While I am newbie in the tech world, I have worked really hard to immerse myself in the startup culture. And while my niche and community is in the commercial real estate sector which is a very young tech industry, I think I have a good handle on the way things work in tech.
As part of my job and personal mission to help create a thriving CRE tech industry, I literally meet with every startup I possible can. Hundreds to date, if not more.
My own experience building my own startups coupled with my observations of meeting with so many startup founders (the ones that are thriving and those just getting started) has led me to one central theme in the startup community...
That most of us have no fucking clue what we are doing and where we are headed!
Sounds a bit critical and harsh, I know. But it’s actually quite the opposite and one of best traits you can find in a Founder.
In my own experience, I had initially set out on a particular path. And then, opportunities came and I proceeded down different paths. And what I thought was going to work, often didn’t. And when people gave me feedback it was often a revelation and always an opportunity. An opportunity to let go of things I could have held onto because of my own ego. And as a result of never being too stubborn in my own beliefs and ideas and always listening and adopting, my businesses is growing faster than I ever imagined. Doubling in size every year since we have been in business.
And I think, actually I know, that the most successful startups typically follow that path. You start with a vision but you really never know how it will evolve until you start on the journey.
When I meet a Founder and they are so stubborn and possessive about their vision (despite feedback that might be contrary to their vision), it is a major warning sign to me.
But then sometimes I meet a founder who says they built something for “X” market but they are listening to their customers who think the market is actually “Y”. Now, that’s a sign of an entrepreneur I would invest in.
So much of the tech culture is bullshit. We make Founder's out to be these cult-like visionaries, when in fact, most are scared shitless but don’t have the courage to admit it. I get it that when you are fundraising you have to posture to raise money or convince your current investors all is “hunky dory”. But I really think that for many, the bullshit, over-hyped mentality never leaves them. And that’s a real danger. There are so many stories in the tech sector of startups that raised gazillions of dollars and then “poof”, they were gone. I honestly believe a lot of that has to do with no one really challenging the “bullshit meter”.
Give me a Founder with the courage to admit they don’t have all the answers but are listening to their customers and the market, and that’s a true leader to me. And it’s a company I would absolutely bet on!