What the greatest technology investors say about Passion

PASSION POSTS (10 posts)

The following is a list of the post titles by author under this topic.  Scroll further down this page to find the actual blog post by your selected author.   Author’s posts appear in reverse alphabetical order.  For example, following this list, Mark Suster’s post appears towards the beginning of the blog page, and Jeffrey Bussgang’s posts appear towards the end of the blog page.  


Jeffrey Bussgang: What Drives Entrepreneurs

Jeffrey Bussgang:   Considerations when Determining an Exit

JEFF CLAVIER  (1 post)

Jeff Clavier:  Jeff Clavier: What I Look at When Investing

DAVID COHEN  (1 post)

David Cohen:  David Cohen Wants to Immediately Invest in These Entrepreneurs

RON CONWAY (1 post)

Ron Conway:  What Ron Conway Looks For in a Deal

BRAD FELD   (1 post)

Brad Feld:  Brad Feld's Investment Criteria

BILL GROSS  (1 post)

Bill Gross:  Harness your User's Passion

ROB HAYES   (1 post)

Rob Hayes:   Red Flags: Signals Not to Invest

MIKE MAPLES JR. (1 post)

Mike Maples Jr.:  Mike Maples Jr.: What I Look For

MARK SUSTER   (1 post)

Mark Suster:  Successful Entrepreneurs have these Qualities


Successful Entrepreneurs have these Qualities

Mark Suster Partner Upfront Ventures and former entrepreneur

 Suster believes successful entrepreneurs have these qualities:  “1. tenacity, the most important [].  2. street smarts []” including “[] know[ing] [] how customers buy and how to excite them [], [an ability to] spot opportunities that aren’t being met and [] design products to meet these needs. []”. “3. ability to pivot []” which “[] might just be a totally different business model.[]”  “4. resiliency  []. 5. inspiration [].  6. perspiration [].  7. willingness to accept risk []. 8. attention to detail [].  9.  competitiveness []. 10. decisiveness []. 11. domain experience []. 12. integrity  []”.    Mark Suster, Entrepreneur DNA, December 15, 2009; What Makes an Entrepreneur (2/11) – Street Smarts December 16, 2009

What Makes an Entrepreneur (3/11) – Ability to Pivot December 17, 2009

Mike Maples Jr.: What I Look For

Mike Maples Jr. Founding Partner Floodgate and former entrepreneur

“We just love the companies where the entrepreneurs have a really authentic, passionate understanding of the area and they want to just do something massive.

[] [The] first thing that we look for [in people] is authenticity.[] [The] term serial entrepreneur is not always a positive virtue. We like people who say to us, This is the only company I ever want to do.

The second thing that we look for is completeness in the team. Experience and completeness aren’t necessarily the same thing.  A complete team has a combination of business and technical vision and business and technical execution. If you have all four of those bases covered, the probability that you will be stopped by something where you had a blind spot goes down [].

[The] third thing that we look for is how experienced is the team. [] [Those] first two things matter to us more. Execution can be hired; vision can’t. So, it’s that authentic voice and a team that meshes well together in a special way . . . that’s the stuff you can’t hire and fix later. If you get it right when the company starts, then you have a better chance, in our view.”  Mike Maples, Seed Capital From Angel Investors: Mike Maples, Founder And Managing Partner, Floodgate, July, 2010;

Red Flags: Signals Not to Invest

Rob Hayes Partner First Round Capital

Hayes discusses red flags, things that would make him not want to invest in a founder or entrepreneur. 

Red flag:  If he doesn’t have the best possible people as part of the initial team pre-funding.  “When someone comes to [him] who has already surrounded [himself] with people [] who have quit good jobs [to come and work with him] because they’re so passionate about [] working with this person but also what they’re working on, [] that’s a good indicator.”

Red flag: “[] [The founder] is so enamored with [the] product [to the exclusion of addressing other important business elements.] There have been very few products that have been so good that the world just beat a path to their door [like Google or Facebook]. [] If someone is so enamored with their product that they can’t think through how things might change or they’re focused on one particular slice of the market and they only know that piece of the market and not a much bigger market [], I would be concerned about [that].”

Red flag: “[The founder says] now [he] need[s] to hire a designer[]. [] [Hayes likes] a product with design built in from the very beginning. [] When [Hayes talks] about design [he’s] talking about UX [user experience], feel, everything []”.  Rob Hayes, Rob Hayes of First Round Capital - TWiST #249, (ThisWeekIn Start Ups with Jason Calacanis), Published Apr. 18, 2012 @ 25 min.;

Harness your User's Passion

Bill Gross Founder and CEO business incubator Idealab

One of Gross’ 12 lessons from his 30 years as an entrepreneur is “[] [to] harness your users’ passion.  In the new world of media, you have to create automated ways to get your customers to get you new customers. That’s unbelievably powerful. And there are incredible capabilities available [] to help you to take advantage of that.” Bill Gross: Here Are The 12 Lessons I've Learned In My 30 Years Of Being An Entrepreneur, Bill Gross, Chime | Dec. 15, 2011;


Brad Feld's Investment Criteria

Brad Feld venture capitalist and Managing Director Foundry Group

Feld discusses his investment criteria.  Feld first determines if the investment falls within his ‘filters’: US and Canada-domiciled early stage firms which have raised less than $3 million and fall within one of “[Foundry’s] [] [broad horizontal, abstract themes]”.  Assuming the investment fits within these filters, “[] then [Foundry] goe[s] incredibly deep on [] people and product. [] [Feld gets] excited about people who are super-obsessed about a product.  [] [If Feld wants to work with the entrepreneur, and the entrepreneur wants to work with him and is product-obsessed, and Feld has an attachment for that product, then he’ll invest.]  [] [Feld]  [already knows his markets, competitive dynamics, the business model.]  [] All [Feld] care[s] about is what [the entrepreneur is] going to do with the idea [] or the product or [where he’s taking] it”.  The best founding teams are 2-4 people half of whom are product-focused.  His optimal nascent team is 3 people, 2 of whom are product-focused, “all [of whom] are passionate [about] the product []”.  Brad Feld,  This Week in Startups # 319, published Jan. 9, 2013,  @ 25- 32 min. into interview with  Jason Calacanis;


What Ron Conway Looks For in a Deal

Ron Conway angel investor

What Ron Conway looks for in a deal: “[] traits that good investors look for in entrepreneurs []”:

[] personal chemistry with the entrepreneur 

[] great idea

[] solving a practical and real problem

[] sectors that [grow] at thousands of percent a year

[] good elevator pitch – [ability to articulate what the company wants to do] in 5 words 

[] IP (intellectual property) [] matter[s]

[] [team’s] personal characteristics including [intangibles like passion, vision, body language, being decisive, reliable] ]

[] hire ahead of [the] needs [if possible []]

[] CEO [] [must set the example as a team builder and leader] []”.

Ron Conway, Startupatwork Interview Ron Conway: What Ron Looks For In A Deal, StartupAtWork  Feb 20, 2010;

David Cohen Wants to Immediately Invest in These Entrepreneurs

David Cohen Founder and CEO TechStars, angel investor and former entrepreneur

Cohen discussed the qualities that make him want to immediately invest in an entrepreneur.   Specifically, he described one entrepreneur and his team:  “They understood the problem just technically, they had experienced the problem, they were pissed off about it, [and] their level of technical understanding of what they were trying to accomplish was very, very high. And every time [Cohen] had talked with them, [he] was more impressed than last time. 

[] It’s just passion and it’s knowledge of the space, and the interaction from meeting to meeting being better and better every time [that encouraged him to invest]”. David Cohen, This Week in Startups, TWiST #323, published Jan 22, 2013 @ 31-32 min. into interview with Jason Calacanis, TWIST host;

Jeff Clavier: What I Look at When Investing

Jeff Clavier angel investor, Founder and Managing Partner, SoftTech VC

“I look at the three typical factors [when investing]:  the team, the product, and the market.

[] I’m going to really focus on the team. What’s their background? What have they done? What’s the dynamic between the different members, are they complementary?

[] an early-stage team is always about two or three people, and they have a lot of potential [] but they don’t have everything. [] I’m always looking at the core team as the initial asset I invest in.

[] I don’t want to have to change the founding team []. It’s either I buy them as they are or I pass on them as they are.

[] Can I see them being successful as they are without fundamental changes to the team? Otherwise, it is just too much work.

[] I want people working extremely hard while being dedicated to and passionate about their business and who have empathy. You have to walk on water to be a successful entrepreneur, so empathy is very important.

Sometimes you just feel that people are natural-born entrepreneurs because you see they have a clear vision, understand the steps, and know how to go from where they are to the next steps. [] If they can convince you as an investor, they will be able to convince employees [] to join them or future customers to use their products.” Jeff Clavier, Seed Capital From Angel Investors: Jeff Clavier, Founder And Managing Partner, SoftTech VC; July-Aug. 2010;

Considerations when Determining an Exit

Jeffrey Bussgang venture capitalist and General Partner Flybridge Capital Partners and former entrepreneur 

 “Timing and [one’s] own personal commitment are both important factors [in determining an exit].  Twitter’s Jack Dorsey gets asked [] - when will Twitter exit?  [Dorsey] explained [] his views on this issue [] that [essentially] the best entrepreneurs don’t focus on the money, they focus on their passion and dream for the business.

“You always have to go back to the question, ‘Is exiting the right thing for the product?’” Jack explained. “There were many times in our history when, technology-wise, we weren’t up to snuff and we could have used more infrastructure. We could have used the resources of a Google or a Facebook or a Yahoo!  But until you feel like you’ve completed some aspects of the vision, it just doesn’t make sense to hand it over.  If you have that idea and you’ve more or less seen the end of it, and now you’re just racking your brain trying to figure out how to push it any further, the product might be better off in the hands of someone else, because you’ve done what you can. That’s basically what it comes down to for me. Are you done? If you are, then exit. If you’re not, keep going for it.”” Jeffrey Bussgang, book Mastering the VC Game –A Venture Capital Insider Reveals How to get from Start-up to IPO on your terms. copyright 2010, pg 195

What Drives Entrepreneurs

Jeffrey Bussgang  venture capitalist and General Partner Flybridge Capital Partners and former entrepreneur

 In describing what drives an entrepreneur, Bussgang says that “it comes down to an essential character trait []: the entrepreneurial itch. When you have it, you just have to scratch it.  You really can’t help yourself.

Being an entrepreneur may be something deep in the genes. []

Genetic or not, there are certain classic characteristics of the entrepreneur.  The most important of these are a certain kind of visionary optimism; tremendous confidence in oneself that can inspire confidence in others; huge passion for an idea or phenomenon that drives them forward; and a desire to change the game, so much so that it changes the world.”  Jeffrey Bussgang, book Mastering the VC Game –A Venture Capital Insider Reveals How to get from Start-up to IPO on your Terms. copyright 2010, pg 14