The 5-point new-age doctrine for investor-investee relationships

Investors can help founders innovate and scale, but it’s imperative that their relationship involves learning, growth, cross-collaboration, and a shared vision to disrupt markets.

The Indian startup ecosystem is bustling with innovation, with homegrown startups scaling like never before. Investors have played a key role here, providing the necessary financial and strategic assistance to entrepreneurs to take their businesses to the next level.

Today’s investor-investee relationships seek to go beyond term sheets, bringing in elements of learning, growth, cross-collaboration, and a shared vision to disrupt markets. This plays a key role in the way the startup unfolds. There are some amazing examples the world over on how investors have enabled founders scale, innovate, and change the entire landscape of markets.

Here’s a brief overview of how an early-stage startup and investor can manage and leverage their relationship:

1.Have common goals and a shared vision: While it may take time to align across different parameters, having common goals and a shared vision is crucial. This impacts the overall growth of the company. Both investors and founders need to work together towards one direction for maximum scalable results. Parity in vision often results in fragmented results despite both investors and founders putting in effort. For example, if the company is very interested in setting up a private line when the investor is interested in a marketplace, there can be arguments about where to allocate resources etc. It is imperative to make sure your future plans for the company are aligned to enable a smooth journey for both parties.

2.Network and grow together: The biggest mutual benefit in an investor-investee relationship is knowledge sharing and network. However, the onus is more on investors, since they have a large network of peers who could be critical for subsequent rounds of funding. Their network could also help in connecting the business with other companies, vendors, trainers, and many other stakeholders who could play a key role in growth in the long haul. They could invite their portfolio companies to investors’ meetups, enroll them for webinars or learning sessions, or invite them for a casual round of conversation with a potential partner. All of this counts when business owners are keen to learn and experiment.

3.Be transparent: No amount of emphasis on transparency is ever enough. Both parties need to meet frequently to discuss business plans, progress, and projections. If you are not transparent about your needs and requirements, you won’t get the help you need. Communicating transparently and frequently ensures alignment in goals.

4.Trust is non-negotiable: Startups often operate in a highly dynamic space where the landscape and the way the company operate shifts quite often. Trust is an important factor that helps both, the investor and the startup, navigate through the many shifts. Candid discussions about future plans, the current state of things, and the speed of execution are the key to zoom past such times. The experience of an investor could help to anticipate problems, and the business machinery can get on to the task in time.

5.Do not over commit: It’s important to set realistic and mutual expectations from Day 1. While every founder is striving for excellence, it's important to be committed to practical results as well. Committing to results without in-depth knowledge or lack of viable data can often result in unrealistic goals. It’s key to have a solid and, if possible, a data-driven approach to committing and successfully achieving goals.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)