What drives you?

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting 1000s of founders in the last few years. A lot of my very good friends are entrepreneurs and founders of companies of all shapes and sizes. Thanks to my work at Potential VC, we meet 100s founders a month. We invest so early that we often make our investment decisions based on the ability (or potential) of the founding team in particular. Therefore, we are often analysing and judging the motivations of the founding team as a basis for our investment.

I’ve always tried to look for what motivates people, what drives them and I try and work out why they are starting their company. I love analysing people and trying to work them out — I’ve been doing it ever since I stepped into this world.

I think I do this because I know how hard building a company is. It’s exceptionally difficult and building a venture backed company is arguably even harder. Therefore, I know that the founder has to be incredibly motivated and driven to stand any chance of building their company to success (however that is defined).

I know it’s not this simple, but I’ve put the founders I know and have met into two buckets. I think there are two types of motivators for founders. I’m sure there is cross-over, but this is how I see it…

1) The Passion Founder

This type of founder has a genuine passion for the market and product they are working on. They are often a domain expert or have lots of prior experience in their market of choice. They have usually seen a problem in a previous role/life and now have a deep need to solve that particular problem.

They often talk about ‘revolutionising’ their industry or disrupting it and they can be thought leaders in their field. This type of founder can be very high-level when talking about the market/problem and almost ‘visionary’ in their demeanour.

These types of founders pretty much always know more than you. They also always seem to start strong as their first users/customers can come from contacts in their space.

2) The Hungry Founder

This type of founder has a relentless personal hunger and ambition to succeed, to win or to simply not conform. Their drive comes more from a personal level — they may have a point to prove, a chip on their shoulder or simply they have a fire in their stomach that will just not go out.

I feel like this type of founder is driven more ‘internally’, as opposed to ‘externally. I find that this type of person is usually not classed as ‘normal’ by most of society, they have probably always done things differently to most and can be eccentric/difficult to work with sometimes.

I find these types of founders amazing, their confidence sometimes borders on arrogance and they don’t think they can change the world. In their head, they know they can.

I know there is a lot of cross-over between the two, and of course, people can fit into both categories. However, from what I’ve seen I think these 2 types make a lot of sense.

What motivates you? Is it the particular problem you’re solving? Or is it something more personal that drives you forward?

I’d love it if people could share their motivations by responding below. It would be great to hear what drives people and what motivates them to build their company.

James

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