For some people, the desire to become an entrepreneur precedes the specific idea for a business.
Aileen Lee, a venture capitalist that has been assessing tech companies for more than 15 years, says this is the wrong way to go about it.
As the founder and partner of Cowboy Ventures, Lee has set about understanding what makes US-based software companies valued at $1 billion or more so successful.
She coined the term “unicorn” in a November 2013 TechCrunch post to describe these companies, noting that it’s really hard, and highly unlikely, to build or invest in a billion dollar company.
Based on her extensive experience, Lee tells The New York Time’s Adam Bryant that she doesn’t think starting a company should be a goal.
“It really has to come from a place of having an insight about a problem that you personally have a connection to, or a problem that you see customers are having where you feel like you’ve got a mousetrap that’s much better — not marginally better — than what’s out there already,” Lee says.
“Starting a company and being a founder is really hard, and most companies fail,” she explains. “You really have to have a deep commitment and belief in it and be willing to see it through many ups and downs.”
Lee says she’s often sceptical of people who say, “I’ve decided to start something, and I’ve spent the last year getting a lot of different ideas, and I’ve settled on this one.”
“I just don’t think that’s the right formula,” she tells Bryant.
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