Are my founders fuffiling their duties

by throwaway234783222. Posted on Sep 14, 2020    2    4

I am the only technical co-founder and there are two other cofounders and we have been building our product for 1.5 years now. We all are in school/have other jobs.

I work 40+ hours a week and have built our entire platform from the bottom up along with two other developers who work around 20 hours per week. I also have a big management role over the developers in terms of giving them direction and deciding what they should work on next. I also have a non-technical role of conducting user interviews and have made some pitch decks that we have used.

One of the co-founders is our project manager. Basically he runs the Jira and makes sure that the development team gets their stuff done. He has helped conduct user interviews as well as help make some decks.

The other co-founder has put in \~80k in funding of his own money. He has come up with a marketing plan, paid someone 5k to make us a pitch deck (that we had to edit a bunch because it wasn't perfect), found a marketing agency to make us marketing materials, and found a lawyer to manage the legal stuff.

I feel that the two non technical founders are not fulfilling their duties and here is why:

  1. Project Manager position is nice to have but I feel the only contributions he makes is listening to what we have done that day. He doesn't actually do any work outside of being on meetings where we tell him what we did. If he does do work outside of those meetings its usually less than 10 hours a week.
  2. The other cofounder says since he put in all the money he doesn't have to grind and put in all the time. He also says that he doesn't have to put in that many hours because marketing doesn't take a lot of time compared to writing code. He keeps boasting that he can get us meetings and get us funding but hasn't yet. Thats fine because we want to hold off on getting funding till we get users but I feel that it isn't a good excuse.
  3. This is the first startup any of us has ever owned. We don't know how startups work. I have been watching YCombinator and learning about the importance of conducting user interviews, finding product market fit, etc. I have to ask them over and over to watch them and when I say we need to do user interviews they seem to not think they are necessary and almost a waste of time. It feels that they do them to shut me up.
  4. We released our MVP but havent started marketing and its been a month because we are "waiting for marketing materials". I feel like they should be out there doing guerrlla marketing in the meantime or something.

Overall, it feels like I have to do everything and I just report into them. Am I correct in this statement? How do I communicate that they need to change in an effective yet polite manner.


Unic0rndream5 1

Well yea, you’re right. Marketing takes tons of time and energy - just like coding. Your cofounder clearly doesn’t know the first thing about marketing.

When you’re waiting for one thing to mature, like SEO, you should be doing something else.

I’m a non technical founder and I spend 40 hours a week marketing.

At this point, you should be focused on sales anyways. Those first few users won’t come from a blog post, they’ll come from personal outreach (most likely).

Or they’ll come from paid ads. I’m not sure why you’re waiting on marketing materials for a month. No marketing material takes a month to create at a startup with no users.

You don’t know enough about your customers because you don’t have customers - only potential users. What you make should be quick and clearly illustrate the value you bring to the table.

5k on an agency was a mistake but it happens. Learn and move on.

I’m assuming these people are your friends. Talk to them. Give them examples of marketing and sales. Show them where their falling short but don’t pitch it as an indictment, talk to them in a way that will motivate them to get their asses in gear.

An example I’ll share with you is convertkit. Nathan Barry did personal sales until he got to his first $1m in revenue (it may have been more).

Investor money shouldn’t be the first option if you’re building an app that relies on paying customers.

help-me-grow 2

Tell them you think that they're not fulfilling their duties and why, list what they do and list what you do. Maybe they're doing more than you know?

rpcleary 4

Was in a similar situation: 1 technical co-founder, 2 non-technical (well, one semi-technical).

Broadly, no they're not pulling their weight. A startup always has 50+ hours of work per person each week if you go looking for it. And to be blunt, a PM is mostly useless at this stage (the CTO/CEO should tag team that) and 80k is cool but is comped by a (very) small bump in equity- not less work.

You need to have some hard conversations- right now you're building a product with two "partners" playing pretend-startup.

virgilshelton 5

Use your gut. It sounds like your gut is telling you to bail. Follow your instincts.