Code Cubitt: Coachability Is Critical [The Knowledge Project Ep. #95]

Managing Director of Mistral Venture Partners, Code Cubitt has an interesting origin story. After being kicked out of University twice he still managed to graduate and quickly climbed the VC ranks for several prominent companies before starting a venture program of his own. Learn how he evaluates founders, his decision making process, common mistakes companies make as they scale and much more.

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Here are a few highlights from the conversation:

In my MBA class, I met my first VC. I had never even heard of the asset class. I didn’t know anything about finance before that. When I heard what venture capital was about at the time I fell in love immediately and decided that was it for me.

My job really is to meet with people and get to know them and decide who I want to work with. So, we’ve passed on good founders and we’ve passed on not so good founders. At the core of it, it’s does this person have a vision on the future that doesn’t exist today that we want to play a role in?

I think some entrepreneurs feel it’s just like a Bohemian group or society that it’s cool to be an entrepreneur and the underdog. They feel oppressed by society and fought against constantly versus the optimistic entrepreneur who sees the future a different way and eliminates all the barriers to getting there, fundamentally different people.

The numbers show that venture backed companies historically and statistically do better than non-venture backed companies. Not to blow our own horn, but VCs have a lot of experience in pattern matching and they simply have a lot of exposure to things that company founders don’t have every day.

At its core, coachability is a willingness to be introspective and a willingness to respect feedback, whether it’s from the market, from your employees, from your customers, from your investing partners.

This is what separates really good entrepreneurs from the rest of the pack, is they have that vision. They have that crystal ball that they can see. More importantly, they have the ability to articulate it and convince not only co-founders and employees to join, but also investors and customers to see that vision with them.

I mean, if you’re afraid of failure, you shouldn’t be a VC, that’s for sure. This is probably the highest risk asset class in private equity that there is. By its very nature, half of your companies are going to fail. And if you’re not comfortable with that, then it’s probably not for you.

I think one of the key lessons I’ve learned is that and that to try to pass on, is failure is okay. Failure is actually a feedback mechanism to allow you to improve.

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