Vijay Anand | The Startup Guy.

Handpicking Your Board.

Posted on: April 8, 2008

After the holy ritual of selecting your co-founder (and yes you do need one), your mentor (absolutely crucial) and the core team that is going to be what you call your company, the most important task ahead is to handpick those who will take a seat on your board.

I can most shamelessly say that if Proto.in is what it is today, its due credit to those who are sitting on its helm as advisors and steering committee members. I haven’t made all the mistakes in life at this point in time, and I don’t intend on learning by committing all of them. It helps to have people with different facets of experience and perspective to build a robust organization.

I’ll make this extremely short and sweet with a small story. This is a story which is a narration by an investor and board member. Read, and listen to it closely:

“It was my first investment. I had invested my personal money into this company with a few others. Though I had been active in the industry keeping a watch on trends and managing funds, this was very much a new path to tread, managing the company and also keeping an eye on the fund that I had invested making sure that the company was heading down the right path. Two board meetings later, and that’d be six months later, the company called for an emergency board meeting. There were some realities of the market that were depicted on the screen which I hoped was just a nightmare come true. The markets had changed, new players had stepped in and the window that we had envisioned to cash-in on, was soon closing. There was obvious panic in the room and the first instinct was to point fingers at each other and all together at the founders. They must have seen it coming, right? To top it off, and to add insult to injury, one of the late comers to the game was gulping up market share and even making an offer to buy the company out.

We looked around. All the board members had the same resolution in mind. We asked the founders to step out for the second and in the next one hour had a very productive discussion within the board, making calls to all our close connections, validating the market and assesing our options. By the end of it we had figured out somethings. We called the founders in, and showed them the plan, and our commitment to make it happen, if they were willing – there werent much options.

Two years later, and with staying in the course, the company is one of the biggest portfolio companies in any of the board member’s deck of cards. The company stabilized in six months, and got to the green soon after. A few months back, we bought out that competitor. That’s when I realized what a great board could do for a company”

If you don’t have a board that can do that for your company, team and vision, chuck them out, or keep looking. And don’t stop, nor settle for anything less.

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1 Response to "Handpicking Your Board."

Extremely interesting. More so when a lot of entrepreneurs today want hands off board:)

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