Are you a hacker? Or are you a hustler? Success in technology based startups requires both. Some of the most successful founders teams are two-person teams (Wos and Jobs among them) where one founder (the hacker) is more technical, but just that, he or she is a problem solver who can make the technology work to meet the real needs of customers, do it one time and do it efficiently. The other founder (the hustler) is more business oriented, but not just a salesman but a team builder who can orchestrate marketing, sales and operations. Sometimes teams have three, four or even more founders, but that can get unwieldy and sometimes indecisive, often gravitating toward two leaders in the group. Most common are single founders and they too can be quite successful (Zuckerberg for example), but it’s important that the single founder quickly build a core team to fill in the gaps for things that aren’t his strengths.
How do you find co-founders? How do you recruit a core team? You guessed it – networking. That includes trade groups like ENET but also your own personal network. There are also groups that provide matching making for co-founders. But you do want to be careful. Joining with a co-founder is like going into a marriage. You could spend years and go through much of your money, and you need to both trust and respect your co-founder to share that with you. So, it’s best not to just jump in bed but rather get to know your co-founder for months before or perhaps prior work experience.
Even then you still want to protect yourself. Things change. For some, family becomes more important. For others they can’t continue to live on ramen. It’s critical to have both core team but also founder’s vesting – so that if someone leaves you can get all or most of their stock back. There are other issues too in protecting yourself – relations with past employers, ownership of IP, keeping trade secrets. You also want to manage expectations of founders, core team as well as investors. You need a plan. It doesn’t have to be a 50-page business plan, but some drawn up plan and targets you hope to achieve. It will change often and being agile is an important trait of a successful team, but you want to be honest with everyone and keep all on the same page and engaged in the decision making including when major course corrections are needed.
Those are the issues of Co-Founders and Core Team, ENET will take up on February 4, with an expert panel of four well recognized serial entrepreneurs and co-founders, including the Boston Ambassador of Co-Founders Lab, moderated by the prominent Boston startups attorney and ENET Chairman, Rob Adelson.
Sharon Kan, CMO, Atentiv, Inc. www.atentiv.com
, a company that produces personalized digital learning tools offering a targeted and measurable solution to reverse inattention and impulsivity problems in children, She is also Co-Founder and Chief Visionary Officer, WIN Lab, http://www.babson.edu/academics/centers/cwel/educational-programs/pages/win-lab.aspx
the Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab business accelerator, at Babson College, designed specifically to support women entrepreneurs in their startup and early-stage ventures. Sharon is a serial founder and entrepreneur and a seasoned operational executive. Sharon was co-founder and CEO of Tikatok.com, acquired by Barnes & Noble; CEO of Zoomix, a data management solution provider acquired by Microsoft; and built Demantra Inc. in North America, which was acquired by Oracle. Sharon holds a Bachelor of Business degree with a major in Marketing from the College of Management in Israel; an M.B.A. from the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom; and has completed advanced coursework in French Culture at Sorbonne University in France
Rob May, CEO and Co-Founder, of Backupify
leading provider of backup and recovery solutions for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, backing up data for More than 6,000 businesses and 500,000 users. Rob serves as the company's chief strategist and resident visionary. Under Rob's guidance, Backupify has established itself as the leader in backup and recovery solutions for SaaS applications. Rob started his career as a digital design engineer at Harris Corporation. After that he held business development and management positions at multiple startups before co-founding Backupify in 2008. Rob is a frequent speaker at technology conferences including MIT's CIO Symposium, Cloud Expo, Capital Network's UpStart Roundtable, and the Cloud Innovation Showcase. An avid writer, Rob started the successful Business Pundit blog and currently contributes to publications such as VentureBeat and Wired. Rob was recently named to Boston Business Journal's 40 Under 40 which honors the city's top leaders. Rob has a BS in Electrical Engineering and an MBA, both from the University of Kentucky. Additionally, Rob served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Louisville School of Business..
Adam McGowan, Founder and CEO, Firefield
, an idea accelerator that helps entrepreneurs efficiently validate and execute their startup ideas. Adam is a serial startup founder and also acts as the CTO or Head of Product for a number of Firefield's partners. Whether acting as a collaborator, consultant, or connector, Adam is always looking to help like-minded entrepreneurs in any way he can. His diverse background in product, management, development, fundraising and finance allows him to offer his advisees, clients, parters, and students a truly unique and valuable perspective. He is also the Boston Ambassador for CoFoundersLab, http://www.cofounderslab.com/
, a national organization focused on matchmaking for entrepreneurs. Adam also serves as a mentor for members of Youth CITIES, Lean Startup Challenge, and other startup organizations. In his spare time Adam enjoys teaching workshops on various startup topics at General Assembly and Intelligently.
Polina Raygorodskaya, Co-Founder and CEO of Wanderu
a Kayak-like ground travel search which helps consumers find and book inter-city buses and trains. She previously founded and remains President of Polina Fashion LLC, www.polinafashion.com
a fashion, beauty and luxury PR firm which she started when she was a sophomore at Babson College. Previously, as a highly-acclaimed model, Polina graced the runway of some of fashion's finest designers. Polina’s entrepreneurial endeavors have been recognized by national media outlets including Business Week, the Fox Business Channel and Legal Zoom. In 2007, Business Week named Polina as one of the "Best 25 Entrepreneurs Under 25". She was profiled earlier this year by the Boston Business Journal article in its series “2013 Women to Watch” http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/techflash/2013/04/2013-women-to-watch-polina.html?page=all
Also, instructive to early stage entrepreneurs, is Polina’s 8-minute 2011 TedxBay Area talk “Dancing to the Beat of the Opportunity Drum” , LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_fB94ErNuE
Robert Adelson, business and tax attorney and partner at the Boston law firm of Engel & Schultz LLP
), and Chairman of IEEE Boston Entrepreneurs’ Network (ENET) is the meeting moderator and co-organizer. Rob has been an attorney for over 30 years specialized in business, tax, stock and options, employment, contracts, financings and intellectual property. Rob began his legal career as an associate at major New York law firms Dewey Ballantine and later Weil Gotshal & Manges, before returning home to Boston in 1985 where he has since been a partner in small and medium sized firms before joining his present firm in 2004. Rob represents entrepreneurs, start-ups and small companies, independent contractors and employees and executives. His main practice areas are: Business formation, allocation of equity and angel and VC finance; Commercial contracts, licensing, alliances; Executive employment, stock, options and severance; Trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets; M&A. Rob is a frequent speaker on business law topics and author of numerous articles published in Boston Business Journal, Mass High Tech and other publications. Rob has been on the ENET Board since 2002 and Chairman since 2009 and is also a Board member of the 128 Innovation Capital Group. He holds degrees from Boston University, B.A., summa cum laude, Northwestern University (Chicago), J.D., Law Review, and New York University, LL.M. in Taxation.
William Adelson is a sales and marketing professional and sales representative with BBS Inc