Founders Coming Together

One of the things that trips up seed companies is founder issues.  Seed companies come together in all sorts of ways.  Some come together on hackathon weekends.  Some are just classmates.  Sometimes it’s friends.  I have also seen two co-workers come together.

Teams can work when they come from any place, but there has to be a system around it.  My friend Raman Chadha started the Junto Institute in response to that.   I helped him with the idea-but Raman has executed it brilliantly.  Having an idea is easy.   Hacking it together is a bit harder.  Managing and growing a company is extremely challenging.

When things go well, partnerships are relatively easy.  People sweep a lot of things under the rug.  It’s when things get tough that they start to fray.

There are a lot of blogposts and books on partnerships.  The most general advice is that your partner should be good at what you are not good at.  Everyone has strengths and weaknesses-so filling them in with a partner is a good idea.  But, it’s the communication between the partners that makes it hard.  Amazingly, even though humans have used words for centuries, we still mess it up when we communicate.

Being self aware of how you work, how certain situations make you feel and communicating those feelings in a way your partners can understand will go a long way in making the team work better.

In the book The Partnership Charter, they have a table of 8 personal values.  None of these are better or worse than the others.  But, I think it’s important for partners to think about and how they rank them in their lives.   It helps the other partners support them.  Here are the values in alphabetical order.

Aesthetic-a desire to value beauty, make things attractive, and feel free to be artistic; a desire for harmony with people, places, and events. sensitivity to and perception of the nuances that contribute to creativity.  May lack a sense of urgency for getting things done.

Humanitarian-a need to find opportunities to give time, talent, and money, sometimes placing other’s needs above one’s own.  A wish to be helpful and without the guarantee of personal gain.  May be taken advantage of because of trouble saying “no”.

Individualistic-A need for personal freedom and self-determination; self-reliance, self-confidence, and a willingness to take risks.  May ruffle feathers and alienate even friends.

Materialistic-A desire to work hard, keep score by acquiring money and possessions, and have a return on one’s investment.  May become a workaholic in pursuit of wealth.

Power-seeking-A wish for control, recognition, and ego satisfaction more than financial gain.  Hard working and willing to be accountable. May have a fragile ego, and impatient to get ahead.

Ritualistic-A need for structure rules and a “niche” in which way to feel secure; usually exemplified by high ethical standards and working in an organized way.  May become rigid and unapproachable.

Spiritual-A belief in a higher power and using faith to transcend reason; striving for unity with people, desiring to be of service to others and see the good in everyone.  May only see the good in others.

Theoretical-An insatiable desire for knowledge and understanding of how things work; a desire for intellectual challenges and a propensity for incisive decision making.  May move slowly and be a bit unrealistic.

It’s important to realize values can shift over time.  People change.  However, values are what motivate and energize people.  It’s important to know what’s making them tick if you want to work with them seamlessly.

When conflict happens, knowing the motivations behind the actions will help you smooth out the conflicts faster and make managing better.