Why Start-Ups and Rock Bands are similar

Often referred to as a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) pioneer, Jeff Pulver has made his mark as an Internet entrepreneur, investor, and policy advocate. During a talk at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., Pulver gave a wonderful example of the similarities he sees between start-ups and rock bands:

When I meet a start-up I always ask them who is the lead singer. Because in a band the lead singer doesn’t have to play an instrument. They just have to lead. They have to have stage presence they have to have that wow. So with my start-ups I don’t care whether or not the CEO can code or not I just want to know if they’ll lead.

I always ask them who is the drummer. Who is the COO? Who is the one responsible for keeping that beat? If they’re still in the room with me, I then ask are they a cover band? Do they play original? What genre of music are they playing? I meet start-ups that want to be just like somebody else, or others that are completely original and pioneering.

The one benefit of being a record label was that if you find an artist that makes it, usually it’s by the time of the third album comes out you make your money back. In the case of an investor in a start-up, you hope the team stays together long enough so they make their third pivot. They figure out what it is they’re going to do. So when I invest in start-ups I invest in people, the ideas, but really in my belief that these people can figure out what they’re going to do.

Watch the entire conversation here: