Seed Boards


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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Mark Suster wrote about being a good board member and Fred Wilson followed up with a good post on it.  Brad Feld has written a book about it and there are many other resources on the internet regarding startup boards.

Seed boards are different than Series A boards and Series B, C, D, E boards.

Usually at the Seed level, it is two founders and an investor.  3 people in the room.  It could be as large as 5, but I’d recommend no larger.   The board room can get lonely for the investor and the founders.

If you are a good investor, there is a constant stream of communication between your firm and the founder.  It’s not overbearing, but just good information back and forth.  Most of it is about the founder telling the board member/investor how they can support them.

What people forget is that virtually every company through the Valley of Death.  I have never seen a company sail through and not look like it is going to die at some point in the journey from seed to exit.

I don’t have anything to add to the above posts except this; as a seed board member you better be mentally prepared to go through the Valley of Death.  If you are not, don’t be on the board.

Seed stage companies can be very frustrating with their twists and turns.  Little things happen to upset them.  They are like a dinghy on the ocean. Sometimes they seem fully in control of their destiny and other times they don’t seem to have any control and a rudderless.

When you hit the Valley of Death as an investor, it can be totally deflating.  You invested in the company full of hope and you thought they were going to knock it out of the park.  Then, the inevitable comes.  Some investors want to lash out.  Yell. It is so frustrating.  Others retreat into a shell. Others want to fix everything.

It is very important for you to know your personality type.  Make sure that your personality doesn’t irrevocably harm the firm.  For example, say you are a controller.  You might feel like things are spinning out of control and you might say things that impact your relationship with the founder.  Perhaps you are a laissez-faire person.  Your inaction and lack of paying close attention to things will allow the company to flounder for too long.

There is no “right” or “perfect” personality type.  But understanding who you are and how you react before you go into the meeting will help you communicate and work as a team with founders to support them to try and get through the Valley of Death.