What do you look for in your early stage of your startup company?

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I look for similar things that other early stage investors look for : an idea that leverages some tech changes that will create a huge opportunity; some unique insight that is durable and defensible; and a cofounding team that I believe can execute.

One thing that I particularly focus on is the co-founders –who are they? What makes them tick? Are they in it opportunistically or do they want to build something substantial for the long term? Do they have what it takes to go the distance? How committed are they? I want to know what adversity they have faced and how they responded. Building a startup has a romantic reputation but the reality is that it’s incredibly hard, full of setbacks and failures. How do the founders react to failure? What have they learned from failure? Did they let success in the past go to their heads? I look for a CEO who has conviction but still can be open minded and is continually getting new information, opinions and data to assess and adjust if needed? It’s a very delicate balance.

Does the founder have the ability to lead and inspire? Can he or she tell a good story? Can the founder get me to believe? Get employees to believe? Customers? Other investors? Do they really believe themselves? What kind of culture will the company create, and can it be grown as the company grows? There is an alchemy involved in building a successful company, a certain suspension of disbelief to inspire and motivate and get something very difficult to come true.

The idea alone is the small part of the endeavor. Of course it has to be a good one, necessary but one of the lesser parts of sufficiency. It’s the team that makes it happen. 

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