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How To Set Expectations With Investor Directors

Setting expectations with investor directors is critical for your board, and you should expect the same from an investor whether or not he is a member of your board. This deck is for entrepreneurs as part of a series of observations and tips on building an effective board.

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How To Set Expectations With Investor Directors

  1. 1. How to Set Expectations With Investor Directors by Brady Bohrmann, Partner at Avalon Ventures
  2. 2. About Brady Bohrmann Brady has over 20 years of experience as a venture capitalist and operating executive in both information technology and biotech. His focus is on early-stage investments and backing talented entrepreneurs. Throughout his venture capital career, he has worked with over 75 companies. He currently is a director or observer of many Avalon portfolio companies, including Backupify, Chart.io, Cloudant, Inc., Conjur, Indix, Juliet Marine Systems, Kaltura, Kinvey, Memrise, Nanigans, Pingup, Redbooth, Selectable Media, Simulmedia, The Happy Cloud, Twinstrata and Vook.
  3. 3. This topic is Part 3 of a four-part series by Avalon Ventures on how to build an effective board.
  4. 4. Setting Expectations for Investor Directors You should expect the same from an investor whether or not he/she is a member of your board.
  5. 5. Defining an Investor Director In my experience, investor board members tend to fall somewhere on a scale ranging from: • Those that think you work for them (avoid this type) • Those who understand that the best results occur when they work in partnership with you (find more of these!)
  6. 6. A Good Investor Director A good director will make you a better CEO by knowing: • How and when to challenge you • How to avoid undermining you They will publicly support your decisions, even if they don’t fully agree with the choices you make.
  7. 7. A Good Investor Director Your company will experience tough times. You will want (and deserve) investors that will dig in, work hard, support you when things aren’t going well, and not run at the first sight of blood.
  8. 8. Vet Your Investors Do your homework before choosing a venture fund by talking to as many people as you can to learn as much as you can about the person(s) with whom you will share the ups and downs of building your company.
  9. 9. 7 Investor Director Personalities to Avoid
  10. 10. The Dictator This is the person who mistakenly believes that by taking their fund’s money, you work for them. Board meetings break apart into power struggles, often to the point of the CEO seeking ways to work around the dictator.
  11. 11. The Drive-by Director This person consistently misses meetings, sends an associate in his place, or worse, uses the meeting as an update session to educate themselves about the company or the industry. Valuable time is wasted on justifying past actions or conveying information your investor should already know.
  12. 12. The Stage Hog These are the talkers and the agenda usurpers who view the board meeting as their personal stage. They stifle productive conversation by consuming valuable airtime in an effort to prove their knowledge and worth.
  13. 13. The Patronizer Typically designated by the founder or CEO, this person tends to be passive and unwilling to disagree with you, which would risk his relationship or his seat on the board. A board full of these types is a ticket on a high-speed train to mediocrity.
  14. 14. The Meddler This person would rather have your job than be a director. They thinks they can run the company better than you can. At the very least, they are an eye-rolling distraction and someone to weed out at the earliest opportunity.
  15. 15. The Academic A person who lacks real-world company-building experience and approaches the boardroom as a living laboratory. Though they’re often charming and articulate, it’s best to let them experiment with someone else’s company.
  16. 16. The Often Wrong (but never in doubt) Investor Typically, this is an investor director who is quick to pull the trigger on advice by drawing from the playbook they used in previous companies instead of critically thinking about your company. Experience is a great teacher, but it’s dangerous if used indiscriminately.
  17. 17. from experience: Over the years we’ve had the pleasure of working with some great investor directors and observed how a bad director can single-handedly poison the culture and derail a company. The very best are great listeners and have an intuitive understanding of how to adjust their style to the needs of the CEO: • One CEO may benefit from a softer touch and Socratic style of leadership • Another may prefer a no-nonsense and right-to-the point relationship.
  18. 18. The Next Area of Consideration The next area entrepreneurs should consider when building a board is how to run a great board meeting. See our next deck, Choosing the Right Approach for Running a Great Board Meeting.
  19. 19. Learn more! Visit http://avalon-ventures.com/blog for more actionable advice on early stage startups, VC funding and other entrepreneurial tips.

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