The Most Important Founder Trait

On Tuesday morning, I was at Philz Coffee in Redwood City just grabbing a cup of coffee and in walks Jacob Jaber, the CEO of Philz.

Jacob spoke at our conference last year so I immediately recognized him though most of the patrons didn’t seem to know him. I thought okay I’m not going to go fan-boy him right now. He’s got things to do and places to go.

But then Jacob goes behind the counter, high fives and fist bumps his fellow baristas and takes up an open station and start calling customers down. He’s handcrafting individual cups of coffee for people. When my turn came, I got a cup of Jacobs Wonderbar (look man, I’m a VC so I need to pander because I don’t have any other real skills).

I mean they only have 36 of the hottest coffee stores around and Jacob is brewing coffee, one cup at a time.


There’s something different about these founders.

Everybody says you need passion, but what does that mean. More importantly, what precisely does that look like in practice. There are founders, and then there are founders — the 10X founders — who are on another level in intertwining their souls into the basic atomic units of their products.

huh? atomic what?

When I talk to these 10X founders, their souls light up with joy when they get to do the foundational piece of work serving their customers. Jacob serving coffee; Seth hand building the furniture for the spaces he designs; Farb moving into a clinic to work with the doctors on their administrative challenges; Brian and Joe hosting guests in their apartments.

The real personal question for aspiring founder is “do I obsess about serving my product to people?”

And the question for investors is “am I working with founders whose souls are on fire about doing their work?”


My friend Ahren (pronounced “Aaron/Erin”) told me that I need to write a post about how someone can go about figuring out their calling and find that thing that lights them up in metaphorical flames. I’ll have to get back to you on that one ;)

Jacob Jaber serving coffee at the Redwood City Philz.
Inspired by Jacob Jaber (JJ), SQ, FN, TR, SV, DK, DD, JD, JS, AV, ZT. You all know who you are…and there are so many more people to include, so this is only a slice from the past month. Recency bias.