What Makes a Great Investor? 10 Great Investors Weigh In


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An eternal optimist, Liu-Yue built two social enterprises to help make the world a better place. Liu-Yue co-founded Oxstones Investment Club a searchable content platform and business tools for knowledge sharing and financial education. Oxstones.com also provides investors with direct access to U.S. commercial real estate opportunities and other alternative investments. In addition, Liu-Yue also co-founded Cute Brands a cause-oriented character brand management and brand licensing company that creates social awareness on global issues and societal challenges through character creations. Prior to his entrepreneurial endeavors, Liu-Yue worked as an Executive Associate at M&T Bank in the Structured Real Estate Finance Group where he worked with senior management on multiple bank-wide risk management projects. He also had a dual role as a commercial banker advising UHNWIs and family offices on investments, credit, and banking needs while focused on residential CRE, infrastructure development, and affordable housing projects. Prior to M&T, he held a number of positions in Latin American equities and bonds investment groups at SBC Warburg Dillon Read (Swiss Bank), OFFITBANK (the wealth management division of Wachovia Bank), and in small cap equities at Steinberg Priest Capital Management (family office). Liu-Yue has an MBA specializing in investment management and strategy from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Marketing from Stern School of Business at NYU. He also completed graduate studies in international management at the University of Oxford, Trinity College.

By Erik Torenberg,

As a follow up to our collection of Investor Tools last week, we asked 10 investors in the Product Hunt community what it takes to be a great investor.  Here’s what they had to say:

If you’re not bringing value for portfolio founders, you’re gonna have a bad time. Startups get cheaper & easier to start every day and simultaneously can grow faster & further — that means with every passing day, great founders get more leverage so you’d better figure out why you’re valuable. Game recognize game. Want to invest in great entrepreneurs? Be one first.

– Alexis Ohanian, YC, @alexisohanian

Long version: http://www.quora.com/How-do-angel-investors-gain-traction
Short version: great investors write checks.

– Dave McClure, 500, @davemcclure

A great investor is ultimately someone that the best founders choose to be their partner in building their business. They believe in the long term potential of what they invest in and support the founders and team through ups and downs. They know how to give advice to help founders grow and scale just ahead of the company.

– Josh Elman, Greylock, @joshelman

What makes a great Investor? Self-awareness. No great investor runs someone else’s playbook – they build their own. Great investors listen and understand context. They help founders get to the right decision by listening and asking questions, not by just supplying answers.

– Hunter Walk, Homebrew, @hunterwalk

– Quick to commit, supports you before others validate the company

– Engages with you as a peer, not are your boss. Patient, empathetic.

– Invest in companies that can scale up to large markets (easier said than done as great startups create markets)

– Look for defensible technology-enabled leverage

– Good instincts for quickly sizing up founders

– Naval Ravikant, AngelList, @naval

We believe it’s important to be conscious & in a lot of ways understanding of a founders time. We also believe being responsive, a great listener & genuine goes a long way. Being a great investor at our level is very similar to being a great friend because when you’re on board as early as we are the relationship tends to be much more close knit & personal.

– Anthony Saleh, QueensBridge Venture Partners, @dude_br0

The first step is picking the best entrepreneurs with the best ideas and the ability to execute. So a good investor needs top quality dealflow paired with good judgement. But what is good judgement exactly? An understanding of psychology helps – reading people well and being a good listener. Also domain expertise, pattern recognition, and strong intuition about where you think the world is going.

Good investors also have a strong sense of independent conviction that helps immunize them against the opinions of others. And being nice helps – yes, there are successful investors that are assholes, but arguably being a “good” investor means respecting entrepreneurs and having a good reputation.

Post investment is equally important – going above and beyond what is necessary to add value to the company, particularly when times are tough. And finally, a healthy dose of luck! 🙂

– Alice Lloyd George, RRE, @AMLG23

There are many things that you need to do to be a great investor. One area where I try to continually improve is knowing which important questions, topics, and issues to bring up to founders as an informed outsider. One of the big benefits you can bring as an investor is having enough insight into a business to know how it works combined with enough distance from daily operations to help founders see the forest for the trees and to focus on issues that might not be as obvious given their attention to the day-to-day demands of running a startup.

– Charles Hudson, SoftTech, @chudson

Investors are only visible in the rear view mirror over the long-term because their cash-on-cash returns are the best measuring stick. That being said, there’s one common trait I’ve noticed: they’re the card counters at the casino rather than the roulette players. They’re clear about their view on the world, their investment thesis and their decisions.

– Paul Singh, Crystal Tech Fund, @paulsingh

It depends on how we measure greatness. If it’s a matter of return on investment, perhaps the biggest contributing factor to being a great investor is investing during a great market. If we talk about greatness from a broader perspective, the investors I look up to the most possess insight, conviction in the face of dissent and most importantly a poignant sense of empathy. Empathy not just for their entrepreneurs, but for the employees of their investments, the current and future customers of their products and even an empathy for those who may never become consumers but will still feel the impact of those investments.

– Matt Mazzeo, Lowercase Capital, @mazzeo



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