Wednesday, March 12

Brains, Brawn, Charm, and the Checkbook

three stooges
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Last night I was pondering my tangential relationship with the latest start-up of an entrepreneurial friend, and I harkened back to my history of start-up involvement (roughly a half-dozen in twice as many years) and it dawned on me that there's consistently been four key players at the beginning, each with a pretty clear personality stereotype. As you might have gathered from the title of this post, those people represent the brain, brawn, charm, and checkbook.

The Brain is the mastermind that knows how to turn an idea into reality. He's not necessarily the founder, and in most cases I've seen he's "the tech guy". The founder comes along and asks, "Wouldn't it be cool if we could do X?" and the Brain says, "That's possible, and I can architect it!"

The Brawn is the guy that actually builds it. He's the guy that works eighteen hours a day pumping out mountains of code. In many cases, the Brain and the Brawn are the same person, but eventually, and sometimes pretty quickly, the Brain gets too busy with other business matters and the Brawn title gets passed on to another.

The Checkbook is the guy with the money. I'm not talking about the bootstrapping of the company; the founder usually foots that bill. Eventually the business needs to "step it up" and that requires some big money. That's when the wealthy friend-of-a-friend comes into the picture and writes a nice fat check.

The Charm is the wheeler and dealer. He's the cheerleader for the Brain and the Brawn. He's the seducer of the Checkbook guy. He's the "demo" guy; the sweet talker for partners, clients, and customers. In my experience this is always the founder. He's the guy the brings the other three together, gets the ball rolling, and keeps it going.

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