10 C-Level Positions That Are Red Flags For Funding

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Image via Wikimedia Commons

It’s your startup, so you can give early partners any title you want, but be aware of potential investor and peer implications. VCs and Angel investors like to see a startup that is running lean and mean, with no more than three or four of the conventional C-level or VP titles. More executives, or other more creative titles are seen as a big red flag.

In reality, startup titles should be more about the division of labor than an executive position. The most common ones I see and salute are CEO, CFO, and CTO. A few other credible ones would include Chairman of the Board (COB), Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). Some would say that if you have a title at all, you are not doing enough work. Read more

10 Key Traits Of An Ideal Entrepreneur Partner

Photo of Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt with Sergey Brin and Larry Page via Wikipedia.

Photo of Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt with Sergey Brin and Larry Page via Wikipedia.

A while back I talked about how and where to find a co-founder in “For a Startup, Two Heads are Always Better Than One”. The feedback was good, but some readers asked me to be a bit more specific on attributes that might indicate an ideal startup partner. Even if you are looking in all the right places, it helps to know what you are looking for.

In this context, I’m broadening the definition of partner from co-founder to “business partner.” The reason is that good attributes apply equally well to “external” partners, as they do to internal partners, like a co-founder or CTO. A good overall example is the synergy between Google co-Founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, as well as with Chairman Eric Schmidt. Read more

Team Member Competency Is Critical To Your Startup

Image via Amazon.com

Image via Amazon.com

Most people think that the Peter Principle (employee rises to his level of incompetence) only applies to large organizations. Let me assure you that it is also alive and well within startups. I see startup founders and managers who are stalled transplants from large organizations, as well as highly-capable technologists trying to start and run a business for the first time.

Forty years ago, in a satiric book named “The Peter Principle”, Dr. Laurence J. Peter first defined this phenomenon. The principle asserts that in a hierarchy, members are promoted so long as they work competently. Sooner or later they are promoted to a position at which they are no longer competent, and there they remain, unless they start or join a startup to get the next level. Read more

I have an amazing idea for a web based start up which is yet untapped. How should I get started?

The challenge you face is that there are other amazing ideas out there. Actually, there are many, many, brilliant, wonderful, amazing ideas out there. So faced with all these amazing ideas, investors invariably choose the ones that have been reduced to practice, developed traction of some kind and proved that they are amazing businesses, not just ideas. Read more

A Founder’s First Key Decision Is The Business Name

Image via Startup Professionals

Image via Startup Professionals

First things first – your startup needs a name! This may seem a silly and frivolous task, but it may be the most important decision you make. The name of your business has a tremendous impact on how customers and investors view you, and in today’s small world, it’s a world-wide decision.

Please don’t send me any more business plans with TBD or NewCo in the title position. Right or wrong, the name you choose, or don’t choose, speaks volumes about your business savvy and understanding of the world you are about to enter. Here are some key things I look for in the name, with some expert help from Alex Frankel and others: Read more