I'd like to get peoples thoughts and experience around having advisors on your board at an early stage startup. And if you have found its more beneficial during the fundraising process?
Write your business plan. Where there are gaps bring in co-founders. Where there are areas that need strengthening bring in advisors. If you are bringing an advisor purely for investment optics, you are approaching it less about what your business needs to be successful in the long run and more about trying to get an investment at all costs. Smart investors will see through to the infrastructure of your business. All this talk about sharks and trying to impress people is nonsense. Do it for the right reasons....to build a competent, proficient team that supports well rounded success. And look to genuinely reward and involve your advisors, not "use" them for selfish gain. Plenty of schemers out there. Sincerity at all levels will place you in the company of people and situations the schemers can only dream of.
It’s always good to know what you don’t know ... investors love healthy egos but not self-delusion. Knowing how to find and USE good advice is far better than assuming you’re the smartest guy in the room. Most likely, you aren’t.
One other thought, just to counter some of the inferences in others replies. I can only speak for myself, but when I have put together advisors in the past, I don't bring in people I don't want to stay for the long term. I bring in people I would be fortunate to have at all, extremely fortunate to have for the short term, and truly blessed to have for the long run. If I need to come up with some plan to keep them from gaining equity or how to make sure I don't have to reward them more down the line, they are not the quality advisor I want. The advisors you want are the ones you will be glad to give more equity to and compensate more as you build success because their presence truly makes you a better businessman and your company more successful. Furthermore, those advisors are going to approach the situation fairly pursuant to the initial contracts you lay out. But again...why in the world would one want to start off an advisor relationship with the plan of how to keep them at bay or cut them out of the company as soon as the company had success?!