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Startup Boards: Getting the Most Out of Your Board of Directors Hardcover – December 31, 2013
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From the Inside Flap
Let's face it, as founders and entrepreneurs you have a lot on your plate, from building your product, landing customers, and building a team to managing your finances and raising money. As you develop your business, especially after you raise capital, you should have a board of directorsusually three to seven individuals who'll seek your attention and, at times, tell you what to do. You'll also discover that with the formation of a board come the inevitable board meetings.
So how does an entrepreneur manage this beast called the board, which has many heads, and even more opinions? Indeed, dealing with this aspect of a startup can be tricky for anyone. That's why Brad Felda Boulder, Coloradobased entrepreneur turned venture capitalistand seed investor Mahendra Ramsinghani have written Startup Boards. In it, they skillfully demystify board dynamics and the inner workings of a boardroom for today's entrepreneur.
Establishing an objective outside group is essential for startups, especially to keep you on track, provide you with support and advice, call you out when you flail, and, in some cases, save you from yourself. Here, you'll not only gain a better understanding of the softer dynamics involved with startup boards, but you'll also become familiar with the various legal and governance aspects associated with them.
Along the way, Feld and Ramsinghani detail the best practices that can make startup boards more effective. They, along with twenty other entrepreneurs, board members, and lawyers, share their real-world experience in this area, and provide examples of what works, and, equally as important, what doesn't. From proactively building a high-performing board and running more productive meetings to learning by sitting on the boards of other organizations, this book offers valuable insights into a necessary part of any successful startup.
Engaging and informative, Startup Boards is a practical guide to one of the most important pieces of the startup puzzle.
From the Back Cover
Praise for Startup Boards
"In addition to walking you through, in great detail, how a board functions, Brad has adopted many of the Lean Startup approaches to building, operating, and managing your board in a way that resembles continuous deployments. Any practitioner of Lean Startup would do well to use this approach to building their board."
—Eric Ries, author of the New York Times bestseller The Lean Startup
"I've had the opportunity to serve on a range of boards for companies at various stages in their lifecycle—so I know firsthand that building an effective board, and leveraging it wisely, is both a challenge and an opportunity. This new Brad Feld book will help you get it right."
—Steve Case, Chairman and CEO, Revolution; cofounder, AOL
"I've been fortunate enough to sit on a few startup boards with Brad. His 'less is more' approach to board meetings keeps the process efficient and focused on strategy. If you have any role on a board of directors, stop messing with PowerPoint and read this book right now. I guarantee that you'll get far more satisfaction from your future interactions."
—David Cohen, CEO, Techstars
"Having sat on multiple boards with Brad and his partners at Foundry Group as well as currently being the CEO of GetSatisfaction, I greatly appreciate the power of an effective board for a fast-growing startup. This book shows you the way."
—Wendy Lea, CEO, GetSatisfaction
"An excellent board can dramatically help an entrepreneur while a lousy board can sink a company. This book can help you learn how to be on the right side of that equation."
—Craig Dauchy, Partner and Head of Venture Capital Group, Cooley LLP
"Having been involved early on the Zynga board with Brad, we both experienced a radically new board approach while scaling up a company at an unprecedented pace. While there is a time and place for traditional board governance, an active, involved, and engaged board is required for any startup. Learn how to do it right in this book."
—J. Sanford (Sandy) Miller, General Partner, Institutional Venture Partners
"Brad is a powerful force in the universe and his board-level membership was a booster rocket that helped us grow so fast. This book will help make CEOs more effective at dealing with the personalities that can be on a board, and I would consider it required reading for any board member so they can amplify their impact."
—Bre Pettis, CEO, MakerBot
"While board meetings should be helpful to entrepreneurs, many find them to be worthless and tedious. This book creates a framework for developing a high-functioning board that is a real asset to a company's success."
—Jason Mendelson, Managing Director, Foundry Group
Top Customer Reviews
On the positive side, it is well written, and an easier read than many books on Boards (not exactly a scintillating topic). It is quite thorough, and covers some topics that I have not seen covered elsewhere (e.g., Going Out of Business). It is very strong on communications with your Board, better than any other book I have read.
My one significant concern speaks to the authors’ backgrounds. The book is very much oriented toward startups that are involved with venture capital, that go through a seed round of financing, then Round A, Round B, etc., and that are internet or software related. This is not surprising, given the authors’ backgrounds, but it makes the book less useful to the vast majority of startups that are not as described.
If you are a startup in the high-tech, high-growth, venture-funded arena, by all means buy this book, read, reread it, and pay attention to its sage advice.
If, however, you are like most startups, funded by friends and families, expecting to grow as fast as internal cash allows, and are in a non-high-tech business, you will still learn a lot from this book, but I would recommend you first read “5 Steps to Board Success” (Mark Daly) and/or “Creating Effective Boards for Private Enterprises” (John Ward).
A couple of specific comments:
(a) In several places the authors recommend that you have your attorney attend board meetings and take the minutes.Read more ›
Even though I'm on my second company, I had yet to find a resource that really helped me understand all the dynamics of startup boards. Brad's book does that well through a mix of real life examples and best pratices. From why they exist to how to build them right to the dynamics involved, this book covers it all. And it's definitely a book you can keep going back to over time.
Being great at leading a board definitely takes a lot of practice.
Great advice on what makes a good board and how a bad one can kill a great company. Keys to the kingdom:
How do you pick board-members?
Board compensation, who much?
What records need to be kept, and why?
What is the power of the board?
What can you do, and what should you do when it goes wrong?
This book is mostly about corporations; I was looking for more on Not For Profit; but even with that it was worth the time; it was a great read.
The right board of directors can help a CEO manage and grow an business enterprise. Also, boards can help the CEO recruit new talent to grow the business enterprise.
I highly recommend Startup Boards for current CEOs and any aspiring CEO.
Against all odds this book succeeds in meeting its aims.
The book is written and presented in a colloquial, up-beat modern manner. It will appeal to younger entrepreneurs although it would add value to even the greyest haired founder. Whilst it lacks scholarly depth, it is a highly practical book with some great tables and process recommendations that will help a novice CEO, founder or board member to approach and mange board challenges with confidence and a good chance of success. Some of the processes are described in a step by step manner. This makes it an easy to follow guide for designing board composition, recruiting members, developing a board agenda and even handling the tricky issues of CEO and board succession.
The governance theory is enlivened by transcripts of candid conversations with entrepreneurs, founders, angel investors, VCs and board members. My favourite quote (somewhat extreme) was “If I don’t get fired I know I had a good board meeting” which was hopefully said with tongue in cheek and twinkle in eye. Most of these offer valuable insights and cover a range of start-ups from Google and LinkedIn down to unsuccessful ventures that nobody (except for the people involved) will remember.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book contains lots of insight for running and managing startup boards. It's a wonderful resource for those new to startups!Published 5 months ago by inthetrenches
This book is a "must read" for anyone who's interested in doing a startup. There are lots of interesting examples used to explain why you should do one thing vs the other. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Doktor Gurson
I'm a first-time founder of Submittable, a YCombinator company used by over 9000 organizations and publishers for accepting and reviewing in-coming digital content. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Michael FitzGerald
Very detailed explanations and shows the scenarios that are likely to happen.Published 11 months ago by Christopher Quek
I think for many entrepreneurs that raise early stage investment capital, a Board of advisors and/or Directors "falls into place" as opposed to being thoughtfully and... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Mark Sawyier
This has some excellent gems, very useful. but it didn't need to be this long, and had some repetition. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Pam
This is a very useful book, authors share a lot of experiences and motivate people to do things correctly. ThanksPublished 16 months ago by Carlos H Garcia Orozco
As soon as I was about to finish our round, I started reading this book and got *a ton* of useful advice I was able to apply to our situation. Read morePublished 19 months ago by xbora