Starting with the Who (and the Why) rather than the What

A few years ago, Simon Sinek's "Start with Why" re-introduced the age-old idea of purpose. We're big fans of purpose at Sunstone, so much so that the dolphin emoji is part of my fave lists (it's a porpoise!). 

I believe everyone shares the same inner purpose, but that we translate that into different outer purposes. 

For us, starting with the Who and the Why means: we believe the founders and their purpose should be our primary reasons for backing the company. The What (the idea, the market, traction, IP, etc.) is secondary.

But when founders pitch us, we also listen to their Who: the customer. How deep is their customer insight? Do they understand them intuitively? What data do they look at? What hypotheses do they test?

If you start with your Who in a pitch with me, you're very often on a good trajectory to allowing me to appreciate the depth of the work you've done on the opportunity so far. I had a great conversation yesterday with an entrepreneur I initially believed had bad "founder/market fit." Turns out I was super wrong. He had a deep, intuitive understanding of his customer despite being a different gender as well as socio-demographically and ethnically fairly distinct from them. Certainly made me check my biases (again).