Christopher Schroeder, a seasoned US-based tech investor and the author of Startup Rising: The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East, concedes that while anyone can be more entrepreneurial not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur.
“When you invest in an entrepreneur you are often [also] looking to invest in their second company. They are so good you know that if it doesn’t work out now, the next time they will succeed. You want to be close to them,” he says.
So how do you know if you have what it takes? Here, Mr Schroeder outlines some of the key characteristics common to the founders of successful start-ups that he has met over the years.
“There is no question that when I meet an entrepreneur here or anywhere in the world and they have that look in their eye that effectively says ‘you can slow me down but you cannot stop me’ – as an entrepreneur you just have to have this dogged belief that you can will things to work out and if you don’t you can dust yourself off and do it another time,” he says.
Real entrepreneurs are “tenacious, focused and obsessed about who might come and disrupt them in a serious way”.
“Ronaldo Mouchawar [the chief executive of Souq.com] is as focused and tenacious as an entrepreneur you can meet anywhere.”
“The idea of Americans loving failure is overdone,” says Mr Schroeder. “But as Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, said when he was in Dubai recently, ‘failure is not something to be celebrated, learning is’, and in failure there is plenty of learning if you look at it that way.
“When I meet an entrepreneur who failed and they talk about the failure and what they learnt and what that brings to the table, I almost find them a more investable entrepreneur than someone who hasn’t done it before. It is such a powerful experience of personal learning but you have to be in an environment of individuals who value that. But the fact is that in many places in the world, failure is viewed like a disease, and that’s a profound missed opportunity.”
“The most successful entrepreneurs I know are actually strikingly humble because they’ve had the hell beaten out of them at some point, they’ve seen failures in their own right, they see technology moving so quickly that no one [man or] woman can know everything that is going on,” he says.
“You can have the audacity and arrogance at one point to be able to say you are going to build something that isn’t there before [and that] partnered with that kind of humility is essential.”
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