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Alex Fries, founder Ecosystem Ventures, Swisspreneur Podcast

EP #33 - Alex Fries: Your Jobs As A Startup CEO

Alex Fries

August 22, 2019

2:51 – What mistakes do Swiss founders make repeatedly when it comes to their job?
12:34 – Bad sides of the startup CEO job
16:10 – How a CEO can successfully manage investors
20:40 – How to hire the right people
31:46 – When should a startup CEO step aside?

The Episode In 60 Seconds

The role of a startup CEO is challenging and ever-changing. These are some of the tasks you should be ready to tackle in the initial stages of your company:

Early stage

  • Fundraising
  • Getting the money to grow your company will probably take up the largest part of your time. While painful in the beginning, the tables can quickly turn as soon as you can show a promising funnel of clients or other signs of market traction.
  • Sales
  • In an early stage company, the CEO is usually the best sales person because they bring the passion needed to convince customers of a vision without a product.
  • Hiring
  • Aim for a good mix of experienced employees and recently graduates.
  • Don’t be afraid to poach the talent you need from other companies
  • Working at your company should be more than just a job for your employees.
  • Make noise
  • In order to be successful, you have to become part of the language for your customers, analysts, VCs, the press, etc. This doesn’t just happen but is the result of

After A-round

  • Setting up a company board of directors
  • An ideal composition could be: 2 founders, 2 investors, 1 neutral person
  • Increased reporting duties to investors and the company board
  • Monthly reporting of the relevant KPIs (cash in the bank, burn rate, sales funnel, etc.) is ideal. It pays off to be well organized. Investors will usually keep asking similar questions, so having your documentation ready and up-to-date will make your life easier.
  • Handling people and their problems
  • As the company grows, the role of the CEO becomes increasingly managerial, which means handling employees and their issues.
  • Managing cash for growth
  • It is easy to overspend once there is some money in the bank. It’s the CEO’s task to keep as much money as possible in the company for growth and to keep an eye on the burn rate, in order not to miss the right moment for the B-series.

After B-round

  • Evaluate your contribution to the company
  • After the B-round, your company will have likely grown significantly and you are ready to expand into new markets. This is usually a good time to take a step back and ask yourself if you are still the right person for the job. Some entrepreneurs prefer growing things over running them. In this case, it might be the right time to find an experienced manager from a large company to take over your role.

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