April 29, 2014

Getting Ready for Our Second Board Meeting

Travis Good, MD

Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer

Board meetings and board management are pretty new to us. Our board is valuable to us. Our goal is to leverage our board as much as we can to help us grow Datica. We discussed our process of getting ready for our first board meeting back in January (we do board meetings quarterly), but we didn’t get into any detail on the process and materials for the meeting. Now we’re prepping for our second board meeting, and we’re trying to improve our process based on the experience of the last board meeting.

In getting ready for our first board meeting and preparing our first official board packet, like lots of good founders, we Googled around for good resources. There isn’t a Board Packet for Dummies but if you look around you’ll find lots of good guidance from founders and VCs, including most of the usual suspects like Brad Feld and Mark Suster. I ended up buying and reading Feld’s book on Startup Boards, and that has good guidance on how to prepare and distribute a board packet. The book also covers lots of other areas related to startup boards, and is to startup boards what Venture Deals is to raising venture capital; basically it brings you from newbie to nearly intermediate.

Below is a list of resources we read in preparation for our first board meeting.

That list if far from exhaustive, but it’s a good start. You can read about stuff and do research forever, but digging in and getting experience is when you really get moving and really learn something. We’re striving for the Feld approach outlined in his book. We distribute our board packet via Google docs ahead of our meetings. Google docs is really perfect for this. We only have 3 external board members but, as I’m sure is the case for most founders that have taken outside investment, there are lots of other parties, like investors, advisors, and board observers, to whom we also distribute our board packets. Our board packets are very detailed (21 pages this time with not that many images). Our board presentation, or board deck, is very simple because we expect the board packet to be read ahead of time and for the actual board meeting to be more a discussion of important strategic topics, not us presenting updates about our financials or pipeline.

We failed miserably at getting our board packet out a week in advance of this meeting. Our goal was to get it out, have people comment on it, and then schedule one-on-one calls ahead of meeting with the rest of the board members. That last part about the one-on-ones didn’t happen either. At least it gives us something to work on for our next meeting.

What we did do well this meeting, and was a huge improvement over our first board meeting, was get all the board in town the night before the meeting for a dinner. Our board meeting is 8AM the next morning, and I think our actual meeting time will be much more productive because of the dinner the night before.

This is very much a work in progress for us but we believe our board, and our board meetings, are valuable and we can leverage them to help us succeed. Hopefully we can continue to get better.

tag Company