"People problems are the leading cause of failure in high-potential startups"
Around 65% of the failures of high-potential startups are due to people problems, aka the interpersonal tensions within the team. According to Naom Wasserman, Havard Business School, these problems consistently fall into three categories:
1. Relationship problems,
2. Role and decision-making problems,
3. Reward problems
Within each category, the most common choices have regularly been made without much thought, are often the most hazardous and lead to the most destructive conflict. Further to this, each phase a startup finds itself in also has it's own set of new problems that need engagement and solutions.
Will you become part of this statistic or will you use the opportunity to change your approach to resolving disagreements and choose to have a true conversation?
"The difference between good relationships and bad ones isn’t the lack of fights, but learning how to fight productively. The same is true for startups"
Co-Founder fall-out has a huge impact on the success or failure of a startup. Few founders embrace conflict as an opportunity and most people are conflict averse. Not speaking up or avoiding the friction is even more apparent in startup teams that include family and friends. Unfortunately, conflict does not disappear. It festers, escalates and leads to a fallout.
There are three ways in which co-founder conflict can be preempted, prevented, resolved:
Pre-mediation, Facilitated discussion and Mediation.
VCs are an integral part of the startup ecosystem and often carry high risk. Founder conflict has a direct impact on the return of your investment. Good VCs support the startups in their portfolio with investments, networks, knowledge and opportunities for personal growth. They understand that people are complex and that relationships need honest communication and attention to thrive long term.
This is an opportunity to proactively support your founders to engage constructively with conflict between teams, VC and Founders or Investors, or Board members either through pre-mediation, mediation or facilitation.
For how to do this best, please contact me.
The accelerator experience is a process of intense, rapid, and immersive education but it is also a time of high demands, high stress and high possibility of founder friction or full blown conflict as founders come to grips with product pivots and face the stress of demo days.
Accelerators can implement pre-mediation conversations and workshops to great effect during the programme. Not only will it help early stage startups to embrace a culture of communication and experience preventative conflict as a learning opportunity, it will also develop stronger teams, emotionally aware founders and increase the potential of success exponentially.
For more information on how this could best work for your accelerator programme, please contact me.