Sep 23, 2023 3 min read

10 Traits of a Successful Founder

Startup success is never guaranteed but based on more than 2,400 startup outcomes the most successful founders are more likely to demonstrate these traits.
10 Traits of a Successful Founder

For those of you that are new or haven’t heard about us… we apply Data + Industrial Psychology to the world of Venture Capital. We build an AI analyst, called Wendal, that acts as our first line of defense and allows us to get to an initial Yes or No in 15–20 minutes.

We have collected A LOT more data since our prior post nearly 2 years ago. Here are some big milestones we’ve achieved since publishing V1 in October 2021:

- Evaluated 6,000 additional founders
- Doubled our outcome data (training data)
- Implemented machine learning
- Added 5 additional traits to our TeamPrint report
- Had portions of our algorithm validated for statistical-significance by a leading data-science company

Our sample size for this study is now 10,000 founder profiles and 2,000 startup outcomes.

With all this new data we have 6 NEW traits enter the Top 10 Traits of a Successful Founder.

One thing to note before we go into the actual data. This analysis was done looking at successful founders ACROSS job titles. In this data we have aggregated CEO, CTO, COO, and other roles where there was a founder of the business. This is NOT specific to a particular role, even though we do have that data, we just aren’t ready to share that quite yet.

Below is a key to see how things have changed since our last edition:

- Italicized: New trait that moved into Top 10 or wasn’t previously analyzed

- Bolded: Stayed on the Top 10 list

10 Traits of Successful Founders:

1. Leadership

An oldie but a goodie. This one seems obvious, but great founders are great leaders. They have a win at all costs mindset and can inspire their employees based on how they lead the company.

2. Drive

- Drive overtook Grit as being a more impactful personality trait. Drive refers to the work ethic of an individual. The harder you work, the more likely you are to be a successful founder.

3. Confidence

Confidence is good but overconfidence can turn into aggression and stubbornness. Successful founders are confident enough to go ahead and make critical decisions but pause and seek guidance for anything that could sink the ship.

4. Honesty

While not mission critical to success, being ethical gives you a slight advantage than founders that are unethical. Ethical leaders build up a bigger network of supporters across key areas that are necessary to survive and thrive.

5. Uniqueness

This is an ENTIRELY new trait as of 2023. Uniqueness measures how unusual your behavioral traits are in aggregate, which can also be expressed as the likelihood of someone having similar traits. The more your behavioral traits differ from the mean, the more unique your personality really is.

Our hypothesis on why this is important is that people gravitate towards people that they feel they have not met before. Being “unique” may make it easier to fundraise, hire, and sell.

6. Consistent Communication

Communication is key. Whether it is with your investors, your employees, or your customers. Founders that have consistent communication are more successful than those that don’t have this in place.

7. Outgoing

Extraversion vs. Introversion is one of the most research topics and is analyzed across nearly all assessments. What we have found is that founders that get more energy from people and like social situations end up being more successful. You do not need to be the life of the party but being able to socialize and getting energy from interacting with people is important.

8. Humor

Being able to laugh at yourself and enjoy the journey along the way is important to long-term success. Founders that can make fun of themselves or just have fun during the process are more likely to be successful.

9. Proactive

Being proactive is paramount to building a successful company. If you need someone to tell you what to do, then a Fortune 500 company would be a better fit.

10. Resiliency

Go big or go home is the name of the game, isn’t it? You must be willing to go against the crowd and ignore any of the naysayers. Great founders live outside of the norms, and they prefer it that way.

Startup success is never guaranteed but based on more than 2,400 startup outcomes the most successful founders are more likely to demonstrate these traits.

We just launched a completely new assessment that analyzes even more psychometric traits… except v3 to be even more interesting!!!

SPOILER: Want to know something we found wasn’t important? That contradicts most of the “data” you hear in VC-land?

Having founded a company prior to your current startup does not lead to increased odds of success. This doesn’t look at magnitude of success, only the likelihood of success.

Want to partner? We’re always open to exploring partnerships.

Interested in our data? Our minds are always spinning about new ways to leverage our data and we’d be happy to show you more.

You can ping me directly at

Startup that is interested in applying for funding? You can apply for funding here.

Just curious of what your TeamPrint profile is? You can take TeamPrint here.

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