Founder's Dilemma: Anticipate and Avoid Startup Pitfalls





Adjunct Professor

Within high-potential ventures, the biggest source of failure is “people problems”: the tensions among the founders, or between the founders and the non-founders who join them. In this course, we will examine critical dilemmas that span the lifecycle of a venture, regarding the choice of cofounders and hires, splitting the roles and equity within the team, whether and how to involve investors, why and how founders are replaced, and exit dilemmas.

With each decision, we will delve into the potential pitfalls that exist and the ways to anticipate and avoid those pitfalls. Through experiential exercises and role plays, we will develop your skills at dealing with a variety of difficult conversations and negotiations that you might face within your startups. From the discussion of case studies that focus on the founders of high- potential startups, we will develop frameworks to guide your decision making.

Most classes have some experiential component – including experiential exercises, negotiations, or case studies in which you have to role play as the case protagonist – but we will also discussions, video clips, and guest appearances from case protagonists and industry experts. To provide greater context and understanding of these founding dilemmas, we will tap statistics gleaned from a dataset of 15,000 founders.