10/10 VC Series — Part 1: Top Portfolio Founder Traits
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10 Questions to 10 Early Stage Venture Capitalists
This topic series brings together perspectives across a variety of early-stage VC funds to help readers gain insight into what investors believe to be key to their growth and success. In our belief that perspectives should be well-rounded and not monopolistic, we chose to feature 10 different investors rather than to dive deep with just 1 or 2 individuals. We have a lot to learn from each other and hope that by sharing 10 unique viewpoints, we may all come to our own insights faster. Our posts will be organized by question and cover topics including investment criteria, portfolio support, industry trends, and general advice.
We are honored to feature investors at:
To kick this series off, we asked our guests:
“What are the top 3 common traits of founders in your portfolio?”
“Having a strategic ‘big hairy audacious goal’ (BHAG) paired with excellence in tactical execution is a winning combination.
Grit — what situations have you persevered through? What did you learn?
Uncanny passion for the problem you’re solving: why are you THE Founder to solve this problem?”
“Truth-telling, disagreeable, often aggressive, and frequently with a chip on their shoulder.”
“Passion, compassion, and grit. Passion is the fuel to start the fire, compassion is the oxygen that keeps it burning, and grit finds more wood when the flame dies down.”
“Stubbornness certainly comes to mind, but also vision. Many of our founders see the potential future so clearly that they become frustrated by anyone who doesn’t. But defensiveness scares me. It belies insecurity but it’s also inefficient. The most enlightened founders are able to reconcile with the present; they incept others toward their vision rather than fight them.”
“Natural Communicator — able to speak about the business at different depths depending on the audience (reporter, VC, executive hire, customer).
Clearheaded — creates order out of chaos — able to prioritize and focus on a few important things at one time.
Functionally Paranoid — able to balance the optimism that it takes to start a company with an ability to see around corners and imagine downside scenarios.”
“Integrity— we look for founders with a strong moral compass, who we can trust to always treat people well and do the right thing.
Tenacity — starting a company is hard and requires immense determination and perseverance. All of our founders have shown us that they are committed and won’t give up when times get tough or difficult decisions need to be made.
Excellence — we look for founders who have a history of demonstrating excellence, whether that be in prior companies, academically, athletically, or personally. Our portfolio founders impress me every day with their winner’s mentality.”
“Wave-Generator — the courage to lead the first charge and set in motion the groundswell needed to start a movement.
Eye of the Storm — the ability to find stability and direction in an unstable and unpredictable world.
Always be Chasing — the rocket fuel that keeps on burning and the fire to weather on despite circumstance.”
To create this article, we spoke with a multitude of healthcare/life science investors working across funds, often with varying philosophies. Despite this, several common traits emerged amongst their portfolio founders: excellence, tenacity, integrity, and thoughtful communication. Excellence can be demonstrated in multiple ways, although generally preferred in the form of professional track record. Tenacity points to a strong sense of passion that, despite challenging circumstances or daunting tasks ahead, remains unwavering. Integrity, honesty, and compassion are fundamental to how a founder engages the multitude of stakeholders that is the startup ecosystem. Finally, thoughtful communication is necessary for a founder to lead team members, convince investors/customers, and to profess the meaning or “why” behind their work.
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Alix Ventures, by way of BIOS Community, is providing this content for general information purposes only. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by Alix Ventures, BIOS Community, or its affiliates. The views expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Views and opinions expressed by Alix Ventures employees are those of the employees and do not necessarily reflect the view of Alix Ventures, BIOS Community, affiliates, and content sponsors.
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