How do you pick investors & board members who will be with you for 10 years?

Answered by: Tien Tzuo, CEO, Zuora

Category: Partnership & Fundraising

Let me give you the naive view that I had and luckily overcame. A lot of entrepreneurs get caught up in percent of company voting power stuff i.e., I'm going to pick a few investors but I want more voting power or I want to pit my two investing board members against one another. That's just insanity. Because what you're really doing is tackling something that is really hard, something that's never been done before which by definition means you're going to go through a whole bunch of challenges. I’m not sure what the right metaphor is – maybe Lord of the Rings – but what you’re trying to do is to get a group of people to tackle a big challenge, there has to be camaraderie. There has to be trust and there has to be a working relationship that allows for that. You've got to very carefully pick the people who are going to be on your team. And then you've got to make sure that the team members individually are going to work well together. It's a combination of culture fit, a combination of diversity and thought as well as complementary skills.
One of the things that we really liked about Jason was his operational background. If you look at Zuora's core VC members from the first four rounds, you’ll see we’ve got a good mix of folks that bring a people skillset to the table, an operations skillset, a strategy skillset, and a fundraising skillset. We can tap into these skills at the appropriate times but it also creates an environment where there can be a lot of freeform discussion, brainstorming and honesty about what the challenges are. Looking back, if we didn't have the right set of people around the table, in working relationships and discussions around the board, it would've been harder much harder for us to work through our challenges. And, it's not clear that we would have been able to work through the challenges that we did.