I believe in the genius of the Universe and I am prepared to accept the idea that everyone within the universal sphere is also a genius of some sort. If this idea is true in general, then in the venture world, where ideas quickly translate into economic value, I expect genius to be even more observable. As an investor, I see a lot of ideas that I will not invest in because they are too narrow, too small, or too safe. What gives me comfort in saying “no” to teams that present these ideas is not the size and scale of the idea, because ideas in and of themselves can be redesigned. I say “no” because I see startup ideas as the collective output of a founding team and I never want to invest in a team that plays small. If you want me to get excited about your idea then you must show me an exciting idea.
I know there is a tremendous urge to look at the last big venture exit or the hot new company and take the “pattern matching” approach to entrepreneurship. I’ve seen so many companies that profess they will be the next Uber, Facebook, or even Google. This approach can be beneficial if it truly provides answers to an unmet need in the market, but many of these ideas are simply copycats and that strategy does not resonate with me. So my advice to entrepreneurs is to find your genius and sell me that.
I realize that many entrepreneurs do not know what their genius is and I cannot tell you how to uncover it. I can tell you that you will know it when you feel it. I can also tell you that I know it when I see it because it is unmistakably big and the electricity that it produces can neither be ignored nor faked. Genius is undeniable. We all have it in us. I encourage every entrepreneur to take the time to find your genius because it is your best chance of getting investors to say “yes.” Do not be so quick to follow the crowd because as a great mind once said, “the privilege of a lifetime is in being yourself.”