In my last post, inspired by Dark Horse speculation over Obama's potential veep choices, I expressed my sentiment concerning taking a hard look at Dark Horse managerial recruits. Many startups can't afford or find the seasoned and hardened entrepreneurial vet, and they often have to "bet" on a Dark Horse.
But ultimately, it's a calculated risk betting on the Dark Horse. They have flaws and ultimately you have to decide if the flaw is overcomeable. Will it produce a pearl of value that is impossible to produce other wise without that flaw? Or is the situation so dynamic and new, that there is no experienced candidate with the exact right profile and cost? Currently, our fund is evaluating a few startups right now as well as our current portfolio, and that's the type of stuff we weigh very carefully; do a candidate's flaws overwhelm the positives or vice versa? Is Mr. RightNow better than waiting to find, if ever, Mr. Right? Those are the key questions when considering a Dark Horse
Obama's choice of Joe Biden is not a bad one at all, considering that the greatest challenge in U.S. federal policy is righting our perception in the world and the biggest potential weakness for Obama's administration is navigating foreign policy. Going with the experienced candidate that has been put to some degree of serious media scrutiny isnt a bad idea, and could prove to be just as inspired a choice as a Chet Edwards would have. As I said before, I am no polymath political analyst, but VCs and entrepreneur see the same type of dynamic when selecting staff and managers.
Going with the experienced, "rewind and play", with provenly success in this type of situation candidate, is a VCs wet dream, and that should be the goal for most entrepreneurs as well. But often those experienced managers aren't available and the Dark Horse bet is the only viable option. And sometimes that yields surprisingly good results or good enough until you can find that rewind and play dream team when the company is more mature. I guess what I am trying to say is don't be afraid of the Dark Horse, and don't be caught up with them either, but be aware of that dynamic in the choices available and the risks and potential rewards that each decision entails.