As a team, we've actually tried to be very deliberate about the vocabulary we use to describe founders, and the qualities we look for. We got sick and tired of our partners saying, "this is a great company because this is a great founder" It's sloppy thinking and communication, because the question then becomes, "okay, WHY is that founder great". So the attributes we've determined we need to focus on are:
1) Aggressiveness: Founders need to fight for resources and break down some doors to make things happen. We tend to see aggressiveness paying off:
2) Storytelling: Founders need to sell the dream to investors, employees, partners, and customers. The more they can tell the story, the more they get others to lean in. You can't be a great founder and be bad at pitching your company.
3) Relationship building: Founders need to be able to build a support network. There are many things a founder won't know how to do, so they need to be able to connect with people who can help them build
4) Thoughtfulness: This is a quality that is particularly important to me. As VCs, we are really good at asking "gotcha" questions, that reveal a flaw or achilles heel of a business. Most businesses don't hit massive breakout success, so most have some sort of flaw or achilles heel. The best founders take these hard questions and answer them so convincingly that it will give me as an investor a lot of confidence. I feel like I am learning something by speaking to them. If I'm pushing a founder's thinking too much, it's usually a bad sign.
5) Ability to learn and adapt: Companies are constantly changing. The skills for a seed stage founder are night and day different than a 100 person startup. So founders need to constantly evolve, and their ability to grow is critical. So we need to see humility and a willingness to learn.
6) Velocity of growth: Some teams simply move faster than others. Those teams tend to win over time.