The capability of the management team is a key consideration for us when assessing new investments opportunities.  It takes talented, motivated people to make businesses successful.  You therefore need to prove to us that YOU can make this work – with a little guideance and support.  In our view a great team has three key characteristics. All three are rarely found in one person, though by no means impossible. We know we’ve found the right team when we can identify:

  • The product guy (gender neutral use of the term!)
  • The door kicker
  • The business guru

The ideal product guy
These are the most common “entrepreneurs / inventors” knocking at our doors. Often coming from an industry they’ve worked in for a while and, while pondering life, the universe and everything, hit a “eureka” moment – the killer idea. Product guys are experts in their field, technically proficient and are very knowledgeable on product’s competition.  Every great business needs a product champion.
The ideal door kicker
A great door kicker is worth their weight in gold. These people don’t know the meaning of humiliation, nor does the word “tomorrow” exist in their vocabulary (unless preceded with “so, I’ll pick up the contract”). They add credibility to any proposition because more often than not they have spoken to most of their potential customers and got the answer to the most elusive of all investment questions “so who would buy your product/offering”. When you’re looking for investment, being able to show that you’ve engaged with your potential customers speaks volumes.  Every great business need a great door kicker.
The business guru
When starting up a venture you need to decide whether you go for “high growth” or go for organic growth. High growth businesses tend to be “top down” (set out a 5 year plan and follow it) while organic businesses tend to be bottom up (decide on next year based on current resources/finances).  Investors will usually only invest in high growth businesses in order that they can see some chance of getting their investment returns, within their lifetime (see 30X returns). A good business guru understands high growth and is able to smooth the way for the business, ensuring that:

  • A high growth strategy is in place (and achievable)
  • It’s path is well communicated (within the venture and to Investors) through business plans, investment memorandums and cashflow forecasts
  • Strong governance skills exist to ensure the venture has all the checks and processes in place to run a tight ship. As the growth kicks in, these processes and checks will be critical to its success.
  • This person will usually end up being the Chief Executive of the business (so if its not you, you need to be prepared to be flexible)

You don’t need to have all these bits in place on day one.  However, you do need to show good awareness of your strengths and weaknesses, and an ability to build a team that has these attributes.
Finally, it’s worth remembering the old adage “a great team can do good things with an average idea, but an average team can kill a good idea”.