3 Strikes You’re Out: Nigel Grierson on 3 Fatal Mistakes Your Venture Backed Start-up Must Avoid

Nigel Grierson PhotoNigel Grierson has been investing in start-ups for quite awhile, first by launching Intel Capital Europe and then as co-founder of Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures.  To say he’s learned a few things about venture capital success from failure is an understatement. In this episode he shares three of those lessons that apply to any start-up.

My Guest

Nigel Grierson co-founded the Doughty Hanson Technology Fund in 2000 and currently serves as co-Managing Director. His specific areas of expertise include financial venture investment, high technology marketing and organisation development.

Previously, Nigel was the Group Director for Intel Capital Europe, managing a team responsible for making strategic equity investments and developing new business opportunities throughout Europe. He and the team together originated and invested in over 35 technology start-up companies and had a number of notable exits.  Nigel started his career as a chip engineer and worked at AT&T in the Communications Product Division leading a team developing high performance silicon processors.

Nigel actively participates in the European Venture Capital Association. In this episode he shares some of the things he teaches other venture capitalists about healthy boards of directors in his EVCA seminar.

The Take Home Lessons

Nigel talks about three major factors that can make or break a venture capital  backed start-up.  These apply to any start-up regardless off business model.

  • You are pioneering a future that doesn’t exist.  So entrepreneurs need to create the best decision making processes possible.  In Nigel’s experience team decision making is superior to the Lone Ranger model of entrepreneurial leadership.
  • Two heads are better than one.  Or as Nigel puts it, two in a box is the key to success.  Start-ups need a leader who can provide a vision of the future and a second leader who doesn’t visualize the future, but can get you there.
  • You must make time for the important issues because the urgent ones will always find a way onto your desk.  Venture capital investors need to consciously spend board time on longer term issues and not get pulled into the day to day grind.
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Why a Venture Capital Podcast About Failure?

From early childhood you’ve always heard the saying “Learn from your mistakes.” In the venture capital industry you frequently hear “Fail fast” to learn and get to the right idea.  Great advice. So, for this venture capital podcast I interview venture capital backed entrepreneurs about what they learned when their start-up didn’t go as planned. I hope you can learn from their valuable experience.

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