Startup Reality: MBA Prof on Bubbles & Billionaires

Digital entrepreneurs need to hone their selling skills if they want to succeed, says Waverly Deutsch, clinical professor at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Deutsch gives a realistic overview of today’s startup environment — hard facts about the competition for funding among today’s hundreds of thousands of newest entrepreneurs, survival rates of startups over time, the challenge of valuating digital companies, and the proven ingredient for startup success.

She goes on to share results of a recent survey of 60 angel investors and seed-stage venture capitalists, which asked investors to rank the abilities of startup founders to perform 11 operational strengths and weaknesses. One of the skills most coveted by investors in founders — the ability to sell the product — ranked among the bottom three.

“Your ability to move people, to get them to exchange something they have for something of value to you,” says Deutsch, “has risen to the top of the set of skills you need to thrive as an entrepreneur.”

Deutsch, whose award-winning work focuses on research about what entrepreneurs “do”, leverages that information to help business students, who want to become startup founders, successfully achieve their goals. ❒

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