This series will look at leadership from the point of view of an investor or VC.

In each episode of this series, we will explore what traits, behaviors, or red flags investors see in the leaders that they work with – and how founders evolve over time as they become better leaders.

Tom Horsey is a Business Angel and very early stage VC investor focused on founding teams based in Spain from any sector. He is also a co-founder of StartupLabs Spain and Malta which is an accelerator program focused on growth stage startups.

Based in Southern Europe, Tom has been an active investor in early-stage startups, particularly in Spain, Malta, and Portugal. With his wealth of experience, he understands the challenges faced by leaders—dealing with people, handling uncertainty, and managing pressure. 

He recognizes the crucial role leadership plays in the success (or lack thereof) of founders. Having learned from his own experiences, he emphasizes the shift from being an executor to being a leader as a startup evolves and grows. When investing in founders, he looks for ambitious individuals who possess strong execution skills, whether it’s in marketing, technology, or overall leadership. 

He values the ability to make things happen and considers ambition and capacity as key indicators of success. Conversely, red flags include founders who struggle with execution and lack ambition. 

He believes that success lies in taking action and not being afraid to fail. He encourages founders to try, as the only true failure is never attempting something in the first place. Passionate about supporting others, Tom finds fulfillment in creating opportunities for startups and the jobs they generate. 

He believes in solving problems and making the world a better place through entrepreneurship. His friendly and humorous approach to leadership takes the pressure off and fosters an environment that motivates both himself and those around him.

You can find Tom at the below links

In the interview, Tom shares

  • “I’ve set up 16 different companies in my lifetime, just over half of which have been successful.”
  • “As an entrepreneur, I realized the importance of balancing leadership and operational focus for sustainable growth.”
  • “In early-stage startups, the shift from operational focus to leadership becomes crucial as the team expands.”
  • “To attract high-quality team members, founders must demonstrate leadership skills and create an environment for growth.”
  • “Successful founders excel not only as executors but also as good leaders who can drive their vision forward.”
  • “When investing in founders, we look for execution skills, ambition, and the capacity to make things happen.”
  • “Creating milestones, building a strong team, and achieving growth are indicators of a founder’s ability to execute.”
  • “Past experiences and early entrepreneurial traits can reveal a founder’s potential and entrepreneurial spirit.”
  • “Failure is only not trying in the first place. Taking action and making things happen is crucial for success.”
  • “Investing in startups is a way to support entrepreneurs and contribute to job creation and making a positive impact.”