Startup Questions

Charlie O’Donnell posted a great set of startup questions yesterday – I just read them this morning.   Things that founders need to discuss with each other RIGHT AT THE BEGINNING:

  • What’s your equity split of this business and why?  Are we comfortable with the thinking behind that?
  • What is the scope of our business?  What is outside the scope of what we want it to do?
  • Are we allowed to do anything outside of the business?
  • What is the expected time commitment?
  • What are my roles going to be and how might that change over time in 3 months, 6 months?  Am I likely to be part of this company 3 years from now and in what capacity?
  • What happens if I get hit by a bus tomorrow?  In 6 months?  In two years?
  • How do we make decisions?  Can you outvote me?
  • Can you fire me?  Can I fire you?
  • If we fire one or the other, what do I leave with?
  • Can I speak on behalf of the company to the press?  To partners?  To investors?
  • How much money to we want to raise…now, in 6 months, 2 years, over the life of the company?
  • Would I sell this for $5mm?  $10mm?  Am I waiting for the billion dollar exit?  Are you?
  • How in love with this product am I?  Are their directions this could go that I’m not on board for?
  • What values in our employees to we want?
  • What do we value in our company culture?
  • What do you think I am best at?  What do you think I need support for?  How will you help me succeed?  How will I help you succeed?
  • How much equity are we allocating for future employees?  What do we think the first 5 hires will be?  10 hires?  20?
  • What are our personal cash needs in the short term?
  • Where do we want the business to be located?
  • What do we need from investors?   Besides money?
  • What’s your timeline before you need to see some traction on the fundraising or revenue side before you think this isn’t working?

Some of these are tough questions, but they will cut down on founder fights.  And founder fights are the leading cause of startup death.