Season 2: 10/10 VC Series — Top Portfolio Founder Traits ✨

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Published in
5 min readFeb 5


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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

To kick this series off, we asked our guests:

“What are the top 3 common traits of founders in your portfolio?”

“A never ending desire to learn, adaptability to any situation, and the inner belief that any problem can be solved.”

Kanad Das — Investment Director @ Boehringer Ingelheim

“Optimism, grit and humility. Making the choice to start a company of any sort is a bold pursuit, let alone when that company’s success depends on commercializing novel science at scale. So it requires a unique ability to have a definitive view of how to build the future, the perseverance to get there no matter how many times you’ve been knocked down, and the awareness to know when you need support.”

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

“Obsessed, Tenacious, Humble.”

Pavan Choksi — Partner @ Arkitekt Ventures

“Substantive, determined, & ethical.”

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

“Purposefulness — sense of urgency to build something that matters

Fearlessness — gumption to make the impossible possible amidst uncertainty and limited resources

Humility — hunger for advice and hiring people smarter than them”

Widya Mulyasasmita — Sr. Principal @ B Capital Group

“Trust, teamwork, and excellence. Drug development is a long and winding road — for biotech founders, it isn’t a question of if there will be challenges, but rather when. We’re always looking for founders that have a strong internal compass and high integrity that we can trust to do the right thing for the company, employees, investors, and patients. Additionally, Biotech is a team sport. We look for founders that can assemble and manage great teams and who view investors as company-building partners. Finally, we are driven by opportunities to partner with founders exhibiting novel ideas and industry-transforming approaches — those who settle for nothing less than excellent.”

J.C. Lopez — Principal @ NEA

“- Unequivocally committed to the mission of improving patients’ lives

- Unquenched ambition and grit to succeed despite the odds

- Unparalleled expertise making them uniquely positioned to solve that problem”

Sofia Guerra — Investor @ Bessemer Venture Partners

“At NFX Bio, we like to invest in Scientist Founders. We find that scientists make great founders because they care, they have deep scientific knowledge, and their experience in the lab proves that they have a lot of grit.”

Omri Amirav-Drory — General Partner @ NFX

“- They are mission-driven to get to market

- They see the problem they are solving as a global injustice they are driven to eliminate

- They put the company and their teams before themselves”

Arvind Gupta — Partner @ Mayfield Fund

“We look for great scientific entrepreneurs , so many of our founders are building on frontier science they directly contributed to. Another very common trait is to have an interdisciplinary background, combining disciplines like computer science and structural biology, or robotics and experimental science. Last, we love to back founders with an iconoclastic vision — where they are hellbent on improving or disrupting the current status quo.”

Elliot Hershberg — Partner @ Not Boring

“Wave-Generator — Courage to lead the first charge and set in motion the groundswell needed to start a movement.

Eye of the Storm — Ability to find stability and direction in an unstable and unpredictable world.

Always be Chasing — Rocket fuel that keeps on burning and the fire to weather on despite circumstance.”

Chas Pulido — General Partner @ Alix Ventures

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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