Why Every Startup Should Have an Advisory Board

By: Jonathan Aspatore, Chairman & CEO of ExecRank

An Advisory Board can have the single biggest impact on the success of your startup. Imagine 4-6 senior executives who want to help you and your team by sharing ideas, resources, connections, and think of the immediate impact this could have on your company’s growth. Whether your Advisory Board is focused on one specific challenge or opportunity such as your next round of funding, or it serves as a sounding board for overall strategy, an Advisory Board is one of the most underutilized tools in helping startups achieve the next level of success.

After speaking with hundreds of startup’s CEOs & Founders we’ve compiled the following top 3 ways in which startups are using or planning to use advisory boards to fuel growth:

  • Share Insights, Analysis & Introductions for Raising a New Round of Capital
  • Exit Planning for either M&A or IPO
  • Assist with Strategies & Connections Focused on Strategic Partnerships

What are the current goals or challenges for your startup? An Advisory Board can be an additional way to help ensure your goals are met, or even exceeded, and will also serve as an invaluable sounding board for you. The ability to share ideas, challenges, and opportunities with executives outside of your startup is a highly effective way to get feedback from someone on the outside looking in - an important perspective that should be considered. Most startups are unaware of how simple setting up and running an Advisory Board can be. While a formal board of directors is also something startups of all sizes should consider, an advisory board can provide specific insights on a particular problem or opportunity you’re facing.

We’ve created a few questions that can be used when evaluating the potential use cases for an Advisory board.

  1. What is the single greatest problem or opportunity facing your company?
  2. What types of outside executives would be uniquely suited to advise my company on this topic? (CEOs in my industry? CMOs in similar industries? COOs from upstream / downstream companies?)
  3. How long do I expect to need assistance on this topic? (Is this something you expect to resolve in 2-3 meetings over 1-2 months, or will it require 3-4 meetings over a year?)
  4. How will you compensate your advisors? Will you pay them advisors a flat hourly rate per meeting? A set quarterly amount or a mix of cash and equity?

When it comes to compensation many cash strapped startup CEOs will begin to question their need for an advisory board, but they shouldn’t! Many executive advisors are looking for opportunities to share their insights with companies they’re passionate about for less than may often be expected. It’s not uncommon for advisor agreements, especially early on in the relationship to begin at $1,000 for 1-2 hour long conference calls as both sides work to determine the best ways to provide value and move forward. Whatever the needs of your startup, an advisory board can be one of the best sounding boards and growth tools available.

Landing board seats takes work, however they can end up being some of the most gratifying positions you ever hold.

Jonathan Aspatore

CEO, ExecRank

See What Our Members Are Saying....

“The ExecRank platform and team made the process of applying to companies simple and efficient. I recommend ExecRank to any executive looking to find advisory or board positions.” Kevin D. Cuthbert

Chief Consulting Officer, Interaction Associates

"ExecRank's platform for Board and company advisor candidates is efficient and easy to use. Their team is supportive and worked to ensure a win-win relationship between us.” Ray Pearson

VP Affiliate Sales & Marketing, Content Management Inc

“ExecRank is an unparalleled resource for companies looking for top-notch, executive talent.

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Founder & CEO, GroupPrice

"I have been consistently impressed by ExecRank’s ability to connect me with a series of impressive CEOs and other C-suite executives and board members." Edward Brennan

CEO, Become.com

“ExecRank has been invaluable in expanding my professional experience. It is the most effective resource for board candidates available today.” Matt Kormann

SVP-Corporate Sales, Freeman Co.

"As a startup, you are always looking for seasoned executives who can give you good advice and strategic contacts, for my startup ExecRank has been a valuable source to find those quality people. I would highly recommend someone building an advisory board, or board of directors to look at ExecRank." Tim Bird

Founder & CEO Bottles Waiting

“With ExecRank’s platform I have direct access to a qualified candidate pool of senior executives.” Sarah Oliver

CEO, Sarah Oliver Handbags

“ExecRank is the best resource available for access to high caliber board candidates. ExecRank delivered well matched candidates quickly so that I could get back to growing our business.” Cindy Engstrom

CEO, Sircle Advertising

"We worked with ExecRank’s team to post our opportunity and within days we had multiple qualified executives inquiring to be an advisor with our company. Their platform and team made the process of adding advisors to our company simple and efficient and I highly recommend ExecRank for any companies looking for advisors or board members."

Dr. Sarit Levy

CEO & Founder of Synergy Strategists

"We used ExecRank to find advisors and were impressed by the ease and efficiency of the process and the professionalism of their team. I can recommend any growing business to use ExecRank’s free marketplace to connect and hire top advisors and board members.” Vijay Reddy

CEO, Synthium Health