Business Strategy · Strategic Partnerships

How many advisors should a Seed stage company have?

Nishant Dogra UI/UX Designer at Blog Sparks Network, Inc

September 23rd, 2016

Wondering what would be the ideal number of advisors for a Seed stage startup and also what would be the right type of profiles to have onboard for a B2B company. Thanks!
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Bryan Brewer Startup mentor, educator, and entrepreneur advisor; focus on helping companies raise investor funding.

September 23rd, 2016

I agree with Johnathan (above), there is no "right" number. That said, in my experience, most startups have between 3 and 5 advisors by the time they start to raise money.

Also, you need to be ready to deal with "mentor whiplash" when you get conflicting advice from different advisors.

Johnathan Proffer Engineer, Innovator, Visionary, Entrepreneur

September 23rd, 2016

There's no magic number.  The "ideal" is whatever fills in the gaps in your knowledge.  Too many advisors can cause conflict and contradicting advice.  The wrong advisors can give you the wrong advice or have insufficient knowledge in the field.   It can also affect your seed stage.  You need to follow your gut feeling on things, and do your research.  

Andrea Gentili COO (and co-Founder) at Kobo Funds

September 23rd, 2016

I agree with most of the comments: No magic number and engage the advisers you need to fill your team gaps.
However, I would also add that the financing strategy is your most important strategy. You may have the best product strategy, but if you run out of money your company will shut down.
So I probably would start from a financial advisor then add further adviser as and when you need.

Jim Jordan Investor / Board Member at Sparx Hockey

September 23rd, 2016

Agree with Jonathan above.  Quality vs Quantity.  Generally speaking no more than 5.  Just not enough time in the day to get that much input :)

Brendon Whateley Founder at Kugadi

September 23rd, 2016

I'd turn your question around... what do you need advice on? 

You need advisors that can help fill in the gaps that your team has. The correct number is how many you need. Startups are very, very difficult and seeking a magic formula will lead to disappointment. Ideal numbers are like magic formula, they only apply in ideal situations. Your unique situation needs the best mix of techniques you can muster.

Good luck.

Meghan Uhl CEO, Focal Point Security | Eliances Member | ASIS Phoenix Chapter Membership Chair

September 23rd, 2016

I have a business strategy adviser, a marketing adviser and four technical advisers. Total 6.  I also continue to get "advise" from others but I always filter it through my trusted advisers before acting on anything.  I selected mine to, as Jonathan recommended, fill out areas where I and my team lack expertise/knowledge.

Andrea Gentili COO (and co-Founder) at Kobo Funds

September 24th, 2016

Another important point is the Business Plan. Generally speaking, but in particular if you want to raise money, you need a credible Business Plan. It is usually a good idea to have an advisor helping you with the production of the Business Plan.

Andrea Gentili COO (and co-Founder) at Kobo Funds

September 24th, 2016

Meghan, you are right. The Company Strategy and operational activities (the Business Plan) influence greatly the Financing Strategy (and vice versa of course). So the ideal situation is when you can find one advisor helping you with all those aspects. 

Rod Abbamonte Co Founder at STARTREK / @startupHunter / @startupWay / @CoFounderFound / @GOcapital / @startupClub / @lastminute

September 24th, 2016

Look for quality and not quantity.

Rob G

September 28th, 2016

choose and vet you advisors carefully and make sure you have a written agreement that clearly spells out expectations on both sides (you and the advisor) including a honeymoon period.  Any equity comp should be based on deliverables, not just time.  Defining the deliverables will help both parties get focused on what is expected and when.  Waaaay too many self-proclaimed experts parading as advisors who will eat your time and money and give you bad advice.  Trust but verify.  get warm referrals and check references carefully. The ones that truly know what they are doing are few and far between. 1 or 2 good, experienced advisors are worth 10x a room full of mediocre experts.  The good ones will be comfortable telling you if they don't have the answer and will know where to go to fill in the blanks.