Be decisive and take action
This month marks my first anniversary in venture. I had the pleasure of sharing some of my learnings with Will Beeson on his Rebank podcast a few weeks ago. I also wrote about some of them a few months back. But I didn't go too deep into one of the most important aspects – founders.
Everyone knows the qualities that entrepreneurs tend to have. Successful founders are usually some combination of confident, passionate, adaptable, persistent, persuasive, determined, and brave. All true. But there are two in particular that have proven to be especially critical, perhaps the most critical. From my short time in venture, during this challenging climate, the founders I've backed have proven to be decisive with a bias for action – from the perspective of acting on those decisions as well as shipping product. And doing so has leapfrogged them to places that give them unique opportunities and advantages to win. Both would be in scarier places had they not made big decisions and acted quickly on them. As an analytical person, I wouldn't have had the courage to move as quickly (reason #231 why I'm not a founder, but love working with them).
Example: Luabase > Definite
The whole story here isn't mine to tell, so I'll eventually link to Mike Ritchies content, where he lays it all out for everyone. But in short, we led the Luabase seed round last Spring. Mike assembled a world-class team and built a best-in-class product with paying customers who raved about the product. Things were going so well that he was gearing up to raise a series A when he decided to hard pivot to something with a larger target market and vulnerable incumbents. And just like they did with Luabase, they worked day and night for a few months to get an initial version of Definite live, and it's awesome. Imagine working super hard on something, living and breathing it, bringing in revenue in the first 6 months, getting incredible reviews, but scrapping it to start over on something else because you think it can be even better and bigger. It's a gorgeous example of acting quickly on a big decision, and shipping product at an insanely high velocity.
Example: Gamma btc ordinals
I was most attracted to the vision at Gamma.io (fka STXNFT) last year because of their passion for making bitcoin more productive, which has been largely contrarian, especially during the mania of 2021. They mainly focused on Stacks but were never dogmatic about the chains and tools they'd leverage to make their vision a reality. They're what I call a pragmatic product team. So it was no surprise when they quickly jumped on the opportunity to create critical tooling for Ordinal Inscriptions shortly after being introduced to the world. And they're not letting up – their product velocity has increased each week since the initial launch. It's nice to see things fall into place for this team in a way they knew was possible but without exact clarity of the catalyst. Their decisiveness to abandon their roadmap and in-flight development items to jump on Ordinals will prove to be game-changing for them.
You're up against the clock as a founder of a seed-stage company. Roadmaps and plans are good, but you always need to think big and, ultimately, need to trust your gut.
Be decisive, act, and keep the product velocity high.
I’m an investor at Costanoa Ventures, an early-stage firm focused mostly on fintech, data infrastructure, vertical saas, crypto, applied ai, and developer tools. You can get in touch with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.