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4 Traits of A Category Defining Company

There is a lot of talk about creating “category-defining companies” in the modern business world. Brady Bohrmann of Avalon Ventures defines four common characteristics in the founders of truly category-defining companies, passion sitting at the top of the list.

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4 Traits of A Category Defining Company

  1. 1. 4 Traits of a Category Defining Company by Brady Bohrmann, Partner at Avalon Ventures
  2. 2. About Brady Bohrmann Brady has over 20 years of experience as a venture capitalist and operating executive in both information technology and biotech. His focus is on early-stage investments and backing talented entrepreneurs. Throughout his venture capital career, he has worked with over 75 companies. He currently is a director or observer of many Avalon portfolio companies, including Backupify, Chart.io, Cloudant, Inc., Conjur, Indix, Juliet Marine Systems, Kaltura, Kinvey, Memrise, Nanigans, Pingup, Redbooth, Selectable Media, Simulmedia, The Happy Cloud, Twinstrata and Vook.
  3. 3. There is a lot of talk about category-defining companies… If you’ve ever heard a new company described as, “we’re the Uber of…” then you know this to be true.
  4. 4. Valuations and Innovation Immensely creative new technologies are being rewarded with historically high valuations. • What does this mean for entrepreneurs? • Should that change how you approach founding your company? It shouldn’t.
  5. 5. What it takes to start and build a game-changing company:
  6. 6. 1. Founders have passion Category-defining companies are typically built by entrepreneurs with a deep-rooted passion behind it. They are at a point in their life and career where building a company is a noble endeavor and a natural part of their life’s arc.
  7. 7. An example Take Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter, for example. Dorsey can trace the origin of the idea for Twitter back to his childhood hobby of listening to police radio scanners.
  8. 8. 1. Founders have passion Compare Dorsey’s story to a few people sitting around a whiteboard attempting to find a new idea from a handful of pre-existing ideas.
  9. 9. 1. Founders have passion Unlike entrepreneurs who simply try to replicate and alter existing business models, founders with a deep connection to an idea know exactly what they need to sustain themselves when times get tough.
  10. 10. 1. Founders have passion If an entrepreneur lacks passion, what will nourish them to continue on, especially when it’s not obvious that they should?
  11. 11. 2. They don’t set out to build category-defining companies Building a true category-defining company is a product of a few enduring qualities: • Passion • Creativity • Boldness to do something different
  12. 12. 2. They don’t set out to build category-defining companies Many of the great companies we think of as “life- changing” (Twitter, Facebook, Apple) were not born great. They started as ordinary companies but became great over time.
  13. 13. 2. They don’t set out to build category-defining companies A majority of companies that become category-defining are often ridiculed or misunderstood by others when they are first created.
  14. 14. 2. They don’t set out to build category-defining companies The goal of building a category-defining company is not always a sustainable vision. If you become too concerned with fashionability, monetary gains, or social capital, you can quickly lose focus, thus weakening your company.
  15. 15. 3. Founders move forward relentlessly The best entrepreneurs never give up easily.
  16. 16. 3. Founders move forward relentlessly They’re the people who wake up faced with nine reasons why they could fail and just one reason to succeed. It’s the entrepreneurs who can relentlessly focus on the one reason to press on who win.
  17. 17. 3. Founders move forward relentlessly A key characteristic of a forward-moving founder is self-awareness. They know what they are and aren’t good at and believe that what they are building is bigger than themselves.
  18. 18. 3. Founders move forward relentlessly With that perspective in mind, they seek to improve their company with every new hire. So long as you are not threatened by the prospect of hiring someone who may be smarter than you, you will be able to hire A-level people.
  19. 19. 3. Founders move forward relentlessly The other route is taking the path to mediocrity, which certainly does not create category- defining companies.
  20. 20. 4. Founders are not stuck on perfection Many people speak about the importance of building the perfect founding team. While important, there is no such thing as a perfect team.
  21. 21. 4. Founders are not stuck on perfection What defines the right team for you may even change over time — it has to. Each company develops its own personality and culture from the start, and it’s rarely a perfect balance, especially as the company grows.
  22. 22. An example At Avalon, we see the company creation process as part of our role to help put the team elements in balance as the company grows.
  23. 23. The Takeaway • Now is the best time to start a company. • If your business idea is traceable to a deep story arc, you will have the motivation and ingredients to build a defining company. • If you do not have the passion or story, it may not be the right decision to start that company now.
  24. 24. Learn more! Visit http://avalon-ventures.com/blog for more actionable advice on early stage startups, VC funding and other entrepreneurial tips.