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Anthill reader seeks Advisory Board members. Anyone?

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Last week, we posted an article asking whether Anthill should create a ‘Rate My Innovation’ service (or something similar) and sought advice on its possible structure and purpose. (Anthill reader wants us to trial her product. Should we?)

There is a logical extension to this concept, which we’ve also bounced around here from time to time, perhaps equally worthy of discussion.

I’m talking about an Anthill dating agency, for entrepreneurs and the satellite stakeholders that keep the wheels turnin’ (partnering ideas, money and skills).

The idea to post the concept was prompted by an enquiry published as a LinkedIn Group Discussion earlier today (Anthill Online LinkedIn Group).

Tim Lea at Cash Stream Financial asks:

Finding suitable advisory board members? Any experience/good short cuts?

We are very close to completing demo online technology as a natural extension to our existing business & will be going to the equity markets imminently to take it to market.

We are now looking to support the existing management team with an “Advisory Board” to make us appropriately investment ready.

Any good short-cuts/reference points/web-sites to getting appropriate non-exec. board members on board?

Also any indications of likely costs and/or expected equity requirements? We are early stage in the investment cycle.

Thanks in advance for any feedback.

The question is a common one, without a clear answer, as explained by a fellow Anthill Group Member:

Cindy Reese
Commercialisation Manager at Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre

Unfortunately, there are no short cuts to this in my experience. Finding good prospective non-execs is a sort of logical outcome of the fund raising effort. So, start pitching to prospective investors and, if you impress them, they will open doors by sharing trusted contacts.

Finally, think about what exactly you need them for — is this advisory board solely for your marketing activities, export or licensing strategy? Are they to advise on all aspects of your business? What specific expertise is lacking in your management team? How will they relate to the ‘real’ directors?

Also, think twice if “advisory board’ means ‘free’ — you get what you are prepared to pay for. You need to be in a position to offer some token amount in exchange for people’s time as well as some commitment about how you will use their advice and regularly communicate with them about your progress.

Many thanks to Reese and the other helpful folk on LinkedIn who responded to Lea’s question. (The discussion can be followed here.) But for now, there’s very little left to say, other than pose the following three questions:

1. Is an Anthill dating service a good idea?
2. If it is, what would be the rules?

And of course…

3. Can anyone else help Tim Lea?

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