The Anchor List recognizes the most extraordinary operators building and advising startups this year.
Every winning startup has leaders that transform the trajectory of the business. You know them when you see them. They are relentlessly resourceful. They run over, around, and through walls. They solve problems in surprising ways and take 100% accountability. Without them, their companies wouldn’t have made it from zero to one, let alone reach hypergrowth scale.
We don’t think these unsung heroes should be forgotten. With your help, we identified heroes across 6 categories that have been recognized by their peers as instrumental for building the world’s fastest growing startups. Here they are.
Anchor product leaders can see the future. To echo Henry Ford, they’re not looking to give customers faster horses. They’re dreaming up products at the edge of our imagination, ones that customers are desperate for. They rally teams behind them to build, iterate, and execute at lightning speed. They have a founder mentality and are the critical nexus of technology and business within the company.
Anchor designers are the great artists of our time. They know how to tell amazing visual stories that transcend demographics and culture. They are endlessly creative, and totally unbound by rules and convention. They are perceptive students of human behavior that know how to get people to magical moments of delight.
Anchor marketers don't just capture demand, they create demand. They know their job is to think like an entrepreneur and get the most results they can for the most effective use of money and time. Rather than succeed conventionally, they win by communicating in surprising and unexpected ways. They market differently, rather than better. They avoid comparison games with other companies.
Anchor sales leaders are day one revenue machines. They can teach a masterclass in the art of relationship building. They serve on the front lines and can close deals in their sleep. They intuitively know how to pave a path to get the customer to “yes”; the word “no” is simply not in their vocabulary. They go beyond the call of duty to make customers successful.
Anchor operations leaders keep the bus running. They’re the adults in the room that get the backbone processes in place that set up a startup for hypergrowth. This means finance, legal, compliance, and all the workflows in between. They squeeze out every optimization possible across the value chain so that the bus runs on time, then quicker, and then more efficiently when more passengers jump on.
Anchor talent leaders build out legendary founding teams. They have a reputation for discovering “diamonds in the rough” and recognize amazing people before anyone else does. They convince veterans to take a chance on the unpredictable startup journey. They empower people to do their best work. They architect community and set the tone for culture.