What I Look for in an Entrepreneur

scott_cookThere are books and research studies on the qualities of successful entrepreneurs. After you are done reading them, or if you are time pinched, here is my short list on the qualities I look for in an entrepreneur.  And the picture on the right is one entrepreneur I admire who embodied most, if not all, of these qualities when he started his company.

  • Uncanny drive in a clear direction. Conviction.
  • An entrepreneur is by definition comfortable with risk; but the best ones seek to minimize risk
  • Complete integrity.  His/her past decisions and actions should be evidence of this.
  • Knows his/her companies secret sauce and guards it, grows it.
  • Manages leanly.  Avoids waste.  Manages time and money well.
  • Builds and inspires his/her village: employees, investors, advisors
  • Of course all the usual qualities of successful business people are important
    • Intelligence
    • Decision making skills
    • Time management
    • Organization
    • Leadership
    • Motivating and managing people
    • Education (of note, First Round reviewed their 10 year history, and found that their portfolio companies with one or more founders with a degree from an Ivy League School, Stanford, MIT, or Caltech, performed 220% better than other teams).
 Red flags
  • A cavalier attitude to failure. Failure has no value and is the worst outcome for investors.
  • A lack of relevant experience and skills, especially without a “village” to compensate.