Advisors · Startups

What should I look for in an advisor?

Farhad Faqiri

March 24th, 2015

I am almost ready to launch my web application and after speaking to several people (and reading a few articles about startup teams), I've come to the conclusion that it would be good for me to have one (or more) advisors to help me decide what steps I have to take next.

However, after browsing the advisors section of Founderdating I realized that I am not sure what to look for in an advisor.

I know this is a very general question but I'd appreciate some feedback.



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Chris Saad Product Manager, API at Uber

March 24th, 2015

Some things to look out for off the top of my head.. 

 1. Someone who's done it before (successfully) 
 2. Someone who, on the initial conversation, helps you with concrete advice/assistance for free 
 3. Someone who has expertise in the right problem domain 
 4. Someone who doesn't expect to get paid 
 5. Someone who doesn't expect more than 0.5% equity AFTER having provided real initial value 
 6. Someone who has a network/influence 
 7. Someone you like

Gretchen Consultant Big Data Program Consultant Agile Coach & Rally Version-One Tools Admin

March 24th, 2015

Find your local Techstars organization  http://www.techstars.com

Gil Allouche Founder @ Metadata

March 24th, 2015

I recommend looking for advisors inside and outside FD network. Your criteria for selecting advisors can depend on a few components: - a person with domain expertise (same domain as your startup) - a person you respect / aspire to become - someone who has network for potential customers - someone who has expertise in an area you lack - someone who started a company and sold it that is similar to yours in one fashion or another Best is if the advisor also invests / even a tiny amount Places to look for advisors include FD, angel list , gust, crunchbase You can connect with them using sellhack, LinkedIn or hunt them at events Gil / founder @ metadata.io

Andrew Lockley

March 25th, 2015

Don't select advisors, attract them. Treat it like winning investors. Once a range of people are willing to engage with you free of charge, move the

Saurabh Gupta

March 24th, 2015

If I were you, I would be dating a lot of them through local startup community. Co-working spaces and incubators make a lot of mentors available for free.

From my experience, every adviser is different. In fact, their path of success may have been very different. A biz dev guy might have very different opinion in starting a start-up than a finance guy. A coder might have completely different opinion than a designer. So path of success varies.

You have to find out who resonates with your line of thinking. You may also find a lot of advisers who are expecting equity from the day 1 and there are others who believe in community  but will never accept any formal advisory role. There are pros and cons to both. Once you start working with them, you will know who cares for your company in the long term and who doesn't.

Tim MBA CEO, Healthcare Forward

March 25th, 2015

Farhad-
Lots of great advice in the comments above, and I'd echo the comment that an advisor should be willing to give some of his or her knowledge away for free, at least initially.  However, after an initial meeting or two, a more formalized relation should be struck defining expectations, deliverables and compensation (cash, equity or some combo) if the relationship goes beyond mentoring.  If what they bring to the table has value, then it is important on both sides to define the relationship to prevent misunderstandings.

My way of summing up what the ideal advisor, investor, co-founder or channel partner brings to the table is the four "C's":

Cash- whether they bring it themselves or help you access funding
Customers- introducing you to and helping you acquire customers or channel distribution networks
Capabilities- helping you fill in gaps on your management team through coaching, interim management or recruiting qualified applicants
Compatibility- this was noted by several people on the thread- make sure there a good fit in personality and business approach, both being critical since you are going to be working in close quarters on the roller coaster ride of starting a company.

Best of luck!
-Tim

Roey Ben-Hayun Founder at FOONDHA

March 25th, 2015

Take a look at this excellent resource on "Everything you ever wanted to know about advisors"

http://venturehacks.com/articles/advisors

Shawn H. Yang

March 24th, 2015

1) Industry expertise (for strategy, GTM, business model, etc)
2) Experience scaling a startup (for helping with operational issues, user acquisition, etc) 
3) Has a strong network of contacts (for business development & partnerships, fundraising, hiring, etc) 
4) Willing to commit time and effort to help
5) Someone you get along with

They do not have to hit all 5. You can have 3 advisors, for each of 1-3 above. 

Alan Peters VP Product and Technology at BusinessBlocks

March 24th, 2015

Pretty simple thing really.  

Expertise and connections in domains different from yours.  

Strength in very early stage companies.  

Personal compatibility.  

Stephen Lynch Head of Strategy & Consulting at RESULTS.com, Award Winning Author, Speaker, Strategic Planning Facilitator

March 24th, 2015


Expertise in working with companies at your stage of evolution
A structured, replicable methodology that they are willing to share with you prior (one that explains how they deliver value consistently)
References from clients who faced similar challenges to you - a proven track record of success
Cultural fit - their working style fits well with your management team