Friday, August 1, 2014

We're Hiring : Retail Store Manager

Our Story
Since 2009, Shoes of Prey has been offering woman (and some men) all around the world, the opportunity to design their own shoes. Our vision is to democratise fashion by creating a world where anyone can be their own designer and get exactly what they want.

In early 2013, we ventured into offline retail, opening our first ever award winning boutique in David Jones, Elizabeth Street. The store has grown incredibly since then and now we are excited to announce that we will be opening our second boutique at Bondi Junction Westfield.

Shoes of Prey Retail Store Manager
We’re looking for two amazing retail store managers who share our passion for retail and delivering incredible customer experiences. We’re offering one full-time position at our David Jones boutique, Elizabeth Street, and one full-time position at our new store at Westfield, Bondi Junction.
We need energetic people who are ready to work hard and help take our company to the next level. You’ll be business savvy with a drive to consistently hit sales targets and beat them. You and your team provide incredible customer service to every single customer, and the store regularly receives testimonials from customers to that effect.

You’ll be working closely with our offline retail manager, Lydia, as well as being responsible for managing your own store team.

Some of the key day-to-day activities:
As a retail store manager in one of our two stores, you’ll be responsible for everything that happens within your store.
  • Achieving sales targets and KPIs
  • Holding regular 1:1s with your team
  • Managing all rostering
  • Implementing marketing initiatives
  • Developing our current processes as well as creating new ones
  • Providing incredible customer service
  • Coaching all staff to achieve their personal KPIs

To be successful in this role and be considered an A-player on the Shoes of Prey team, you’ll be addressing the following:

  1. The Shoes of Prey culture code comes naturally to you. People on the team love spending time with you and are fighting to be able to work closely with you.
  2. Passionately creating happiness is in your approach to everything customer related.
  3. You’ve created, implemented and improved store processes.
  4. The store sales have gone off the chart since you took over and you have been instrumental in helping us continue to grow the offline sector of the business.

What are we looking for?
Your work experience clearly reflects the following:
  • You have at least 1 year managerial experience in a similar environment
  • Passion for retail and customer service
  • Ability to achieve KPIs and aggressive start up sales targets
  • As a manager, you’re an incredible coach and your reports learn a lot from you
  • You have an entrepreneurial spirit
  • You’re organised and able to manage a busy store successfully

The important details
We are currently looking for two retail store managers. One to take over the management of our David Jones Boutique and second to launch and manage the Bondi Junction Store. Who will manage which store will be decided upon after the hires have been made. The position is full time and salary will be based on experience.

How to apply
To apply for this role, please email a cover letter and resume (in PDF format) to joinourteam@shoesofprey.com with the subject line "{YOUR NAME} - RETAIL STORE MANAGER". This is essential as any applications without this will be missed by our email filters.

We can’t wait to hear from you.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Is a tough boss the best boss?

Great article in the Sydney Morning Herald titled "Is a tough boss the best boss?"

My favourite lines:

The respondents were asked what they hated the most at work. Number one on the list by far: lazy and underperforming colleagues. And, making it worse: their boss wasn’t doing anything about it.
Tough leadership is when leaders let employees know exactly where they stand without any timidity or ambiguity.
Tough leadership is when leaders set high standards to which they hold their teams to account.
It’s (tough leadership) most effective when used in short bursts and only when necessary.

via Geetika Marek Guz

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wanted: Director of Engineering, Shoes of Prey


Shoes of Prey is creating software to revolutionise the way affordable luxury products are purchased and manufactured. Our JavaScript 3D shoe configurator allows women to design and customise their very own shoes. Once designed, the shoes are then lovingly crafted on demand and shipped anywhere in the world. This model ensures the customer gets exactly what she wants, and we don’t have to hold any finished stock!


Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 5.40.55 pm.png


Founded by two ex-Googlers and an advertising exec in 2009, the company has experienced very strong growth each year. We’ve been backed by a number of influential silicon-valley investors, raising $3m to date. It’s our view that mass customization, coupled with on-demand production, is the future of retail. With 5 years of success behind us, we’re in the box seat to make this happen and build a billion dollar company. We’d love for you to come and join us!


To achieve our goals we have some interesting, mind-bending software engineering problems we need to solve, for example:


  • How can we use machine learning to help customers quickly and easily decide on a particular shoe design?
  • How can we further improve the user experience of our shoe designer and sales process to make it more intuitive, fun and realistic?
  • How can we use prediction algorithms to know how much stock we should order?
  • How can we use mobile computer vision technology to scan our customers’ feet for accurate sizing?
  • How can we use A/B testing to further improve our website?
  • How can we better leverage eCommerce best practices to further improve the shopping experience for our customers and drive sales?
  • How can 3D printing and other on-demand manufacturing methods be integrated into our manufacturing processes to help speed up product development and delivery times to customers?


We are literally inventing a new way to purchase and manufacture goods. Our work is cutting-edge, fast-paced and extremely exciting.

Above: Experimenting with 3D printing our shoes directly from the CAD models. This shoe is life-sized!


As the Director of Engineering, your role will be to manage our software engineering team of six engineers. You will also help set the direction of the team by driving our technical strategy.


To be successful in this role, you'll need to be smashing the following out of the park:


  1. ensuring the engineering team is focused on making the biggest impact they can,
  2. mentoring each of the engineers and giving guidance on how they should attack unfamiliar problems,
  3. ensuring everyone in the company has clarity about what the software engineers are working on, and why,
  4. making a significant contribution to our codebase by ensuring we’re adopting best-practice, and writing meaningful code yourself, and
  5. running regular hackathons to experiment with new technology.


Above: A hologram we hacked together during one of our hackathons.


Your work experience should clearly identify that you have the following traits:


  • An entrepreneurial go-getter.
  • A passion for learning new things and crafting beautiful, easy-to-use products.
  • The ability to think strategically about problems, with a clear focus on ensuring the company’s commercial objectives are met.
  • A brilliant coder who is also a “people-person”. You should be just as happy writing code as you are jumping into a meeting with the board of directors to talk succinctly and confidently about our technical strategy.
  • At least 2 years (and ideally 4+ years) experience successfully managing a team. That means running the team meetings, having regular 1:1s with the engineers, and delivering quarterly performance reviews.
  • Dealing with “growing pains”. Today we’re 50 people and growing. Therefore prior experience at a startup would be beneficial.


You should have significant experience with the following technologies, or their equivalents:
  • Python
  • JavaScript
  • Git
  • Amazon EC2
  • Google AppEngine
  • MapReduce
  • SQL


If your skills don’t match exactly, it’s not a deal breaker. If you’re, say, a fantastic Java programmer, then we know you’ll be able to pick up Python quickly. There’s a good argument too that some systems may need to be re-architectured in the future as we scale, so in-depth knowledge of Java/C/C++ would be advantageous.


The following interests/skills are beneficial, but not mandatory:
  • eCommerce
  • User experience design / research
  • AB testing
  • 3D rendering / CAD
  • Machine learning
  • Android / iOS development
  • Computer vision
  • Electrical engineering / robotics


Our engineering team is located in Sydney, Australia. If you’ve never visited Sydney before, you’re in for a treat. Sydney is an absolutely incredible city to live in. We have fantastic weather, beautiful beaches, and a vibrant cultural scene. For remote candidates, we will assist you with relocating including helping you to obtain a working visa.


Your exact package will be tailored to your individual circumstances.


To apply for this role please email a cover letter and CV to joinourteam@shoesofprey.com with the subject line "{YOUR NAME} - DIRECTOR OF ENGINEERING". This is essential as any applications without this will be missed by our email filters.

Thanks, we can't wait to hear from you!

My startup failed, and this is what it feels like...

Fantastic, incredibly honest post from 99Dresses founder Nikki Durkin on what it feels like for your startup to fail.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Managing Cash Burn

Fantastic article on Pando Daily titled "After the B Round".

Great insights that don't just apply to startups post Series B.

via Mike Cannon-Brookes

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Innovation at Atlassian

Great video by Dom Price on innovation at Atlassian.

We're still small enough that we have the equivalent of Atlassian's 'ShipIt' program happening organically, maintaining this will be important as we grow and that, combined with Atlassian's values is a great example of how to do it.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

What fuels great design

Great post on the importance of user testing and speaking with customers to build well designed products. We're encouraging our head office team to do once a quarter shifts in our David Jones concession store, I've been learning a lot from occasional shifts there.

via Joel Pinkham

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Thank You Seth Godin... You Inspired us to Create a Company

Recently we sent this email to Seth Godin to thank him for inspiring us to create Shoes of Prey. His book Purple Cow taught us so much and pushed to creating a business that was worth talking about.
We'd be interested to know too - were any of you similarly inspired by Purple Cow? What did you do differently in your businesses because of it?


Hi Seth

I wanted to tell you about our little company. It's called Shoes of Prey, and you helped create it.

Back in 2008 my co-founders and I were throwing around ideas for a new business. We had many ideas. A dating website. Various social networking clones. A scuba diving review site. All were pretty yawn-inducing. Our only saving grace was we had read Purple Cow and were on the hunt for something very specific: a product people wanted to talk about

This was our only criteria.

Through a process of elimination we arrived at a concept: a website where women could design their own shoes. Beautiful shoes that would be painstakingly created by hand and shipped anywhere in the world in incredible packaging.

This is what Shoes of Prey looks like today:



Using the software on our website women can change all aspects of their shoe: the toe shape, the back shape, the colours, decorations, the heel height and so on.

Our shoes are unlike anything else you could buy in a store. We make shoes from a tiny 2.5 US all the way to size 15, a truly huge range of sizes. We can make one foot bigger than the other. We can add more padding if you would like that. Our gift certificates never expire and our returns policy is amazingly generous: 365 day no-questions asked return or refund.

More fundamentally, imagine the magic of opening a shoe box to see a pair of shoes that you yourself had designed from heel to toe? That experience by itself is worth talking about. 

It wasn't easy getting to where we are today. Factories told us it wouldn't work. Everyone around us thought we were crazy, and in retrospect, we probably were! We've learned along the way that creating something worth talking about is really hard. It's hard because it's inefficient and therefore expensive. It's hard because suppliers aren't used to working that way. It's hard because there is no rule book and you don't know how things will turn out. However, if you stick with it, and hire really smart people, you can make it work.

Things are now going really well for us now. We now have 50 staff members across Australia, Japan, China, Russia and the US. Our business is booming. Crucially our growth is driven primarily by word of mouth. Our customers love telling their friends about our - or should I say, their - purple cow. Our marketing department loves that too: we don't spend that much on paid marketing. 

I wanted to thank you for being the inspiration behind our company. This level of product customisation and amazing service may seem obvious today, but it certainly wasn't obvious back in 2008. Your book guided us to the destination.

We still talk about that hypothetical cow around the office. It gives us tremendous clarity when we need to make a decision: Would you stop your car to look at this cow?

If books could have babies Seth, then Shoes of Prey is your baby! 

Thank you again.

Best

Mike Knapp

p.s. it would be fun to know what other Purple Cow businesses out there were inspired by the book. Perhaps we could all hold a conference one day!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Software is Eating the World

Software is truly eating the world, and it’s an exciting time. There are countless examples: Apple, Spotify, Netflix, Amazon have all transformed the entertainment industry. No longer do we buy books in bookstores, CDs or DVDs. LinkedIn has used software to transform the recruitment industry. AirBnb is revolutionising how travellers book accommodation - using software to turn the traditional hotel experience on its head. Uber is rapidly doing something similar to taxis. These aren’t traditional software companies, they make their money, brand and market themselves selling music, movies, books, recruitment services, accommodation and taxi services, but they’re using software to transform those industries. And soon we’ll see software lead revolutions in industries like transportation with self-driving cars and manufacturing with 3D printing.

Three years ago Marc Andreesen penned a fantastic article titled ‘Why Software is eating the world’. I’ve been spending time recently reflecting on what kind of company we are at Shoes of Prey and what our objectives are, and I think this article illustrates a lot about who we are.

At Shoes of Prey we’re a fashion company that makes beautiful women’s shoes. And we’re using software to transform our industry. We do this in two ways:

1. We’re using software to create a unique way for customers to shop for shoes. Rather than selecting from around 100 pairs of ready made shoes off the shelf like a traditional shoe store, our customers can design their own shoes, essentially selecting from 1 of 300,000 trillion possible designs we offer.
2. We’re using software combined with lean manufacturing technologies to transform women’s shoe manufacturing and our supply chain.

So we’re a fashion company that, like the companies mentioned above, uses software to create a very unique point of difference, a point of difference that has the potential to transform our industry. Why shouldn’t customers be able to get exactly the shoe they want?

We’ve achieved a lot in our short 5 years, but we have a long way to go. There are numerous scenarios where it’s still a better experience for customers to shop in store than buy shoes from Shoes of Prey. If you need your shoes faster than 3 weeks, if you’re not confident enough in your creative skills to design something you know you’ll like, if you don’t want to take a risk with finding a really comfortable fit and want to be able to try the shoes on before you buy them, if the hassle of having to return shoes that are the wrong size is too much. These are all problems we need to solve to become the industry changing company we aspire to be, and we’re using software to solve them.

To illustrate what the future of Shoes of Prey looks like: it’s Wednesday morning and our customer Joanne is organising brunch with her friends on Saturday, and she’d love to purchase a new pair of leopard print shoes. She visits Shoes of Prey and we guide her through the process of quickly and easily creating her perfect pair in just a few short minutes. Or perhaps she can skip this design process altogether because we know exactly what she wants before she even has to tell us. Perhaps she’s shared her browsing history with us and we’ve seen she’s been reading fashion articles discussing how leopard print is in this season, she’s shared her calendar so we can see her upcoming brunch event and she’s also shared her wardrobe inventory so we know she has a great dress she hasn’t worn for a while that would go perfectly with a pair of leopard print flats which she doesn’t yet own. So even better than her designing her leopard print flats, before she’s had to think about it, we’ve emailed her a design for a pair of leopard print ballet flats that she loves and can order.

When she’s ready to order her shoe she takes out her phone, and captures a short video of her foot. We use that video to create a digital 3D model of her foot and algorithmically convert that into a digital last. We then algorithmically convert her shoe design into a pattern for that last, 3D print the last, midsole, outsole and heel for her shoe. We then take all these components as well as the leathers she’s chosen and using a software driven lean manufacturing process, within 24 hours we manufacture a shoe that’s far more comfortable than any shoe she can get off the shelf. In the same way Amazon have built warehouses in many locations around the world, we’re able to do this manufacturing in numerous locations so we’re able to deliver a customer her finished shoe either overnight or in some cases, the same day it’s been manufactured, so after ordering on Wednesday Joanne receives her shoes by Friday, perfectly in time for her brunch on Saturday!

At the moment Shoes of Prey is great for creative types or people looking for something really specific, perhaps for a special event like a wedding, and we've built a good niche business based on this. The scenario I've outlined above would make Shoes of Prey great for the majority of women shopping for shoes, and that's the experience we need to offer our customers to change our industry or 'eat the world' as Marc Andreesen puts it. It's an incredibly hard challenge, but one that's not dissimilar to that faced by iTunes, Spotify, Netflix, LinkedIn, Airbnb or Uber in their industries. The challenges are hard but the rewards are great, and we'll use software within our fashion business to solve them.

Image credit

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

We're Hiring: US PR role, full-time


Shoes of Prey US Public Relations Manager / Celebrity Engagement

Shoes of Prey is a global, multi-channel retail brand that enables shoppers to design their own shoes online. The company is changing the way women shop for shoes, and is on track to become a significant international retailer over the next five years. Shoes of Prey has won and been nominated for many awards, with recent prizes including Most Innovative Online Retailer 2013 at the Online Retail Industry Awards, and Store Design of the Year 2013 at the World Retail Awards in Paris.

In the 4 years since our launch we’ve secured amazing press including Oprah Magazine, Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Daily Candy and many more. We have A-list celebs getting into our shoes but what we really need is a person with great relationships (or ability to make them), a strong background in PR and an unstoppable enthusiasm to make Shoes of Prey famous.

You’ll become our main point of contact with press in the US. It will be essential that you embody the Shoes of Prey brand to be able to represent us to fashion, tech and business press. It will be your job to properly systemize and lead innovation in our PR work as we grow. This role will develop and implement the US PR strategy while ensuring it supports the overall marketing strategy, brand position, personality and core values.

To be successful in this role, here are the 3 key things you'll have achieved after 12 months in this role (in priority order):

  1. Every 1-2 months we're landing on-message feature stories about Shoes of Prey in US top tier press outlets. In addition, you've built an automated process for working with lower tier press so we're constantly being covered by smaller press outlets and fashion bloggers. You closely measure the results of your work and our press coverage is responsible for driving significant amounts of converting traffic to our site.
  2. You're Shoes of Prey's US public relations guru and recognized internally as the go to person for US public relations. You are across the detail of what is being said about us, and you have a firm hand on how to put our messages into market through the excellent relationships you have built. You also know what does or does not work for us and are adept at steering us clear of these pitfalls.
  3. You respect Shoes of Prey's culture and values, and operate within these guidelines when working with the rest of the team in Sydney, China or New York.

Your work experience clearly identifies that you have the following traits:

  • Success in press pitching: You will understand how to perfectly craft a pitch for the intended media audience. You will be comfortable and successful in pitching across multiple channels including top tier broadcast, print, and online outlets (this includes bloggers and vloggers). You will be able to make educated recommendations on who to target and which press will give us highest ROI (although we know how hard this is to measure).
  • Success in partnerships: You already have, or know how to build relationships with key journalists, celebrities and stylists. You understand the Shoes of Prey brand and organise blogger/vlogger and brand partnerships for us to grow awareness in the US with the right target consumer
  • Passion for PR: You will be unable to hide your passion for PR! You will have an immersive knowledge and understanding of fashion PR and an in-depth interest/understanding of PR for business and technology. You will be abreast of new, exciting and important opportunities for innovation in the social media and PR space and ensure that Shoes of Prey is poised to innovate and take advantage of these opportunities.
  • Tenacity and scrappiness: You can make things work with limited resources. When things don't go as planned and you're missing your targets you'll go to the ends of the earth adjusting angles, approaches and delivery to do what it takes to hit your targets.
  • Organized: You have a clear plan for pitching to press and approaching partners, are able to execute against that, meeting timelines and co-ordinating events when needed.

We are looking for someone to join us on a contract / freelance basis with the option to move to full-time, who has worked in PR for 2-3 years either at another online retailer, e-commerce company, or agency. Salary is dependent on experience. The role is based in New York, and we are flexible with remote working arrangements from time to time.

To apply for this role please email a cover letter and resume to joinourteam@shoesofprey.com with the subject line "YOUR NAME - US PR MANAGER". This is essential as any applications without this will be missed by our email filters.

Thanks, we can't wait to hear from you! Or, from the person you send this onto :)

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Risk Not Taken

Great post by Andy Dunn, co-founder and CEO of Bonobos, on risk and his decision making process to start Bonobos versus taking a high paying job at a Venture Capital firm.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Happy First Birthday to Shoes of Prey at David Jones!

Friday was a very exciting day at Shoes of Prey as our beautiful and high performing store in David Jones Sydney turned 1 year old! It's been an incredible year with a huge list of achievements:

  • Dave Knapp along with Matt Newell, Andrew Fraser and the team at The General Store did an incredible job designing, building and launching the store. Riwtik put together this awesome time lapse video showing the build process.

  • Our amazing tech team took our web based shoe designer and converted it into a very user friendly iPad app for our customers to use in store.

  • Dave handed the keys over to Lydia and Maria who did an unbelievable job hiring our store team which currently consists of Anita, Annabelle, Chloe, Kitty and Vibha. The team do an incredible job in store, not only has the store smashed it's first year sales targets but we regularly receive amazing feedback on the team in our NPS emails.

  • Lydia has done a wonderful job building our relationship with David Jones. We now have shoes in their bridal suite, we've trained their shoe floor staff to know when to refer customers to us and we have great relationships with everyone at DJs from the shoe floor staff and their manager Julie, right up to DJs senior management team and board.

  • The work that Dave and The General Store did on the store design was so fantastic that late last year the store won the award for "Best Store Design under 1200sqm" at the World Retail Awards in Paris. This is an incredible achievement and speaks to what an amazing store we have to work with and share with our customers.

We're very excited to celebrate an amazing 12 months in store!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Storytelling: We love complexity but need simplicity

I've been doing a lot of speaking and I'm always working on making sure I am delivering something interesting and useful. It got me thinking about a few things I'd love your thoughts on.

The people I find the most interesting and engaging in life are the ones who seem to be full of passion and complexity, but are able to share it with me in a way that's short, punchy and compelling. They're also people who are interested in what's happening around them, drawing out stories and including others in the conversation. When speaking, it's an interesting challenge to look for the balance between talking for 30-60 minutes about Shoes of Prey while also involving the audience and hearing their interesting stories.

Being real
I know a lot of people get nervous about public speaking, but I'm really lucky to say that I don't. One reason is that I do it a lot. The other and possibly the biggest reason is that no-one outside of my co-founders and I know the topic of Shoes of Prey better. While I'm not an expert on the theories of marketing or technology, I'm someone who can share experiences. I can tell you what worked and what didn't at Shoes of Prey and my theories on why that happened. I can tell you what I would and wouldn't do again. And I aim to make this valuable and applicable for others. I try to share experiences that have short term actionable outcomes and also ones with longer-term more strategic thoughts that I haven't quite solved yet with a view that things I say may resonate now or at some time down the track when you face the same thing.

Dealing with complex topics
Shoes of Prey is a pretty complex person :) I generally try to stick to one topic in any presentation. I could spend hours on any single topic, let along covering multiple topics, so here's how I've broken it down:
  • Technology and how to use it to disrupt an industry
  • Technology and fashion
  • Retail: clicks to bricks, multichannel retailing, the future of retail
  • Women in business (the journey really is so different)
  • The personal journey of an entrepreneur: The truth as nobody tells it
  • How to deal with "failure" and how to properly assess the possibility of failure so it doesn't become a barrier to taking a step forward.
  • Stopping expertise from getting in the way of a good idea
  • Innovation: What it is, how to foster it
  • Agile: Why you have to do everything before you are ready
  • How to make the change from a traditional career to your dream career

    Sharing the experience
    Although I don't use quite as many anecdotes as Malcolm Gladwell, I do share learnings through stories. I do it to give context which can:
  • Set up mental triggers for when you find yourself in the same situation I was in
  • To try and make it memorable
  • To create a bridge between the learning and practical tips on how to/not to do the same thing.

    Delivery
    I never ever try to dress up my delivery with fancy anything. I have slides sometimes, but there's no fancy transitions, sound effects or video. My style and approach is to create an intimate discussion. I try not to take myself too seriously. I don't think about pauses and intonation. I just try and make it a great conversation. Like an audition to go to a really great dinner party.

    Being asked to speak
    I get about 3 requests a day and I'm just starting to look at formalising all of this with an agent. If you are or have ever been involved in this industry, I'd love to hear your tips!

    Who have been some of the best speakers you've seen?
    What did they do or say that really made an impact?
    What are some of the things you think about when you're speaking?
    Or, what are some of the worst things you've seen speakers do?

    Jodie x

  • The Start-Up Vortex of Doom

    Great post by Rebekah Campbell of Posse.

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

    Board Meetings

    I've slowed down on the blogging a bit over the last few months as it's been an incredibly busy period. My workload seems to be getting back to normal now so I'm going to spend some time reflecting on what I've learnt over the last few months and hopefully turn that into some blog posts over the coming weeks.

    One thing I've been reflecting on recently is our board meetings. This post from Mark Suster on his excellent Both Sides of the Table blog sparked some thoughts around this.

    For the first 3 years of Shoes of Prey we didn't have a board. We were self-funded so didn't have investors who would naturally want to join the board, and while we had a good group of people we went to for advice, we hadn't put a formal board together. In hindsight that probably worked ok, but having worked with a board over the last 18 months it's been a big help for getting us thinking through the big, strategic decision and more recently for holding us as accountable as a management team.

    I had never attended let alone organised a board meeting before, so our first few board meetings were pretty unstructured. Our board and observers helped provide some template structures for running a board meeting and putting together a board pack and for the last 6-9 months I think we've been doing a reasonably efficient job of running the meetings.

    Evaluation ourselves against what Mark suggests for running a good board meeting:

    • Our management team put together a detailed board pack which we email out to attendees 48-72 hours before the board meeting. We start the board meeting assuming this pack has been read by everyone and that's generally the case, we don't walk through it slide by slide, rather we'll quickly flick through the slides and people can shout out if they have questions or want to discuss any particular points. Putting the board pack together is time consuming for our management team, but it's a good process for us to evaluate what's happened over the previous month, and we've synced it with a lot of our internal reporting that we need to do anyway, so it's a useful and relatively efficient process. The pack has evolved over time as attendees have shared their feedback and thoughts on it.

    • I don't schedule 1:1 calls the week before the meeting, and this is an interesting suggestion from Mark. I do have regular conversations with our two board members Rick Baker and Bill Bartee (almost weekly with Rick) so I think that's a good equivalent. And I'd have semi-regular conversations with our board observers, so I don't think the scheduled 1:1 calls are needed in our case.

    • I think we do a reasonable job of setting the agenda of the board meeting to deal with the most important topics, but I could improve on this. We have a section each board meeting titled 'Key Topics for Discussion'. Usually I put one or two topics here for us to run through. I put this slide at the end of the deck but for the next board meeting I'm going to change this and bring it up to the front of the deck. In a related post Mark mentions "Remember, your goal in a board meeting is to maximize the amount of discussion time you have with the smart people you’ve assembled and get their reactions to the key strategic issues you’re debating internally. You’re looking to get their experiences from other companies and to challenge your thinking." Bringing these key strategic areas to the top of the board pack should help us maximise this time. We have two other sections with updates on our key projects and follow up actions from the previous board meeting, and those work well covering off the other main areas. Then we have a section on the areas Mike, Jodie, myself and from next board meeting Joel as our Senior Marketing Manager identify as the successes, failures, red flags and key actions for the next month. We get a slide each and it's been suggested a few times that we tighten this up so for the next board meeting I might experiment with halving the space we each have and changing the headings to 'Wins' and 'What keeps me up at night'.

    • We've recently started taking minutes in the board meeting so that we're recording all the action items, and Todd who collates these has been emailing them out after each meeting. We then report on these in the following board pack which holds us accountable to actioning them. This has been working really well.

    Mark mentions that the ideal board meeting is split time wise as follows:

    • Provide information / context (15%) - we probably spend slightly more time on this, perhaps 25%, but it's generally only in relation to giving more detailed background on key areas that we want to discuss and debate rather than areas that aren't important, so I think that's ok.

    • Discuss, debate and potentially reach decisions on the most important topics (70%) - this is where we spend the bulk of our time which is good. We can improve on it though, I think we get distracted by smaller issues sometimes, so I plan to bring the key strategic issues to the front of the board pack so we can deal with those first.

    • Deal with company admin: 409a valuations, approve stock options, vote on key measures (15%) - this is an area we actually spend less time on and that's a failing of mine, I tend to ignore these company admin tasks which isn't a good thing. I need to improve on ensuring we get these things done. To action this, I'll ask for a list of the admin tasks that need to be done each year and slot them into a schedule so I don't miss any.

    For some other startup board related reading this post from Posse's Rebekah Campbell is a good one.

    Any good lessons you've learnt from your experiences with board meetings?

    Image credit. A meeting of a board of directors of the Leipzig–Dresden Railway Company in 1852.