That’s Paul Graham from yCombinator’s  number one quality he looks for in start up founders.

Everything can and will go wrong, but drive and an unwillingness to accept defeat will see great founders through to success. It may not come on the first start-up, but it will eventually come.

Flexibility, imagination, naughtiness and friendship are his other four, but its no secret that he also looks for people that scare him slightly.

To me a scary person is someone who has such high levels of determination and imagination that you, or they, really don’t know what they cannot achieve.  They back themselves to go all the way, and see you either as someone who is helping them get there or an obstacle that needs to be avoided or dealt with. Employing scary people is, well, scary – as you never quite know what’s going to happen. It won’t necessarily be comfortable, but comfort won’t change the world.

Published by Lance Wiggs


2 replies on “Determination”

  1. Lance, I agree determination is an important part of the mix. However, determination alone can be dangerous – because is leads founders/investors to keep doubling down all the way to liquidation/sale of the family jewels/farm/home. I’ve seen all of these scenarios play out multiple times particularly over the last years, and in the worst cases peoples lives have been wrecked.

    At key decision points, particularly decisions involving the commitment of further capital, some dispassionate commercial analysis is needed about the likelihood of success being achieved at a reasonable cost. Not just the cost in terms of $ in, but also time and opportunity cost.



    1. Yes – I agree Andrew. I’ve also seen too many people lose it all. I have to say though that throwing lots of money around is a warning sign for growing internet businesses. Others are having no developers on staff, not doing A/B testing and not having a plan for marketing the product. and yes – I’ve made them all.


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