Learn to deal with Startup Founder’s Dilemmas

The correct selection of a co-founder (or co-founders) is a key determinant of long-term success in a startup. Many Start-ups already have serious issues from day one such as an insufficient market, technology challenges, distribution challenges, etc. But, many of these problems can be addressed with an excellent founding team, However, when you have chosen badly, do not expect an easy ride.

Sixty-five percent of startups fail because of “people problems” – interpersonal tensions between the founding team, new-hires and investors. Kauffman Founders School, tackles these issues head on in its newest series that is released for 2014. In my opinion the current generation of would be founders never had it so easy in terms of being able to draw on a wealth of knowledge, before taking the plunge.


“Founder’s Dilemmas” features insights from Noam Wasserman, who teaches an award-winning course on entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School and is author of THE FOUNDER’S DILEMMAS: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup. Presented through a series of videos and supporting materials, Wasserman’s online series provides practical lessons on what founders can do at the earliest stages of a startup to eliminate problems that typically lead to failure. The Founder’s Dilemmas curriculum offers advice on four founder issues:

  1. Should I Co-found? With Whom?: Future ramifications of this key decision
  2. Relationships: Pros and cons of founding with friends, family or former coworkers
  3. Equity Splits: A founder checklist to know when and how to make fair equity splits
  4. Challenges on the Road to Growth: How to balance founder wealth vs. control

Key questions to constantly ask yourself are:

  1. What gaps exist for us as a team? How and when will we fill them? How do we balance one another?
  2. Where don’t we balance each other?  Are we collectively ready to make the leap?
  3. How much time and resources can we each contribute?  How can we support one another? How will we ensure effective communication exists between us throughout?

In addition to Wasserman’s lectures, the Founder’s Dilemmas series includes questions for founders and their teams to answer; an “impact guide” to help founders answer the question, “What will I do differently as a result of the lesson I’ve learned?”; tools and resources to help them implement what they’ve learned; and suggestions for related readings that enhance the lesson and offer additional insights and resources.

The online education program is housed on the Kauffman Foundation’s Entrepreneurship.org web platform, which offers resources, educational information and tools for entrepreneurs. It can be accessed at http://www.KauffmanFoundersSchool.org or via http://www.Entrepreneurship.org

For further reading here is an article on the topic: Questions You Should Ask Your Co-Founders.