Wednesday, 25 December 2013

SLP Pune - Session | Co-Founder Conflict

 Max Levchin ( PayPal & Slide ) once said about Co-Founders -

" You do not need a friend, you do not need sympathy, you do not need panic, you do not need gullible guys, you do not need a guy who when you say 
" Dude we are screwed !! " he too screams & says "Yes man !! Oh my God..we are screwed...." but someone who says "Its gonna be ok, we will fight our way out.." Its not a silly Mom n Pop statement which smells sympathy & well wish...but a deep determination and faith in each other abilities that things are going to get worse...but we will fight & figure it out somehow...we won't die so easily....Someone who assures you that you can go home this night and rest after a 18 hr shift....because he will do the heavy lifting for you the remaining night....someone who will help you SURVIVE..."

Our session on Co-Founder conflicts turned out to be a gem. The session was a testament of the fact that good planning & scheduling can make even a hectic day look easily manageable & rich. Hats off to Aarthi & PL Team.

FeedBurner Case Study

It kicked of with the interesting case study titled "Lather, Rinse, Repeat : FeedBurner's Serial Founding Team". It led to interesting discussion among he fellows with suave monitoring and channeling by Venkat & Aarthi.
What stood out from the case & discussions were some of the below mentioned points:

  • Practice & Time makes you better & aware of not only your abilities but people who you collaborate with...
  • Parameters which define successful behavior can be learnt & replicated.
  • Leadership is a natural extension of your personality
  • Its not only money that you should look for in investors, but their alignment, long term vision & their inherent interest in you, your team & products you will be building.
  • Hiring should not be outsourced & this is one of the most expensive mistakes you can make in early startup days.
  • Do not take agreements like equity distribution, exit clauses & terms of agreement when you raise money at face value & lightly. Think it through as these have significant long term impacts.
  • Your decisions in your startup should be always based on how much it benefits your startup, employees, shareholders & end users. Try to emotionally detach and this helps you make smart decisions at the right time.

We had an interesting round of discussion, mostly around the team dynamics, hiring strategies & buy|sell decisions. We all equivocally agreed that Dick Costello & his team should sell FeedBurner to Google.

Anand made an interesting point on importance of data & metrics to arrive at a decision which is pivotal to the growth of your startup & which decides the fate of the co-founders & employees.

Vikaram Nargargoje

Next was Vikaram - a CA from a venture firm. He talked about Co-Founder conflicts & some key financial aspects of equity distribution etc.

  • More Equity for a Co-Founder means more Accountability premium. Its like a promise he/she makes to create more value for the stakeholders.
  • Small equity stakeholders create more trouble.
  • The Team delivers value over a period of time.
  • Phantom Stock cane be issued to the stakeholders, this ensures that they have no voting/veto powers to block key decisions.
  • You should keep the initial arrangement of equity distribution simple.
  • Know thy Co-Founders, most successful ones know each others strengths & weakness.

This was followed Co-Founders talking about each others. The idea to record the co-founers narratives shows the way the PL Team & CEO went to make this an engaging & super rich experience.

Arun Purohit - Military insights in Stratups

Then we got some very valuable leadership tips from two of the speakers. First, it was Arun Purohit who shared his leadrship 101 relating his experiences in the Air Force.

  • Focus on time & punctuality
  • Build values top down in your organisation & do not compromise on hiring smart, quick learners & diligent people. Design your own test :)
  • Accept hard realities as an entrepreneur and take up things you are passionate about.
  • Dedicate yourself to one art & do it well. Be a man of the moment and do not try to mix roles at one given point of time.( e.g. father not giving attention to kid as he was worried about business .... & then worrying about kid while at business..)
  • People pay you for a great experience so focus on bringing that to life.
  • Punish undesirable behavior & be a soldier first then an officer. Point being know the art of things that involves in running a startup.

All in all the fellows got an insight of some military perspectives, its interesting to note that they both thrive on passion, dedication, perseverance, team work, tactics, strategy & committing to the cause. Fellows were able to draw parallels which made this talk insightful.
Thanks to Arun Purohit.

Ajay Bhagwat - Renu Electronics

Lastly, there was Ajay Bhawagat who really had some amazing insights on leadership & building companies.

  • A leader is face of the company and there's always a single leader.
  • A CEO is the guy who has the answers to all the questions or atleast knows all the answered questions. Period.
  • Advisors are very important for a startup and each should have atleast one.
  • Success is when you discover the formulae to repeat it & hence scale it.
  • Beware with false sense of security, plan plan plan & execute meticulously with data on the table.
  • Importance of a Product Manager.
  • Paint a picture where you wanna go and then execute with all your capabilities to get there.
  • create value for investors, employees, customers & vendors

To summarize, I think it all boils down to one simple things...
"its all about the people...."

Get the right passengers for your rocket ship & you can steer it the way you want to either to new fruitful worlds or to the wilderness of oblivion.
Its all up to you & your people. period.

Thanks to all the mentors, CEO & PL's for another triumphant session.

PS: Books suggested to read - Good to Great by Jim Collins & Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.

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