CEO E. cheered from across the Pacific and CEO A. kept on driving forward his startup in Seoul. Both are startup CEOs leading their early stage ventures through the early launch stage of their new enterprises. Each has demonstrated that they have many of the skills of startup CEOs that I discussed in my blog of January 29, 2008.
One characteristic, resilience, has a cousin skill, persistence. E. and A. have shown that they have that skill.
In E.'s case, he has succeeded attaining a deal with a global strategic partner after months of heavy work by all the employees of his stealth startup. I cheered when I read his email last night. A few more of those and the "Wow" lights will start flashing around the world when the new enterprise becomes uncloaked. This company has what it takes to become the next Google of a new space. Stay tuned.
A. is in the middle of a large financing that will fuel the launch of a world-class product in Asia. He and his co-founder have been determined to succeed in a new entertainment space. The entire company has worked long hours very creatively and recently finished the first product. First-time viewers are amazed, breathless. The financial backers have wisely seen the persistence of A. as he and his co-founder have gotten so much done with so few resources.
Both of these CEOs know they have a long road to travel on their startup adventure. The goal is clear: go IPO in 3 to 4 years. Meanwhile, both will face setbacks as well as successes. That's where resiliency is needed in the CEO. Their lessons learned during their prior years of persistence will give them confidence they can get back on the horse and keep on riding, even after the inevitable-to-come bombshells land.
I admire startup CEOs. They do one of the most difficult jobs on the planet. They are hard to find. VCs know that best of all. And serial startup employees, those are very special talented humans who look for this kind of talent in CEOs.
BOTTOM LINE: Look for examples of persistence in the CEOs of startups you join or invest in. If you are presenting yourself as CEO, keep handy your personal stories of persistence. All the stakeholders want to hear about them. That will add a strong element to your unfair advantage.