I speak to groups fairly regularly about what I look for in an angel investing opportunity, and one of the key factors I always mention is a fantastic entrepreneur. Someone in the audience invariably asks what I mean when I say that. (In fact, I was triggered to post this because it happened most recently just today while speaking to a group of MBAs in an entrepreneurial finance class at Babson).
It is one of those hard-to-quantify areas where your gut and your experiences tend to guide you, so I’d be the first to acknowledge that I am relying on instinct to a large degree. People talk about first impressions, and they can be important, but in my experience, it can take a fairly long time, a number of meetings, and some reflection about the person to develop an accurate gut feeling about someone.
But what I can say with certainty is that when I have a good gut feeling, it is always based on the sense that the entrepreneur is:
- Very smart
- Honest, with high integrity
- High energy, with lots of drive, ambition and vision
- Skilled at dealing with people
- Coachable and willing to seek out and utilize help
- Persistent enough to kick a door down if need be
- Funny and in possession of a great perspective
- Experienced in the relevant areas, or in life in general.