Knowing a start-up is crucial before investing

F2 gets to know start-ups to evaluate whether they would make sage investments.

Israel Start up (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Israel Start up
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

There are many factors that go into creating a successful start-up, but one that is perhaps overlooked is the psychological compatibility of its co-founders.

Noa Matz is a partner at F2 Venture Capital, an Israel-based VC firm. She brands herself as a “start-up psychologist,” a title she has chosen in order to effectively communicate the way that she does her job.

“Before we invest in start-ups, we have to know them very, very well.” This is something that every VC does, she says, and there are many levels of depth in investigating how a start-up works. Matz, however, doesn’t stop at performance analysis. “What I do is dive deeper into the team, to get to know the people we invest in.”

Matz explains that, as a VC that funds pre-seed and seed companies, the companies they invest in have very little to show besides the founders themselves, their relationships with each other, and their good ideas. These factors are tricky to evaluate.

“You don’t have numbers, you don’t have customers, employees, revenue – you don’t have anything. The team element becomes so crucial for the start-up’s success.”

 Noa Matz from F2. (credit: F2 VENTURE CAPITAL) Noa Matz from F2. (credit: F2 VENTURE CAPITAL)

“My job is to make sure we really know the founders; what kind of professional values and soft skills they bring to the table; whether or not their dynamic is harmonic; will this organic unit live up to its expectations?” explains Matz. “Will this succeed as one body that needs to survive very hard conditions?”

Once a company receives F2’s approval, says Matz, “The real fun begins.” The second aspect of her work, after scouting the compatibility of a company’s founders, is to coach them to success. She compares start-up founders’ relationships to a romantic couple.

 Dana Assa-Fischer (credit: BIGID PR) Dana Assa-Fischer (credit: BIGID PR)

“It’s not a simple relationship. Mostly, the couple has love. They also have a common goal and vision, but they have love.” Founders on the other hand, she says, “Sometimes they don’t even know each other. Sometimes they come with past experiences, and maybe they do have a bond, but sometimes they don’t.”

She explains that the expectation for a start-up to be close, aligned and capable at all times is unrealistic.

“We understand that. The idea is that when things don’t exactly work out. We’re there for them.”

F2 isn’t the only company that puts an emphasis on the importance of strong interpersonal relationships and employee mental health. Dana Assa-Fischer, director of people and culture at data management company BigID, lists a few of the ways that her company prioritizes stress relief around the office, including allowing employees to bring their pets to work.

“Animals really help people feel more relaxed – petting them, playing with them reduces stress.” That stress reduction, she says, is crucial in a start-up environment.

Most crucial, however, is an open and honest relationship between employers and their employees, says Assa-Fischer.

“Much more important than salary, or benefits, or how many flavors of ice cream are in the office freezer, is respect and transparency.” If an employee doesn’t feel that, she says, “They won’t feel truly satisfied with their career.”

“As a business we need to support the different and changing mental needs of our employees, show empathy and provide the tools to better handle stress and crisis,” says AppsFlyer’s VP of people Merav Schlesinger Falik. “People that don’t feel supported or ‘seen’ first as people will be less engaged and won’t have a strong sense of belonging to the company.”