A Shocking ⚡️ Trait of Great Founders
Quick Reads on Investing + How to Filter Contradictory Advice
#102 Tether: Bodyguard of The Grid kicks off our comeback season! This clean energy company is a powerful opener to Season 9 of The Pitch.
Vol. 1 Issue 3
I met Luis on a zoom call.
Josh was driving and trying to call in from his phone. Video on. Video off. Muted. Unmuted. You know how it goes. Meanwhile, Luis was dialed in from Barcelona. Unsure if Josh’s zoom ever connected, Luis started telling us about his energy company that could, literally, change the world. "Josh, are you hearing this?! Hello? Josh are you there?" He heard it alright.
We ended our zoom call, and I promptly called Josh. There wasn't much to discuss. It was clear. Luis is a founder we wanted on The Pitch.
My favorite part of working on The Pitch is connecting with founders. We talk to a lot of them before choosing who comes on the show. And while we, obviously, consider the businesses that apply, we heavily consider the founders. I was impressed not only with the company Luis is building, but also with Luis.
I believe who a founder is is more important than what they are building. Who they are tells me how they will build and how they will handle adversity. Especially when looking at pre-seed companies. Chances are the company that ultimately succeeds will look very different from what is pitched on our show. So I am heavily evaluating the “who.”
The number one thing I look for in a founder is humility.
I feel the push back from you already. Why humility? Why not intelligence?
I'm glad you asked.
In his book The Psychology of Money, Morgan Housel writes, "financial success is not a hard science. It's a soft skill, where how you behave is more important than what you know."
Housel is making the point that human behavior determines success more than intelligence. Some of the smartest people have made the worst business decisions, and I would argue they did it out of pride. They thought they were invincible.
Consider this proverb.
"Before destruction a man's heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor."
Or this “Jillian Manus proverb” I've heard in The Pitch room, "There's a fine line between confident and cocky."
Everything we have - whether intelligence or energy - is finite. Humans are limited. I would rather have a humble founder who knows his or her limitations than a prideful founder who won’t take help when things aren’t working.
A humble person can be confident in their abilities, and also admit they don't know it all. That's the kind of founder I want to support.
After a day of recording pitches, Josh and I grabbed beers with Luis in the lobby of our Chicago hotel. We never have time for this at our full-day tapings, but when a founder flies from Spain to be on your podcast, you make the time!
We chatted with Luis, debriefed about the experience in The Pitch room and got to learn more about him. In every interaction, I see humility in Luis. His dual masters in renewable energy, plus background at GE give him plenty of credibility. He has every reason to be cocky, but instead, I see a humble, confident founder.
So we’ve got a humble founder open to feedback, but what does one do when too many people are offering advice?
After The Pitch, a lot of people were weighing in on the decision to become a U.S. company. I was recently on a call with Luis and his co-founder Martim and we talked about how difficult it can be to know which advice to follow from investors - because each investor has a different end goal.
Luis, like Dr. Strange, was trying to see all the paths forward.
He had different investors telling him which path to pick. What do you do when good-intentioned counsel gives you contradictory advice?
Luis, Martim, and I came up with a solution!
You must determine two factors: motivation and mission.
What is motivating each person who gives advice?
Whose mission or goals are most aligned with yours?
The path forward should become clearer when you answer those questions. You’ll have to listen to the episode to hear which path Luis and Martim chose.
How You Can Help Tether
Tether is hiring! Do you know someone who could help Luis and Martim build a world-changing startup? Positions available:
Cloud Engineer / DevOps / Software Engineer
Operations Research / Optimization Engineer / Mathematical Modeling
Data Scientist / Machine Learning Engineer
Do you have a connection to a university/research lab that deals with batteries? Luis and Martim are looking to conduct research on the passive degradation of the batteries over time.
Email email@example.com if interested. Follow Luis and Martim on LinkedIn.
Quick Reads about Investing
Long time Pitch panelist Charles Hudson asks “honest, naive questions” about investing in generative AI
Really good advice from Hustle Fund’s Kera DeMars about how and why investors “go big on companies that are basically competitors.”
This 🤯 stat on a LinkedIn post by Erica Wenger :
“Less than 5% of VC partners are female. But of the top-performing funds in past decade, 70% had at least 1 female decision maker & 30% had just men
That 5% of women are pulling WAY more than their weight if that small slice is somehow contributing to more than half of top performing funds.”
Coming Up Next
Next week’s episode is a tasty one 😋 and we are giving you the option to “taste the pitch” alongside investors. No spoilers here, but if you want to see the product and order ahead of time, grab this special package (with discount!) for Pitch listeners.
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