We are bunch of co-founders working together on our idea. We have a MVP, few hundred users and paying customers.
We haven’t quit our day jobs yet. Yes we will quit them soon.
As a CEO-founder I feel that some co-founders are not obsessing over the start up and owning it like a co-founder.
Here are some signals for lack of ownership:
- They consistently don’t finish the sprint stories and don’t kick themselves for not doing it. There is also a little under-estimation of effort from them but there are other factors as well.
- They don’t find enough time to work on the start-up outside full-time job. Yes everyone’s time commitment would vary because of commute, family obligations but I think there is a lack of general focus on how you spend time during the day so that you can carve out a hour or 2 everyday. There is always some excuse. I don’t want to micro-mange but shit needs to keep moving everyday even if marginally. Also I don’t think this will change after we quit and get full-time on this, because there will always be 10 hrs of work to fill every hour. Its a founding team trying to find Product market fit after-all.
- They don’t come up with ideas to make process better, to grow , to reduce wasted time, to try new experiments. I think this could be a result of them already not finding enough time to complete their own stories. However as co-founder I feel you need to obsess over something : growth, sales, tech, culture , design, funding .. anything. But obsess 24/7
I have tried sharing our success stories, communicating vision, yelling on missed deadlines, doing regular retrospection meetings, giving ownership etc.
One thing I would like to point out is we are still making good progress given that we have full time jobs. Also people are working on weekends to make shit happen. Also everyone is signed up for quitting their $200k+ jobs. So there is commitment. It’s just that I don’t feel it’s co-founder level ownership and obsession.
I feel they might grow into a real co-founder spirit eventually as we quit. Managing energy is hard when juggling start-up and full-time job. But I want to make sure that I reward the ones who do grow up to it and not everyone.
Hence 2 main questions:
- Is there a way we can do an equity split that apart from vesting schedule has a built in performance component for co-founders including myself? Any formula here that investors would approve of in the future
- Any tips on managing co-founders as a CEO co-founder? Success takes lots of effort and patience and I want focus and speed.
I often think this as a shortcoming in me as a CEO being not able to motivate them in the manner I am. Again this was my idea and I sold them on it and brought them on so I don’t expect to be same level of energy but product idea keeps morphing and they can play an active role to make it their own.. They have given many weekends nights on this for few months.
Know that quitting on the team/idea is not an option. I feel this could be fixed