Founders Are Getting Dinged Because of Terminology Mix-up Around Vision

Great founders have a compelling vision. Unfortunately, though, many early founders don’t do great job of articulating it. I think that asking early founders what their vision is trips up many of them. I suspect it’s because “vision” means different things to different people. Investors are thinking X, while an inexperienced early founder thinks it means Y. This disconnect causes people to think some founders don’t have a vision, or it isn’t compelling, when that’s not so.

Today I was reviewing the application for Sequoia’s Arc Catalyst that seed-stage companies have to fill out. The application doesn’t ask for the company vision. Instead, it asks this: How is the world transformed if your company achieves its mission?

Companies exist to do a specific thing (i.e., solve a problem). If they accomplish that mission, they will have an impact on the world.

I love the way Sequoia framed this question. It’s clear and goes straight to the point, so it avoids terminological confusion.

If you’re an early founder, be prepared to articulate your answer to “How is the world transformed if your company achieves its mission?” That’s your vision!