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Reflections on Successful Companies

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to listen to an inspiring presentation by Duncan Logan, the Founder of www.rocketspace.com.  He left Scotland for California about ten years ago and became the Founder and Chief Executive of Rocket Space in San Francisco.  In the past seven years approximately a hundred Rocket Space companies have raised in the region of $US 20 Billion and there are no fewer than seventeen unicorns amongst them.  Having seen companies of all shapes and sizes, success and failure, he offered us a few reflections on the constant themes he has observed in those companies which have become successful:

The Founder

Not all founders are extrovert but they must be inspiring and enthusiastic. The founder must also be a sales person – sales is all about the transfer of enthusiasm from the seller to the buyer.

Team

Nobody can build a successful company themselves. The key role of the founder is to build the right team around him and they will build the business.

Pitching

Investors get to choose which companies they want to back but it is equally important that the founders should do their homework and decide which investors they would like to support them. The most important things to get right in a pitch are enthusiasm and self-belief.

Failure

Only the founder can cause a company to fail. If things are not going well it is up the founder to get the right advice and if the right advice is obtained and taken, that should avoid failure.

Bad Ideas

Behind every disruptive company there is a really stupid idea to everyone except the founder. Whoever would have thought that renting our an airbed in a living room could be turned into a good idea?

Focus

Successful businesses have a razor sharp focus on a small niche market. Apple only sells a few products and Google only does search but they do it better than anyone else – be the very best that you can be.

Exponential Steps

This was an interesting point. If every step you take is the same size as the last one your business will grow very slowly. However, if every step you take is twice the size of the previous one, your business will grow exponentially.

Influence of Friends

We are all the product of our environment to a greater or lesser extent. Those who associate with friends and colleagues who have a positive can-do attitude have a far greater chance of succeeding themselves than those who live in a negative environment. This is central to the whole concept of a successful entrepreneurial eco-system. Those involved all tend to help each other. They have a positive outlook on life and a sense of humour.

Culture

This is fundamental to the success of every business along with leadership and focus. A successful business will recruit and build a team from many different backgrounds. When recruiting, the attitude and outlook of the prospective employee is more important than their professional skill set.

Duncan has now raised a large nine figure investment to take Rocket Space into London and his big take away message is that there is absolutely no reason whatsoever why we cannot do it here.

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