Episode IX - Four Co-founders and Seven Core Values

Having one or more co-founders in a new company can be challenging at times. That is exactly what John Kim is facing on a daily basis within his company Sendbird, an in-app messaging system for mobile apps and websites.

“Entrepreneur Puberty”

When John Kim first started Sendbird with his three co-founders he told them that in approximately a year and a half they would all get in a big fight. John is not a fortuneteller, but experience had told him that this would inevitably happen. This future fight is what he calls “entrepreneur puberty”. Working so closely together, they would become annoyed with each other and think of several reasons to blame each other. For example, you may feel as if you’re putting in much more of an effort and it is natural to feel that you do more work than others, John argues.

So when that day comes, he said, they all have to take a step back, maybe take a few days off and then get back on the horse. This problem arises because people naturally get tired and worn out - along with many other reasons. More often than not, the reason is not with your co-founders but the tendency to want to find someone to blame for your frustration. Take a step back. Sleep on it.

But couldn’t this co-founder dispute be avoided, you might ask? Well, as a co-founder you generally want to seem strong. This might refrain you from saying that you’re stressed, depressed or just need a day off. The advice from John Kim is to fight this tendency and show vulnerability towards your co-founders. It’s natural to need a break.

From 45 Items to 7 Core Values

Having founded a startup before, John Kim had listed 45 items that he believed were of the utmost importance to agree on in Sendbird. Clearly, no one could remember that many items - not even Kim. The solution was found by a colleague, who made sure that all the employees in Sendbird were heard and had a say in the matter. He then  boiled down the 45 items to just seven core values, which are now implemented in the company’s activities such as their hiring process. It was very important to John Kim to get everyone involved in the making of the core values since these are the values they will collectively fight for.

Listen to the podcast above for more insight.

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