The weird secret of our most successful founders

"Let not to get a living be thy trade, but thy sport." - Thoreau, Walden

We meet a lot of founders every year. And we do have a shared view in the partnership of the characteristics of founder teams that we like. Top of that list is determination - persistence or grit. Further down are things like domain expertise, social cohesiveness, raw intelligence, and charisma. All very important.

But there's a secret weapon that our best founders share. And that they share - in our view - with the most successful entrepreneurs globally.

You see, our best founders aren't motivated by money. They're motivated by the thing they're doing. Which is making stuff. Building teams that make stuff. Striking deals to source, transform and ship stuff. Helping their people that make stuff have the right resources to be great at making stuff.

Building the product and building the company is what drives them. Making customers happy. Being straight with suppliers. Doing right by their people.

Our best founders are passionate. That passion extends beyond their love of creation to the organization that creates. Money is a consequence of these things done right. It is the fuel to be able to keep doing these things. But it is not the end goal.

Now, this "causality" might be tautological. Lots of our fast-growing companies get early acquisition offers. By definition, the founders that sell early don't go on to be our most successful.

But we've now chosen to look at "authenticity" of the founders as something to gauge before an investment. Is the business a creative extension of a long-standing interest? Or did they make a spreadsheet of the pros and cons of 30 different ideas? The latter teams often don't have the staying power to create greatness.