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Should I let a co-founder join a business team even though it may potentially ruin the culture?

ldld subscriber Posts: 2 Member
edited January 2021 in Grab Bag

Hi all, I am new.

I believe that getting information is an important task when running a business, and particularly when you have to make decisions in an executive board. Basically, one of the co-funders of my startup is surely a good market developer. However, when embarking on this project with me, he chose to do so conscious to enter a new field. He was working in the electronics sector, and we entered the culture sector.

The problem is that, in a new sector, you should try to get information in order to be able to plan effective actions - particularly when you are a startup and you have to make effective actions with little money. He tends not to, and just shifts previous methodologies to the new field. As a simple example, a few months ago he started to work on a financial plan. I asked him to calculate exact costs for personnel, and he replied "in my previous company we were counting 80% taxes on one's salary, so trust me: it's that". After a few months, I obliged him to find some exact information on salaries for Italy, and we discovered that we could cut costs to half the previous estimation.

As another example, I asked him to just find the time to speak with 1 person in the field of cultural management (to get real feedback from somebody who doesn't know and start understanding people's reactions), but in 6 months he has talked to nobody. Overall, I just understand that he does not really proactively get professionally informed.

Honestly, he does not even get informed in his own field. He should be the "business expert", and he did not even know (nor proposed to do) that projects usually need a business plan to start. After this episode, I got control of the situation entirely and the project is finally developing well (with 90% of work done by me). As a last example, we were informed our business model could have been improved, and we came to agree he would have asked a friend of his on the business model of a research facility to consider further options. For 6 weeks he did not get informed on it, even though he passed a 1-week holiday with this friend of his.

I am afraid this approach may turn into a weakness in the future. For example, since we are in a pre-seed phase (but we were selected among the 9 startup finalists in a EU-run startup competition), I suggest to spread tech development on multiple years to keep costs low, while he is pushing to get everything already (with costs that I doubt investors may be interested to fund), and doesn't really consider my tech-development estimations (I am the CTO), adding what is for me unnecessary costs at this stage.

Now, since 2 months, we have two new members that are joining us. I understood that the team and culture are critical to the success or fail of the startup. However, this is a long friend of mine. Although, I came to understand that I should not collaborate with a person that wants to create business strategies without even getting informed in the new field, there is somethow this feeling of mine that says "we don't have to fire people, we opt for education".

So, I told him that if he wants to stay, he has to make a 80hours course to study the field (with a vesting agreement), thinking that this may be a good and reasonable approach. However, his behavior so far has been rather awful (basically "not doing"), and I am afraid this person may risk to ruin the culture of the startup in the very beginning, and demotivate others. Could my 80hours-proposal work out (so, "yeah!, great strategy dude!"), or it would be better to avoid risking the company culture to fail? Can somebody suggest me some ideas on how to solve this situation?


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