Market, Team, Product
One of my favorite mailing lists is Fred Wilson’s “A Venture Capitalist,” and I was really struck by this recent article about whether it’s better to back the team or the product, when evaluating investing in a startup company.
In the post, Fred makes the case that the three important factors are a mix of market, team, and product. The overall size of the market is important, because that determines the size of the opportunity. The founding team is important because they determine how the company is run, what its values are, and how decisions are made on how the product made. And the product is important because it’s the thing that actually has to appeal to consumers.
I think this analogy links very closely to how I tend to evaluate what movies to make. The product is the screenplay or the treatment or the pitch. The team are the writer, director, stars, and key department heads that will determine not only how the product develops, but also what the process will be like.
The market is a bit trickier. If a film already had distribution, the market is the moviegoing audience for this particular product and team. If a film doesn’t have distribution, then you also have to consider the market of what companies would distribute a movie like this. You have to plan for the eventual audience and the smaller audience of acquisition executives who decide what movies they want to buy and release.
But really all three of these things matter. The filmmakers, the movie, and the potential audience for that movie. If you get all three of those things right, then you drastically increase your opportunity for success. If you start getting any of those things wrong, and you’re going to have a very rough path ahead of you.