I just moderated a panel on “How to Build a Winning Management Team” at the Perfect Venture Conference that included Adam Farber of IDT Ventures, Don Rose of Global Media Fund, Elizabeth Sigety of Delaware Crossing Investor Group, Jeanne Sullivan of StarVest Partners (by total coincidence, I had interviewed her business partner Deborah Farrington last September) and Jack Bloom of Apex Capital Corporation.
It was a great panel because each panelist had very different resumes. It was also an unusual venture panel because 2 of the 5 panelists were women. SiliconBeat just ran a post titled Old Boy Network? Forget it. Try the Old Girl Network that led us to a Red Herring article titled The Risk Mistress that cites the National Venture Capital Association statistic that women account for 10% of US venture capitalists. We beat the national average by 30%.
There were a couple disagreements, but I made the panelists duke it out which made for a fun time — and the panel ultimately got to some interesting conclusions:
- The management team is of utmost importance, but even a great management team can’t beat a bad market.
- Don’t start a business with your spouse.
- Always listen to your wife before making an important decision such as a key hire (was suggested by a man but enthusiasticly supported by the women on the panel too).
One entrepreneur in the audience made the interesting suggestion to use a “cliff” when hiring people. That means they only get to keep the equity they’re awarded if they stay involved with the company for a certain amount of time.
There was a bit of debate between the panel and the audience when I asked how long a startup should wait before firing a new hire who doesn’t seem to be preforming. One of the panelist said to give a new hire at least a month to settle in and 2 to 3 months to show performance. And audience member retorted that he fired someone after just a couple of weeks of bad performance, and regrets not making the fire sooner.
We’ve got many new interesting entrepreneurial topics to explore.