Types of Founders
1. The Balls
He’s bold and very, very ambitious. Borderline delusional, he is crazy enough to push further than the rest — and then some. Characterised by an ‘aggressive naivety’ he jumps into complex, regulated markets and figures out navigation along the way. Which market doesn’t really matter, although the more dominated by rusty incumbents, the harder he will try to change it. Because he is beaming with confidence, he recruits a sick team and gets experienced management to join his side before the opportunity has even materialised.
Sometimes he goes too far, sometimes he crosses lines. Sometimes he crashes a sports car into a tree. But he is moving so fast that this collateral is forgotten when he races through the next milestone.
2. The Incarnation
When people think about the brand, the first thing that comes to mind is her. Because she IS the product. She was the product before the company existed. So people trust the brand, because they trust her. They chose the brand, because she recommends it. She’s witty and smart and charming, when she talks about the product, she talks about herself.
She’s doesn’t need to sell the vision, because she embodies it and everybody is following her to accomplish it. Not many notice that she has a guardian in the shadows, that is watching her every move.
3. The Execution Machine
A few years of consulting and some industry experience, he knows the market inside out and can spit out all relevant numbers from the top of his head. After all, he chose this market because of them. His approach is very analytical, but he knows how to follow through. Not necessarily because he’s passionate about the problem, but because he is passionate about solving problems.
His first recruits are his former colleagues, because they are used to working together. They buy casual clothes, but secretly keep their suits in case this doesn’t work out. They adapt the VC lingua quickly and show that they are no fools whenever possible. They understand the questions, they have sound arguments, they construct a big vision.
4. The Serial Entrepreneur
She’s cool, because she’s been through it. She doesn’t get too excited about the first wins, but she’s also not unsettled by the first road blocks. She’s open about how slow it’s moving, but still raises $10M before product / market fit because she can. The burn is high, but that’s OK. It’s all just a series of experiments, she’s tweaking all variables until she gets there. It’s about to fly.
She’s made mistakes in her previous ventures, but they still were successful. This time she’s hiring a CFO from the start, to make sure the books are clean once the big guys come knocking to ‘talk about a partnership’.
5. The Insider
He’s been in the industry since he can remember and he knows all the players in it — by name. He understands their pain points, because he’s been listening to them complaining for years. Now he’s found a better way and he will heal the industry.
His co-founders are friends from the industry. It’s hard for them to let go, but they are taking the jump together. They are excited about the new, but bring with them a lot of the old. If they can persist long enough, they will build a better version of the old. If not, they will go back and dissolve in it.