One Thing Successful Start-ups Have in Common

By Wayne Mulligan, on Thursday, July 7, 2016

Many things can help make an early-stage company successful…

From creating the right product at the right time (like Uber), to creating an inspiring advertising campaign (like Apple’s “1984” commercial for the Macintosh.)

But if you dig deeper, you’ll find one variable that’s always there:

A successful start-up has the right founders.

In fact, there’s a certain attribute a founder can have…

And if he has it, he’ll get my investment dollars almost every time.

Mercenaries vs. Missionaries

Some start-up founders are “mercenaries.”

Mercenaries are opportunists:

When they see an opening in a market—a chance to make some money—they start a business to take advantage of it.

This approach is logical, and occasionally it can lead to success.

But another type of founder is far more likely to be successful—and far more worthy of our investment dollars:

I call these founders “missionaries.”

Instead of looking for opportunities to make some quick money, missionaries create a new business because they feel they have to.

They’re trying to create a solution for a problem they’re experiencing personally:

Solving that problem becomes their mission.

Why We Prefer Missionaries

I’m not alone in my preference for backing missionaries…

Fred Wilson, founder of Union Square Ventures, feels the same way.

Union Square Ventures is one of the most successful venture funds in the country.

It funded companies like Twitter, Tumblr and Etsy when they were just getting off the ground.

As Fred recently stated, “We prefer to invest in [missionaries] because there is an extra something going for a founder who starts with a mission. It leads to more tenacity, more passion, more feel for the product and market, and ultimately a higher probability of success.”

Simply put, when it comes to business success, passion and tenacity can be more important than anything else.

Our Most Recent Investment

Our most recent investment in a medical device start-up illustrates this point perfectly...

One of the main reasons we invested is because of its “missionary” founder.

You see, the founder didn’t start this business because he saw money signs…

He started this company in order to save his son’s life.

When his son was 11-months-old, he was diagnosed with a devastating illness.

And for the past 16 years, this father has worked tirelessly to create a device that could help save his son.

And now, after all that time, this company’s device is in the final stages of receiving FDA approval.

Given the constant challenges of a start-up, a “mercenary” would have given up years ago and looked for greener pastures.

But because the founder of this medical device company has a deeply personal interest in finding a solution, he just kept pushing forward.

These are the types of founders we like to invest in—and these are the types of founders we encourage you to invest in.

In fact, if you’re a subscriber to our premium research service, Private Market Profits, maybe you’ve already invested in this medical device company alongside us.

If you’re not a Private Market Profits subscriber, and you’re interested in learning more, click here »

Currently, membership is closed. But if you’d like, you can join our waiting list. That way, you can be notified when spots open up—and be notified when we find our next “missionary” founder.

To join the waiting list, click the link at the bottom of this page »

Happy investing.

Best Regards,
Wayne Mulligan
Wayne Mulligan


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to updates:

Sign-up today and you'll receive our daily insights on early-stage investing, as well as our FREE "Equity Crowdfunding Action Kit" – where you'll learn:

  • The Ins & Outs of Equity Crowdfunding
  • A step-by-step path to get started
  • Tips from dozens of Venture Capitalists
subscribe to updates

Thank you for subscribing!

Tags: Start-up Investing

Share This:
comments powered by Disqus