“A well-functioning board has productive discussions around strategic subjects, is well prepared, and is a safe environment where mistakes are analyzed”
“We usually take over the operational management when implementing our projects. In this way, a clear allocation of tasks is always ensured: Our experts take on all business functions so that the innovators can concentrate exclusively on the technical development”
A short guide on how to hedge against the three startup risks VCs ask about.
“We believe the best cultures are ones which empower the founders to be focused and collaborative. We have simplified and productised our management reporting systems which give all stakeholders access to consistent objective data. Our partners success is directly related to the founders and all stakeholders interpretation of the same operating data”
“Every investor is different and their personal skill sets will also be different. Good investors know what they are good at and what they are not good at. Then they figure out how to get their companies everything they need. Even if they themselves are not good at it”
“Many excellent firms have their follow-on funding pulled simply because the market needs time to mature until they can cross the chasm, and the VC needs to close the fund. All of that technology, carefuly nurtured team, and a great culture ends up wasted, or acqui-hired for a pittance, whilst the staff ‘phone it in’ until they can vest and escape”
“A top performing manager will always challenge everything insofar as the strategy or tactics are incomplete or imperfect. That means always. In that sense tension is a constant, and a requirement of being a top performer”.
“If I had to choose, companies with an average performance would probably be the ones where I would invest less time, because by definition, things move slower for them”
“The individual culture of a board varies greatly. The best boards are efficient – they involve a pre-read, have a set agenda, set aside time for strategic discussions, and have a clear decision making process.”
“Realize first and foremost that they are people; treat them as such. If I’m making an early stage investment, I’m making an investment in the founders and I only benefit when they succeed. With exits averaging 5-7 years, that’s one hell of a journey that I’ll be a part of and I go into it considering them friends”
“The relationship often falls in two ways: sometimes investors become micromanagers haunting the growth of the companies, sometimes investors can’t even get involved. The first thing to remember is to keep the right distance, stay on board, but don’t give companies the feeling of being micromanaged. Try give a call every other week on daily matters, give some advice but control the big picture”.
“What has worked really well for me is to prioritize what is best for the company and not for any individual or institution (including ourselves) who holds a board seat”.
“In my experience adding value as a board member has always been key; this means contributing to value creation with a very pragmatic, hands-on approach. Giving strategic counselling to companies’ boards, looking for potential clients and partnerships and contributing to the development of strategic business agreements.”
“Having been on both sides – an approach of “no surprises” helps create a productive work environment. Like any good relationships – the key is communication (proactively), & getting into business with people with the same values”
“We only work with seasoned entrepreneurs who went through the rocky ride themselves and will always adding value during board meetings. These board meetings are always as transparent as possible and is only focusing around strategy”.
“For us, we really try to focus on and add value around our core skill set both because founders want and need it and it’s something we know really well. That can happen as a board member (we have seats currently on four boards) but doesn’t necessarily need to – we just need to be able to offer our expertise and ideas and make sure they’re taken seriously. Obviously, transparency and honesty is the key to a healthy relationship between the board and the CEO”.
“The best board members “work for the CEO as long as they support the CEO.” If they don’t support her, they should do something (which could mean changing the CEO, or working hard with her to get back to a place of support). For me – that’s the fundamental “trick” to being an effective board member”
“Many board members and VCs do not add value to a startup or founders. Many are just burning money or want 10x returns without the right efforts, dedication and patience. I prefer GPs, investors to be more empathetic and understanding with entrepreneurs”
Case study of coaching Mark, the GP of a British VC firm, and his portfolio founders as well, to achieve higher operational efficiency and returns.