Don’t allow remote work at the “figure it out” stage

From 22 mistakes I made as a first time founder by Ben Erez:

Mistake # 12: Believing a long-distance partnership could work

We started the company in Miami but after realizing we needed to be closer to cheap technical talent, I relocated to Gainesville, recruited a couple developers and the three of us started working out of an incubator. My co-founders stayed in South Florida and it was a matter of a couple months before the team was one co-founder short and another few months before it was short another.

When you’re trying to get a startup off the ground, everything should be about product and design. Throughout the entire development cycle it’s crucial to have the entire team on the same exact page. You should be able to pull any member of the team aside and ask “why are you building this feature and how does it fit into the long term plan?” and they should be able to answer.

When your co-founders are remote for the product team, they’re not there for the daily interactions and grow distant from the action. This results in an unintended alienation from the core team. In the future I won’t agree to remote work at the idea/prototype stage.

Notes:
(1) Ben’s entire blog post is remarkable. Many people write about success. Few are courageous and honest enough to write about the lessons learned from failure.
(2) My experience in Seeking Alpha is that when we’re trying to figure out something (what Ben calls “the idea/prototype stage”) , the key participants need to be together in a room with a white board. Actually, 3 white boards 🙂
(3) Cf. Peter Thiel’s advice to minimize internal co-ordination costs.

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