Over the past few weeks - for no particular reason - my mind has been focused on the topic of unique product visions. Partly fueled by some recent thinking about MailChimp and Snapchat, I find myself thinking about what it means to have a truly contrarian view of the world.
With all of these thoughts swirling around in my head, this podcast caught my attention. Bill Gurley is one of the most respected VCs out there right now, having invested in startups like DogVacay, GrubHub, Nextdoor, OpenTable, Stitch Fix, Uber & Zillow.
At minute 44:19 he is asked about his investments that most excite him right now. He mentions Nextdoor, Stitch Fix & HackerOne. Then he discussed what is over heated and mentions online lending and VR that have become over-funded or over-hyped. In the midst of this he says that “most big startup breakouts are where most people aren’t paying attention.”
To expand on this topic, I would say...
Startup successes are mostly due to the founder(s). The more I learn about startups, the more I realize how important these individuals really are.
But just being a good founder isn’t enough. You also have to be incredibly passionate about the problem. So passionate that it’s all that you think about day & night. This kind of commitment is required to dedicate the necessary time and energy to make something new succeed.
Even after all of this, timing is super important. And this is the point Bill is making. Even if you are a good founder and even if you love the problem, high growth ideas need time to incubate because obvious “big ideas” would have been done already. Therefore it’s often the case that truly new ideas like Uber & AirBnB come out of nowhere. The founders have been thinking about and working on these concepts for a long time, but they often aren’t “hot” areas where investors and big companies are focused currently.
Founders focusing on (currently) unsexy areas isn't a strategy to win big on their part. They just happen to have an incredible passion for a space...an inch they have to scratch. Timing is usually just coincidence.
Get Right to the Lesson
I’d recommend listening to the entire thing, but to get right to the point go to minute 44:19 of this podcast.
Thanks to these folks for helping us all learn faster
Bill Gurley (@bgurley), VC at Benchmark (@benchmark)
Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) of Recode (@Recode)
Please let me and others know what you think about this topic
Email me privately at email@example.com or let's discuss publicly at @davempayne.
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