Professional investors seem to fall into several categories, depending on disposition and capability:
(1) Analyst. I’m a former management consultant or i-banker, probably with MBA, and I can see the long term growth potential in a market. Come to me when you are growing and I’ll help you figure out how big the market size is and how much of you can capture.
(2) Hacker. Wow, new tech is cool! I build this cool widget in my basement that I sold to xyz company for a few millions, maybe I can help you do the same. Are you doing something cool?
(3) Market enthusiast. Wow, I love stuffed animals. I’ve been thinking for years about how you could get them adopted in Russia. You are doing that? OMG! Let’s talk!
(4) Market sniffer. I can sense there’s a big opportunity in this market. I’m doing research to figure out where I can put my pennies and grow them into dollars.
(5) Elite. I care first about people. Really smart, capable people. Put a few together and I’m sure you will do awesome things. Sure, I’ll take a piece of the pie too!
(6) Social investor. I’m trying to do good… and make money! First tell me how much good you are going to do, then tell me how much money I can make.
Here are some of the downsides:
(1) Analyst. I never really built anything myself, don’t really know what it takes in the early stage. Not super good at evaluating teams either, unless it means calculating the number of ivy league degrees.
(2) Hacker. Hmm, I don’t really like to spend the time to do market research. I also don’t really like the enterprise. Let’s avoid sales and just ship it to the end consumer!
(3) Market enthusiast. Yeah, I’ve been studying the market for a long time and I just love this one idea. It’s so awesome. Oh, you aren’t doing that? Oh, I guess I can’t be super excited any more.
(4) Market sniffer. I like the front-runner, because he’s in front. I never really cared about this market enough to learn the whole landscape, so I’ll just stick with safe bets.
(5) Elite. Hmm, I prefer to stay on the usual circuits and let flow come to me. If there is anything I miss, it’s probably not that much of a big deal anyways.
(6) Social investor. I have some complicated calculations to make. And not really that much money. Maybe I’ll call you in six months? Is that too long?
Obviously none of these skills are exclusive, but they tend to dominate a personality, and even a firm. I personally like hacker, elite, and analyst the most, and in that order.