Articles and Advice

Betting on The Jockey, Not the Horse – The Importance of Creating an Awesome Team

Any entrepreneur can turn a good idea into a success. But a great entrepreneur has the ability to turn a mediocre idea into a success. And that’s the magic an investor is looking for.

It’s the “bet on the jockey, not the horse” theory and it’s something that most investors wholeheartedly believe in. The concept was explored a few years back by US seed investment incubator, Y Combinator.  The company announced it was accepting startup applications from startup entrepreneurs without an idea. They were placing all their bets on the jockey.

Y Combinator recognised the fact that the most important ingredient in building a good business is good people. If you put a good team of people together in a room, then pretty soon they will come up with the sort of ideas marketable, profitable businesses are born from. Queenstown recently saw this concept brought to fruition with the Startup Weekend.

When investors look at where to put their money, the biggest call they make is on the person standing in front of them. A savvy investor knows that even if an idea is only moderately good, a great entrepreneur with a great team can make it an outstanding success. And likewise, a mediocre entrepreneur will make a mess out of what could have been a brilliant business.

The difference between an idea and a business…

The difference between an idea and a business….is the entrepreneur behind it. Anyone can have an idea. In fact, millions of people have ideas each day (not many of them will be original). But its the execution that takes an idea and turns it into something that goes on to become a product… a customer base…a team of staff… and a profit for stakeholders. Creating something from nothing is what happens when entrepreneurs do their magic.

If you want to be the kind of jockey investors want to ride with, here are 5 traits you should have:

  1. Know how to start from scratch. There are a lot of obstacles on the road to startup glory. Investors want to work someone who knows what they’re in for. Someone who has the drive to create something out of nothing, is able to take a few knocks along the way and can handle constructive criticism.
  2. You’re nimble. Whilst being steadfast to your vision is commendable, so is being able to react if things aren’t right. If a particular strategy or target market is not working, it’s better to have the ability to pivot quickly and efficiently before the project becomes dead in the water.
  3. You’ve done this before. If you know the industry or if you know the customer base, you’ll give an investor greater confidence. An investor knows the huge value of an established network of contacts and they’ll go for someone with those connections every time.
  4. You’ve got the team. A professional, dedicated team with the right qualifications and discipline will give any investor a confidence boost. Show an investor that you and your team can meet deadlines and hit objectives and you’ll be on your way to a great partnership.
  5. You’re good to be around. It’s human nature to want to spend time with someone we find likable. Being of good character and showing good leadership skills will makes you appealing. Show you can handle the advice (or criticism) with wisdom and grace.

Show yourself and your skills in the best possible light at that important investor presentation and you will be well on your way to raising the next round of funding. By being a good leader and impressive entrepreneur you are laying the best possible foundations for the culture of your organisation.

Start as you mean to go on.