What Is Talent Investing?

Posted 05 October 2023
Branded EF image

This is the first in a series where we are taking a deep dive into what it means to be a Talent Investor. This developing field is the frontier of company building, and some of the people who will come to define it may not have even heard of it. If you believe that you could identify and amplify exceptional individuals that will build generation-defining startups, apply now.


The premise is simple: there are people whose potential is so extraordinary that, given the right resources, network, and community, they could achieve remarkable success as the founder of a generation-defining startup. Talent investing is the discovery and cultivation of those people before they have a cofounder, and often, even an idea. 

It sounds so straightforward. There are no qualifications or specific knowledge listed on the job description. In theory, anyone could do it. In practice, it is a complex craft that each individual Talent Investor builds for themselves as they develop their taste for the subtle identifiers for exceptional potential. 

This is not venture capital

Traditional venture capital has it easy in comparison. Over the last fifty years, venture capitalists have discovered a fairly reliable list of markers identifying which startups to invest in. It’s not a sure thing, but it’s a calculated risk to invest in a credible idea that leverages a potentially huge market. Those fifty years have also contributed to a rough blueprint of success for startups. 

Talent investors have no blueprint like this. Being the first to identify outlier potential in an individual before they have a team or an idea is not yet defined, and maybe it never will be. Entrepreneur First has begun to create a structure that points towards what exceptional potential could look like – but it is up to the Talent Investor to apply those frameworks to each founder they work with.

Sometimes a Talent Investor can get it wrong. Picking a person who is exceptional, but is not founder material happens. Even if they are exceptional, and founder material, it’s not a sure path to success on their first startup. The failure rate is still extremely high. These experiences only help to shape the Talent Investor’s craft. 

At its core, talent investing is about people

We believe it really matters what the most ambitious people do with their lives, but what’s radical about talent investing is that we will invest money in those people at the very earliest stage of their founder career. This is too important to be left to the whims of the market or the expectations of their culture. It is better for the world if the most ambitious and talented people build things that solve important problems. 

Talent investing is about making sure that happens. It is a Talent Investor’s mission to amplify exceptional individuals and ensure their talent is not wasted. They are the guides and mentors that catalyze founders towards their generation-defining startups.