Adding an Independent to Your Board

I always encourage our entrepreneurs to add to the Board a potential mentor. Most do so and are usually glad later that they did. This topic has been coming up with two companies we just seeded, and so, I thought I’d write about it.

As I’ve written before, the CEO job is the loneliest. A CEO may not always feel comfortable going to the VC or the management team with every issue at all times. So, it really helps to have someone on the Board who can be a neutral sounding board.

I’ve seen CEOs try to tackle all the problems themselves. In the short term, it can work. In the long term, you risk burn-out.

As a VC, I don’t care if a funding syndicate doesn’t “control the board votes.” As a VC, I find VC-dominated boards to be less helpful, and sometimes, quite dangerous. That can happen when strong personalities in a room, and with limited data, are telling an inexperienced CEO what to do.

As a VC, I just want our entrepreneurs to win.

Adding an Independent seems “important, but not urgent” given other fires you may be putting out. So, the temptation is to blow it off or de-prioritize it. The problem is tomorrow may one day be too late.

So, if you’re an entrepreneur and your VC wants you to add a board member who can help you succeed, my guess is that you’ll one day be very happy with that offering.

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