Will it make the boat go faster?
As an investor in startups I want to see achievement over activity, good growth over hype and confidence in the long-term. But with the pace we’re expected to work at getting faster and faster, and in the search of more and more data, KPIs and OKRs it’s easy to miss that in the best startups there is often one (simple?) thing that drives everything else.
This simple thing is often overlooked by potential investors as it can seem monotonous, irrelevant and, at least in the first few years or so, not to be really doing anything. Examples of this are writing one blog post each and every day for years as an unknown, being obsessed with Sundays when everyone else thinks about Monday-Friday, and even hosting a meal a month for 10 years where the aim is to connect good people so they can go off and do stuff together.
However those metronomic activities can turn into a defensible moat and often compound to make the ‘boat go faster’, so if you come across a startup that appears to be doing something a bit odd then it’s a good idea to pause and ask yourself why.
Everyone is normal until you get to know them
This is also something I look for in founders: something they do regularly that makes them appear a bit unusual. Asking what they do on evenings and at weekends can reveal all sorts.
It turns out that founders who do odd things also don’t mind starting a startup that appears very obscure. Until it is obvious.
It also turns out that you don’t get to see this quiddity in a pitch deck or even at a first meeting — the founder might actually be a bit embarrassed about their thing. So you only discover it by quietly observing people, asking the right questions, gaining their trust and therefore seeing what makes them tick. Those unique insights can turn into a great way to evaluate startup founders.
In other news
One of my portfolio, Ayda, is raising £1m so let me know if you’re in the zone for some angel investing — just hit reply.
Ayda (headed up by Shifra, whom I’ve known since 2015) is a B2B SaaS research operations platform that powers teams to deliver superior user insights. They have 300+ clients from across the insights and advertising agency sectors, are handling £2.5m GTV (Gross Transaction Value) and have grown revenues 205% YoY.
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.