Can they hustle?
Anything. But not everything
Did you use CD Baby in the late 90s? Derek Sivers, the founder, just seems like such a lovely bloke — see my Twitter thread here about his latest give-away. That thread made me re-watch this awesome video about how the best founders get hustling to get going.
If you’re talking to a founder and considering investing in their company, here are some things I’ve seen in the past that point towards someone who can hustle their way to getting shit done:
They negotiate and do deals, even on small things. One of the best pieces of advice I got from Mark Adams years ago was that if I was running an event to promote something then make it a ‘negative cost marketing event’. That phrase stuck with me. So even now, if a startup is doing a launch event I see if the founder makes it a ‘negative cost’ event or thinks that they just have to spend a certain budget. ‘Negative cost’, as in, most accept that it should be a cost but the best founders make money from it — entry fee, sponsorship, or at the very least, free.
They look in places other people don’t. All startups want to hire the best talent, and quickly. But most startups are looking in all the usual places. What ‘hacks’ does the founder use? Maybe they do what Dan did (see here).
They are independent-minded1. Often founders pitch their ideas in a way that they think investors want to hear — their business model is conventional, as is their mission statement and their growth strategy. The best founders are truly independent-minded and can pitch crazy ideas with obscure business models in a simple way that attracts independent-minded investors and filters out conventional-minded ones. They also leave room for accidents or chaos — by having a fondness for the ridiculous they never know what will happen with whom or when, but the best things often come from the strangest places2.
What resource do they have that others don’t? While I’ve nothing against it, it’s unlikely that the innovative business model or superior growth strategy is going to come from TechCrunch. Is the founder in any obscure networks, clubs or Slack channels? What do they do and who do they talk to at evenings and weekends?
In other news
I’ve been taking William Green on runs — his new podcast anyway. If you’ve read a lot of my posts you’ll know that I’ve learned a great deal from Value Investors such as Guy Spier, Warren Buffett and Bill Ackman — William met, interviewed and studied those investors and many others over the last 25-odd years.
William is a terrific interviewer and it shows, he has a great gift and really gets his guests to open up.
Important: None of these posts are investment advice. If you are thinking about investing you should seek the advice of a suitably qualified independent advisor.
Famously penicillin, but also microwaves, velcro, even the Big Bang.