New Paper Offers Concise Advice on How Startups Can Build the Right Board of Directors

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Kauffman Foundation senior fellow writes a primer on how to create a diverse, experienced board to help startups manage growth and achieve long-term goals; Tweet this: What are the elements of building a startup board? @KauffmanFDN Sr. Fellow Suren Dutia shares expertise

A strong board can contribute greatly in helping a business grow and thrive.

There’s no shortage of books and literature schooling startups on how and why to build a board of directors. But Kauffman Foundation Senior Fellow Suren Dutia, who knows a lot about startup companies from his experience serving on the boards for many high-tech ventures – and as president or CEO of several – saw a need for an overview of key questions and issues confronting founders. So Dutia, a self-described “passionate advocate” for entrepreneurship, distilled key lessons into a guide for founders to easily reference.

In “Primer for Building an Effective Board for Growing Startup Companies,” released today by the Kauffman Foundation, Dutia offers a concise, practical guide for company founders and CEOs to understanding the ideal function of a board of directors; selecting board members; establishing clear roles, responsibilities and communication channels; and how to compensate board members at different stages of the company’s growth.

“This paper is by no means a substitute for the myriad materials available to founders, but it serves as a reference for founders that can augment these other resources,” Dutia said. “There are some basic elements to building an effective board that apply to any startup seeking to build a viable business and create value for all stakeholders.”

In addition to the “nuts and bolts” of startup company boards, the primer also emphasizes the short- and long-term benefits to a new venture of taking the time to establish a board with the right size, member composition and structure to best meet the individual company’s needs – a step too often rushed through, if not overlooked, by company founders.

Because startup founders are often immersed in the details of getting a fledgling enterprise up and running, an experienced board can offer a bigger-picture perspective and sound judgment in making decisions that affect the company’s long-term success – as long as the founder and/or CEO clearly outline their goals and expectations. The primer provides considerations for key aspects of establishing a board and its guidelines, including how to organize effective board meetings and committees.

Helping entrepreneurs understand the process of creating an effective board ultimately can increase the likelihood that more new ventures will succeed, Dutia believes.

“A strong board can contribute greatly in helping a business grow and thrive,” he said, “and can be an invaluable asset in the kind of wealth creation envisioned by every entrepreneur.”

Dutia will be presenting highlights from his paper at the Up Summit in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 31, 2014.

About the Kauffman Foundation
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that aims to foster economic independence by advancing educational achievement and entrepreneurial success. Founded by late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, the Foundation is based in Kansas City, Mo., and has approximately $2 billion in assets. For more information, visit, and follow the Foundation on and

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