With nearly fifteen years’ experience in the investment industry, EKA Ventures General Partner, Camilla Dolan, has developed a profound understanding of how to make sure a business continues to grow, which is reflected in EKA’s investment policy.
“We prefer to back founder-led businesses where possible”, she said, “because, in our experience, companies that go on to be more successful – and grow at a real pace – typically still have the founder(s) present.”
In fact, EKA’s research shows that 90% of European companies that became unicorns since 2000 still had the founder present when reaching the $1B valuation mark.
Camilla therefore offered our members Three Things – three pieces of actionable advice – for founders looking to remain at the head of their businesses:
1. Learn, learn, and learn some more.
“The number one thing we see the successful founders we work with is an obsession with learning”, Camilla said. “That’s not just learning about functions, though. It’s about personal development and improving your skillset on a continuous basis.” Recognising your shortcomings and demonstrating that you are willing to put in the work to rectify them is one of the best ways to show investors and stakeholders that you are the right person to take your business forward. To aid in this endeavour, you may benefit from
2.Understand what excellent looks like.
“It’s great to be a visionary, to be an entrepreneur, but some of the things around scaling and infrastructure just need to be right”, Camilla explained. “Great founders find the very best person in each of the different functions and learn what excellent looks like.” And this is where recruitment comes into play because founders – particularly first-time founders – cannot know all there is to know about business. They cannot be experts on every aspect, so finding people who can take care of those areas is paramount.
3. Hire people that are better than you.
Leading on from her previous point, Camilla then stressed how important it is to be selective throughout recruitment. “If they can’t do what you’re hiring them for ten times better than you, just don’t hire them. And don’t be afraid about it, either”, she advised. “If you hire people better than you, the business keeps growing and you have the opportunity to continue to be really successful.”