It’s the execution, stupid.
Eric Paley thinks the cult of ideas in venture is a problem. And he’s absolutely right.
My guest this week is Eric Paley, Managing Partner of Founder Collective, an early stage fund begun by a team of entrepreneurs who themselves launched companies and led them through successful exits. Founder Collective is focused on helping the next generation of great entrepreneurs build important and lasting businesses through it’s refreshingly clear and often-stated mission, to be the most aligned fund for founders at the seed stage. Previously, Eric was the CEO and co-founder of Brontes, which was acquired by 3M in 2006.
Founder Collective’s prescient investments in companies including Pill Pack, Seat Geek, the Trade Desk, Periscope, Buzz Feed, Hotel Tonight, and Uber have made it one of the most prominent seed stage funds in Boston and beyond. Fortune magazine’s influential Term Sheet recently identified Founder Collective as among a group of VC firms outside Silicon Valley who were moving investors beyond their strict belief in “the best and the rest” in venture, matching or beating the performance of the handful of storied West Coast firms to deliver some of the best performing funds of the past decade from firms that didn’t exist before the dot-com bubble.
Our conversation on the importance of “founder friendliness” included Eric’s perspective on the challenges facing portfolio star Uber right now, an exchange I think our regular listeners will find particularly interesting.
In our second segment Eric and I turned to what he calls The Idea Myth, the belief that every great company finds its genesis in some flash of inspiration born in the mind of some genius entrepreneur. The reality, and the core investment thesis of Eric’s firm, is that venture success tends to emerge from teams who deeply understand customer value creation, who have the talent and the will to persist in solving the the seemingly endless string of mundane challenges that must be overcome to will a successful company into existence from nothing. It’s a refreshing reminder of the importance of execution in a business that too often elevate strategy above all else, and a view I very much share with him and his partners.
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