It's often said that startup founders should choose their venture capitalists wisely because the partnership is like a marriage. The two sides have to work together and stick it out with one another for better or worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until... a funding gap or exit do they part.
That's why for Howard Hartenbaum, venture capitalist at August Capital who's also on the Forbes Midas List of top Venture Capitalists, the team is the biggest factor when considering an investment in a startup.
"Once you put money in, it’s like a marriage. Once you’re in, you’re hooked," said Howard, in this second part of our three-part interview. (See first interview, in which Howard talks about why he invested in Swoopo and Pixazza)
Many investors consider "big market, core technology and defensible position," he added. "The big focus [for me] is on the people... the hardest thing is to have the right people there."
In this segment, Howard, who's well known as the first investor in Skype, also talks about "what sets him off."
And, what turns him off is simply stupidity.
Surprisingly, many entrepreneurs admit that the reason they're starting a company is because they "want to make a lot of money," he said. They even explicitly say, "It's my turn to make money." This is a "No, No." And, a definite turn off. In many ways, it's akin to a woman saying to a man that the only reason she's in the relationship is to be married.
He also doesn't like people or teams who just come together and decide to build a new company. These type of teams tend to never last, he said.
What he's looking for are people who've been experts in a space and who've discovered a new and improved way of doing their jobs or the process.
In this interview, Howard also talks a little bit about how the venture capital world has changed and why it's a much more interesting time to invest today than it was two years ago.