Entrepreneurs like venture capitalist Theresia Gouw prove there are countless ways for people to start and grow their own businesses. Gouw has been involved in launching, funding and advising a slew of high-growth technology companies across different verticals.
A highly influential venture capitalist, she has supported the founders of some of the world’s most successful companies, investing in a total of more than 150 companies. She has also been named on the Forbes Midas List seven times as one of the most successful investors in the world.
Gouw became the first female investor at Palo Alto, Calif.-based venture capital firm Accel Partners in the 1990s. She went on to become the firm’s first female managing partner and first female mentor.
After leaving Accel in 2014, Gouw co-founded venture firm Aspect Ventures, and five years later she founded a second, Acrew Capital. Both were backed by Melinda Gates through her foundation, and today the two firms are among a growing number of female-led VC firms.
Theresia Gouw’s top 7 attributes that successful business owners use to achieve their goals:
- Different viewpoints
Data shows that organizations do their best when they have ethnic and gender diversity at the executive and board levels. Melody Meckfessel, co-founder of data visualization software company Observable, observes higher creativity, better products and the capability to ship more quickly when supervising diverse teams of software developers and other employees. Meckfessel says that she had the same experience while working 15 years at Google.
- Accountability to core principles
Establish core values for your company. They will provide a foundation to the entire organization. After deciding these core principles, you must hold the entire company accountable to following them.
Gusto, a human resources software company, conducts evaluations of candidates based on motivations and values. Co-founder Josh Reeves find that embedding the organization’s values into its evaluation process ensures the company's dedication to those principles.
Organizations that succeed must be flexible and adaptable enough to meet well changing customer requirements and an evolving marketplace.
HotelTonight co-founder Sam Shank observed that travel websites had been optimized to search on desktop or laptops, and that mobile apps were simply a shrunken-down variant. He developed his product based on customers' increasing volume of travel bookings on mobile devices After designing HotelTonight for the Android and iPhone from day one, Shank took the bold step of not even having web-booking capability in his first year. Airbnb acquired the company in 2019 for a reported $400 million.
Companies must not be afraid to try anything new and tend to view "failing fast" as better than not experimenting with new initiatives.
Tom Chavez, the co-founder of privacy and compliance company Ketch, conducts small experiments demonstrating who Ketch's customers are and why they choose the company. In recent months, the Ketch team has undertaken five campaigns to find and engage with buyers. Out of five, four initiatives failed, but the single campaign that worked changed the way how people see experimentations, as it actually worked.
- Passionate founders
Successful entrepreneurs form companies because they are passionate about achieving a need that is not presently being addressed and in developing a product or service that fills the gap.
Shlomo Kramer was so passionate about cybersecurity that he built three companies addressing market demand in infrastructure and security. Kramer’s first two companies, Check Point and Imperva, went public. His latest venture is Cato Networks, the first secure enterprise network released as a cloud service.
- Inspirational leaders
Rather than just communicating a company's goals and mission, successful leaders encourage team members to join them on their company's journey.
When other fintech founders were developing products that worked for themselves, the co-founder of Chime, Chris Britt, was building a platform that worked for most Americans. Britt's fundamental belief in the opportunity was to make a bank that could actually help its members experiences healthier financial lives, which inspired a large team of individuals to help him realize that concept. At present, Chime is the most-valuable consumer financial tech company to offer fee-free mobile banking services in the U.S.
- Shared wins
Businesses should be run in a manner that all employees, stakeholders, shareholders and customers share the company's progress.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Solv Health adapted its on-demand SaaS platform and implemented a network of health care providers to enable consumers to register for COVID-19 tests and virtual care. CEO Heather Fernandez says the platform has helped over 5 million Americans get tested, a shared win for all of Solv's stakeholders.
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