The Role of a Non-Exec Director in a Funded Technology Start-up

Funded Technology Start-up

Starting a business is always a challenge. There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day, there is never enough resource of either people or money and stuff just takes longer to do than was originally envisaged. Getting the right people in the right seats, effective management controls and solid project management in place are just as important as getting the product developed. With everybody focussed on getting the product right (but not necessarily what the market wants or is willing to pay for) can make the role of non-exec director in a funded technology start-up a challenging one.

From my experience, the challenge of non-exec director in a funded technology start-up is to get the team to focus on the big picture so that they can get a minimum viable product to market in the shortest possible time so that they can start to get customer engagement and feedback. These days if you want to get traction you need to have something that you can work with your customers on (the innovators & early adopters in your market – Google – “innovation adoption life-cycle”) so that they can help you develop the product so that the early majority will buy into it.

With a funded start-up there is often a finite amount of money that is available to the team and the term “burn rate” becomes a vital metric to watch as this is the amount of the investors’ money that is being consumed each month until the revenues start to filter through. They say turnover is vanity, profit is sanity and cash is reality. This is never so true in a funded technology start-up.

The role of a non-exec director is to help the team:

  • Keep focussed on the agreed strategy and be aware of changes in the external environment that may deflect the original strategy
  • Push for regular management information, progress on the development and feedback from the market place. This means ensuring that the appropriate controls are in place.
  • Communicate with the outside world and introduce new connections where appropriate.
  • Manage the risk profile of the business so that it has robust controls in place and takes appropriate action if performance worsens.

A non-exec director has the same fiduciary duties as an executive director and so must ensure they take a professional approach to the role and I would suggest membership of the Institute of Directors as pre-requisite so that they get timely information on changes in the profession.

If you are a funded technology start-up and need information on what you need to get right then I have developed a checklist to vet potential candidates for funding and possible engagement as a non-exec director.

Call me on 0845 053 7417 or email for a confidential no obligation chat about your start-up and the key things you need to get right for a successful launch.