I often talk about the paradoxical tensions that make some founders so irresistible to fund: Their clarity of vision matched with strong optimism, their ability to learn from the best people and practices while taking more singular, sometimes unconventional, or even counter-intuitive paths, the balanced excellence and velocity of their execution. It’s like strong convictions weakly held; even though it’s not a paradox per se, it’s a flexible ability at the heart of the very best entrepreneurs we back.
And this is one thing I’ve noticed more acutely over the past few weeks, some of our very best founders share those double-edged abilities, whether we’re talking about handling paradoxical tensions or just managing two strongly complementary or opposite fields.
For instance, when we backed Jean-Louis Queguiner last year, the CEO of Gladia, we knew that he was technically brilliant, but when we did our reference check, we also realized that he was very respected as a leader and a manager, especially thanks to his business acumen. And while the frenzy of artificial intelligence is taking over the world with its heavy load of hyped bullshit, Jean-Louis is navigating through this like a champion sailor. In the meantime, others are pivoting to catch short-term favorable winds or wait for the hand of god to guide them.
Last week with Pia, as we were leaning towards our next deal with New Wave, we realized the same thing about the founder. He is technically one of the strongest people we could ever meet in his field. But he also has this business acumen that already shows in his execution and numbers. In a huge space. A no-brainer to fund.
You will sometimes read that first-time founders focus on product while second-time founders focus on distribution. It’s obviously a shortcut but shows a trauma. As a company, your job is to build but also sell something that people want. Realize that a lot of shitty products are commercially very successful while a lot of great products aren’t. It’s because a lot of founders, especially the first time, focus so much on product and tech that they forget to put enough effort into their go-to-market strategy and execution… They use only one edge of their sword.
That’s also the reason why we were so excited to back Dagger, the new company of Solomon, Sam, and Andrea. The lessons learned from Docker were immensely valuable in regard to matching great technology with great business logic.
Of course, this could be found in two separate people working together, but we like this dual ability within the same person as it works like two paired muscles supporting each other synchronously.
What’s your double-edge talent?