How do I evaluate a startup’s founders and key management team?
There should be strong resonance between the founders and key management team and the company and the challenges that lie before it. If the company is taking on a specific industry for example, it would be helpful to see founders or key management with business and technical experience in the given industry. This is not always mandatory. Particularly for consumer-facing startups, there is a long history of first-time founders who have built companies of great success without necessarily having been long-time veterans of the industries they went on to disrupt (e.g. Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook, Bill Gates/Microsoft, Larry & Sergey/Google).
However, all of these individuals had unique insights, experiences, and skillsets that resonated with their chosen quest. In addition to the above, when the business is technology-enabled, it is desirable to have at least one full-time member of the team who is technical (e.g. an engineer). This permits the startup to rapidly iterate without being beholden to outside contractors.