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How to Recruit Credible Advisors for your Startup

Posted on Wednesday, Sep 9th 2015

We get this question a lot. There is a chicken and an egg problem buried in it that you need to learn to navigate. In this post, I’d like to walk you through a strategy that we believe will work.

Advisors’ Motivation

First, you should understand the advisor’s motivation. Most people who do startup advising seriously do it to give back AND to make money. The second goal is not insignificant. There is often a third goal: prestige. They want to say that they advise such and such well-known startup.

That means, advisors won’t be advising you for free. They would expect compensation. Typically, this compensation is awarded in advisory shares. That means, you are expecting an experienced person to ‘invest’ their time and network in your fledgling startup against equity.

In exchange, they can offer you a variety of different types of value: strategic advice, credibility with investors, introductions to investors, potentially, introductions to customers, channel partners, help with recruitment, etc.

You need to figure out what the advisor would bring to the table before parting with valuable equity, because, the earlier an advisor gets involved, the more equity (s)he will want.

Great Advisors Behave Like Investors

Translation, they want to invest in validated businesses.

And, very few would spend inordinate hours coaching you to climb the steep learning curve that any inexperienced entrepreneur needs to climb.

That means, you are going to need to travel that early part of your journey on your own, before you can recruit high profile advisors by making a compelling case that your equity is worth something.

In a way, that goes back to our popular saying in 1M/1M: Investors like to come to the rescue of victory. Well, so do advisors.

Bogus Advisors abound

There are tons of people who move around the eco-system claiming to be great advisors. They don’t add value, and if you aren’t discerning in whom you give equity to, you will end up with a bunch of free-riders on your cap table.

The 1M/1M Approach 

At 1M/1M we do not charge entrepreneurs equity as we shepherd them through their early stage journey.

Entrepreneurs pay us $1000 annually. They do not pay us equity.

They preserve it. We want them to preserve it. We teach them how to preserve their equity at each stage of development. It is critical for future fundraising, if any. And it is critical for how much money they will make in the end.

Many entrepreneurs stay with us for years. At $1,000 a year,  no other charges, and no equity sharing, they get the level of mentoring that is attainable only at top Silicon Valley accelerators.

Our curriculum has helped thousands of entrepreneurs to climb that steep early learning curve fast. There are over 600 case studies of successful entrepreneurs, including over 50 who have built Unicorn companies, over 350 who have built venture funded businesses, and hundreds of others who have bootstrapped.

Through video lectures and case studies, entrepreneurs learn what they need to learn that no ‘advisor’ could afford the time to teach.

In addition, we open a world class network of support, through which entrepreneurs get to customers, channel partners, media, analysts, investors, and potentially equity compensated advisors (if they wish, later on).

When you follow the 1M/1M methodology and validate your business, we will help you ‘qualify’ for truly amazing advisors. Later on.

To put it another way, we will teach you how to seduce advisors worth seducing 

Related Material:

Mentoring Startups: 10 Lessons We Have Learned


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