Steve Goldberg is a partner at Finistere Ventures, an early-stage venture fund focused on food, agriculture, and sustainably feeding the world. I learned so much in our first interview that it required at least this second article to share the best parts.
Most companies are on track to fail because they are building the wrong product
Most companies are on track to fail because they are building the wrong product. Some will pivot their way away to success. Others will not. Usually, we suggest achieving Pivot Prevention by talking to enough customers early in the process, but often that isn’t done well enough, or the world changes or something else goes wrong.
So you need to be prepared for the possible pivot and the earlier you are in your life cycle, the larger that possibility is. Steve thinks about people. Are the team members deeply knowledgeable in the space? Are they experienced? Do they have the ability to hire the people they might need? These attributes will give them a better chance of successfully pivoting. And the earlier he is investing the more important these things are.
I think about systems and methodologies and often speak of applying ideas from the field of Engineering in the Face of Irreducible Uncertainty. The very short form of that is, as early as possible think about directions you might have to pivot to. Then do a little bit of extra work early to avoid much larger amounts of work and delay later should you have to pivot. Don’t skimp in the wrong places. This type of thinking explains a large portion of the differential success of serial entrepreneurs.
While Steve asks do you have the best of all possible people, I was will sing in a Diana Ross style, “Do you know, where you may have to pivot to?”
Entrepreneur in residence at Founder Institute, he has mentored, performed due diligence on, and invested in numerous early-stage companies. Hundreds of these early stage companies have described Russell’s insights and advice as the most useful thing in the history of their companies. He has always had an inborn ability to find more valuable uses of new ideas and faster ways to achieve results.
Will the veteran-founded companies outperform the typical startup? Since The Veteran Fund is putting their money where their mouth is (or I think more properly their heart is), in a few years we will know.