Hunches and Chips

Two short thoughts today.


I’ve written about the many stale and uninspiring resources about starting a nonprofit — laundry lists of admin tasks instead of a focus on building something. They seem to fill the first few pages of search results, which is why this a problem. The start up tech scene offers much fresher and helpful ideas to new entrepreneurs.

I was reading an article yesterday that summed up perfectly this difference and also captured what I’ve been trying to say about going for it. The key quote comes from Fred Wilson, a leading VC, who was speaking to college students. The professor said:

He repeated a comment that we drew out from last year’s  conversation, which I particularly like: “Start-ups should be  hunch-driven early on and data-driven as they scale.” What was  interesting was discussing the profile of the entrepreneur that has good  hunches—often they come from outside the domain, yet are obsessed  with the opportunity to disrupt the new field with a fresh perspective.

A hunch (not data), new (not experienced), and diruptive (not incremental) — a great formula for philanthropy to embrace.


Ted Leonsis has a great blog post a few weeks back, “Common Traits I love in Founders as Entrepreneurs.” It’s a great list and one worth reading because Ted has no shortage of perspective on leadership.  His experiences include building AOL, making documentaries, mentoring young people, owning sports teams, and investing in lots of start ups.

#6 stood out for me because it’s not always phrased this way: “Having a chip on your shoulder.” He goes on to say:

 I love working with entrepreneurs who have a chip on their shoulder. They have a score to settle, are highly motivated and fiercely competitive. These founders are driven to win: they play hard and work hard and build a team of like-minded competitive players.

This tone or style is far more above the surface in business than in the nonprofit sector, but it’s definitely there. I think it’s a great characteristic to use when determining to launch a new venture.



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