Are You A Founder?

Please write a post as an investor on how you you look at skill of founders. I bet they are not particularly well rounded at an early stage.-Arnold Waldstein

Entrepreneurship is getting really sexy.  People are seeing the headline numbers of the companies that have made it.  The money the founders make is in the hundreds of millions.  Over a short period of time.

The really sexy thing about entrepreneurship is that it’s open to everyone.  I thought about this today because I am playing golf with a bunch of ex-NBA players.  When I was growing up, I always wanted to be a pro athlete.  At first it was anything, baseball, football, or basketball.  When I got a little older, I found I was pretty decent at basketball compared to the other ones and I specialized.  I was pretty good, but I didn’t have the athleticism to be pro.  Pro athletes in every sport are freaks of nature.  Being an entrepreneur isn’t like that.  It doesn’t require specialized physical attribute.

Being a pro requires more than just that physical freak of nature attribute.  It also requires an amazing amount of dedication.  From an early age, most pro athletes live, sleep and eat their sport.  When they go to college, it’s a totally different experience for them.  College sports demand most of their time.  The struggle is not only physical, it’s mental.

But, I want to point out that startups that become worth over a billion dollars are also freaks of nature.  They are rare.  They are similar to pro athletes.  Jason Calcanis wrote a blog, Do You Have What it Takes?.  He has invested in hundreds of startups. He has invested in companies at seed that have gone to a billion dollars in valuation.

Yes, there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for successful startup founders.  But, as Jason asks, do you really have what it takes to get there?  It’s rare air.  Do you really want to sacrifice your blood sweat and tears to make it?  I have risked it all.  It’s not fun and it’s hard on the stomach.  I have lost.  It’s gut wrenching.  You can’t sleep.  It permeates every part of your life for a while.  It sucks.

But, when you win, it’s really awesome.

If you don’t feel like you want to withstand that kind of pressure, it’s not to say you can’t be a part of an entrepreneurial company.  It’s great to also be what I call a joiner.  Joiners are integral to the success of a startup.  But, founders have a special kind of something.  They have a vision, and they don’t tell you what they are going to do logically point by point.  The billion dollar founders feel it in their bones.  They tell you why they are going to do what they are going to do.

Arnold opines that they aren’t probably particularly well rounded at the seed stage. He’s right.  They aren’t. But they have that special something.  They are so committed they will find someone to join them to accomplish what they want to accomplish.