Season 2: 10/10 VC Series — Preferred Founder Backgrounds ✨

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Published in
5 min readFeb 23

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Overview: 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:

Boehringer Ingelheim, Breakout Ventures, Arkitekt Ventures, Time BioVentures, B Capital Group, NEA, Bessemer Venture Partners, NFX, Not Boring, Mayfield Fund, & Alix Ventures

We asked our guests:

“Outside of operating experience & higher education, what is one seemingly random thing you look for in a founder’s background?”

“Leadership through emotional intelligence and empathy. Being a founder/C-suite team member is hard and the ability to stay humble, data driven, understanding of human emotion leads to high functioning teams. This is a people business at the end of the day and in my experience a strong team that asks the right questions and does the right experiments has the greatest chance at success.”

Kanad Das — Investment Director @ Boehringer Ingelheim

“Diverse personal interests. We work in highly technical areas but also at intersections of disciplines you may have never put together in the past. The types of people attracted to that I find thrive on borderline obsessive knowledge gathering with broad curiosity. They read a lot and ask a lot of questions, whether the topic is immunology, mountain climbing or making beer.”

Julia Moore — Co-Founder & Managing Partner @ Breakout Ventures

“I want to hear about their obsession with solving problems. They don’t have to be at all related to their current company — I care much more about what they did to solve the problem and how far they were willing to go.”

Pavan Choksi — Partner @ Arkitekt Ventures

“Long-standing, high-quality relationships with colleagues, and a history of following-through on things.”

D.A. Wallach — Co-Founder & General Partner @ Time BioVentures

“Sincere interest in inclusion, diversity, and meritocracy. Ultimately, beyond technology and products, founders and the executive team are builders of organizations. Founders and leaders who thrive in a diverse team tend to attract exceptional talent, foster trust, and deliver outperformance.”

Widya Mulyasasmita — Sr. Principal @ B Capital Group

“Curiosity. Human biology will always surprise you with unexpected data. Having the curiosity to explore unforeseen data and results is key to making progress.”

J.C. Lopez — Principal @ NEA

“I’m particularly excited to meet founders who have been outsiders or underdogs and have worked incredibly hard to turn those odds around. It can be small examples from your upbringing or what you’ve done to alter the status quo. I left my home in Guatemala alone when I was 17 because I was searching for better opportunities to pursue science and excellence in education. I defied the stereotype that little girls couldn’t study science or live alone to follow their dreams. I look for a spark in founders that will drive them to break through walls to achieve their goals.”

Sofia Guerra — Investor @ Bessemer Venture Partners

“I think the most important trait we look for in a founder is their passion. Are they passionate about what they’re building? Do they think about it day and night? Do they have the passion to withstand the difficulties that will inevitably come up as they’re building the company?”

Omri Amirav-Drory — General Partner @ NFX

“The founder has achieved excellence in an unrelated interest area.”

Arvind Gupta — Partner @ Mayfield Fund

“I think it’s a really interesting signal if a founder has had a big life pivot, or been successful in more than one area before starting their company. This indicates a high level of adaptability, as well as curiosity — which are both important traits. Pragmatically, it also means that if the company needs to change directions, the founder would hopefully have developed some approaches to handling these situations.”

Elliot Hershberg — Partner @ Not Boring

“Resiliency — life and in particular founderhood is a long, often perilous journey. It’s not how we get knocked down, but rather how we stand back up that defines us. An understanding that the road won’t be straight, but rather that it is full of inevitable twists/turns is the expectation. Our reaction to these course corrections is ultimately what proves decisive. In the end, the eternal truth proves itself — all things worth doing require patience.”

Chas Pulido — General Partner @ Alix Ventures

Click Here to read to read our next post covering growth mindsets 🙌

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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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The Nucleus of Life Science Startup Innovation — By Alix Ventures