When I invest in startups I’m investing in the founder(s) over the idea

by jeffhilimire on July 30, 2013

I’m a big believer in betting on the person over the idea of the startup. Every startup I’ve invested in has been because of the founder(s) rather than the business plan. When we created Shotput Ventures in 2009 that was our big focus, betting on the teams vs. the idea (though we wanted good ideas as well). My original business partner who created Spunlogic with me in college recently wrote about the same idea on his blog.

In the clip below, Louis CK (my favorite comedian and a pioneer in television + tech) talks about the deal he has with FX for his show, Louie. Essentially when he struck the deal with them they said they’d give him $200,000 per episode (which is ridiculously low, remember at one point actors on the show Friends were making $1 million per episode…each) and he could just do whatever he wanted to do. They didn’t get to see a script, know what the story was, know who was going to be in it, nothing. I don’t believe there has ever been a deal struck like this in television. They believed in him and were placing a bet not on his concept but on his ability to create a great product. And it worked.

And Mark Suster – a great VC and entrepreneur who I’ve written about lately – talks about betting on people over ideas in this video:

Creating something from nothing, which is how I describe a startup, is one of the hardest things to do in business. And I think it takes a special kind of person to pull something like that off. Let’s take these two scenarios: A) A great idea and a sub-par founder or B) A mediocre idea and a terrific founder, I’m taking B all day long.

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