Why we look for mission-driven founders

We updated our investment thesis a few months ago…we invest in mission-driven founders at the earliest stages.

Since that time, we’ve been asked how we define a mission-driven founder. It’s not just some vague buzzword to us, so we thought it would be helpful to provide more context on our definition of mission-driven and why it’s central to our investment thesis. 

Let’s start with why we’re focusing on mission-driven founders right now. The market for talent has never been more fierce. And collapsing startup costs (due to SaaS tools, remote work, lower real estate costs, etc.) are driving more competition and noise. As a result, starting and building a company is more grueling than ever, requiring an incredible level of endurance. 

In this environment, the founders most likely to succeed are the ones who have an innate ambition not just to be an entrepreneur, but to solve a pain point and create positive change. They have a clear vision of how the world/industry could be better, are obsessed with bringing that vision to life, and can translate that obsession into an inspiring mission.  

Such founders often have deep domain expertise and experience in the field they are working in, show authentic leadership and have the ability to articulate a new and better state of the world. They can rally team members, customers, and investors around the mission.  

And they don’t just talk. They live the mission on a daily basis and use it as a guidepost for any important decision. If a certain project won’t help the company get closer to realizing the mission, a mission-driven founder won’t pursue it – even though it might be an attractive business opportunity. Or if a potential new employee doesn’t seem truly excited about the mission, a mission-driven founder won’t hire him or her – even if they might be incredibly talented. 

We can find examples of great mission-driven founders throughout our portfolio. For example…

  • Mike Murchison and David Hariri of Ada Support, whose mission is to deliver customer service in a way that’s authentic and simple, but also efficient and scalable.
  • Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam of Coinbase are driven to create an open financial system for the world.
  • Jam’s Dani Grant and Mohd Irtefa are committed to making digital product development dramatically more collaborative. 
  • Hugh Karp’s (Nexus Mutual) mission is to enable people to share risk together without needing an insurance company. 
  • And the list goes on… 

While some founders seem innately wired to have laser focus on their mission, Mission Protocol is an interesting tool to help keep you and your company focused on its mission. It’s based on the principles that mission focus is required to achieve difficult goals, and that working in a single direction on a strong, well-considered mission is the best way to make a socially positive impact.

And if you’re interested in learning more about our investment thesis and focus on mission-driven founders, you can read about our philosophy on our website.   

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