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The Unexpected Quality that Many Successful Tech Investors Have in Common



tech investors

There are several qualities that good tech investors have in common: patience, focus, determination. But there’s another quality that might help determine successful investments: nerdiness.

It’s likely not one you’d immediately think of, but John Lilly insists it’s the truth. A self-proclaimed “alpha nerd,” Lilly is a partner at Greylock Partners, a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. He told CNN:

“When you see alpha nerds, and I qualify as one, move to using something right away, it’s a pretty strong signal that it will become important.”

During his time with Greylock, Lilly has led tech investments for major names like Dropbox, Tumblr and Instagram before those companies really made it big. He thinks that his nerdy interests in things like technology and consumer behavior have contributed to his success as a tech investor. And those qualities are likely found in many of those other investors who gravitate toward those same tech brands as well.

So what does this mean for your business?

Well, if you’re looking for tech investors, you could do well to rethink your audience. If your pitches are geared more toward successful Wall Streeters or any other non-nerds, it could be hurting your chances.

By contrast, if you already tailor your pitch to nerd types but they still don’t seem to be very interested, there might be a reason. Consider trying to think more like a nerd by focusing on your technology and the consumer experience to see if you might need to re-think parts of your offering.



By appealing to the nerd types of the tech industry, you could create a lot of buzz behind your product or offering that will attract even more nerd investors. And if Lilly’s success stories are any indication, having a company backed by alpha nerd tech investors gives you a decent chance of being the next big name in tech.

Nerd Hipster Photo via Shutterstock
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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found on her personal blog Wattlebird, and exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

6 Reactions
  1. I think that these characteristics don’t only apply to tech investors. They can also apply to any business person. You need these qualities in order to succeed.

  2. I am bit nerdy, but I wouldn’t call myself a “alpha nerd”! 😉

    • Hah, me either. In fact, I’m not sure I had even heard the term before. But I think it could catch on 😉

  3. Good point. This is true for any type of investment and entrepreneurship, but even more so with technology.

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