Seed stage boards are way overrated. Too much energy between Founder and Investor is wasted negotiating, preparing, approving, calendering, etc. If you need a board meeting to force you to be strategic or elicit engagement from your deadbeat Investors then you have bigger problems. Here are some common Seed Board myths.
The Board forces Investor engagement. Frequent and deep engagement between Founder and Investor is the sign of a healthy relationship. A board meeting should no more be needed for Investor engagement then a marathon is needed for trail running. Investors should be proactively thinking about you on a regular basis because it is in their best interests to do so. And you should be sharing enough provocative data and help requests on a regular basis to inspire your Investors to act.
The Board gives Investors a platform to influence. This is an Investor myth. The Investor’s influence should spring from respect and genuine interest vs the forced formality and authoritative infrastructure of a board.
The Board forces Founders to make decisions. If a board meeting is needed to “force” key decisions then you should demote yourself. In fact, the Board can disrupt the fluidity needed by seed companies as key decision-making can get pushed to these less frequently occurring meetings.
The Board helps Founders gain perspective. You should be making the time to be strategic, internally (with your team) and externally (with Investors, advisors, peers) every single week. Postponing this behavior till the next board meeting, when everything else around you is moving at lightspeed, is perilous.
We encourage our portfolio companies to start out with Founder-only boards. If the Founder wants to add an outside board member, then of course we want it to be us. Most active seed Investors will be much more effective with WEEKLY exposure to the issues you care about most and it keeps you top of mind. Our Founder relationships are productive and meaningful, not because we sit on boards, but rather because we actually want to hear what each other has to say. Now if you actually dont want to answer the phone when your Investor calls, well that’s a subject for another post.