The Real Process of Finding a Startup Advisor and Everything to Consider

By  Zainab Agha

January 19, 2022 9:57 pm EST

A board of advisors can not only help you avoid common mistakes, they can also fill in the critical gaps you may be looking to cover in your teams’ expertise. Advisors are invaluable when it comes to making connections in a market with a lot of competition, and entering a stage of your startup where you are forming partnerships. Here is how to go about hiring an advisory board you can be proud of. 

Where to Look

You can actually reach out to as many prospective advisors as you like via email. It is helpful to add in these emails whether they know anyone else who would be perfect for the position. Advisors also actively seek startups to work with. It is important to socialise in mobile app events such as demo days and conferences. You can also sign up with various online communities. 

What’s More Important

When interviewing and shortlisting advisors, it helps if you look at their experience in the industry before where they went to school. You want someone with the intuition that can only come with building companies. Professionals who have already been through where you stand today will see obstacles before you do and will prepare you for them as well. 

The Difference between Advisors and Mentors

Mentors bring value by tidbits of information and wisdom that they share with you when you are embarking on your startup journey. They may or may not be available to impart this wisdom when you are in a rut. Advisors on the other hand share your vision and understand your priorities. 

Offering Equity

Most sought-after advisors will obviously be involved in several things at the same time. This means their time is limited. In order to get the best out of them, offer them equity in your startup. This serves as an incentive for them to help you reach your goals. 

There Could be Conflict of Interest

Treat getting advisors on board the same way you would do with building your management team. You want to screen whether they are working for other businesses in the same industry, in which case they might not be the best choice for you. 

When making things official, you should clearly state what is expected of the advisor. You may need advisors for marketing your product, you may need them for helping you find funding, or you may simply want them to help you establish an organizational model that is super-efficient. 

Signing the Dotted Line

Some of the factors that should definitely make it to the agreement include responsibilities, compensation, time duration of the role, and an NDA clause. 

Always Listen but Don’t Always Follow

It is a skill to listen to your advisory board and respect the wisdom they have, but as an entrepreneur, you should not blindly do as they tell you to, nor are you contractually obligated to. It’s your app startup and it will at the end of the day fall on you to decide what goes. 

Zainab Agha

Zainab started her career in advertising as a copywriter; which taught her how valuable moxie was in the boardroom and translates that in her campaigns. Building brands has led her to explore digital marketing, communication concepts, and what it takes to grow an idea from scratch. In her free time (let’s assume she is a badass with balancing work and play) she travels in heels then complains, experiments with innovative creative solutions that sell, and does stand-up comedy.

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