Entrepreneur

Tech investor Chris Ridd signs on for BoardPro board urging startup founders to focus on governance


Former Xero executive and serial tech investor, Chris Ridd has joined the BoardPro board.

The New Zealand software startup, founded in 2015 by Brett Herkt, helps companies improve their boardroom productivity and create better functioning boards with improved processes, workflows and guidance. Herkt, the startups’ CEO, developed BoardPro in partnership with leading independent directors and CEOs. He designed it for small- to medium-sized businesses, non-profits and schools.

Ridd, who sits on several startup boards, said he was “super impressed” with BoardPro and how it streamlined meetings to get to what was important.

“BoardPro’s clever and beautifully designed software significantly reduces the administrative burden in managing and preparing for Board meetings along with all the governance processes that stem from it,” he said.

Its appeal is also how it simplifies the complexity of corporate governance for startup founders.

“When I joined Xero in 2011, one of the first things I did was undertake the Foundations of Directorships with the Australian Institute of Company Directors. It taught me the importance of corporate governance and provided awareness of my obligations as a company director,” Ridd said.

“However, for most people in tech startups, SMEs and indeed the NFP space, AICD and equivalent industry bodies can be cost prohibitive and much of the content can be both complex and dry.

“Corporate governance is not everyone’s favourite subject. Talk of operational frameworks, internal controls, delegation of authority, fiduciary duties.  Compliance and risk management are not on every entrepreneur’s bucket list when they jump into a startup. And it can be a mysterious and often intimidating subject matter for many.”

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Ridd compared BoardPro’s solution to how Xero tackled the accounting industry, including leading the shift to the cloud and developing an ecosystem beyond software.

“One thing that BoardPro has focused on is developing tips and templates that are easy to read, understand and apply – all tailored for audiences who are not familiar with corporate governance,” he said.

“Most tech startups tend to use mainstream applications and email from Microsoft or Google to manage their Board papers, agenda, minutes and governance processes. These tools do the job, but after some time you will typically find that the process becomes extremely inefficient.

“As Boards only meet several times a year, engage sporadically, and these days often remotely, standard tools make the task of planning, recording, keeping track of and administering the Board process quite frustrating.”

Ridd said governance from day one is often overlooked, but in his view absolutely critical to a company’s long-term success.

“It actually empowers the founder and/or CEO with guidance from the Board to focus on innovation, strategy, growth and execution. A good board works in partnership with the founder(s) in creating the future. It does so by ensuring a sound framework built on high standards of integrity, transparency and accountability,” he said.

“Getting governance right from the outset is more important than ever and can actually be a competitive advantage in attracting capital and investors that are seeking comfort from founders that understand and embrace this early.”





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