Good and dangerous board members (and what to do about them)

By | October 26, 2020

Ryan Caldbeck, co-founder and former CEO of consumer-brands-focused crowdfunding web site CircleUp, just lately revealed an email he’d written to a former director on the board of the corporate.

In accordance with Caldbeck, he wrote the letter after CircleUp had purchased out the investor’s agency as a result of he needed to supply constructive suggestions, provided that this particular person’s “involvement was extremely troublesome for all of CircleUp and our board,” as he defined to this individual, whose identification was shielded.

The saga begged questions on what occurs behind the scenes at startups and about board composition particularly. However Caldbeck’s state of affairs could also be extra anomalous than not, recommend some veterans of the business who’ve widespread sense recommendation round the right way to keep away from problematic board members and the right way to take care of them if they’ll’t be averted.

First, and most clearly, get to know a possible board member in addition to attainable as a result of who winds up as a director together with your firm generally is a “life-changing determination” in each good and horrible methods, says Joel Peterson, a professor at Stanford’s enterprise college, a former chairman of JetBlue Airways and the founding accomplice of Peterson Companions, a Salt Lake Metropolis-based agency that invests immediately in startups and has stakes in lots of enterprise funds.

Peterson’s recommendation is to “interview buyers simply as they’re interviewing you,” together with not solely to get a way for whether or not somebody is educated and shares your similar values but additionally to get a way for a way a lot time they’ve in your firm. In his view, enterprise capitalists are “typically the worst board members whereas angel buyers are sometimes actually good as a result of they actually care concerning the entrepreneur and have a extra hands-on reference to them whereas they’re growing the enterprise.”

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