The other day I had the pleasure of meeting a mentee of mine, who is enrolled in DTUs board education.
The topic of our conversation?
“How do I qualify myself to go on boards of startups?”
The question is a good one. Because you need to bring something to the table in order to be relevant. Especially with the diverse needs and ever changing nature of a startup.
But then he followed up with an admission:
“I am not an investor.”
He is an investor. His capital? Experience, know-how – and time.
We often have a tendency to see money as the only type of investment. But I would argue that in an environment rich on capital at close to zero interest, there may be other types of investment that is worth just as much – sometimes perhaps even more.
Experience, know-how – and time.
After all, many of those who are offering their service to be on boards to help startups are people with years, perhaps even decades, of relevant experience. And depending on the need of the specific startup, they will be in a position to help the founders leapfrog their competition by getting sound advice and concrete action.
Because action is the only real differentiator. And this is where the investment of time comes into play. While giving advice may be good in itself, what makes the real difference is turning up your sleeves and get busy working alongside the team.
The right board members with the relevant experience can and should do this. And when they do they will be more than an investor;
They will have the potential to become an invaluable contributor.