5 Reasons Why You Need a Founders’ Agreement

Just this last year, two founders in two different startups that I’ve invested in quit. Back in 2000, when one of the co-founders of my first startup quit (on religious grounds) we were quite taken aback and ill-prepared to handle it. However that parting was amicable and all the founders involved — there were five…

3 reasons you need a co-founder or partner for your business

“Do you intend to find to find yourself a partner or two?” You’d have thought I had slapped him, in the way he reacted. Once he got over the initial shock of my question, he was genuinely puzzled. While he never came outright and said it, I could see that he continued to be befuddled by my seemingly dumb question. “Why would I need a partner?” – the unasked question hung over the rest of our meeting.

Good design is in the details

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the work of Donald Norman and his seminal book “The Design of Everyday Things” (the title itself was in true design fashion improved from the original “The Psychology of Everyday Things” or POET.) I was also bemoaning that people seem to be far more familiar with Jonathan Ive, the much heralded (and recently knighted) designer of many things Apple, than with Don Norman and his now business partner Jakob Nielsen, who’ve been evangelizing human-centered design longer than most.

Finding a customer – Where do you start?

Once again, a question posed at Quora, “How can a straight out of college entrepreneur find clients for IT service based start up?” triggered these thoughts. As I have been recently looking at college startups, the entire issue of finding that first customer has been hovering in the background. When I cast my mind back…

When do I need a business model?

When this question was first posed to me, my immediate response would have been “At the very beginning.” However, upon a little reflection I realized that the answer needs to be a little more nuanced and is not nearly as self-evident as I reckoned. I’d still say  you should have a likely business model in…

Discretion – a skill founders and CEOs need in spades

And if there are real issues at play that need to be brought up to your partners, it should not be done in a flippant comment or regrettable aside that can be misconstrued or worse. It can be presented with some distance and perspective that you’d have gained in discussing it with a non-stakeholder first. This alone is a good reason to seek out a mentor or advisor, but almost any friend, who’s not involved in your business and has no axe to grind will do.

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10 books every entrepreneur should read

A question “What books should Indian entrepreneurs read” on Quora set me thinking. The good news is that Indian entrepreneurs should read, for most part books that entrepreneurs anywhere would do well to read. The trick is picking the 10 or fewer, that would make reading (or starting) seem not so daunting and that you’d…

Who’s pain are you trying to address?

In the last two months of 2010, I participated in a number of meetings with founders of startups – as an adviser, reviewer or investor. Interestingly in nearly every one of these meetings the same questions kept coming up. In particular four different companies  –  two nascent startups and a couple in their early tweens…