Having done early-stage startups for ten years now, I can’t help but compare my search for interesting companies in and around Silicon Valley to one of my favorite hobbies: good authentic food.
In the food industry, there is a clear distinction between a chef and a cook. A chef invents new dishes from scratch through experimentation, deep knowledge, and experience. A cook takes a few successful recipes, adapts them to his beliefs, and serves them up to a broad audience. Both are fundable business models, but they rely on different factors to become successful.
In technology, this distinction is not often thought about when funding companies. It would be straightforward to judge that a chef is always a better innovator to invest in, but I find the opposite to be true in many scenarios I’ve run into. Different investment and growth scenarios are to be expected from investing in Daniel Boulud’s new restaurant in China versus the growing chain of Fleming’s restaurants, even though they tailor to roughly the same price points successfully.
Research institutes spin out great chefs, but struggle with scale and mass adoption. Experienced sales, marketing, and business founders in technology usually depend on continuous innovation only the chefs can provide. The workings of VC funds forces us to combine the chefs with cooks so that the ecosystem offers both constant innovation and mass adoption at an early stage.
As a CEO, we provide the leadership and direction that pairs the chef and cooks; all you need to do is do what you do well. Just like Remy in Ratatouille, we will pull your hair to ensure the right dishes are produced – on time.