Builder Founders Required

I caught up with an investor about evaluating early-stage technology investment opportunities. Specifically, I was interested in his process is to get conviction. He went deep and shared things that made sense about timing, technology advantage, etc. And he described an interesting approach to evaluating founders.

He developed a concept that most founders fit into one of a few “buckets.” As he talks to them, he’s trying to figure out what bucket to put them in. He’s looking for founders who fit into a bucket he calls “builders.” This bucket is a mix of visionary and early-stage execution with a unique twist.

Builders can tell you what they believe the world will look like in five years and can get you from zero to one based on a unique insight that others have missed. The magic with this person is that they understand that the first step to a successful company isn’t linear. The first step is nonobvious. They have a contrarian insight on going from zero to one that others haven’t thought about. They also recognize their limitations and will surround themselves with other people who complement their weaknesses. For example, they aren’t master executors and won’t get a company from one to five, so they add execution ninjas to the leadership team.

This investor believes that other founder profiles can lead to success, but based on his experience, builder founders are key to a company having an outsize outcome.