEO and Founding Partner, 500 Startups, on Quora:

I'll focus more on what I look for in teams, as that is sometimes the most important factor at the stage 500 typically invests:

  1. Healthy balance between conviction vs. humility: Founders that have strong conviction, yet actively seek out and respond to feedback and are coachable often fare better than founders who are too headstrong. Of course, succumbing to feedback whiplash and doing things just because someone else told them to is not productive. Finding that right balance is key. As a rule of thumb, I've found that founders will hold strong conviction around foundational principles - the company mission, values, culture, etc. Humility comes into play when the team works to execute on these foundational principles and actually build the business - understanding their customers, how to build the product, who to hire, when and how to fundraise, etc.
  2. Accountability: What is their propensity towards building and executing? Do they move quickly and do things they say they will? It is noticeable when teams demonstrate strong follow-up, discipline, and accountability. This is almost always evident in the first interactions with a team and how they interact with prospective investors and customers.
  3. Empathy: You are not just building a product. You are building a product that is used by people. You are building a team. Again, people. Empathy is a critical attribute for leadership. It's difficult to serve customers or lead a team if you don't care to understand them.

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Published on: May 15, 2019