Alexia Bonatsos is renowned in the startup world. The former co-editor of TechCrunch was among the first to cover Uber, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Pinterest back when they were still dreaming of unicorn status.
Alexia, now a venture capitalist, just announced a new seed fund focused on investing in automation-related startups.
We asked Alexia about what she looks for in founding teams, so you can get hired by the next unicorn. Below is Alexia’s response, including a list of 15 rocketship startups that are hiring aggressively. 🦄
5 Attributes of Rocketship Startups, By Alexia Bonatsos
Picking great startups is a critical skill for anyone in the tech ecosystem. You pick startups when you look for a job, select vendors and business partners, or make an investment.
But… identifying rocketship startups is easier said than done. While I work hard to suspend disbelief and get onboard with wild visions, I still look for five specific things in every team:
🎒 A lust for learning. Founders that obsess about learning every part of their business and the world at large are better prepared to lead.
🚀 Competitiveness. My friend Ashley Mayer once said, “Elon Musk approaches life like a man who’s competing with a thousand parallel selves in a thousand simulations. He’s determined to win, but also somewhat bored by it all.” I look for whatever that is, but for women too.
😠 Resilience. Successful startups solve difficult problems; founders never get things right on their first or second try, so they’ve got to have the resilience to keep at it.
📝 The ability to take feedback. I never have to give great teams the same piece of feedback on loop; after the first or second time, they’ll have fixed it either by learning quickly or hiring for it. This requires lots of humility and self-awareness.
🏆 Unbridled ambition. This one speaks for itself.
You’ll also need to analyze the product and business itself. Jason Kincaid, my former colleague at TechCrunch, taught me these in a journalistic context, and they transfer pretty well to venture capital:
- What problem are they trying to solve? Focus on companies that are building “need to have” products, not “nice to have” solutions.
- Who are their biggest competitors, and what are they doing differently? Most founders say they don’t really have a competitor, which is short-sighted. My favorite answers allude to something grand and analogue, like taxis, travel agents, or funeral homes.
- What are their biggest challenges? Founders need to be self-aware, thorough, and “know what they don’t know” as far as roadblocks are concerned.
- What are their future plans? If you hit every green light on your path to success, what would your company look like in 5 years, 10 years? If you can’t see this palpably, then it will be tough getting over the aforementioned road blocks.
If you’re ready to ride a rocketship, here are 15 that are hiring. 🚀