Early-stage advisors - what works & doesn't?

Fellow founders: I've been thinking about the advisor relationship for my new company and would love to get a sense of how you've leveraged advisor relationships and what you would do differently if you could...-When did you bring on your first advisors?-Who are they (successful founders or expert operators, i.e. sales or ops)?-How did you find the right people?-What would you change if you could?-Is it better to have the same couple advisors for years, or bring in new people regularly? I'm curious about how advisors change as company needs change.I'd definitely put advisors in the category of "you get what you put in," so I want to approach the process strategically and would love to learn from those who have done it before. I understand the mechanics of equity, vesting schedules, etc. but am less clear on recruitment and making the most of the relationship. Thanks!
simonekooishikawa's profile thumbnail
I'm an advisor for 2 companies and I would say it really depends on your relationship with them and who else you hav ein your team. Company 1 has 10 people team and I'm really there to help with their brand, positioning, pricing & GTM. Our conversations are focused around client calls, processes and how to get to a close and which other channels to consider for partnership. Company 2 has 2 people and I'm close to the founder so we have a regular touchpoint and share updates on where the roadblock might be. Here my role is a lot more fluid and I do anything from brainstorming, legal/accounting advice to investor outreach. Both of these came to me through mutual connections. These relationships are 6-18 months usually and I charge retainer, equity and commission - this pay structure helps with commitment on both sides, allows to put a sturcture in place and helps advisor with prioritisation. As a founder, you need advisors so you can bounce your ideas off them and also to see what else is happening in the broader industry. These people should also keep you on track to your own delivery & should be good candidates for your first board chair.
claires's profile thumbnail
Our advisors are mostly operators. The majority of them were in my network previously or very close with existing friends. We also have two tiers of advisors, for lack of a better term. The first is in the more typical trope -- very successful, advising multiple companies. The second are close friends who are also outstanding operators and whose skills run the gamut from product marketing to recruiting, interviewing, & hiring to community building to creating inclusive spaces. With that group, we created three types of engagement: visibility (we share docs), feedback (we ask for quick help), and working groups (we ask for prolonged support).For feedback, we generally ask for quick turnarounds. One of the best things I did was to create a separate phone number from which I send these requests. That way people aren't doing it for me as a friend, but instead have a bit more distance and are able to say no if they don't have time.
ninajlu's profile thumbnail
Yes definitely get advisors...ideally don't pay them. I find that it actually just muddles the waters. Advisors usually want more equity that you would like to give them once it's offered. Additionally, I think it messes up the intrinsic v. extrinsic motivation for them where if you don't pay them in cash or equity, they feel more like they are mentoring you for the intrinsic reward.