Thanks for The Social Network, we now have more entrepreneur wannabes than athletes hopefuls. In fact, one can argue the startup VC/accelerator scene is nerds’ version of AAU basketball. However, for young athletes, you can kind of tell how good they will become by their 40 yard-dash, wingspan, vertical, three-point %, etc. For young wannapreneurs, what do we have? The IQ test or SAT scores are as useful as a Best Buy Salesman in judging entrepreneurial potentials. Do we have anything tangible to predict their future success?
Publishers like Forbes or Inc. haven’t stopped trying. They pump out lists for successful entrepreneurs’ characteristics the same rate mice breed baby mice. You hear buzz words like ‘communication’, ‘vision’, ‘leadership’, ‘kickasseality’, etc. OK, I made the last one up. However, when you looked at Marc Zuckerberg at 19 or Jack Dorsey at 21, they looked nothing like the superheroes they are today. We don’t have an 800 score that you can show someone that says “yes, invest in me, and you’ll be the next Marc Andreessen”.
Moreover, the lack of tangible measurement often affects entrepreneurs more than others. We all dream to be the next Steve Jobs (without the dying young part), but do we know we have the stuffs? What stuff do we need to have? And how much?
Paul Graham and YCombinator have in a way revolutionized the angel investment industry with the institutionalization of entrepreneurial’ talent prediction. However, most investors/accelerators still rely on essays, interviews, anecdotes, gut-feelings and the Law of Large Numbers to make investment decisions. Now, that’s a worse way than stock-picking, college student admissions and the NFL draft, where they all have some tangible data as measurement or at least reference. Is it possible that someone can come up with a test or index that can make more reliable predictions on one’s entrepreneurial potentials? It will be not only helpful for investors, but for entrepreneur too. At least we will know what we need to work on personal wise.