Founding Voices: Know When to Listen to Your Gut

Originally part of our Founding Voices newsletter series. Read more insights here.

Embrace Uncertainty to Find Your Own Path

If you want your venture to succeed, you need to surround yourself with good people. Half of that is building a stellar team, the other half is cultivating a circle of confidants who can offer guidance and perspective.

Some of your best advisers will be your investors; they’ve almost certainly “been-there-done-that,” and their mentorship will be deeply helpful on your journey. Nevertheless, you should seek their advice, not blindly follow it.

“A good adviser may give you amazing advice nine out of 10 times, but you need to be able to spot the one time when you need to stick to your own convictions.”

JOHN ZIMMER
Co-founder & President, Lyft

Your partnership with your investor is founded on mutual trust; you believe in their experience, and they have faith in your thinking and ability, so be receptive to investor input, but don’t take it as gospel.

Ask questions, seek to understand the reasoning behind their advice, and know that there will be situations where you’ll need to push back. These moments are daunting, but healthy disagreement like this sharpens your strategic mind, and builds confidence in your judgment.

“As an investor, I’m a resource,” says Navin Chaddha, “but at the end of the day, the entrepreneurs are leading the company. So if something in you tells you to zig when everybody else says zag, it’s important to explore that instinct. You’ll either win, or you’ll learn.”

Navin Chaddha

NAVIN CHADDHA
Managing Director

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Founding Voices: Embrace Uncertainty to Find Your Own Path

Originally part of our Founding Voices newsletter series. Read more insights here.

Embrace Uncertainty to Find Your Own Path

Building a business means dealing with ambiguity. There’s a steady stream of difficult decisions at every stage of your journey, and while you can take inspiration from what other founders have done in the past, their circumstances were different, and the paths they took might not be right for you and your organization right now.

 

“There’s no Google Maps for starting a company. You have to think through the multiple ways you can get from where you are to where you want to be and decide which is the best path for you.”

REHAN JALIL
Founder & CEO, Securiti

As a founder, each decision you make needs a “why” that maps to your situation and capabilities. Without this, it’s easy to get distracted, and burn valuable time and resources on moves that aren’t right for your company.

Finding this strategic clarity is difficult, and it’s tempting to look for a roadmap for growing your business, or study how other companies built themselves up. But success stories are case studies, not guidebooks. Analyze them for lessons, try to understand the principles behind decisive moments, but don’t fall into the trap of copying their moves.

“The way you succeed will be unique to your business, which means you can’t rely on precedent to get you there. Rehan’s a serial founder so he understands this better than most,” says Navin Chaddha, Mayfield MD and three-time partner to Rehan. “Be thoughtful, gut check absolutely everything, and if your thinking leads to different or unconventional approaches, don’t be afraid to embrace them.”

Navin Chaddha

NAVIN CHADDHA
Managing Director

Enterprise, Consumer, Semiconductors

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Founding Voices: Through Thick and Thin

Originally part of our Founding Voices newsletter series. Read more insights here.

Through Thick and Thin

You’ve worked tirelessly to bring a great product to market. But the unfortunate reality is that excellence doesn’t protect you from circumstance. Eventually, every entrepreneur will encounter macro-level challenges that are far outside their control. In those moments, having a steadfast partner can make all the difference.

 

“Navin really, really, really—I don’t know how to emphasize this enough—cared about our employees. Looking back on 2020, it’s clear he was trying to do what was best for them all along the way.”

GERARD WILLIAMS
Co-founder & Former CEO, Nuvia

Good partners help you overcome obstacles. They offer strategic counsel, leverage their networks for leads, and guide you through difficult decisions. This is because, above all else, they are invested in your vision.

Ask potential partners about their experiences with similar companies and how they’ve navigated difficult times. Try to assess their principles, and their passion for not just the product, but the mission and ideas that undergird it. Answers here will help you understand if a given partnership is a good fit. While this is not a simple process, getting it right nets you a more enduring and resilient foundation upon which to build your company.

“We invest in people first, markets second,” says Navin Chaddha, Managing Director at Mayfield and longtime advisor to the Nuvia team. “Just because market conditions change doesn’t mean a good idea is suddenly bad. It’s a signal that you need to refocus, readjust and find a new opportunity to win.”

Navin Chaddha

NAVIN CHADDHA
Managing Director

Enterprise, Consumer, Semiconductors

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