Jeremiah Jewkes

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On September 23, 2015, Jeremiah Jewkes commented on The Biggest Sell :

Thought this was great. One issue I see with the notion that you are ‘selling’ your co-founder is the principal-agency dilemma. I don’t think your post is advocating a wholesale salesman approach to finding a co-founder, but I do think generally there is evidence in some of our cases that employee #2 was convinced to take the big leap to join the startup rather than joining purely from sincere desire and belief in the concept. And that process of persuasion can sometimes leave the ‘principal’ co-founder in a tough, angry spot when the startup finds itself in stormy waters.

I was troubled by this line from our first case, Uncharted Play– “Despite the fact that graduation and full-time work loomed for both Matthews and the remaining co-founder, Matthews somehow convinced her to go forward and start an actual company to fully develop the soccer ball.” Given the circumstances of Matthews’ ‘Big Sell,’ I was not completely surprised when the co-founder left Matthews in the dust when product development took far longer than anticipated, personnel issues had arisen, and the co-founder was consumed with the demands of business school.

How does a founder balance the need to really pitch the business well and still ensure the co-founder is acting as a fully aware, risk-bearing agent? How can you avoid over-promising and under-delivering while convincing new employees to take a huge risk by joining your startup?