January 27, 2014

Planning for our first board meeting

Travis Good, MD

Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer

We’re prepping for our first real board meeting. I say “real” because we’ve done the founders-only board meeting before, which was just the 2 founders and our lawyer. When you raise money, as everybody will tell you, the company you founded does not belong to you anymore. We’re completely happy with that outcome though we put a slightly different spin on it - the company we founded is growing with the addition of new valuable partners that can help us maximize our chances of success and accelerate our growth. We raised money both for the capital as well as for the strategic assistance.

And with our Series A our board grew from 2, just founders (me/Travis and Mohan), to 5. We, as the founders, kept 2 board seats and the Chairman position, while 2 seats were added for lead investors and one seat was added for an at-large seat; that at-large seat will be filled with a founder and CEO from another company, but that process is a post unto itself. We also have a couple board observers that attend, or call into, board meetings. We also have monthly status updates we need to send out to all investors. The point is we now have a larger board and more people that need to approve plans and assess our performance as management for the company. Since culturally feedback and accountability are important to us as a company, this fits well.

The way I see it is we can approach our board, and our board meetings, in one of two ways:

  1. We have a board, made up of people that know more than we do about things certain aspects of business and our market, that we need to report to and ask permission to do things. In this approach the board is simply an overseer with veto power. Founders who take this approach tend to dread board meetings.
  2. We have a board, made up of people with far more experience in building companies than us, that are vested in our success and are available to provide insight and feedback into our plans, metrics, and performance. In this approach the board is a trusted and strategic advisor. Founders who take this approach look forward to board meetings.

We opt to take the latter approach, and view our board, and our board meetings, as a valuable opportunity to help us improve and achieve our goals for the company. We want feedback on our performance and we want strategic assistance. We are pretty critical of ourselves as a team, and we are constantly trying to get better, but outside input is exceptionally valuable, both to validate when we are on the right track as well as to help us identify when to course correct. We see board interactions as a great way to get free guidance; it’s “free” now because we’ve already sold the shares and the investors have already wired the money.

We also recognize that we want help with areas like strategy, focus, partnerships, and financial assumptions and metrics. These are areas that we can discuss at length internally but need outside input and more voices, especially ones that have been there, at the table. We’re excited for our first real board meeting and will report back on how it fit our expectations.

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