Vetting an idea is one thing. Vetting a human being is something else entirely.
The vetting process for ideas is relatively simple. Come up with a series of questions. If the answers are unsatisfactory, you can safely assume an idea probably won’t be profitable.
But how do you vet a person? We think there are certain traits, which, if present in sufficient quantities, are indicators of great entrepreneurial potential. Here’s a rough list of the qualities we think are important:
This is one of the key characteristics of an entrepreneur. Being able to persevere in the face of adversity is crucial for success. But there is more to grit than just perseverance. Sometimes it means having the resolve to solve problems that lie outside of your comfort zone and skill set, and other times it’s knowing when to approach a problem from a new direction.
Regardless of who you’re dealing with — be they partners, teammates, or customers — adherence to industry ethics and personal morals is a must.
Listen and respond to customers’ needs. Build products that solve the problems they have, rather than spend energy building things they don’t need and then trying to convince them they do.
It should go without saying that anything worth doing is worth doing right. (Surprisingly, this is a quote from Hunter S. Thompson. Who knew?)
The ability to stay on target and avoid distractions — be they other projects or cat videos — is an underrated skill in today’s work environment.
As a leader, you must ultimately be accountable to your customers, investors, partners and employees. Learning how to shoulder this responsibility with openness and grace is an important skill.
Change happens fast and dealing with uncertainty is a fact of life. Coping with the challenge of scaling a business up (or sometimes down) and knowing when it’s time to pivot is a must.
But how do you measure all these qualities?
So how exactly should we measure these traits in applicants to SPV’s startup studio program? Would it make sense to require applicants to take a psychological survey like, say, the Big Five Personality Test? Could we then correlate the results to candidates with the most positive exits?
For now, we’ve decided to trust our character assessments and to anecdotally track our success with entrepreneurs. Time will tell if we need a more rigorous system.