Using Jeopardy Strategies to Build Startups

A.T. Gimbel shares some lessons from Jeopardy’s “The Greatest of All Time” tournament.

A.T. Gimbel
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January 30, 2020

Using Jeopardy Strategies to Build Startups

While at lunch recently, we were speaking of how amazing the contestants were at the recent Jeopardy GOAT event. Not only was their knowledge and processing power off the chart, but their strategy was so different than a normal player. I think there are some lessons learned here for startups and investors.

Find the daily doubles and go all in

One of the strategies these greats used was to try and find the daily doubles and go all in on them. If you get it right and wager a lot, it can create incredible separation between you and the field and dramatically increase your chances of winning. Converting a $20,000 daily double is the equivalent of getting 6-$2,000 questions and 5-$1,600 questions … that is a lot! In the startup investing world, find your daily doubles and go all-in as that is what generates meaningful returns for the fund.

Luck is when opportunity meets preparation

No doubt one would argue that getting daily doubles is luck; there is some truth to that. But those are only effective through the intense preparation these contestants put in to get ready for the event. Many of the greats will deflect how lucky they were, when in reality they created their own luck by rigorously preparing for the opportunity and seizing it when it arrived. Always be prepared as you never know when the opportunity will arise. Examples of being prepared could include talking to 30 customers per month, practicing sales/investor pitches at least 20 times, or spending an hour researching potential companies/pipeline targets in advance of meetings.

The gap between the best and the rest

Watching the way these three guys quickly buzzed in, almost always answered correctly, and nailed many of the important questions showed how big a gap there was between these greats and other contestants (not to mention armchair players at home). This is true in startups and business. While there are many solid businesses, the best are in a league of their own. Recognize greatness when you see it. This could include hiring the best, investing in the best, partnering with the best, etc.

I hope you enjoyed the show, and want to encourage you to go all in on the daily doubles, always be prepared, and recognize greatness when you see it.

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