As far as I remember, I have always been impressed by entrepreneurs, I mean — what I used to call — “real entrepreneurs”.
I had the chance to meet over 5k of them while being a VC, and I spend time time alongside more than 500 of them over the last 15 years, as investor or co-founder.
Several profiles appeared during these 15 years building businesses with them : Execution driven, Technical, Business development are the most common.
I have seen and work with very impressive technical driven entrepreneurs (Oliver Hersent is one of them) or brilliant execution driven CEOs (Dan Serfaty for example)
The third profile is the « Business Developper ».
This guy/girl always smiling, know what I mean ? Really, its a “non profile”, not ticking any box.
This type of entrepreneur is undervalued. Under the radar, he makes people think its focus is outside its products, its venture, its team.
It’s the typical type of entrepreneur VC tend to replace because they believe these profiles are not « focus », at least doubling is position with a COO, because he is not “reassuring enough” would say the young VC exec (the guy who has never built any business, yes this one there ;-)). Often kills the business when occurs, he IS the business but does not show off.
These misjudgements happens because these profiles are whatever happens optimistic, creative minded and mixing hundred of ideas at a time. And don’t fit with small narrow boxes of tight analytical brains they meet. Unclassifiable.
Their intellectual processes are different : profusions of interactions, with their teams, market, competition, are a necessary to their mindset process. « Messy » is the easiest short cut. Wrong interpretation
They can’t be part of the Golden Circle : not friends withs VCs, with other entrepreneurs nor with members of clubs or networks. Still under the radar…
You will rarely see them on tech or business events stages…
Sometimes not even conscious they are « real entrepreneurs », they behave like if they was impostors when outside their comfort zone. Their brain computer RAM alway reshaping/adapting the product to vision. Kind of mental constant A/B testing… Hard to identity, almost Asperger syndrome ;-)
Nevertheless, they are real magicians able to deliver with 6 months growth hacking with nothing to show (the greatest one for me is Michel Larroche, who grew a BILLION $ business in the overcrowded and over competitive snacking industry. Hats off Michel)
They are the best salesman of the company, even too much would some people say. And so what ? Let me just remind you the names of famous “oversellers” : Musk, and its “no car” Tesla business, Jobs, and its “not achieved” Iphone launch, Gates, who spread in the world a “fully bugged” universal software. They have in common their ability to make people SEE their own vision. And eventually are amongst the best successes in US, but what about poor France ? Are you ticking the box ?
But what to you expect exactly ? These “BizDev” entrepreneur have exactly the same characteristics than the others : Vision, and drive, and execution, rather than Execution, Drive, Vision. Same words but different order. Same success, different way to reach it.
They build the most solid teams ever, spread their vision amongst all the people around them, all the time, don’t even fight to hire ! Not enough convincing ?
You won’t see them around, shaking hands and smiling at VC or entrepreneur cocktails. No time for this, man.
They will eventually show off, but only and exclusively to share their vision, or shine to embody their business, focused on KPIs only.
They are as must shining outside, that they are guts concerned by their product, cutomers and team, inside.
Don’t miss out : if these guys/girls are able to face theses misjudgments without a word of frustration, and still succeed in building a team, grow a business, it’s because they double the effort to compensate : hard work and attention to each detail.
I knew this for a long time, after having struggled building and co-building tech businesses. My partners were from the “other” profiles, and the little successes we had was partially due to this mix.
When I set up my new venture, 2 years ago, I knew it would be harder for me than any other. Even my previous (little) successes was not enough to erase this misjudgments. So I worked, harder, anticipating all the time. I did it by experience, and it somehow worked out. But what if you don’t have this experience ?
By chance, I mentor young entrepreneurs (a sign that I probably succeeded in something), and one of them is « BizDev driven ». I feel how hard it is for him to hear people say : « you shine too much, focus on the products maturation first ». Hell fuck ! This guy is able to growth hack its market with 6 months advance, a non mature product, and no ressources. Do you REALLY think he does not focus on his product ? I see him, he has it in his guts, all day and night long. Shining is only a way for him to A/B test his product mid term vision. What do you think will happen when his product will be mature ? He will have 6 months advance… From messy to brilliant.
We all react with our own set of human references in front of others. Investing in people’s vision is the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life because we all have human biais. I myself thought that this unique unclassifiable visionary people were unable to grow their business. But they were just unable to tick the boxes.
And there is one and only lesson : whatever the order of the 3 values (Vision, Execution, Drive), if you have the 3 of them, you have the right set.
I am a « BizDev » undervalued but REAL entrepreneur, and I am fucking proud of it.