Caterina Fake is an active angel investor, board member and advisor. She is the co-founder of the websites Flickr and Hunch and has invested in companies such as Etsy, Daily Booth and Type Kit. Fake and Petteri Koponen, Partner at Lifeline Ventures, had a fireside chat on the second day of Slush about the characteristics of entrepreneurs and what it takes to be successful.
Everyone strives to be successful, but it doesn’t always come easily. Success can be defined in many ways. There are, oddly enough, a great number of common characteristics that are shared by successful entrepreneurs and businesspeople. Typical characteristics of successful entrepreneurs are “SISU” (a Finnish word describing courage, determination and acting rationally in the face of adversity), persistence, strength and intelligence.
According to Caterina Fake, to become a successful entrepreneur, you’ll need:
- Luck and timing. When Flickr was launched in 2004, it was the first year that the majority of smartphones were equipped with a digital camera and over 50 percent of all the households had broadband internet. Putting up a social profile online was also starting to get familiar to people. A perfect storm of different factors made it the perfect launch time for Flickr.
- Determination. If an entrepreneur has high determination, he/she has the ability to confront and overcome any obstacle.
- To work hard and focus on the right things. People spend time working on the wrong things. Rather, people should figure out the right things and focus on them. You should work smarter, not harder.
- Strong leadership and direction. When a company is in the early stage, it’s important that all members of the team are multidisciplinary and able to do and work on a lot of things within the company.
- Enjoy what you’re doing. In all likelihood it’s safe to assume that will be reflected in the success of your business. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, chances are you won’t succeed.
“You should build something you care about and have a passion for. All the companies I’ve founded or invested in have one thing in common – they all have a very strong human element. A big part of my career is to make sure that the humanity is not lost in the technology. I care very strongly about that. Those are the companies I want to build,” says Fake.