The importance of curiosity

We have been interviewing lots of solo founders recently as we look to deepen our understanding of one of our key customer segments. ‘What do they want?’ and ‘Where do they hang out?’ are our two main questions.

I will report on what comes out of this customer development work in due course, but today I want to share an observation about one of the things that separates solo-founders we’ve backed from those that we haven’t, and that’s curiosity.

A strong desire to learn is a characteristic shared by many successful entrepreneurs, and within our sample that manifested itself in frequent attendance at startup events, fervent reading, and networking with experts to increase domain knowledge and validate/tweak business plans. Other entrepreneurs simply got their heads down and started building.

Interestingly, everyone had read The Lean Startup and professed to follow it’s guidance, although many did things that we would not regard as lean. It’s common to read books like that and then find them difficult to adhere to in practice.

Finally, a caveat – there are, of course, great entrepreneurs who have built large companies without attending startup events, reading books or networking with experts. My point is that we’ve seen a correlation between potential for success (as evaluated by us) and these activities.