How To Communicate with your Investors between Board Meetings

Posted on May 1, 2010 | 66 comments


Running the “Agile” Board

Most early stage startups having monthly board meetings. I normally recommend 8 meetings per year. It makes no sense to meet in August or December due to travel schedules of most investors. You can do calls if need be. And I often recommend that board meetings be every 5 or 6 weeks rather than 4 to give enough elapsed time for stuff to actually happen between meetings. Quarterly is too few for an early stage business.

But that isn’t what this post is about. This post is about what happens BETWEEN board meetings.  And most companies don’t do enough between board meetings.  Doing nothing between board meetings to me is like running the “waterfall software development process.”  We all know that modern software companies run on the “agile” development process by having short release cycles and frequent communications.  Boards will thrive on this, too.

For the record, this is not a secret, coded messages to companies for which I am on the board! A prominent startup CEO in NYC wrote me a private message telling me that this was an issue he was struggling with. He has high-profile board members and was wondering what do communicate to them between meetings. This is written for him and for anybody else grappling with the same question.

First, let’s look at the “normal” board meeting. I ran board meetings as a startup CEO for more than 8 years. I didn’t love most of them. I found that too often it was an update meeting for investors rather than a meeting for my company to get value. I’ve written before about how to turn this equation around and run more effective board meetings. If you want to prevent board meetings simply becoming investor update meetings? If so, you need to do a better job of communicating between meetings so that they always feel well informed.

For starters, don’t assume that everything I say here is what your investors want between meetings. I suspect many of them do but the best rule for any communications is to agree expectations. Make sure to ask them what they want.

VC’s Want to Help!

To understand what most VC’s want between board meetings I think it’s useful to start with a quote from Mark Solon‘s blog for which I’m in complete agreement (along with agreeing with his entire post, which was brave, honest and accurate)

“The overwhelming majority of VCs I’ve worked with get up in the morning and think about how they’re going to help their portfolio companies that day.”

That’s it. Most VC’s want to help. Most don’t immediately know how. They mostly understand your company, your customers, your competitors and your market but never as precisely as you do.  So help your VC’s help you.  Here’s how:

Intros

So taking Mark Solon’s comments into context, this is what most VCs want to help with most of the time.  VCs know lots of people.  They network with other VC’s, other startups CEOs, larger industry players, journalists, potential executives looking for their next jobs, service providers such as venture debt providers, etc.

And let’s be honest, other than money and coaching most VC’s add little value to your company strategy.  I’m not trying to demean VC’s – I think it’s just reality.  And deep down they know this.  Yet they WANT to help.  So the best way they can do this is by introducing you to people who can help you succeed.

But often they don’t know the right people and therefore you often get a string of introductions of which some are awesome and some are unfocused.  The unfocused ones add obligations to you.  They don’t do this on purpose.  The best way to get the Glengarry leads is to tell them whom you want to meet.  Here’s what I recommend:

  • Create a Google spreadsheet listing your top customer prospects, biz dev prospects and other companies you would like to meet.
  • Have a column for “want to meet now, in 3 months, in 6 months, etc.”.  Listing the future “meets” will help them understand your future roadmap / thinking but will help avoid getting dropped into an exec meeting from which you’re not ready
  • Have a column for board members / investors to put their names against whom they know.  This will help because no investor wants to be the one without their name against anybody.  VC’s compete amongst each other to show that they aren’t the ones not adding value (a nice double negative, but true! ;-))
  • Have a space where you say, “please add other useful intros you feel you could make” and encourage them to add more names
  • Make sure to politely remind investors to run intro’s by you before sending them out.  We want to help.  We don’t want to be unfocused.  But most VC’s are “intro machines.”  Help them to be well behaved.  Help them to follow your process.  If you’re polite and persistent they will – and they’ll appreciate it.
  • Make sure to send a monthly email to all board members / investors with a link to your spreadsheet saying, “I’ve made a few updates.  I’d be grateful if you would quickly check the spreadsheet to see how you could help.”  We will not check proactively without a reminder.  We’re busy.  We want to help.  But we barely get through all our email let alone log into online spreadsheets.
  • Make the spreadsheet short and focused.  The longer it is the less likely we’ll read and help.  Feel free to have color coding for each member with companies for which you think they might be able to help with intros.
  • Finally, make sure you print out the spreadsheet and quickly walk through it toward the end of your board meeting (it’s not part of the strategic discussion – don’t lead with it).  This is partly to help you get the intro’s you need while you’re all in the room.  It’s party to remind board members that you walk through it each board meeting and they’ll know if their name is never on it.  It will help you to get them to remember to update it between meetings.
  • Publicly thank any board member in your board meeting for an intro that led to something spectacular.  I hate to sound dumb, but VC’s are just like any other people and human behavior is predictable.  They work hard to help you succeed.  And the reality is that they’ll never say they want recognition but it’s nice to be recognized when you went out of your way and it paid off for somebody.  That small recognition will help you get a bit more out of your VC’s relative to other boards they sit on.  I know any VC reading this will be wincing and thinking it isn’t true.  It is.  We’re all just grown up big kids who operate the same way we did when we were young.  Recognition is Pavlovian.

Talking about you appropriately in the right settings

The other thing that VC’s need between board meetings is a reminder of all of the key particulars on your company.  They mostly get what you do and whom you compete with but they can’t keep up with the constant changes.  Make sure you have a simple elevator paragraph of what you do.  It’s not a mission statement.  It’s a 3 paragraph statement of what you do.  It’s the kind of thing you’d give to your PR company if you could afford one.

Having these paragraphs in the hands of your investors will help ensure that they position you correctly when they talk to all the important people they see.  If you’ve ever heard a VC introduce you to somebody and describe what you do, you’ll know why you need this.

I also think it’s a good idea to have a competitor matrix that shows your key competitors and how you feel you stack against them +/-.  Unlike the intro Google spreadsheet for introductions, this isn’t something they’ll edit so don’t make them log in to get it.  I would send this out quarterly.  Have a column against each competitor for “recent news” where you have a one paragraph update on your competitors movements.

  • Knowing who the competitors are will help the VC with positioning you.  It will help in your board meetings because you shouldn’t spend tons of time talking about this in the board meeting.  You can talk about “what to do about competitor moves” rather than reminding them who your competitors are.
  • Don’t send with board pack.  Sending with all the other board materials will ensure that it is read in 30 seconds and not properly digested.

Positioning your progress correctly with their partners

The other big thing investors want to do is know how to talk about you with their partners.  Most partnerships are exactly that – partnerships.  We need to be sure we’re not surprising our partners with negative news and want to share the positive stuff also.  Make sure your investors are crystal clear about the things that their partners are going to ask them.

  • Partners will ask about “recent high profile news” that might affect the company.  If Apple announces their OS4 and it affects data gathered from the iPhone and you’re using that data – assume their partners will ask how it affect you.  Or if you’re a mobile ad network and they announce iAd – same thing.  Whenever a big announcement affects you I recommend you send your board / investors a quick email saying, “here’s the iAd announcement and how we currently think it affects us.”  Be honest about what you know / don’t know.  They will be asked by their partners.  They will appreciate your proactively telling them.  They will likely forward your email to their partners.  Make sure when you write it you assume this.  Obviously you’ll write  ”please keep this confidential” but don’t assume it won’t accidentally leak just a little bit.  Be prudent.
  • Make sure all board members / investors are clear when you think you’ll run out of cash.  This is the single biggest thing they shouldn’t be surprised about.  Even it it’s 15 months away they need to know when you think you run out and when you think you’ll need to be fund raising.  Constantly remind them of these dates.  They need to plan and they won’t want to surprise their partners.

Showing up at board meetings ready to contribute

If you want your board members to show up at the board meeting ready to contribute then you need to send out board materials 72 hours in advance.  Your board will say 1 day is fine and 2 days are plenty.  They’re not.  People get busy.  Most of them will read your board pack 30 minutes before the board meeting.  So they have no time to think about it, read your numbers closely, have a quick phone call or two with you about things and generally prepare.

If you can get it done the day before why can’t you get it done 3 days before?  Send it early and make sure to continually remind people politely that you expect it to be read entirely before the meeting.  If you want to be super prepped – call each board member for a 10 minute chat 1 day before the board meeting to chat about anything they saw in the board pack.

I know it sounds like overkill.  But if you’re not regularly talking with your board members anyways that’s probably a problem.  And having this pre board meeting really quick chat will make the board meeting more effective.

Update Notes – Your Board “Sprint” Process

I think the best way to keep your board members generally updated is to have a 1-page, bullet point set of notes that you distribute via email every 2 weeks.  It should be inline in the email rather than a document attachment.  It should be MUCH shorter than this post so your board will actually read it rather than skim it.

  • I recommend bullet points because it breaks up long text and makes it visually easier to read
  • I would break up your section into three categories: major achievements in the past 2 weeks, plans for next 2 weeks, things we could use help with
  • Make it clear to board members that it isn’t an obligation that they consume every one of these but that you want to produce so people will feel  a lightweight sense of what your company has been up to
  • I know it will seem like overkill.  If you keep it high-level enough it’s not.  It will help you better with planning, it will force you to make some commitments and it will help your board feel informed.
  • Think of it this way:  if having your development team work this way through sprints, why not board notes?  Meeting every 6-8 weeks with no interim communication is like the waterfall software development process!

And Finally – work the phones!

A lot of CEO’s ask me for standing “update” phone calls.  Most CEO’s know that I hate the formality of these.  If a board member is on 6 boards imagine how much admin it gives him/ her to have weekly update calls.  But I DO love to speak to the CEO’s all the time.  Often, but impromptu.  Get in the habit of calling board members frequents for quick updates or to ask for quick advice.

Resist the temptation to talk for a long time.  If you get in the habit of calling and getting off within 10 minutes then your call will always be welcome.  Not everybody works this way.  And some people are fine with standing meetings and following a process.  Me, not so much.  So make sure to ask your board members what they want.  I suspect many would say, “we don’t need to speak on the phone all the time.”  But trust me, it’s like vitamins – it’s good for them.  And you.  So make it happen.

That way board meetings will be there to talk about what REALLY matters since you’ve gotten all of the routine kibitzing out of the way.

UPDATE: Having had great feedback on the topic from Babak Nivi and Brad Feld I wrote a short update to The Agile Board.

  • http://lmframework.com/blog/about David Semeria

    Love the Google spreadsheet idea. Simple and very effective.

    Generally, coordination through shared web objects beats email hands down.

  • http://lmframework.com/blog/about David Semeria

    Love the Google spreadsheet idea. Simple and very effective.

    Generally, coordination through shared web resources beats email hands down.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Yeah, but you need the email plus the collective guilt to drive investors to participate! ;-0

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Yeah, but you need the email plus the collective guilt to drive investors to participate! ;-0

  • Jayant Kulkarni

    Mark,
    Discovered you on TwiVC recently and loved the show. Found your blog and read all (literally all!) your posts from the first to this one over the last week. Great stuff. Thanks.

  • Jayant Kulkarni

    Mark,
    Discovered you on TwiVC recently and loved the show. Found your blog and read all (literally all!) your posts from the first to this one over the last week. Great stuff. Thanks.

  • http://venturehacks.com nivi

    Agile is about short feedback loops. This post is really about getting information to the board faster.

    Information is part of the feedback loop. What's missing is changing the board-level plan based on the new info that board members are getting more quickly. An agile board would change it board-level plan more quickly than a board that only adjusts the plan at regular board meetings.

    I don't say this to criticize of course although it sounds that way in a blog comment unless I add a million smiley faces. I bring it up because I'm hoping it will spur more insightful awesome posts by you Mark.

  • http://venturehacks.com nivi

    Agile is about short feedback loops. This post is really about getting information to the board faster.

    Information is part of the feedback loop. What's missing is changing the board-level plan based on the new info that board members are getting more quickly. An agile board would change it board-level plan more quickly than a board that only adjusts the plan at regular board meetings.

    I don't say this to criticize of course although it sounds that way in a blog comment unless I add a million smiley faces. I bring it up because I'm hoping it will spur more insightful awesome posts by you Mark.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Nivi,

    Your comments are always welcome! Thank you. When I think about Agile development (as opposed to the Lean Startup movement) I think about:
    - daily standups
    - bi-weekly releases
    - regular releases
    - better, more frequent communications

    That said, your comment resonates with me. I'll follow up with a second post on that topic. Thanks, again!

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Nivi,

    Your comments are always welcome! Thank you. When I think about Agile development (as opposed to the Lean Startup movement) I think about:
    - daily standups
    - bi-weekly releases
    - regular releases
    - better, more frequent communications

    That said, your comment resonates with me. I'll follow up with a second post on that topic. Thanks, again!

  • http://venturehacks.com nivi

    Those bullets are only part of agile — check out the classic book on Extreme Programming by Kent Beck. You release more often so you can get quicker feedback so you can adjust quicker. You talk more often so you can change your plans more often. The whole point is to change your actions more quickly so you don't drive the car off a cliff.

    The lean startup model supersets agile to include the case where you don't know what you should be building. Previously, agile assumed that there was a guy in the building who knew exactly what should be built.

  • http://venturehacks.com nivi

    Those bullets are only part of agile — check out the classic book on Extreme Programming by Kent Beck. You release more often so you can get quicker feedback so you can adjust quicker. You talk more often so you can change your plans more often. The whole point is to change your actions more quickly so you don't drive the car off a cliff.

    The lean startup model supersets agile to include the case where you don't know what you should be building. Previously, agile assumed that there was a guy in the building who knew exactly what should be built.

  • http://lmframework.com/blog/about David Semeria

    Hi Nivi. I'm a fan of agile, but, as the Italian's say, the answer lies in the middle.

    It's also good to have a clear vision of where you want to go. Sometimes people don't really know what they want (this spans from investors to customers).

    Agile adjustments within a long-term vision is where it's at for me.

  • http://lmframework.com/blog/about David Semeria

    Hi Nivi. I'm a fan of agile, but, as the Italian's say, the answer lies in the middle.

    It's also good to have a clear vision of where you want to go. Sometimes people don't really know what they want (this spans from investors to customers).

    Agile adjustments within a long-term vision is where it's at for me.

  • http://starttowonder.blogspot.com sjain

    I totally agree with you David. There should be a middle way.

    I know of a company in Southern California that was in such a good situation. They had partnerships with mobile carriers all across the globe plus a social community that had numbers in millions. And there were users who would pay for receiving a friend request on their mobile. But the company was so agile that they kept changing the product every week making it better and more features that eventually users got tired of understanding the changes.

    Though there were other reasons as well for their failure but if you change your product every so often users would not stick however good the new product is.

    Case in point: Yahoo Mail. Users are so used to Non Outlook version, Yahoo has to keep old version. Investors should understand that business might not be profitable from day one but the product might be good enough and might just need time for users to get used to it.

    The balance should be brought about by a strong person in the product team who would know what to say “NO” to even though it might be tempting in the beginning.

    S Jain
    http://bit.ly/bSDghO

  • http://starttowonder.blogspot.com sjain

    I totally agree with you David. There should be a middle way.

    I know of a company in Southern California that was in such a good situation. They had partnerships with mobile carriers all across the globe plus a social community that had numbers in millions. And there were users who would pay for receiving a friend request on their mobile. But the company was so agile that they kept changing the product every week making it better and more features that eventually users got tired of understanding the changes.

    Though there were other reasons as well for their failure but if you change your product every so often users would not stick however good the new product is.

    Case in point: Yahoo Mail. Users are so used to Non Outlook version, Yahoo has to keep old version. Investors should understand that business might not be profitable from day one but the product might be good enough and might just need time for users to get used to it.

    The balance should be brought about by a strong person in the product team who would know what to say “NO” to even though it might be tempting in the beginning.

    S Jain
    http://bit.ly/bSDghO

  • http://lmframework.com/blog/about David Semeria

    Great comment.

    Although they're rightly taking heat on other fronts, Apple (at least under Jobs) have always had confidence in their own vision.

  • http://lmframework.com/blog/about David Semeria

    Great comment.

    Although they're rightly taking heat on other fronts, Apple (at least under Jobs) have always had confidence in their own vision.

  • http://starttowonder.blogspot.com sjain

    Mark,

    Your point about VC helping is very true. We got a big deal from “ABC” network through one of our VC's and now we have ABC to boast of to other companies and we are looking to sign deals with so many other Networks.

    Infact VC's can help also facilitating business between their current investments by enabling partnerships. My company shares infrastructure with other companies backed by the same VC.

    Its a win win for all of the entities involved. My company, Other company we are sharing with, The VC's and the users as we can use lot more infrastructure by sharing.

    S Jain
    http://bit.ly/bSDghO

  • http://starttowonder.blogspot.com sjain

    Mark,

    Your point about VC helping is very true. We got a big deal from “ABC” network through one of our VC's and now we have ABC to boast of to other companies and we are looking to sign deals with so many other Networks.

    Infact VC's can help also facilitating business between their current investments by enabling partnerships. My company shares infrastructure with other companies backed by the same VC.

    Its a win win for all of the entities involved. My company, Other company we are sharing with, The VC's and the users as we can use lot more infrastructure by sharing.

    S Jain
    http://bit.ly/bSDghO

  • http://twitter.com/yegg Gabriel Weinberg

    I'm starting to sit on some boards now (for the first time on the investor side). They've been quarterly, and that does seem too long. I wonder though if a better arrangement (than 6 weeks) is to schedule a meeting when we expect a milestone to be met (or have something to talk about). Your point seems to be that 6 weeks generally works out to this strategy, but sometimes it seems having one 4 weeks from now makes sense, and other times 10 weeks could make sense. I wouldn't go over a quarter though. Let's call it on-demand board scheduling.

    On the communication side, I generally try to be hands-on and so would like to have a lot of points of contact with the company (data streams, mailing lists, etc.). I've been hesitant about reaching out proactively though as to not bother/overwhelm the entrepreneurs. I wonder if you have any comments/experience on that as well.

  • http://twitter.com/yegg Gabriel Weinberg

    I'm starting to sit on some boards now (for the first time on the investor side). They've been quarterly, and that does seem too long. I wonder though if a better arrangement (than 6 weeks) is to schedule a meeting when we expect a milestone to be met (or have something to talk about). Your point seems to be that 6 weeks generally works out to this strategy, but sometimes it seems having one 4 weeks from now makes sense, and other times 10 weeks could make sense. I wouldn't go over a quarter though. Let's call it on-demand board scheduling.

    On the communication side, I generally try to be hands-on and so would like to have a lot of points of contact with the company (data streams, mailing lists, etc.). I've been hesitant about reaching out proactively though as to not bother/overwhelm the entrepreneurs. I wonder if you have any comments/experience on that as well.

  • Lee_Weinberg

    Mark — great advice for CEOs here — I have a couple of thoughts to add as a Board Member as well as Board presenter:

    A. I really think Board packages need to go out, with the full Agenda, at least ONE WEEK in advance. If this is to be an interactive Board (meaning the CEO actually cares to hear from the Board members), even 3 days is not enough. On the other hand, if the CEO is looking to “push stuff through,” then send it out 1 day in advance, by all means… Not good for openness and governance, but this is reality sometimes.

    B. With the Board package, the CEO should ask Board members to review the agenda and the materials and contact him/her with thoughts, additions, etc. The early delivery of the materials assists this goal, and gives Board members time to ask a couple of questions of, or get clarifications from, the CEO (or the CFO or other relevant management) in advance — perhaps issues and items that this one Board member cares about (and might have input on) but that if asked during the actual Board meeting might bog things down if they can be clarified/disposed of in advance. The Board member knows when the item may not be “agenda worthy” and to ask privately (the CEO can encourage this), but who knows, perhaps what he/she has discovered or asked might have bigger implications – hence the efficiency of asking and answering off-line.

    C. The issue of frequency is tough if you have Board members who are “big-wigs” and/or are out of town. Some Board members do not want to sign on to more than quarterly meetings. One compromise is 4 in person, 4 on the phone. Money can be an issue for a start-up as well — the out-of-towners need to be flown in and taken care of.

  • http://www.capitalistcounsel.com Lee Weinberg

    Mark — great advice for CEOs here — I have a couple of thoughts to add as a Board Member as well as Board presenter:

    A. I really think Board packages need to go out, with the full Agenda, at least ONE WEEK in advance. If this is to be an interactive Board (meaning the CEO actually cares to hear from the Board members), even 3 days is not enough. On the other hand, if the CEO is looking to “push stuff through,” then send it out 1 day in advance, by all means… Not good for openness and governance, but this is reality sometimes.

    B. With the Board package, the CEO should ask Board members to review the agenda and the materials and contact him/her with thoughts, additions, etc. The early delivery of the materials assists this goal, and gives Board members time to ask a couple of questions of, or get clarifications from, the CEO (or the CFO or other relevant management) in advance — perhaps issues and items that this one Board member cares about (and might have input on) but that if asked during the actual Board meeting might bog things down if they can be clarified/disposed of in advance. The Board member knows when the item may not be “agenda worthy” and to ask privately (the CEO can encourage this), but who knows, perhaps what he/she has discovered or asked might have bigger implications – hence the efficiency of asking and answering off-line.

    C. The issue of frequency is tough if you have Board members who are “big-wigs” and/or are out of town. Some Board members do not want to sign on to more than quarterly meetings. One compromise is 4 in person, 4 on the phone. Money can be an issue for a start-up as well — the out-of-towners need to be flown in and taken care of.

  • http://www.capitalistcounsel.com Lee Weinberg

    one more minor thought:

    In a more perfect world, it should be the Board members who make an effort to let all know (especially if it is a new CEO) that they are open to hearing from the company (and, frankly, the other Board members). Many CEOs would otherwise fail to call out, or try to save their powder, especially if the Board member in question is not the “warm and fuzzy” type or is perhaps a “big-wig.”.

    Personally, I think there is no room for any sort of stand-offishness or imperiousness, but it does happen, especially if the company is not hitting the cover off of the ball. If a Board member is not making time for you (whether you are the CEO or a fellow Board member), and you actually have some say-so with respect to the composition of the Board, think hard about nominations in advance of the next annual meeting.

  • http://www.capitalistcounsel.com Lee Weinberg

    one more minor thought:

    In a more perfect world, it should be the Board members who make an effort to let all know (especially if it is a new CEO) that they are open to hearing from the company (and, frankly, the other Board members). Many CEOs would otherwise fail to call out, or try to save their powder, especially if the Board member in question is not the “warm and fuzzy” type or is perhaps a “big-wig.”.

    Personally, I think there is no room for any sort of stand-offishness or imperiousness, but it does happen, especially if the company is not hitting the cover off of the ball. If a Board member is not making time for you (whether you are the CEO or a fellow Board member), and you actually have some say-so with respect to the composition of the Board, think hard about nominations in advance of the next annual meeting.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Thanks, Jayant. Appreciate the feedback.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Thanks, Jayant. Appreciate the feedback.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Regularly scheduled meetings are important just as regularly scheduled software releases are. It drives goal setting, progress and reporting. Plus, on-demand board meetings become hard when you have board members who sit on 5-6 boards due to scheduling difficulties. Always best to have on your calendar early so you can plan around them.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Regularly scheduled meetings are important just as regularly scheduled software releases are. It drives goal setting, progress and reporting. Plus, on-demand board meetings become hard when you have board members who sit on 5-6 boards due to scheduling difficulties. Always best to have on your calendar early so you can plan around them.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Big wigs + out-of-towners who are too busy to be at your board meetings should be … on someone else's board.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Big wigs + out-of-towners who are too busy to be at your board meetings should be … on someone else's board.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    for sure.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    for sure.

  • http://nachofoto.com Anuj

    Mark , Thanks for another great piece of advice.
    Could you do a follow-up post on “How to communicate with your Advisory board”

  • http://nachofoto.com Anuj

    Mark , Thanks for another great piece of advice.
    Could you do a follow-up post on “How to communicate with your Advisory board”

  • davidabloom

    I just closed a Friends and Family round for my startup and am thinking through how I will communicate with these investors. Your post gives me a great road map for working with professional investors, both on the board and off. Saved it to my Evernote.

    I am wary, though, of over communicating with non-professional investors. Even in a fast-moving startup most F&F-style or uninvolved angel investors are not familiar or interested in the ups and downs of startup life. My plan for these folks is quarterly updates with casual calls (and family sunday suppers) in between. This way I can smooth out the daily gyrations and personalize the message and tone to meet the interests and sophistication level of each investors. Definitely will be transparent but want to make sure the communication is effective, not just constant. Does that make sense?

  • davidabloom

    I just closed a Friends and Family round for my startup and am thinking through how I will communicate with these investors. Your post gives me a great road map for working with professional investors, both on the board and off. Saved it to my Evernote.

    I am wary, though, of over communicating with non-professional investors. Even in a fast-moving startup most F&F-style or uninvolved angel investors are not familiar or interested in the ups and downs of startup life. My plan for these folks is quarterly updates with casual calls (and family sunday suppers) in between. This way I can smooth out the daily gyrations and personalize the message and tone to meet the interests and sophistication level of each investors. Definitely will be transparent but want to make sure the communication is effective, not just constant. Does that make sense?

  • http://twitter.com/chrisspanos chris spanos

    Very helpful and timely post. I was just speaking with a potential board member for our start up about this very issue early this week.

  • http://twitter.com/chrisspanos chris spanos

    Very helpful and timely post. I was just speaking with a potential board member for our start up about this very issue early this week.

  • http://www.victusspiritus.com/ Mark Essel

    There's not enough hours in the day to formalize all the great advice you and Fredput out there for founders. Appreciate the back post on meeetings, still chewing through the details of this one as I get my dev environment rebuilt (always upgrade OS with caution, if in doubt wait on that switch).

    Really enjoy the idea of the introduction roadmap and competitive VC who do they know chart. Brilliant!

  • http://www.victusspiritus.com/ Mark Essel

    There's not enough hours in the day to formalize all the great advice you and Fredput out there for founders. Appreciate the back post on meeetings, still chewing through the details of this one as I get my dev environment rebuilt (always upgrade OS with caution, if in doubt wait on that switch).

    Really enjoy the idea of the introduction roadmap and competitive VC “who do they know chart”. Brilliant!

  • http://www.victusspiritus.com/ Mark Essel

    I would add a caveat. More meetings, shorter intervals, faster iterations on meetings could cut into agile development of the business unless the “bigger meetings” are removed or cut back on significantly. Was thinking about the un-board meetings while reading Mark's back post on 10 meetings per year.

  • http://www.victusspiritus.com/ Mark Essel

    I would add a caveat. More meetings, shorter intervals, faster iterations on meetings could cut into agile development of the business unless the “bigger meetings” are removed or cut back on significantly. Was thinking about the un-board meetings while reading Mark's back post on 10 meetings per year.

  • http://twitter.com/mikikian Michael Mikikian

    For those interested, here's a quick google spreadsheet (Mark, I think I got all the fields):

    https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0Apk5SQ

    Feel free to edit to benefit others.

  • http://twitter.com/mikikian Michael Mikikian

    For those interested, here's a quick google spreadsheet (Mark, I think I got all the fields):

    https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0Apk5SQ

    Feel free to edit to benefit others.

  • http://KevinVogelsang.com Kevin Vogelsang

    Awesome. Really enjoy posts like this about effective processes.

  • http://KevinVogelsang.com Kevin Vogelsang

    Awesome. Really enjoy posts like this about effective processes.

  • http://www.johnexleyonline.com JohnExley

    @Jayant – wow, every post, that's sick! It's quite a goldmine here, huh? I am similarly inclined but have not made it through every one of Mark's posts.

    Mark – if I remember correctly, I have not commented previously so this is my 1st comment on your blog. Discovered you via your Mashable post “HOW TO: Create a Successful Company Blog” (http://mashable.com/2010/03/01/company-blog/) a couple months ago and have been pretty ferociously reading your blog and previous posts since.

    From the perspective of a college student who is passionate about learning and plans to start a company, I find what you write to be informative, actionable, and honest. I appreciate your 'upfront/forthcoming' style. Please keep writing, I'll keep reading.

  • http://www.johnexleyonline.com JohnExley

    @Jayant – wow, every post, that's sick! It's quite a goldmine here, huh? I am similarly inclined but have not made it through every one of Mark's posts.

    Mark – if I remember correctly, I have not commented previously so this is my 1st comment on your blog. Discovered you via your Mashable post “HOW TO: Create a Successful Company Blog” (http://mashable.com/2010/03/01/company-blog/) a couple months ago and have been pretty ferociously reading your blog and previous posts since.

    From the perspective of a college student who is passionate about learning and plans to start a company, I find what you write to be informative, actionable, and honest. I appreciate your 'upfront/forthcoming' style. Please keep writing, I'll keep reading.