Founders & Unpredictability

Last week, I attended a pitch contest where most of the startups were at seed stage. I was surprised to notice that nobody really cared about the founders and their stories. It was all about the market, the business model… All the kind of stuff you’ll eventually ask but that won’t prevent you from making a bad decision. Everything is subject to change unexpectedly as time passes.

So not surprisingly, I asked the same questions, again and again: Who are you? how did you guys know each other? where did you screw-up? what did you learn? what’s your current focus…

At some point, the other members of the jury were like: hey, you’re writing those guys’ bio or what? ☺

You bet I am ! This is exactly through a bio that one learns about the founders’ stories and unveil the invisible. This is how you assess authenticity, detect singular patterns, see their learning curve and so on… This is how you build a conviction and don’t shit in your pants coping with the fact that you know nothing about the future of a startup.

In the non linear, uncertain world of early stage investment, where timing matters as much as people, besides the necessary learning curve, discipline and focus that all investors must have, you can’t stand out from the crowd if you don’t allow yourself to deal with unpredictability.

You will eventually be wrong at a certain degree about most assumptions you’ll make regarding a market, a business and where it is heading to. Empires (I’ve banned unicorns from my vocabulary, can’t stand that word anymore…) are not built on obvious, bullet-proof underlying elements. They are built through a unique & unpredictable path where consecutive but non-related small acts have individually or all together massive impacts on their success of failure.

Scary and relieving?