A little off the VC plate

This is a sort of follow up on my recent post in my other blog. 

I found this nice article in Matt Marshall’s Venture Beat, where they had asked Ryan Floyd, venture capitalist with Storm Ventures, what the traits are of the most successful entrepreneurs he’s backed.

Ryan is apparently a climbing enthusiast, going by the mountaineering metaphors that he has liberally quoted. Quite apt, I thought since startup entrepreneurs life can’t be compared with nothing else for its arduousness. I sensed the delight that was in store for me from the word go, as I read Ryan’s opener “I am not sure there is a stereotypical entrepreneur right out of central casting”.

Some gems from Ryan’s piece – 

On determination and commitment“It can be a roller coaster ride for even the best funded companies. When companies are small, the risks and challenges are tremendous and it’s easy to get discouraged. To expect to grow a company without these obstacles would be a fairytale. Entrepreneurs and founders need to have the gritty determination and commitment to succeed no matter how high the hill”. 

“Commitment [to entrepreneurs themselves, investors, employees] is beyond passion for a project or idea. It’s about knowing that failure just simply is not an option”. 

“Up until several years ago, I spent a significant amount of my free time climbing in Yosemite. The concept of commitment in climbing is very analogous to a start up. Once we were on the wall we were committed regardless of weather, injury etc., especially on multi-day routes. We had to put 100 percent of our emotional and physical energy into being successful because, as climbers will tell you, usually the first instinct after going up a wall is to immediately want to come down. Living with gravity has that effect. With startups, many smart people will tell entrepreneurs and founders that they won’t be successful, the bigger companies will crush them, etc. The great entrepreneurs listen, reflect,and keep climbing”.

On Intellectual honesty and integrity“While some may believe that intellectual honesty is in conflict with passion or belief in an idea, I think that the greatest entrepreneurs find that constantly questioning their assumptions and maintaining a healthy dose of paranoia about competitiveness and value creation pushes individuals and organizations to achieve more with confidence. It also helps to make the never ending small course corrections in a business that lead to success”. 

On need for domain expertise – “One of my partners once told me that when he walks out of a board room and feels as though he knows a lot more about the business than the team, he knows he is in trouble. Many entrepreneurs reading this may find it comical that a venture investor could resist trying to prove he or she is the smartest person in the room. The best entrepreneurs I have worked with always make me feel like I am the one trying to play catch up. Entrepreneurs and founders should make it their business to know more about the individuals, the competitors, the customers etc. that make up their industry than anyone else”.  Notice the humility and reality perception here, hallmark of a great VC…! 

May be it is not an exhaustive list as confessed by Ryan for having left out traits like leadership, ability to build a team business experience, prior successes, or the ability to understand their customers and deliver a compelling product or service.  But I liked the narration powerful and hard hitting.   

I enjoyed the read. Hope you did too…!


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