Do I want to be a founder?

#1 dad

Image by laurenfarmer via Flickr

“We’d like you to come on board as a founder.” After the first few seconds of excitement and dare I say, exhilaration, reality sets in. “Can you explain to me what being a founder means?” Does being a founder mean, like a parent, being present when conceived? And will it seem much like a parent, largely thankless, picking up things behind your offspring and acting as a source of funding for them? Sure you feel good about that first finger-painting up on the refrigerator, or the #1 Dad doodad on your office wall. But when you are up mopping their vomit or worse and staying up all night hoping the fever will subside is it worth the trouble?

My answer is a resounding yes!

And its always better to found a company with others than by yourself. With that said, it’s worth keeping in mind, your co-founders are likely where you will get grief when you least expect it. In almost every startup I have been part of, founders falling by the wayside has been a feature. Before you conclude the problem was me, I am in good company. When Paul Graham spoke at the recent Startup School 09 – he pointed that all the entrepreneurs he spoke to felt picking the right (or rather not picking the wrong) co-founder was the most important lesson they learned.

The toughest lessons I learnt about co-founders, was there can be so many unstated expectations, particularly when it comes to issues around your own evolving roles. Founder, partner, core team member, executive management – words that initially are used interchangeably and seem just so many words. Yet they have so many different meanings and nuances, as I learnt the hard way. Having been a part of five start ups, two as founder and three as early-to-late senior staff or management member, I have been at all ends of this expectation spectrum.

I’ve loved being a founder and will share the ways I have found to deal with the finding, keeping and savouring co-founders in my upcoming post. Share with me your experience with being a founder, what it meant to you and why you would or wouldn’t do it again!

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4 thoughts on “Do I want to be a founder?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Design of Business » Do I want to be a founder? --

  2. Very very well said, Sri. We are first time founders here and are knowing each other's expectations better and better every day. This discovery should, I feel, be a conscious and formal effort on the part of all founders, at least until the product & the company becomes bigger than all of them put together.


    • sAgar, it's a shame particularly in India, that our schools or families don't really prepare us to easily confront or talk through things. Something that is very critical for founding teams, who are still trying to figure out what they are trying to do and what they want to be when they grow up. If I had a dollar for every time I have seen a team face a “who-will-bell-the-cat” stalemate, unstated discomfort and walking on shells, I'd be a rich man. And this before other's come into the picture, be it VCs or new senior members all of whom who only add to the mix, if the founding team hasn't gotten a clearly agreed upon method to raise, discuss and resolve issues.


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