Greatest Predictor of Founder Success

Breakfast with Adeo Ressi this morning was fascinating.

For those of you who don’t know Adeo, he is the founder of the Founder Institute the world’s largest accelerator program and much much more.

So as you would expect, they know a thing or two about identifying the traits of successful founders.

Adeo has been in Sydney for a few days on the way to Singapore, Jakarta, Hong Kong and more on an international roadshow encouraging his global ecosystem of thousands of mentors, candidates, participants and graduates.

He is also launching a $100m fund Expansive Ventures and has four investments already made.

It is refreshing to see a 70 hour a week working whirlwind like Mr Ressi also take time to originate, refine, digest and share meaningful research on entrepreneurs with fellow tech startup mentors in his enormous global network.

One such insight caught my eye today and it is a simple, highly correlated, deterministic predictor of entrepreneur success. So I hear you say, tell me –

  • What is it?
  • How long does it take?
  • Who can do it?

Lets start with the last one, the nature of FI (as the insiders call it) is the focus on founders first and foremost.

Who can do it? Founders are screened prior to entry in the 14 step 90 day program with a multi-dimensional set of industry and university tests so FI has some of the best if not *the* best data in the world, probably rivalling legends like Kauffman Institute who are in a similar but quite different space. So, it is important to know that this correlation is based on founders who are already pre-screened. They have a bunch of attributes that are already known to increase their chances of success and reduce chances of failure – and arguably predict others too.

So how long does it take? The most interesting thing about this new predictor of success is that the *other* founders in the cohort can apply it to their colleagues in minutes and it is almost 100% accurate as a predictor.

Ok, so enough backgRound, what is the ACTUAL predictor of SUCCESS?

It is all in the idea. The initial idea. The founder may change and pivot and iterate and redirect and tweak and did we say change over time but the initial idea is the key.

If fellow FI cohort founders like your ‘first’ idea you are most likely to succeed.

It sounds a little like college year books but with a much more select crowd to start with.

And of course it is just the initial idea at this stage, it might not be first and is almost certainly not final.

Interestingly, the mentors are also a useful predictor but not as accurate as fellow founders from the same cohort.

Implied here is that the idea may not be the key, it may be how it is communicated, or the charisma of the founder or their ability to distill core elements. But much of that is explicitly excluded from the survey.

The focus is on the initial idea.

If you are prepared to work hard to get in for this idea it must be at least ok so with additional benefits of the FI your chances of success only increase, but that is data for another post.

Cheers, Pete.


Pete Cooper is Founder of The Start Society and a range of other initiatives building the ecosystem and has a extensive background in finance, investing and real-time technology from blue chip institutions to startups. Pete is also Curating Director and Founder at iCentral.Co a huge tech startup coworking community near Sydney Town Hall.

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