Nicole has been with Techstars since its earliest days and is currently Chief Investment Strategy Officer.
One of my secret weapons is identifying talented entrepreneurs before anyone else, and I’ve been doing this at Techstars for the past decade. For me, founders’ ideas aren’t worth much, but their motivation and vision are what sets founders apart. To better understand founders and their motivations, I like to ask two simple questions.
- You could work on any idea in the world. Why this one?
- Where do you see this company going?
Every person can string some words together to answer those two questions, but I’m looking for answers that indicate a founder is driven by belief rather than desire. Let me provide a tangible example of a company that came in with a belief—a vision—but could easily have settled for a desire.
One of the companies that participated in the Techstars Boulder accelerator in 2012 was DigitalOcean, founded by brothers Ben and Moisey Uretsky. They were born in Russia, moved to the United States when they were small, grew up in New York City, and had already created a successful web hosting business together. You could imagine how interesting their relationship was! But because they were brothers, because they knew how to “work it out,” and because they had already been in business together in a relevant industry, I knew they had the ingredients for a great startup.
Here were two founders, brothers, ...