From the DealBook Summit: Leaders Look Into the Future

Breakthroughs of the past decade demonstrate that new interventions can slow down or reverse this damage, preserving cellular health and preventing multiple diseases. These drugs will be approved for acute diseases, then tested for prevention; they will be inexpensive and covered by every insurer.

When identifying entrepreneurs, what are the metrics you use to evaluate them? Any unusual traits you focus on? Any novel red flags?

Anu Duggal: Founding partner, Female Founders Fund

At our stage, we are often investing pre-product, and therefore the most important factor in our decision-making is around the founder or founding team. Specifically we want to understand how and why is this founder/team positioned to win in this particular market — what is their unfair advantage and how does their professional history set them up for success. In addition to this, we look for resilience and ability to attract great talent especially in the early days. Some novel red flags are blind optimism, unrealistic assumptions for market capture and not consistently following through/communicating during our diligence process.

Li Jin: General partner, Variant Fund

As early-stage venture investors, our approach to investing is very founder-centric: we select for and back long-term-oriented, mission-driven founders who are doing their life’s work. The best founders have a quality of endurance and persistence (not in a stagnant way, but being able to adapt creatively to all kinds of unforeseen challenges), as well as an urgency about them — they take action. It’s not enough to just be smart or have a great insight about the market; they need to be relentless in materializing the vision for the future they want to build.

Jean Case: Chair, National Geographic Society and chief executive, Case Impact Network

A key metric that can signal positive potential of an entrepreneur is how many startups he/she has been a part of before — with success or failure. Traits that can signal likely success include a passion for problem solving, grit to withstand the ups and downs, curiosity to peek around corners, and nimbleness to pivot when called for. Red flags include too much of a “go it alone” spirit that doesn’t value collaboration or seek and consider the perspectives of others.

Peter Lattman: Managing director, media, Emerson Collective

So much of what I learned about spotting talent I learned from David Bradley, our partner in The Atlantic and a Hall of Fame-level businessman. To spot talent — whether it’s identifying entrepreneurs, executives or employees — David looks for two key traits: force of intellect and spirit of generosity. Those qualities are crucial. A couple of others I’d add to the mix, especially for entrepreneurs, are hunger and clarity of vision. As far as red flags, well, I’m wary of Boston Red Sox and Dallas Cowboys fans.

What is the most pressing data privacy and security threat today, and how do you counter it?

Christopher Krebs: Founding partner, Krebs Stamos Group

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