Board Diversity

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

The board diversity problem is a symptom of a much broader problem around lack of diversity in founders that get funded and lack of diversity in VC firms. Most startup boards are made up of a few founders and a few VCs. No wonder you have no diversity on the board. 1/ When a startup board is created, there should be two independent seats on it. 2/ VCs should accept observer seats instead of board seats when they invest in companies. But boards are important.

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How to Be a Good Board Member

Both Sides of the Table

I have been writing a series on how startup boards get selected, who sits on them and what to avoid. msuster Many investors don't know how to be good Board members.  —  @bznotes So I thought I’d offer some high-level advice on how to be a good board member.

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When Do I Create A Board?

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

I’ve been asked this question a bunch in the last few weeks in response to my post about more diversity on Boards. A Company should have a Board the day it is formed. The Board should contain one Founder (or possibly two) and at least two independent Directors. I know that many founders want to control their Boards for as long as possible. My answer to this question is simple.

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What Makes a Great Independent Board Member?

Both Sides of the Table

When you set up a board it is often initially a combination of the founders and the early investors. This post sets out how I believe founders (and investors) should think about independent board members having worked with many of them for the past 20 years.

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Why Every Startup Should Have an Advisory Board


For most companies, that means having a board of directors. A board can be great in the right circumstances, but a board can also wield a ton of power over a CEO because they’re often investors who have capital in your company, which usually conveys them some tangible rights to it (like the ability to fire the CEO, to impact budgets, to change the overall direction of the company, etc.). This is where I believe an advisory board is critical for every startup.

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Who Should be on Your Startup Board?

Both Sides of the Table

One of the things that founders have the most angst about is whom they should have on their board and at what stage of the business. Bad board members can make business very unpleasant. Do you need a board when you first start you company? Who Should be on Your Startup Board?

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Startup Boards

Both Sides of the Table

Startups that are backed by professional financial investors almost always have a Board of Directors that consists of some set of founders, investors and sometimes independent directors. What exactly is the purpose of a Board of Directors and how do boards best function?

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How to Manage a Board

Y Combinator

One of the most common questions we hear from founders is “How do I manage my board?” It’s something that provokes anxiety, because this is the first time the founder/CEO is subject to external supervision, and the board has powers that include the firing of the CEO and the senior management. Where possible, I’ve included specific examples – drawn from YC companies and partners – of how companies have handled board issues. But first, what’s the purpose of a board?

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Spade Work: How Early Stage Board Directors Add Value

The Seraf Compass

Over the past few years, there has been much talk about the importance of investing both financial and human capital into the rapidly expanding entrepreneurial ecosystem. From our perspective, human capital is as important as financial capital in driving the long term success of startup companies.

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The Agile Board

Both Sides of the Table

I recently wrote an article on how to respond to board members between meetings. It seems to me this is the main problem with boards. So when I read my post it sounded to me more like a new philosophy for “The Agile Board,&# so I put that as my subtitle.

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How Boards Need to Evolve Over Time

Both Sides of the Table

I’ve written a few posts about boards recently as part of a series on the subject. I admit that I haven’t yet read it but I’ve had numerous discussions with Brad over the years about board structure & conduct and consider him a mentor on the topic.

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Copeland brings breadth of corporate, government, higher education and startup leadership experience to growing board. To learn more about the Techstars leadership team and Board of Directors, please visit: [link]. ###. About Techstars stephanie copeland techstars board

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How do you pay an early stage board?


Give one percent equity to each outside board member vesting over four years of service. Many early stage CEOs and board members have asked for some guidance regarding pay and time commitments for board members. Here is my best advice, based upon many boards and many years.

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Should All of Management Attend Board Meetings?

Both Sides of the Table

Should All of Your Management Team Attend Board Meetings? The age old question for every startup is whom to involve in the board meeting. If you’ve taken the time to assemble important people on to your board then you ought to use the scare time you have together to pick their brains.

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What’s a company board good for, anyway?


Some of you have gotten along forever without a board of directors, or used your spouse as the “other” board member from the start. But there are some very good reasons to build a great board composed of some outside members. Today, we cover an ideal board’s collective mindset.

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11 Quick Tips to Get More Value out of Your Board

Both Sides of the Table

Many board meetings are bored meetings. This is a shame since the value that the right board could add is immense if you select the right board members and manage them effectively. Yesterday I wrote a blog post about what the role of a board actually is. Boards take work.

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The Board Before the Board

This is going to be BIG.

Forming a board. Board members can provide useful feedback, help to focus the founding team, and provide a network of contacts. . That''s how board participation can help an advisor scale. So why wait until you have a company to setup a board? Setting up a simple board before you''ve even got a company can help you get into the practice of collecting feedback and getting nudged back into focus.

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High Functioning vs. Low Functioning Startup Boards

Both Sides of the Table

I’ve sat on many boards over the past 2 decades and seen my share of high-functioning boards and low-functioning boards. Even the best companies with the best outcomes, however, usually hit some difficult moments where a highly-functioning boards matter.

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The Care and Feeding of Advisory Boards


And I don’t mean because they lend a credible name to an investor pitch: way too many entrepreneurs look at names on Advisory Board as just a way to expedite a raise. If that’s all you really expect of the Board, you’re cheating yourself as well as the investors before whom you dangled the names. Proper use of Advisory Boards begins with proper construction. But the real key to good results is that you have to keep the Board members engaged and educated.

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How to Prepare for a Board Meeting to Make Sure you Crush It

Both Sides of the Table

Most board meetings are administrative updates that accomplish very little other than inform board members about the performance of the company since the last board meeting. This is part of a broader series on Board Meetings. The board goes through admin approvals.

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Rethinking Board Observers – The Role of the “Silent Observer”

Both Sides of the Table

It has always surprised me that founders were so quick to fight over how many board members there were and so quick to agree to have as many board observers as people wanted. I have always been vehemently against board observers and wrote some of the reasons in this previous post.

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8 Tips To Get the Most Out of Your Investors and Board

Both Sides of the Table

He wrote a post this long weekend on how he manages the board of DataSift. In his post he asserts, “You get the VCs you deserve” and the corollary “You get the performance out of your board that you deserve.” I am on a board that does business with Yahoo!

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A Startup Advisory Board Dream Team is Priceless


I recommend that every early-stage startup find three Advisory Board members. Besides laying out the benefits, your advisory board invitation letter also might include: Your business plan executive summary. The Advisory Board’s objectives and focus.

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Seraf Toolbox: Guidelines for Successful Board Meetings and Investor Reports with Early Stage Companies

The Seraf Compass

Running a successful board meeting requires planning and discipline. To help you orchestrate great board meetings, we pulled together a collection of well-tested guidelines that will make any early stage company board more productive

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I won’t serve on a board without D&O insurance!


I’ve been sued as a board member too many times over the past twenty-five years of board service. Entrepreneurs blaming their board for failures of a fragile, early stage company. As a result, I now insist upon D&O insurance for every board upon which I sit. Close.

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Should Your Startup Have an Advisory Board?

Both Sides of the Table

Many startup companies hire advisory boards. So do advisory boards really add value? In my experience most advisory boards under deliver relative to expectations. Ok, next advisory board meeting in 60-90 days. This is part of my ongoing series Startup Advice.

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Why I Don’t Like Board Observers

Both Sides of the Table

I wrote recently about the role of Advisory Boards in startups , which I expected to be a bit controversial. It’s just that many companies waste equity on advisory boards, pick the wrong advisers or set up advisory boards with the wrong expectations.

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Diverse companies, boards benefit Oklahoma economy

Innovation 2 Enterprise

“Whether it is experience, age, gender, race, or any other trait, the different life and work experiences that individuals bring to a company or a board of directors provides a significant advantage in problem solving and strategic planning, which ultimately creates the best outcome for all.” Last week the CEO of Goldman Sachs announced that Goldman won’t take companies public anymore unless they have at least one “diverse” board member.

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So, your board is dysfunctional. What to do?


Boards are elected by the shareholders, sometimes with preferred shareholders holding seats by right of their investment. In that instance, often the investor selects the board member and the CEO goes along with the choice, mostly out of having no alternative at the time. It happens.

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If I join a company as a co-founder, should I ask for a board seat?


A board seat in and of itself has no particular value, and is often something to be *avoided*, rather than sought out. The legal role of the board is to make strategic and corporate-level decisions, hire/fire the CEO, and represent all of the stockholders of the company. Indeed, being a member of the board of directors means that you have a legal, fiduciary responsibility to the other investors, and are required to put the stockholders interests ahead of your personal ones.

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How do startups decide who sits on the board?


A company’s board of directors is technically elected by the company’s shareholders. So before a startup receives outside funding, the board is “elected” by—and usually consists of—the founders (although it may exist in name only.). This agreement includes, among other things, specific procedures for determining who gets to pick the members of the board. Invested Interests board of directors business entrepreneur founders startup

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Managing Your Startup Board?—?A Short Presentation

Both Sides of the Table

Managing Your Startup Board?—?A My talk was about “ managing your startup board ” and the full deck is on that SlideShare link and embedded below. How Do Boards Get Out of Sync? I think this analogy can hold for boards. Why Does My Board Get So Unfocused at Board Meetings?

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Why bother with a board of directors?


No matter what your size, if you intend to grow your business into more than just a lifestyle workplace, you should create a board of directors. If you take money from knowledgeable investors, you will be required to create a board as a part of the investment process.

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What Do Boards Actually Do?

Both Sides of the Table

There’s a lot of mystique about what happens at board meetings and a lot of imagined board-room drama. In some ways being a board member is like how I’ve heard people describe learning to become a pilot: Many hours of boredom followed by some brief moments of absolute panic and fear.

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Investors, your board, and you: Who controls strategy?


And because you need their money, the temptation is to listen a bit too well, and take all of the advice thrown at you during your presentations and during due diligence and finally from the vantage point of a board seat. Some board members may show dismay.

One Simple Way to Eliminate Distractions in a Board Meeting

Both Sides of the Table

Given how seldom you come together you’d imagine you’d have the boards’ full attention during this time. How to Deal with Electronic Distractions Of course the biggest competition you have with the attention of your board members is their mobile phones.

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Should You Allow “Board Observers” on Your Startup Board?

Both Sides of the Table

Should You Allow Board Observers on Your Startup Board? Photo by Antenna on Unsplash A board observer is somebody who attends your board meeting but doesn’t have a voting right. There are also certain points in a board meeting where you can ask the board observers to step out of the room unless they’ve negotiated specific rights that preclude this. Why do board observers exist? Note: This is part of a series on Startup Boards.

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