Friday March 17, 2017 0 comments
By Peter Adams
Rockies Venture Club
Everyone knows that VCs and Angel investors conduct due diligence on companies before they invest.
Angels who do 40 hours or more of due diligence outperform those who do not by two-to-one on their returns. Due diligence involves checking out the company, the team, the strategy, product, IP, customers, technology, the market, finances and more. There are well-known processes and checklists to go through when conducting due diligence.
There is another type of learning that happens during due diligence and it has nothing to do with patents or markets – it’s called “meta due diligence.” This is what investors learn while going through the process and watching how the company responds to questions and requests for information. It’s not the answers themselves that are revealed in meta due diligence, but the character of the team and how they think.
I recently worked with a company through the due diligence process and it quickly became clear that they had not done the kind of financial planning that a startup should do before raising capital. This is not necessarily unusual, but what was enlightening was that they were so resentful for having to do the work and create a believable proforma financial projection. They took a long time and it became clear that finance was not a priority for the CEO. This was a red flag because someone like that could blow through our investment without much understanding of how to get the most out of it.
Another company was a polar opposite and the CEO said to me, “I am going to have the best due diligence drop box you have ever seen!” He had all the homework done and was proud of being able to organize it in a clear way so that it would be easy for the due diligence team to find.
Another type of meta due diligence is now becoming important and that has less to do with the investor’s relationship with the company, but with other angel groups or investors on the deal who are doing due diligence. When they hand you a due diligence report, is that something you can believe? A smart investor isn’t going to take someone else’s due diligence at face value and they’ll check it out themselves and at least spot check the research work done by the team.
All of these types of meta due diligence are valuable and sometimes even more valuable than the information you might find during a normal due diligence process!