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Lessons Learned: Mark Leslie says be authentic

Right product, right market, right time, is better than the right team, wrong product, wrong time

Lessons learned from investor by John Shinal
September 13, 2007 last edited July 10, 2008
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/4e

If an entrepreneur with an OK team has the right product, right market, and right market conditions, they have a high likelihood of success because the rise with the tide, and importantly. Importantly, venture capitalists (should they be involved) can swap out the team for a better one. If a group of A-team entrepreneurs get together and create the wrong product, in the wrong market conditions, then they're more likely to fail.

So, it's better to have the right market, right timing and a so-so team vs. a great team with the wrong product and the wrong market conditions.

This is the observation of Mark Leslie, who's seen the entrepreneur's life from many angles. As the founding CEO and long-time board member of Veritas Software, he experienced first-hand the long trajectory of a startup that goes public, becomes a market leader, then gets acquired (by Symantec). He's also been a successful investor, with early stakes in storage switch maker Brocade Communications and in VMWare, the virtualization software pioneer which was sold to EMC in early 2004, then spun out of the storage giant last month in the biggest tech IPO since Google. As an adjunct professor at Stanford University, Mark also teaches entrepreneurship. Vator caught up with him in San Francisco, where he was speaking on a panel about his latest investment, Xsigo Systems. In this piece, he explains the idea of "authenticity," which he calls a key component of entrepreneurial success, and gives advice on how to pitch venture capital firms, whom he invests with. His firm, Leslie Ventures, isn't a VC shop and doesn't invest directly in startups.