Paul Graham just posted some ideas on what kind of startups he'd like to fund on the YCombinator blog. I suppose if you're already working in these areas, that's great news for you, but to be honest, if you're not passionate about one of these things already, I never believed in the idea of just methodically picking picking a sector to start something in. Fabrice seems to be doing a bangup job at it, though, so I could be totally wrong (although his passion seems to be the methodology and the process itself, though).
Anyway,this isn't the first time one of these lists has popped up before--and I'm sure it sends a lot of entrepreneurs scrambling. In order to provide balance in The Force, I thought it might be better to tell all the VCs some ideas about what kind of partner I'd like to fund Path 101. Let the VC's scramble around!
So here goes:
1) We're looking for a partner who is really passionate about helping people find their callings--someone who is looked at by others as a great mentor and actively contributes their career wisdom to others. If we're talking about our career advice tool and you have to ask, "Why would anyone answer someone else's career questions?" that means you don't actually provide that advice yourself when you get random e-mails from your school's alumni or people from your blog, etc. We want someone who knows what it was like to not know what you wanted to do and feels like we can really make a big impact by helping people with their career.
2) We want someone who really believes in backing people. Our product will take many public iterations before it ever feels "complete" and there are still many unanswered questions left that we will only be able to address over time. That means, at the end of the day, you've got a team and a market. We're sure the market of "people who aren't sure what to do with their careers" is pretty huge, so that leaves you with team as the real bet--and so we need to feel like our team has the confidence and support of our investors.
3) Someone with access to domain knowledge in our market. It will be some time before we build the recruiting inroads to our userbase, but it would be extraordinarily useful to be able to regularly pick the brain of someone who knows the space or can open up the right doors here. That's true for any startup--having a resource to go to in order to help grease the biz dev or acquisition wheels is seriously value add.
4) We want a user--someone who participates in the social web to the point where we say, "and this is how it plugs into people's blogs" they'll get it because they blog or know how they work, not just because "blog" is a buzzword.
5) Someone fun! I need to be able to pick on you via Twitter. If we can't laugh about something, hit up a ballgame, or just kick back and genuinely enjoy each other's company, it's going to make things a heck of a lot harder. We have a fun team (in a geeky sort of way) and we get along with each other really well. Our backers are going to be joining that team and need to be able to get along with us.
6) A partner who can get their whole firm on board. Obviously some level of this has to be attained to get a deal done, but sometimes partners change and other times, different partners or junior folks have something to contribute. I'd like to be able to walk into my VC's office and have just about anyone there be interested in talking to me--and not have to feel like I'm waiting for just one person.
7) Someone principled and ethical. We're in this because we want to make an impact on people's lives--because the difference in your life between hating what you do and really finding where you fit is huge. We also think it can be successful, but that's not going to be from taking advantage of others or squeezing every last dime. I want to feel like we're in good hands with a trustworthy partner and that's what I think I can offer in return.
In return, a VC will get a team that is extremely dedicated and passionate about solving a big mainstream problem with creative, appropriate solutions, that works really hard, and that they can trust in return.
Anything else I should be looking for?