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Decoding Startup Success: The Impact of Personalities on Venture Viability
Dariia Komarova
Created on
February 2, 2024

In the fast-paced realm of startups, where risk and uncertainty are constant companions, investors grapple with a fundamental truth – the pivotal importance of investing not just in groundbreaking ideas, but in the individuals propelling these entrepreneurial ventures towards triumph.

Recent research highlights the emphasis venture capitalists place on evaluating the team composition and inherent qualities of startup founders, recognizing the profound influence of individual traits on the trajectory of startup success. This exploration delves into the intricate interplay of personalities and talents, unveiling their significant role in shaping the entrepreneurial journey.

Strategic Approaches to Assessing Potential

There are different ways to assess an individual's potential to lead a startup to success, like examining indicators such as past track records and the challenges overcome, a concept referred to as "distance traveling." However, the most strategic venture capitalists deploy behavioral tests to evaluate founders' personalities, offering valuable insights into their resilience and adaptability in high-pressure scenarios. Integrating personality assessments into comprehensive due diligence processes enhances the precision of investment decisions, providing a nuanced understanding of founders' behavioral traits and compatibility with organizational goals.

Personality Tests as a Catalyst for Success

Academic research in entrepreneurship underscores the reliability of an individual's personality traits as predictors of entrepreneurial success. This revelation offers a unique opportunity for investors to assess entrepreneurial potential by scrutinizing an array of personality traits. This not only enhances the accuracy of investment decisions but also empowers entrepreneurs with a deeper understanding of their strengths and growth areas, paving the way for more effective strategies, coaching,  and heightened chances of success. However, not just any personality test will do. While established tools like Myers-Briggs remain prevalent in venture capital evaluations, concerns about their validity prompt the need for more scientific and modern methods in personality assessment.

Diverse Profiles, One Common Goal

Contrary to the notion of a standardized entrepreneurial personality profile, research reveals six distinct types, each contributing unique strengths to the startup landscape. Successful startups often feature co-founders embodying a blend of these personality types. This diversity is showcased in the varied traits associated with successful founders. Many prosperous startups exemplify this diversity by having co-founders who embody a combination of these personality types.

For instance, one successful entrepreneur may exhibit remarkable emotional stability, demonstrating resilience against anxiety, depression, and anger. Another individual may shine through their exceptional organizational skills and compassion, while yet another entrepreneur excels with a blend of high extraversion and discipline. In addition, clusters of characteristics were shown to align with founders’ roles within their startup. For example, highly extraverted and disciplined founders often take on positions as CEO or CFO, whereas emotionally stable founders are commonly found in roles like CTO or CPO. This diversity showcases how different personality profiles can contribute to entrepreneurial success and innovation, highlighting the versatility of the startup landscape.

Decoding the Ideal Startup Founder Traits with Deeper Signals

Employing its Core Drivers framework, Deeper Signals conducted research to identify the key personality traits for an ideal startup founder: Driven, Candid, Curious, Disciplined, and Stable. Driven individuals are proactive and energetic making them well-suited for entrepreneurial activities. Candid founders provide critical feedback, make decisions confidently without easily giving in to others’ opinions. Curious founders generate ideas, spot opportunities, and introduce innovations.

Disciplined founders are organized, reliable, and goal oriented. Stable founders remain calm under pressure, manage emotions well, and diffuse tense situations. These traits play a pivotal role in entrepreneurial success. On the other hand, when determining the ideal qualities of a startup founder, it is less significant to be either Reserved or Outgoing. The importance varies by specific role, market, team composition and company culture. 

It's not just about the Founder. It’s about the Team.

A startling statistic reveals that 14% of startup failures can be attributed to issues rooted in team dynamics, particularly personality mismatches among team members. In an ecosystem where collaboration is paramount, such clashes pose obstacles to effective communication, innovation, and adaptability. Investors keenly grasp the impact of team dynamics, acknowledging that success hinges not only on a brilliant idea but also on assembling a team with the right mix of personalities.

Only assessing the personality of the founder creates limitations.

It’s important to understand how that founder will collaborate and communicate with their team members and direct reports. With more personality data, you can consider the collective strengths and weaknesses, make predictions about how the team will work together, and provide the right guidance.

Distinguishing Entrepreneurs from Employees

A compelling revelation emerges as studies indicate significant differences in personality traits between successful entrepreneurs and employees. This distinction, quantifiable with over 80% accuracy, hinges on entrepreneurs' inclination for novelty, variety, and a propensity to thrive in uncertain environments. This innate predisposition sets them apart from risk-averse employees who prefer routine. showcasing the distinctive qualities that both contribute to startup success.

Conclusion: Personality Tests can be a Catalyst for Success

Personality assessments emerge as indispensable tools for investors navigating the complex terrain of startup investments. By evaluating the traits of founders, investors can make informed decisions, increasing the likelihood of entrepreneurial success. Moreover, tools like Deeper Signals’ Core Drivers provide added value by assisting founders in their leadership development with custom goal-setting and on-demand coaching. This means that post-investment, entrepreneurs can continue to refine their traits and skills, enhancing their likelihood of success.

Reach out to learn more about our research on Founder’s success profile and the tools we offer to maximize startup success.

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