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Should all co-founders be on the board of an early stage company?

It seems to make sense that all cofounders would be on the board. But many recommend only 1-2 being in key decision-making roles. Would love to hear specific experiences that have worked or not worked (even more so).

6 Replies

Varun Mehta
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Varun Mehta Entrepreneur
CEO of Disqovery
Our attorney advised me to consider that having just one person (me) on the board would allow us to do a lot of boring stuff a lot more easily (opening bank accounts, for example). My cofounder was not interested in all of those tasks. Since I had a controlling stake in the company, anyway, putting my cofounder on the board would have been moot and slowed us down. I had a conversation with my cofounder explaining the decision and the rationale for it, and he was just fine with it for the same reasons.
Alasdair Clements
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Alasdair Clements Entrepreneur
Co-Founder, GoCAR GPS-Guided Tours
From experience we had both founders on our board to vote their shares as no other shareholders were there. But as you add share holders they may want others to vote their shares. they may not

I suggest both founders go on board and agree in advance how seats will morph when new shareholders are added
Jorge M. Calderon
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Jorge M. Calderon Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder at Stealth
You may want to begin by creating a board composition roadmap and an accompanying decision process. The criteria for who and when depends on many variables and inherently not binary. Your decision drivers, which you get to prioritize, could be based on company stage, strategic need, internal role/responsibility, tactical efficiency, intended stakeholder influence, and/or emotions/politics.
Heather Brown Natsch
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Heather Brown Natsch Entrepreneur • Advisor
Co-Founder & President at InteriorCrowd, Inc.
In my experience, having both founders on the board has been very valuable. We discussed how we would expand the board as we grew (akin to Alasdair's suggestion), but we ultimately decided to keep it small to help with decision-making. If you have more than 2 co-founders or significant extremes in ownership percentages, it becomes more complex, especially if you are bringing in new investors. In that case, I think that Jorge's advice is spot-on.
Peter Horan
1
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Peter Horan Advisor
Founder, Horan MediaTech Advisors
The short answer, in my opinion, is absolutely not. Being designated a "co-founder" is an honor and and having that title on your business card is an honorific. And, we'd all like to believe that the corps of co=founders is a band of brothers. However no company, can be run by a committee. There needs to be a CEO who should be the only employee on the board. Others may sit in on board meetings and have some board -level visibility. My opinions are strictly my own, but I'd never invests in a company that had all of the co-founders on the board.
Thomas Jay
1
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Thomas Jay Entrepreneur
iOS / Server Architect / IoT / BLE / iBeacon / Apple Pay
Its rare that everyone is on the board, even more rare that everyone has the same level of excitement for the company.

Too many times one person has the ideas and brings on a second person to help only to find out that person can not hold up the agreement or does not have the commitment to make it happen. Having them on the board is then a huge issue.

If its your company and your money, be careful who you let on the board. If you need "Adult Supervision" as required by an investor then thats different but keep as much control as you can, you don't want to have Gi Joe wearing Barbie outfits if the business is making commando clothes, its your dream and you need to control it.
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