Today (at the time of writing) was a very weird day for me, so there is no better day than today to write what the fuck is happening to me and my companies. At the beginning of the year I met someone whom I immediately fallen (entrepreneurially speaking) in love with this person. In the social media posts I wrote on LinkedIn and Twitter to announce the occasion of her having joined the team, I already explained my experience of this journey.
The short story relevant for this blog is that it took a while before Manjinder (the first co-founder for this story) and I welcomed her on the team and before she joined we welcomed another lady whom I immediately felt homely with her. I am the oldest child of two brothers and even for my father and mother I grew from a young age having taken the parental role in the family, so I appreciated having someone like a big sister that I could entrust to join our team.
After the first lady I met beginning of the year joined the team, not long afterwards a gentleman, who same as the second lady who joined the team, also reacted on the LinkedIn co-founder’s job post I posted beginning of the year, joined the team and became the 4th (official) co-founder of Tiiendemanns Group. In between him joining to a couple of weeks ago we even briefly welcomed another person to the team, but eventually we couldn’t work a working arrangement out wherein everyone was pleased with the conditions. On LinkedIn and Twitter I only alluded to this, but because the deal wasn’t fully finalized there was not much other I could say about this.
Seriously speaking there is also not much other I can say and express my opinion on what caused what happened today. What I can do is give an overview of what the major business events were for Tiiendemanns Group. Since the last two co-founders joined the team the recap of what has changed and (a few of) the compromises I eventually needed to go make for them to stay on the team are (tried putting them in chronological order, but don’t hold me to that);
1. Pause working on PreciousChips until we finish putting Viisiit. on the market
2. Limiting the amounts of postings directly relating to the company (or its operations) on social media until we got on the same page
3. Agreed to not make the products and services social-capitalistic ventures (in their public messages or part of its operations), they stay pure capitalistic beholden to ESG-principles, only the mother-holding company becomes pure social-capitalistic, with 100% of the profits of the mother-holding company (for at least 15 years = new statutory rule) go to Tiiendemanns Groups’s (TG) charitable causes, and the profits after those 15 years going to the charities cannot go any lower than 51% for as long as their statutory missions haven’t been achieved
4. Agreed to give all founding team members and outside investors the opportunity to invest and obtain directly shares in both the Viisiit. and PreciousChips ventures
5. Agreed to make less profit from both the ventures of Viisiit. and PreciousChips go to charities so that the founding team members and investors can personally financially profit more in the short/medium term, instead of mostly only in the medium/long term as per the original plan (latter especially the case for founding team members) from their (time, efforts and money) investments
6 Agreed to take the 5P-Formula full out of the external communication from (the lower layers of the companies within) TG
7. Agreed to lower my super majority vote on the (management) boards to a significant controlling vote on the (management) boards
8. Agreed to lower my supra majority vote in the shareholders meetings to a slight significant controlling vote in the shareholders meetings
9. Limited my activities of talking to potential investors or new potential team members until we got on the same page
10. To level the governance structure more, agreed to not take the Chairperson role and divide the end-responsibility of this role between all founding (non-executive) board members, and the board decides in the future when to create the office of the Chairperson
11. Agreed to also not take the role and end-responsibilities of the President anymore in the lower layers of the company and divide the (end-)responsibilities of this role between the ones in Layer 2 and the first Layer 3 ventures and the board decides in the future when to create the office of the President for those layers
12. Agreed to modify the (go-to-market) business model of Viisiit.
13. Agreed to increase the initial share ownership in the companies and shorten the vesting and cool-off periods for the founding team members
There are more points that could be added to this list, the take away is that we’ve actually came very far, even signed a founder’s agreement, but unfortunately (subjective) things said and done in the past between all parties can’t be either forgiven or shaken away entirely for us to properly function as a healthy, productive team. It does not please me at all to need to tell you that between me and the co-founders, we’ve reached a spot where the working environment we created became unworkable for us to continue working together. As far as concerning Manjinder, this wild rollercoaster ride left him wanting to now focus only on his family and to conserve energy to build his own tailor-made suit business. So by the time I post this blog it would also mean that we’ve signed a dissolution agreement to part ways and I’ll be taking over for the time being the management and execution of this project again.
Needs to be said that I deeply appreciate their efforts and trust that the new co-founders put in Manjinder and me for at least trying to work things out as co-founders, even if so short lived, so I don’t feel the need to go explain much more in-depth about what happened. On the other hand, I am in essence an open book, so if they ever feel the need to explain their reasonings for deciding to leave the team I don’t have any objection to that if they want to. Of course, the “legalese” here is that I retain the right to defend myself in person and public to any (wrongful) accusations and allegations done by anyone, including my mother, father and younger brother, so I cannot exclude (ex)co-founders.
When I started with the idea of Tiiendemanns Group, one of the main goals I had is to build a company that I can leave to the world for present and future generations to benefit from it, wherein literally a significant portion of the global population is able to get ownership in the company. To do this I trusted my 5P-Formula and went against conventional practices and dared to look for strangers with different (cultural, socio-economic, educational, etc) backgrounds to join the founding team strengthening us with their skills and experiences. I won’t quit this goal, but unfortunately at this moment I cannot also give the good anecdote that it’s more effective to preserve time. On the other hand I also cannot definitively say that it is not better than starting this project working with people you already have a close relationship with, like you’d have with family or your good friends. One thing I can say is that this journey so far has been an extremely insightful, interesting and definitely more fun than not, even if sometimes extremely frustrating.
In the end, I do believe it’s more beneficial on the long term for a company to have a diverse team, and what I’ve learned is that seeking diversity for the sake of diversity doesn’t help. Especially for founding team members there needs to be more binding the team members together than only the desire to build a kick-ass company for the world. Our hard work, unfortunately for the time being continues without female representation (now only male, millennial & LGBTQ representation, again) on the board, which is something I hope to be able to announce soon enough again that we welcomed at least new qualified female co-founders to the team!
In regards to the thirteen points mentioned above, I’m only modifying parts of the business wherein I e.g. needed to compromise and accept less money going to charities. Not at the same level as I started with, yet at least a few percentages higher to feel fully confident again that this company can work to get enough resources for itself to help solve the great societal and environmental challenges we’re facing in the world. Overall I’m keeping most of the changes and these changes have made the company structure at least much more financially worthwhile in the short term already for investors, which should make the acquisition round go smoother going forwards.
Lastly, the title of this blog comes from a motivational quote I found on Reddit. When I read this, we just had “the last big fight in the team” and it made me realize that I am not in control of the expectations people have of me. Just to give you an example, at the beginning of this blog I consciously used a “curse word” because since I made the 5P-Formula public, I’ve been battling the expectation people have of me that I must now be acting like a saint or that I believe that I’m a perfect human being. People, I only know through experience that being always honest gives you an advantage over people who starts a relationship lying, deceiving, hustling or e.g. “faking till they make it”, being always honest (please read this as: giving always your subjective honesty) does not make you infallible or stop experiencing emotions.
What happens now? In life and so also now in this case, when four doors closes, other doors and bridges opens, follow the socials to stay informed!
The journey continues...