Do you have what it takes to make it as a startup founder? Do you have what investors are looking for in an entrepreneur that should get funded?
Having worked with countless entrepreneurs and interviewing some of the most active angel investors on the DealMakers Podcast in today’s startup ecosystem, it’s clear that there are some consistent patterns in what it takes to survive and thrive within the entrepreneurial journey, and take a venture from idea to a meaningful business.
If you’re not sure if you’ve got the right stuff, or you’d like to get a head start in making smart angel investments yourself - here are some of the things top investors have filtered out in the founders that ultimately perform the best.
Will Herman has sold two of his own ventures for over $700M, and has invested in 82 startups. If you want a shot at getting funded by Will, here are the four things he looks for in founders.
1) Founders who are interested in building a great team around them. That’s not only cofounders but that’s ultimately the total management team that’s in the company. Founders who know what they don’t know are really valuable.
2) Founders that focus on execution more than their idea. Will says, “I just don’t believe that there are that many unique ideas and that the uniqueness of your idea really isn’t that important.” A good team can execute on a mediocre idea and make it great, and make a great company. It’s all about execution.
3) Founders who constantly talk to their real and prospective customers. So many startups are building products, creating services that are meeting needs in their heads, not actual needs. It’s ultimately lack of product market fit that kills most startups, not lack of funding. So, understanding what your customers need, want and think is critical.
4) Old school hard work. Will says, “The person who works more hours is almost always going to succeed or do better than the person who works fewer hours. I just believe in it. I believe those who are dedicated to what they’re doing and are willing to work to achieve it have a fundamental advantage.”
Having made 400 plus startup investments and achieving at least 150 exits make Fabrice Grinda as one of the most experienced investors alive.
In our exclusive DealMakers interview Fabrice says it’s all about amazing storytellers. Because when you’re an amazing storyteller, and you have great control of your numbers and your vision, you’re going to be able to raise money at every stage.
You’re going to be able to hire better people. You’re going to be able to talk to the press. That means capital favorably leans towards extroverts versus introverts. Storytellers who are smart and greedy, and at the top of their numbers. Or in a better position to raise than others. In fact, Fabrice says, “ if you have a greedy storyteller, you kind of hit the homerun in terms of what you want to have.”
Michael Litt has been named top 30 under 30 and entrepreneur of the year. He now heads up seed stage funding firm Garage Capital.
If you want to get funded by Michael’s group he says, “You know what we really look for is really, really, really talented product and technical leadership with domain expertise.
So, if you’re building product for a specific market or an ecosystem, ideally you have experience in that world to have real user and product empathy. Then on the other side of the business, we look for what we call a chip on the shoulder or the warrior instinct.”
Adeo sold two companies for $1 billion before he was 30 years old. As founder of the Founder Institute, Adeo is looking for talented, motivated individuals who are working on those ‘zero to one’ startups and are willing to commit to several months of intensive focus and are accountable for making things happen.
Thomas is cofounder of Angel Pad, whose companies have raised over $1.4 billion, in addition to the $80 million the accelerator has raised itself.
The traits he sees shared among the most successful founders include:
Kevin is the founder of Double Click and initial investor in another unicorn that sold to IBM for over $1 billion.
If there are three things Kevin looks at in founders they are:
We hear a lot of rumors about what investors are looking for in founding teams, and what can increase the odds of getting funded.
There is a lot you can do as an entrepreneur to better position yourself for success and capital. Yet, it is also interesting to see how each fund and angel investor can really hone in on different traits and qualities they have seen deliver success from their experience.
So, often winning the fundraising game is equally about getting in front of the investors who are the right match, and who are looking for what you’ve got.