I decided to write this post about champions. That's what I call entrepreneurs who can build a company worth a billion or more.
Why venture capital investors are looking for potential Champions?
It's simple, they need those who in 5–10 years will be able to be the leader of a new market segment, who will generate revenue or potential revenue and who will be able to break through a lot of problems:
- Understanding the values that the company gives to the consumer;
- Searching for the fastest or the cheapest channel to deliver this value;
- Raising not smart-money
- Market trends' changing
I would like to draw an analogy with sports. I am a Master of Sports and vice-champion of Russia in ballroom dancing in 2011.
I danced with a girl until I was 18. When I started at 8 years in Sochi, it was hard. There were no dances in the region, all dance teachers were in Moscow, it was very expensive. Classes cost 50–100 euros for 45 minutes, I had to pay 30 thousand rubles to sew a new tailcoat. Parents' salary was about 15–20 thousand rubles and strongly limited my opportunities. I thought so at first. But then I realized that I do not need to take 20 classes, each for 100 euros, it is enough to take 1–2 classes per month and the rest of the time to devote to independent work in the hall. For 10 years in dance I overcame a lot: change of partners, injuries, politics, etc. But one thing I found out for myself. If I gave up after 5 years (at that time my partner and I were not even the first in Sochi), or after 7 years (back then we took 12th place in the Russian championship), we would not have reached our goal.
Not that I wanted to spend a minute talking about my sports career. But there is an obvious analogy with a start-up. Dance was our product, the thrill of the audience from what they see was our value, the contracts and the cost of an hour of teaching were our capitalization. Different dancers can earn from 500 to 10 000 rubles per hour during their career or after it.
My dance teacher is the best venture capitalist. She was gathering us all over Sochi, singling out and shaping the individuality of those who were able to reach the final and worked all day in the hall. She was looking for the best qualities and talents in us and just developing them. At certain point, she realized that we need to develop wider. She attracted 10 more coaches from all over the world who were working with us.
My check list for a potential startup champion:
1. He clearly understands the goals of the start-up;
2. He sees the market, the development of the company, products and technologies for 10 years ahead and has his own opinion and vision;
3. He put together a team which is able to make the best technology, product and sales — the best for a start-up — they do faster, bigger, smarter in their area of responsibility. They are motivated not to work for money, but because they create a company that will change the world and the lives of specific people will become better;
4. He doesn't give up if he can't. It does not matter whether it is a start-up or a music school in childhood. If it was initially important for him, but it ceased to be obtained in the process of achieving the goal and he just decided to change the scope for reasons depending on him. Do not be confused with the fact that the market has ceased to be a venture, and you are still creating a social network in 2018, which is better than Facebook because of stickers;
5. He knows how to find the best people, motivate them (not to be confused with the motivation to increase market wages three times) and develop;
6. He is able to hear consumers, partners, mentors, competitors, and other stakeholders and use their experience for own purposes;
7. He's ready to work a lot. Even when it seems to him that he has a "perfect" team and it will do everything itself, and he only needs to be included sometimes. Remember that somewhere in the valley or Asia sits the same founder who works for 15–20 hours. And his team is not worse.