We just got back from the Global Accelerator Conference in Santa Monica, CA. It’s a meeting held once per year with the top accelerators in the world. We share knowledge, data, stats and networks. It was a great event to say the least.
One of the biggest topics of the event was the common qualities to look for in startup teams. There is actually a trend that is forming and we thought we would post this, since we will be opening applications soon (January 1st). We want everyone to know what types of teams (historically) have been the most successful of the thousands around the world.
This was by far the most important quality. We assumed that it would be intelligence or creativity, but it turns out this is further down the list. Don’t get me wrong, intelligence definitely matters, but only to a certain point. The amount of road blocks you are going to hit, you have to be able to fall and get back up, and not lose speed during that process. One of my favorite videos that describes the type of determination we are talking about is here.
Being flexible is always the toughest to learn for most entrepreneurs. On one side they are hearing “Don’t give up” and on the other they are hearing “pivot”, “go a different direction”, etc. Think of it as modifying your vision, not giving up on it. A metaphor we hear in the industry that makes the most sense is a running back in football. Sometimes you have to go sideways and even backwards in order to gain yards, but you can’t lose your determination in the process. This sounds easier than it really is, especially for young entrepreneurs.
Albert Einstein may have put it best, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” In the startup world, most good ideas seem bad or are almost funny initially. If they were obvious, someone would already be doing them. So maybe you need to be a little crazy.
Not just internet hackers…Life hackers. The most successful founders are typically good people, but tend to have a naughty look in their eye. This one caught us off guard initially, but after the explanation it made perfect sense. They don’t necessarily break all the rules, just the one’s that matter. They can think outside the box. When on your team, you always seem to feel like you have some weird advantage. Tim Ferriss became wildly successful by breaking the rules of people’s bodies, minds, and workweeks. Have you ever beat the system to your advantage?
Most big, successful, business have had two or three founders and they all are typically great friends. Startups get slapped around a lot. You must genuinely like each other, and work well together or the wedge will only get larger as the hardships stack up. Plus, you’re around one other a lot. Seed Sumo’s four founders have been friends since 5th grade. We always seem to be thinking the same things and finishing each others sentences.