To borrow a concept from a podcast guest, we look for founders doing their “life’s work.” We always ask how the founding team came upon the problem they are solving and assess the alignment between that problem and their own path in life. We find that founders doing their “life’s work” have the perseverance necessary to survive and thrive in difficult periods.
We prefer companies manically focused on doing one thing well for customers. Additional features of a product are always welcome down the road; but at the earliest stages of building, we believe extreme focus is rewarded. Our experience suggests that companies focused on “one thing” tend to have exceptional, efficient operations and always embrace hard challenges to deliver a better customer experience.
We look for founders and founding teams that are building an entire world around their company. We favor the use or creation of distinct cultures and communities that confer a recruiting and sales advantage.
We value companies creating more convenient solutions. Customer focus is always good; but to refine the idea of customer-centricity further, we believe that most (though not all) great products make life easier and more convenient for their customers.
We deeply respect founders who not only build great products, but also focus on unique ways to reach their customers.
We seek evidence of the founding team’s ability to recruit an exceptional team. We believe strong teams are critical to company success and that vision, narrative building, and generosity (compensation and work standards) all lead to better teams.
We focus intently on why the right time for a company to be built is now. Examples include new technology that enables a product or service, change in regulation which unlocks new opportunity, or cultural shifts that incumbents fail to recognize or serve. We always look for alignment between a company and the world at large.
We want great alignment between our two teams. In most successful cases, we will prospectively have decades long relationships so fit between Positive Sum and the founding team is paramount. We make fewer investments than many comparable funds so that we can be closer with portfolio companies and act as a true partner.