Bet on the Horse, Course, or Jockey

Earlier today I was talking to a technology investor and I asked the question, “what types of startups and opportunities are you looking for in the area?” He stopped, looked up, and said he characterizes things in three buckets by betting on the horse, jockey, or course:

  • Horse – the specific business idea
  • Jockey – the entrepreneurs/co-founders/management team
  • Course – the market or vertical for the business idea

Of course, I’d heard the horse and jockey concept many times before but this was the first time “course” came up and I really liked it. When evaluating a specific idea (horse), the market or vertical (course) is extremely important as most of the time the idea that becomes successful isn’t the idea that the team started out with. The horse and course need to be evaluated together as much as they are evaluated apart.

What else? What are your thoughts on the terms horse, jockey, or course?

5 thoughts on “Bet on the Horse, Course, or Jockey

  1. Bet on the jockey.. The course will change and the horse has blinders.. But it’s the jockeys vision of the course that guides the horse… If the jockeys can stay on the horse during the bumpy curvy course.. He may win the race…

  2. David,
    I really like this post! Very thought provoking. A great jockey can make a great horse; but the opposite sounds impossible. There are fewer bettors who may show up at a poor course. There is also the situation where a good horse, with a good jockey is on a great track, the odds aren’t too good, but the payout is higher.
    Mint Julep anyone?

  3. Great article, David! I’d say Jockey. Though, maybe I’d add a fourth option: the Team inclusive of the Jockey, the horse caregiver, the Jockey’s trainer, etc.

    Everything comes down to the team (read: the people behind company, group, sports team). A strong team can implement bad ideas and do great. However, a weak team with a great idea may still flounder; even if successful at the start, a weak team wouldn’t be able to sustain positive momentum.

    A Jockey alone isn’t enough to win a race either. Takes a strong supporting cast.

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