Scientist asks a VC: What particular qualities in the founding team are VCs looking for?

Phil Morle
2 min readMar 6, 2022


Welcome to a new part of a Venture Capital Primer for Scientists series based on hundreds of workshops I have given during my work as a deep tech VC at Main Sequence.

I am most often asked about the team.

The team is as important as the technology. Without a well configured team, the value of a technology will stay locked in the lab.

Here are the 5 big topics to consider about your team.

#1: Capacity to get the jobs that need to be done next done

Is there a name next to the big jobs to deliver over the next 12 months and do we believe they can do it well?

It is not necessary that everyone is hired prior to funding, in fact that is normally impossible. That does not stop you writing specific names to an org chart, meeting them and exploring interest.

#2: Business AND technology skills

They could be in the same person, but that is rare.

I have never encountered a deep tech startup that is ‘too early’ to start building business opportunities with customers. This is not just ‘customer development’ in the lean startup sense, but actually exploring ways to do business.

#3: Unreasonable belief (difficult)

A company that will build something hard, needs a team with the ‘unreasonable belief’ that they can do it when most people think they are crazy.

When we think about how this manifests in people, they can often come across as ‘difficult’ because the conviction is strong.

#4: Hold on tightly, let go lightly

As ideas are synthesised, we see great teams hold tightly to the parts that matter and let go of the parts that they learn don’t matter.

A stubborn team won’t build a product that customers want. A team that does what everyone says will never deliver.

#5: Learners/Players

Learner players have agency and learn explicitly. This is the operational practice that delivers #4.

Having conviction without being a ‘knower’ is a difficult practice to harness but it emanates from effective startup teams

And 33 more

We collected 33 founder actions that we see in our work every week takes this question into more detail.

Every day, I write about what I am learning in deep tech venture building. I hope you will follow me if this is valuable to you ⇢ @philmorle

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Phil Morle

Deep tech VC — Main Sequence Ventures. Ecosystem builder. Maker. Director. Startup Scientist.