If you ask VCs what they’re looking for, most will say it’s all about the team rather than the idea. August Capital general partner David Hornik fundamentally agrees – with a little addendum.
“I used to say it was people, people, people, people,” he told an audience at TCWEEK in Vegas last Thursday. “I have come to understand and appreciate that it’s actually people, people, markets, and people.”
Even a kick-ass team can’t succeed if they go after a small market, or go after a huge market at the wrong time. Hornik compared it to surfing:
“You get out there, there are waves coming, and you paddle out. And if you are too early, the wave crushes you, crashes on your head, and some surfer gloriously goes over you and they win because they get that market. If you’re too late, you go out for the wave, you’re paddling, paddling, paddling, and you watch the wave go in front of you going, ‘I knew it! I had that!’ And someone else is on it, gloriously, and you’re behind and you’ve got nothing,” he said.
In contrast, hitting a huge market at the right time ensures you some kind of success, even if you don’t make billions of dollars:
“If you are lucky enough to paddle out at the right time, you would have to suck to not look decent,” Hornik said. “Don’t fall. That’s your job. If you hit the wave, don’t fall and you’ll be fine.”