What it means to be a 'Founder'

Founders are builders. They build products. They build solutions. They build value.  Having worked with numerous founders of tech companies, I find that most them share certain common characteristic traits.  Often, they are charismatic and charming.  They can be intense, passionate, and aloof.

One of their greatest strengths as a leader is their confidence. They project self-confidence coupled with fearless dominance and boldness. This make sense as they often are masterful as visionaries and big-picture thinker.  They have a rare gift to convince others to suspend disbelief that something cannot be done.  

In my experience, to have a successful working relationship with founders you must be adaptable with a high degree of tolerance for ambiguity.  This is because working in a tech startup usually means adapting to fast-paced environment with constant changing in strategies and priorities. A founder’s boldness often manifest itself in the form of fast decision-making and shooting from the hip.  Hence many founders are consistently inconsistent.

As the organization’s complexity grows as the team size grows, founders should learn to manage their own psychology or deal with stress. For example, I’ve seen many founders who take things too personally while others do not take things personally enough.  I seldom see a middle of the road.  

As founders grow into their role, one of the toughest skills they must learn is to bridge between short-term and long-term thinking and how to opt for hard answers to difficult organizational issues. Hence, they are learning how to become a CEO.  That’s another conversation for another time.

Mimi Vold