A good friend of mine has been working on starting a company with a former colleague of hers. She has a background in engineering and her partner has a background in business development, marketing, and sales. Currently, they are building the MVP, and because she has the technical experience, she is building the MVP. Her partner isn’t doing a whole lot right now, even though she feels he needs to get a head start on surveying MVP customers, devising retention strategies, and mapping out a plan for user growth. How does she tell him that just because their primary focus is the MVP doesn’t mean he gets to take a mental vacation?
First of all she should firm up the co-founding duties with a co-founder agreement so if this continues she will not lose and carry deadweight that can derail the startup. In this agreement they must spell out the vesting schedule and discuss everything that is important. If her partner refuses it then it's not too late to drop them even if you have to start over.
I suggest that she spells out measurable stages such as having all this work done prior to MVP, having a sales goal met by x time, etc.
I have seen many examples of deadweight co-founders and this is a huge problem. In fact I'm working on a startup to address this as founder issues is one of the top reasons fot startup failures in early stages.
Is it actually the case that your friend is sitting writing thousands of lines of visible code, but she thinks her partner is doing nothing because he is at a stage where most of his work is in planning, thinking and strategising?
i spent the first 3 months of planning my new business in research, note taking and a hell of a lot of thinking - where 90% of the business plan was in my head or in various random notes on Evernote.
i wonder if the issue here is one of communication between the partners. Different parts of a business move at different speeds, and at times it may seem like one isn't producing "stuff" at the same rate as another.
right now my tech guy is working 15hr days hacking code at an alarming rate. meanwhile yesterday i "played around with some ideas for a logo and surfed the web to get inspiration for our new logo and styles for our website". Maybe my tech cofounder thinks i am slacking too ;-)
time for them to sit down together and talk...
Hey Sunshine You need to do more work if we are going to make this company a success.