Chefs, not ingredients

I recently came across this post entitled “Calling all chefs …” by Josh Kopelman of First Round Capital. First Round is an investor in companies like Uber, HotelTonight, and Blue Apron.

In the post, Josh describes how he evaluates startups by using the analogy of a chef preparing a meal with ingredients. The chef is the founder and the ingredients are the resources that the founder has available to create the meal (company) possible.

Chefs serve a specific cuisine, just like founders attack a specific market. For any given cuisine, what differentiates chefs isn’t the ingredients they have available at their disposal but which ingredients they decide to use, how they bring them together to create the dish, and how they present the meal. Similarly, for any given market, what differentiates founders is how they build their team (this includes who they hire and how these people work together), how they execute their vision (this includes having the right vision and motivating the team to achieve this vision), and how they present the product to customers.

The best chefs use the right ingredients, bring them together in the right way, and deliver an emotional experience which enhances the taste of the meal. The question you answer as an investor is whether you want to dine at that chef’s table.