Launching a remote startup with new co-founders

Paul Boudet
Antler
Published in
4 min readJul 26, 2020

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I felt extremely lucky to be selected to join the Antler program in January 2020 as one of the entrepreneurs in their second Sydney cohort.

And it was indeed a rollercoaster. After weeks of countless design sprints, awkward conversations and extra coffee, I partnered with my two co-founders — Jonathan & Steven — and embarked on a journey in helping the world have better meetings with Meetric.

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic happened. From March onwards, we went from being in the Antler office every day to staying home with our loved ones, isolated from the world.

Jonathan, Steven and I barely knew each other — less than two weeks of working together — and we were now building a remote business with very little information on one-another: working styles, ways of communicating, etc. We had to learn all of that and make it work from the screens of our computers.

The Meetric team: Jonathan, Paul and Steven

Working remotely every day forced us to be much more structured than usual: the lack of physical proximity reduces the amount of ad-hoc interactions, making it much harder to communicate. And when you’re a new founding team, barely knowing each other, communication is the most important thing. Structure was important because structure brings clarity, and clarity improves communication.

Before being confined to our homes, we did know three things that were critical to our success as a new founding team:

  • We knew our respective roles: areas of responsibilities and titles was a discussion we had and agreed on early on.
  • We knew all of us had strong self-awareness and EQ: a non-negotiating skill for a founder to be able to objectively evaluate himself and manage his emotions.
  • We knew we enjoyed spending time with one another: we all passed the flight test — if you can’t see yourself spending 12 hours sat next to this person on a plane, you should likely not build a business with him.

Once remote, we structured communication and information sharing to make up for the lack of physical proximity. Here’s the blueprint we used:

1. Interactions

We weren’t afraid to over-communicate to be on the same page using the following cadence over video calls :

  • A weekly team catch-up on Monday to discuss
    - team health and offer a forum to provide feedback to each other.
    - learnings: what each of us would have done differently last week.
    - individual initiatives achieved last week.
    - individual initiatives planned for the upcoming week.
  • A weekly product forum on Monday to cover
    - last week’s sprint.
    - this week’s sprint.
    - demo of newly-built features.
    - learnings: user feedback, qualitative and quantitative.
  • A daily stand-up Tuesday to Friday to talk about what was achieved yesterday, what’s happening today, sprint progress, blockers and important updates.
  • A 1–1 for all three of us, to learn more about each other.
  • An FFS — Friday Founder Social — at the end of every Friday for the three of us to spend time on things other than work: games, trivia, beers, random chats.

2. Tools

We eliminated emails between us and instead established clear communication channels for specific purposes:

  • Slack for work messages mainly during working hours.
  • Whatsapp for non-work messages and weekend requests.
  • Tandem for instant audio and video chats.

For knowledge management, everything was managed in Notion.so, creating a central repository of information to enhance trust and accountability across the founding team.

3. Decisions

All three of us were pretty much on the same page but we also had the occasional disagreements.

When it happened, we championed open conversation and discuss disagreements over video calls until we all agree on it (more important for a strategic decision) or defer to the owner of the discussed area to make the call (for a tactical decision within Technology / Product / Marketing / Fundraising…).

4. Working Hours

Working from home on your very own startup during a lockdown is the perfect recipe for finishing every night at 1 am. There was no more distraction, nothing else going on so it was easy to spend most awoken hours on the business. But this is also a dangerous path, leading to physical and mental exhaustion or ‘burnout’ while impacting your personal life and the people in it.

We were aware of burnout and kept a work rhythm tuned to the typical working hours Monday to Friday respecting each other’s time in the evening and on the weekend. We still worked most evenings and weekends but with no expectations or decisions to be made then. I believe that a healthy work-life balance will always bring out your professional best.

What’s been interesting is that even once the lockdown ended and we found ourselves back in the office a few days a week, we kept the same system in place to communicate, make decisions, share information while having the added benefit of physical proximity. In the end, this blueprint has been extremely valuable to create the building blocks of a remote-first, high-performing founding team.

Until then, say hi on Twitter!

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Paul Boudet
Antler

Former VC-backed founder now looking for his next thing. Founded meetric.app (closed), urban-hideout.com (sold).