Yesterday, I got to participate in Village Capital’s Edtech Summit in Chicago, meeting a number of mighty entrepreneurs reengineering the broken spots in our skills-based economy. One of the learning devices Village Capital used was the “mock board meeting.”
What the mock board meeting is
Basically, a handful of advisors and investors sit at a table with the co-founder (or cofounders) and follow an agenda prepared by the entrepreneur.
- The entrepreneur hands out a written agenda that has two sections–an update on the business’s current quarterly reality and a strategy question the entrepreneur wants the board’s input on.
- After the business update, the issue is presented and discussion is engaged. The entrepreneur gets the real experience of managing a feisty group of highly opinionated people. Sure, it’s entertaining–it’s also awesome practice and a ton of fun. The entrepreneur’s goal is to wrangle the discussion to a vote on the mock board’s input.
What the mock board meeting is not
Nasir Qadree, head of education at Vilcap, set expectations with the group that the exercise is not:
- Due diligence. Investor types like me–keep your questions to yourself.
- Pitching. Entrepreneurs–don’t play to the investors by showing ‘the good side’–show the warts and get some help.
What the mock board meeting delivered
- The business update brought outsiders, like me, into the business quickly on a financial level. You got a quick sense of the next hurdle for the business. Several connections were made.
- I can only imagine the entrepreneur got a realistic and helpful sense of personalities around the table–it was much more “hands on” than the typical “investor/entrepreneur one on one.”
- For the investor, the entrepreneur’s ability to drive a vote, manage competing smart viewpoints without offending, and present a case were well displayed. I particularly noted one entrepreneur who told us, “Now if this were a real board meeting, I would have spoken with each of you before the meeting and brief you on this issue, gotten your feedback, and a sense of your stance.”
I loved the format and am looking forward to incorporating it into the Startup Runway showcase event. Do you think a mock board meeting exercise could help you evolve your startup even faster?