Being a Director in the 21st Century…

… was the title of a day-long seminar I attended at SFU Harbour Center. It was put on by the Vancouver Angel Forum and included talks by experts in many different areas including finance, insurance, litigation, corporate structure, angel and venture investment.

I had a number of key takeaways from the day. Some of them weren’t the most positive but I absolutely got my money’s worth from this event. I have a much bigger and broader picture of the duties and obligations of a director and of the general governance model used in business in Canada and the US. I saw how complex this area has become and how easy it is to get trapped into taking on liability even from the most innocent and good intentioned actions.

For example, I have to revisit my Advisory Board roles with each of the startups I’m working with to clear up some liability issues. More important to this venture I have to rethink my ideas of an Advisory Board to ensure I structure it in a way that doesn’t put anyone (the shareholders, the directors, the executive or the company) at unnecessary risk.

The biggest unhappy realization of the day is how much all this governance work takes away from the natural energies founders and CEOs have for their business. It is a huge burden on the team for a small company. I was not the only CEO, investor or venture capitalist in the room who expressed disappointment at this state of affairs. However, it is part of the game and must be managed…

The good news from this day is that, given what I am learning, we have a chance to make our company a poster-child for how to build a well organized, well executed and still very exciting startup in Vancouver.

That is a very satisfying thought…


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