LA tech guru and ex-MySpace CEO reveals the 2 keys to successful startups

As the head of a tech incubator called Science, ex-MySpace CEO Michael Jones has helped launch a ton of companies like Dollar Shave Club and DogVacay.

He’s invested in some of these startups, mentored others, and built many from the ground up.

His experience with startups has revealed two big qualities that distinguish companies that actually succeed from the rest: quality managers and a solid audience.

“I’ve seen a lot of companies with a great service fail because they couldn’t find an audience,” Jones told Business Insider. “I’ve almost never seen a company fail when they had a great audience, but couldn’t build the service.”

Jones looks for that built-in audience when evaluating promising new concepts and businesses, and if there’s not an existing audience, the team tries to find one.

“We typically do rapid prototyping on concepts and a ton of market research. We do a lot of live testing,” Jones said. “We move to paid marketing as fast as we can, as a proxy for what marketing looks like at scale. We test levels of virality.”

If they still can’t figure out their target customer base, it’s often a signal to move on from the concept.

The quality of a company’s management also determines success because human beings appeal to investors even more than concepts do. Here’s Jones’ reasoning why:

“A great business with poor management will create a poor company,” he said. “Great management with a poor company will find its way to a great company.”

Jones and Science live that philosophy. When companies with great management fail, Science will often work with the team to find a new concept to build.

More often than not, the second or third try results in a thriving business.

“No matter how much analysis on a market or how many great strategies you bring to the table,” Jones says, “if you don’t have phenomenal entrepreneurs and leaders to build these companies, they are worth absolutely nothing.”

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