I recently quit working at Grapes ‘n’ Berries, the company I cofounded almost 2 years earlier.
I’ve always heard that quitting your own company is a very hard thing to do, and that was exactly right. My decision to quit though came from the realization that Grapes ‘n’ Berries has precisely turned into the company I never wanted to create, and that I have no control to change it.
I bet you’ve heard a million times that picking your partner(s) is the most important step of starting a company. I’ve unfortunately failed to do so. I found myself in a commitment with a partner that does not share any of the values I believe in, comes from a completely different background, and does not have the same vision of where the company should be heading.
If I had to give some advice to 2-years-ago me, my advice would be:
- Spend lots of time to know your partners very well, why they want to start the company you are starting and what’s their vision for it in the future.
- Non-full-time founders are a no-no. If someone wants to invest money in a startup but doesn’t want to risk quitting their full-time job, they should simply be investors, not cofounders, and certainly not CEOs.
- Before jumping in and starting to do any work, agree on (and document) the equity split, the amount of money each partner is putting in, if any, and what happens to a cofounder’s equity when they leave. I recommend a standard 4-year vesting period for the latter.
- If any of the cofounders is putting money into the company, make sure that this money will be available in the company’s bank account in its entirety from day one.
- Set up a board of directors with an odd number of members as early as you can. The odd number will prevent tie votes.
- Stay away from cofounders whose sole purpose of starting a company is to make money. Maybe recommend real estate to them.
While it makes me sad that I no longer get to work with the great team of developers I assembled since we started Grapes ‘n’ Berries, I was at a point where I could no longer stay in a partnership that’s not aligned with what I want to do.