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Board Meeting (Start-up)

A pragmatic board meeting template for earlier-stage companies.
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Board Meeting (Start-up)
,  Wednesday, August 17 (note)
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Profile pictureProfile pictureProfile picture

Big Picture

  • CEO Update
  • Highlights
  • High-level Challenges
  • Company Needs

Calibration

Tell the story of the company using the fewest number of metrics/charts to properly frame the current status.

Financial metrics

Financial performance & forecast (quarterly)
  • Quarterly P&L
  • Monthly waterfalls (revenue, burn, cash balance, headcount)
  • Performance vs. Plan
Funnel metrics
  • Website Visits
  • Leads
  • Conversions
  • Conversion Rate
Product engagement metrics
  • Signups
  • Downloads
  • Activations
  • Engagement
  • Retention
  • NPS

Company Building & Updates

Org Chart 
  • Forward-looking - show current team and positions to be filled w/in 6 mo.
Product/Engineering
  • Product Roadmap
  • ---Major launches & achievements since last meeting
  • ---Roadmap next 6 mo. (where is company heading)
  • Major Challenges (where is help needed?)
Growth/Marketing
  • Performance against KPIs
  • Positioning
  • Brand
  • Messaging
  • PR
Sales/BD
  • Performance against KPIs
  • Sales pipeline & forecast
  • Major challenges (where is help needed?)
Operations (if appropriate)
  • Performance against KPIs
  • Major challenges (where is help needed?)

Working Sessions

Session One
  • Deep dive into a functional area, partnership opportunity or business challenge
Session Two
  • Deep dive into quarterly goals or product challenges

Closed Session

  • Feedback to founders
  • Formalities
  • Stock option grants

How to use this template

Traditional board meetings often follow a very formal structure that begins with a call to order and proceeds through reports from officers, and motions. However, a new style of board meeting has emerged in the last ten years that follows a procedure more akin to how most meetings are run today. This is a more practical template for board meetings, one that does away with many formalities in favor of digging deeper into the issues.

Before we get into this agenda sample for this new kind of board meeting, let’s talk about your deck. Every board meeting also has a presentation that is distributed before the meeting and put up on a projection during the session. Your agenda and your deck are inextricably linked. So, as you plan your board meeting, you should use this agenda template as a structure for your board deck, as well. But, having a written agenda is also helpful, since you will want to take notes or minutes during the meeting, and filling in an agenda is one of the best ways to take meeting notes.

This sample board meeting agenda opens with a session on the Big Picture. Here the CEO has an opportunity to frame the board meeting in context. Keep this framing somewhat brief and at a very high level. Everything brought up here will be addressed in more detail later on.

Illustration for templates
Illustration of silos

Next is the Calibration section of the board meeting, which centers around key metrics. While the data is critical for a productive discussion here, it’s essential to try not to overcomplicate it with more than is necessary.

In the Company Building session, you will address hiring needs, product planning, and hear updates from all key department heads.

One of the most significant benefits to start-ups in a board meeting can be the Working Session. With your board members present, you will never have such a collection of experience and advice. Take this time to dig deep into one or two major challenge areas.

After this is the closed session where formalities are addressed, and stock grants are approved. Some organizations like to move this to the beginning of the board meeting agenda to get it out of the way.

Lastly, since board meetings can be a multi-hour affair, don’t forget to allocate time for breaks and meals between each section of your meeting.

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