Selection Sunday for entrepreneurs

The importance of selection: Select the right team, customers, and funding path for your startup; rejection doesn't define success.

A.T. Gimbel
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March 26, 2024

One of the most exciting times of the year is March Madness, when 68 teams are selected to play in the NCAA college basketball tournament. While anyone can advance if you win your conference tournament, there is a selection process to choose the remaining “at-large” teams that make the tournament. Every year some teams get in while others (who feel deserving) are left out. This got me thinking about how selections apply to entrepreneurs.

Selecting your team

One of the most important things you can do is to select a co-founder(s) and team to build your business together. While there are lots of variables, I look for co-founders who have complementary skill sets to you while holding the same core values. As you build your team, you want people that are strong culture fits as well as great at what they do. Unlike many things in life, culture is something you 100% control. Select the right team.

Selecting your customers

As part of customer discovery, you spend a lot of time trying to find customers. Really understand your ideal customer profile, the must-have problems they are trying to solve, and the value proposition you deliver that is 10x better. Don’t be distracted going after customers that are outside your profile with nice-to-have problems where your solution is marginally better than alternatives.

Being selected for funding

As I have written before, there are multiple paths to success and not everyone should seek venture funding. Remember that just because a venture firm doesn’t invest in your business doesn’t mean you have a bad business. It may not be the right business model or stage for their thesis. They may not see the world the way you do (and that’s okay). Don’t let your belief in the vision for your business be dampened by someone outside your business. Great businesses are built by great founders, many of which were told no at different times in their career. Learn from it and use it as motivation.

Making the right selections can be key enablers for your business. Just because you weren’t selected for program/funding/etc. doesn’t mean they are right or you needed their validation for success.

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