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Theresia Gouw Quotes

Theresia Gouw

Theresia Gouw quotes: the venture capitalist offers words of wisdom.

“If you’re willing to work hard and you’re not afraid to start over, you can achieve whatever you want.”

“The value of hard work was definitely impressed upon me from an early age. And also the importance of school. So working hard in order to get good grades was not an option. It was a given.”

“When I think about the risks my parents took and how much they gave up so my sister and I could have the opportunities we have, that’s what really drives me.”

“I think you know the moment is right to make the leap when you can’t stop thinking about that moment. You know whether the ‘that’ is the new company that you want to start, or that other job, or that other career.”

“Always go for the opportunity that presents more upside. By that I mean, if you’re thinking about two different jobs, don’t look at the opportunities as just what they are today. Which one is going to be more interesting to you six, twelve, twenty-four months from now? And don’t focus on what your initial title is going to be. For most fast-moving jobs, whatever you’re doing today will be different in six months. And always make sure you’re in a job that you love, because whenever you’re in the position of juggling career and family, you know you’re going to love your kids—give your career an equal chance.”

“The toughest lesson is you really do learn more from failure than success. But also you got to give yourself a little bit of time to heal before you can reflect and really get the insights from those failures. But if you don’t do it you’re really missing out on a big opportunity. Don’t be afraid to fail either. I mean if you don’t, you know, no risk no reward.”

“Entrepreneurship thrives on the idea of possibility.”

“Great entrepreneurs are incredibly focused on their companies and growth, but at the same time, the best ones know precisely when and how to step away from it. By that, I mean looking at what’s going on outside, around you. Look at what’s happening in the macro economy and to other com­panies like yours.”

“The biggest mistake that entrepreneurs often make is underestimating the competition. They’re painting the positive. But I think that people always need to be aware that what they’re comparing themselves to is only what they see, sort of where the competition is today and in their mind of course they already know what their roadmap is so they’re kind of projecting their future.”

“It makes me think of a saying in hockey is like ‘skate to where the puck is going.’ So I think great entrepreneurs definitely are actually hyper paranoid like Andy Grove from Intel said. And so those entrepreneurs are thinking about their competition in the right paranoid way. I mean obviously it’s a balance right. You can be doing things because of that. But like you should be doing things because of your mission and what you believe and what you think is the right roadmap. But you have to be aware of what’s going on around. It’s like you’re driving, you have to be aware of traffic and the things that are going on around you. You’re not in a bubble.”

“I look for three things when deciding to invest in a startup company. The first is the person, the entrepreneur and their passion and drive, as well as their ‘domain expertise’ and what they know about the space. The second is whether she believes there is a market and a need for the product. The third is about the product—how unique it is, and how technically difficult or technically different it is, and whether the customers love it.”

“We always look for entrepreneurs with huge vision and strong domain expertise, and going after a large market that’s growing in a discontinuous way, because of technology or distribution, such as social sharing.”

“Everybody has a different style. If you frame it like literally on the fly like, I am Company X Y Z, this is how I think about company one, company two, here’s where they fit and here’s where I fit, why we’re different. It actually gives you the advantage. Because you get to position yourself relative to them as opposed to just responding randomly to like what about this company what about that company. So I think that’s a real advantage.”

“It’s great to be grounded in the data of where your business is today, but I and every other venture capitalist is investing in what we think the future of your business is going to be. So your pitch to us has to reflect that balance. So it’s awesome that you’re super homeworked and knowledgeable about where your team and your product and your customers and your business is today. And that clearly lays the foundation. But then you need to paint a big enough, exciting enough vision for where the business is going to be.”

“It’s more about your product roadmap, your market roadmap. Like, okay, today I’m selling to these customers. But you know next I’m going to expand this customer base and then I’m going to add this product. And you know, that’s what I mean about painting the picture for the vision of where your business is going to be in five to ten years.”

“I think the biggest thing that I’ve seen, especially when growing your company, is to make sure that as you’re hiring people, you don’t give up on any of your core values. That’s not to say you wait for the perfect candidate. There’s no such thing. It’s separat­ing the urgent from the important. And if you’re clear on what those things are, and never willing to compromise on them, I’ve seen that, in the short term, a little bit more pain of waiting to fill that slot pays off in spades.”

“I think there’s no substitute for spending time with people outside of the interview process. It’s not just looking at somebody’s accomplishments, but also why do they do what they do? Why is it important to them? Why does this make sense as the next thing that they’re going to do?”

“Having diversity in a board room and in a founding team leads to increased success in financial outcomes. That is partially gender diversity, but it’s also other things. It also means having some tech and product people as well as sales and go-to-market expertise, and having a mix of investors and operators.”

“Fundamentally we think diversity as a thesis is a very important part of any success in business. Whether that’s in a board room, in a venture firm or in a management team. But we think of diversity much more than just gender, though gender often becomes a litmus test for that. We certainly think that because we come at it from a different perspective that has given us a very wide scope from which to look at opportunities and to invite opportunities in.”

“There is a growing understanding among entrepreneurs and executives that there are real customer and product advantages to having a more diverse group of people on your management team and in your board room. If you’re a consumer-facing service, half of your audience is going to be male and half of your audience is going to be female. Diversity makes a difference for business and the bottom line.”

“This is an opportunity for both men and women to talk about what it is like to have a diverse culture and create an environment for both men and women to be successful. When that works and when that doesn’t, then I think the unconscious bias is associated with that.”

“I am cautiously optimistic that the idea of good culture being a competitive differentiator is being embraced by today’s founders and management teams and telling those stories. So that’s number one. Number two is make sure that when you are hiring people that you are going that extra mile to make sure that you are interviewing a diverse candidate pool.”

“The fastest way to make cultural change and leadership change —because cultural change is very hard—is to start your own firm and build the culture from the ground up.”

“There is an explosion of opportunity in the mobile space.”

“Being an early member of a startup was really valuable. It was my first exposure to venture capital—I helped our CEO raise three rounds of venture financing and worked with VCs on our board. The firsthand experience of helping ship the product, sign up the customers, land the big partnership, hire the customer support person—these were all incredibly relevant to how I work with my companies now.”

“Working with dozens of entrepreneurs, and meeting hundreds more every year, drives my passion. The greatest thrill is to be there and see that company grow. And be there on the stock exchange, and see the company be a billion dollar company, when it was an idea that one or two people had, and a nice-looking Powerpoint.”

“I’m a first-generation immigrant and a passionate supporter of educational causes and increasing diversity in the tech industry. I was named to Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women list, been recognized seven times on the Forbes Midas List as one of the ‘world’s smartest tech investors’ and was named one of the 40 most influential minds in tech by Time magazine.”

“We need to show young women that their tech can be a great place and a great career for them and we need to create cultures that don’t look like the bro culture that they see on Silicon Valley.”

“I, like thousands of others who are called to the Valley everyday, have my parents to thank for showing me how to be an American dreamer.”

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