The Founder’s Dilemma

Recently I met several founders and the discussions were around the so-called Founder’s Dilemma.  This refers to this famous Harvard Business Review’ s article back in 2008.

Does the founder want to become king or rich?  While there are some exceptional entrepreneurs succeeding to build a huge wealth while keeping almost full control (think about Bill Gates, Elon Musk, …), for the vast majority of others, leveraging their business with external investors is a must.  This is why I strongly believe that becoming rich is better than staying king.  As I often say

it’s better to have a small share of a big company than to keep a big share of a small company

Now, what does this mean for superpreneurs?  As superpreneurs, we want to solve some of the world’s biggest problems using exponential technologies.  We want also to explore deep space and allow the human kind to live permanently into the space.  To achieve such ambitious challenges, I give you an advice:  bring on-board bold investors that share your passion and your ambitions.

It’s good to have money, because running out of cash is the fastest way to have your dreams being stopped in the middle of the road.  But think that you are starting a long journey.  Your soul purpose is not just to create immediate wealth, but sustainable wealth and let something big for the next generations.  This is why you need to carefully select your financial partners and investors.  They must share your vision and your dreams, so that they will still be there even when you face major problems.  Because, believe me, your journey will be hard and you will face major issues.  But the ultimate goal is worth, really worth!

Depending of the stage of your venture, try to get on-board business angels at seed level and VC’s or industrial partners at series A level.  Focus on people or organisations having some experience or expertise in your market or in the exponential technologies you want to use.

A final note about industrial partners.  A good one can be a strong enabler and accelerator.  Your partner will immediately open the doors of a market or will give you access to a technology or an infrastructure at preferable conditions.  However, most of the time, they will ask you some kind of exclusivity.  Even if the exclusivity has some limitations (time or geography), generally I recommend to refuse the exclusivity or to grant it after some ‘trial’ period during which you can test your industrial partner and see if they really bring something on the table.  Indeed, some large organisations just want to take participations into promising startups to somehow stop or limit them by excessively control them.  For these incumbents, it’s a smart way to stop potential disruptors.  Hence, be careful with industrial partners and be sure what is their long term strategy, do they share your vision, are they willing to disrupt themselves with your help?

The Founder’s Dilemma will be one of your most difficult question to solve in order to go far and build something extraordinary.

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