- Money is important for startups and in venture capital, but having a lot of it doesn’t make a company successful.
- What is actually in short supply is great people, those who can execute on ideas.
- To find and retain the best people requires not only paying them well, but ensuring that they are working on something that is impactful or meaningful to them.
AUSTEN ALLRED: When most people think about venture capital or startups, they think that the thing that makes a successful company is money, and that's definitely not the case. Money is necessary, but it does not make you a more successful company. What actually is in short supply is people, great people who can go from idea stage, who can execute. So long as there's money in the bank, everything else comes down to the people that you hire. And the only way to hire the best people is not only to pay them well, the best people can get money wherever they want. The only way is to help them work on something that's meaningful, something that's impactful. And I think that's something that a company actually can provide.
For the first few months, starting a company seems like a whole lot of fun. And then after a while you run into just problem after problem after problem. And every founder that I've talked to has gotten to the point where, you know, they question if it even makes sense to keep going. It's easy to over romanticize or over stigmatize people who are entrepreneurs or founders. An entrepreneur is neither a hero nor a villain. They're just someone who is willing to endure a lot of pain in order to see their vision become reality. It can be rewarding when it works. It can be brutally difficult along the way. One of the most difficult times for us was when coronavirus hit. All of a sudden, everybody froze hiring for a while. All of the students and all of the employees are wondering what's next. Some people were predicting it would be total economic collapse. And that was a terrifying time for everybody, but especially a company that makes money from people getting hired, it was particularly scary. That was a time when we really just had to dig deep within ourselves and do the best work that we could and hope it would all work out on the other side.
And what I think separates the greatest founders from those of us that are not so great, is they will just keep going through anything. There's so many lessons that we learned the hard way. Sometimes I don't know if there's another way to learn those lessons. Even if you have advisors and people telling you, you know, do this or don't do that, until you've actually done them, you don't fully understand that. The importance of hiring the right people and setting them loose, or the importance of focusing on doing a few things and not overextending yourself, you know even colloquially that those are the right things to do, but until you see the other side, until you've stumbled upon those stumbling blocks, you don't fully grasp just how right the people who are giving you that advice were. Sometimes there's no secret to being a successful founder that is more important than just keep going in an effort to make something people want.