Fintech founder Rob Kaczmarek on building a board at Inbanx

Surfboard team

Published on Sep 12, 2023

Establishing good practices for governance and reporting is essential for any fintech startup. That has certainly been the case for Rob Kaczmarek, founder and CEO of Inbanx.

Since the company’s inception, Rob has focused on finding the right people to rally behind their success. Initially starting with an advisory board before transitioning to a more formal board structure, Rob has been able to leverage his boards’ expertise from the very beginning—helping Inbanx navigate the unique challenges of fintech as the company grows.

Here are 5 lessons we learned from our conversation with Rob:

1. There's no "right" time to build a board

Many founders question when they should build a board. And while there are many differing opinions on the matter, the truth is there’s no single right time to build a board. Every company’s needs are different and those needs will continue to evolve over time. Continue to reflect on where you’re at and you’ll know when the time is right. If you’re not sure you’re ready for a formal board, consider starting with a more casual advisory board. The practices you build working with advisors will naturally transition into formal board meetings when the time comes.

2. But you do need to find the right people

The dynamic between you and your board has the potential to make or break your company (we’ve all heard stories of board relationships gone wrong). So while there’s no right time to build your board, you do want to look for the right people. Your particular criteria will be unique, but the most important thing is to find people who are as invested in the success of your business as you are.

3. Treat your board members like coaches

There’s an immense amount of value in having the right people around you—people who have knowledge, expertise, and experience that you might not. But to access that value, you have to actually go to your board for advice. Whether you need feedback on a high-impact decision or even just a gut check that you’re going in the right direction, the more you treat your board members like coaches, the better off you’ll be.

4. Don't over-index on board meetings

You want to be getting a lot out of your board meetings, but you don’t necessarily need to invest tons of time and energy into meeting prep. And you definitely don’t need to do all the prep yourself. Open up board access to your cofounders and other leadership, and let them report their areas of the business how they want to. And remember that your presentations don’t need to be perfect; it’s okay to keep things a big casual.

5. Never underestimate the power of good food

We mean this both literally and metaphorically. Of course it’s no surprise that providing good food during your meeting is a great way to keep energy and morale high. But in a bigger sense, finding ways to optimize your meetings for enjoyment can go a long way. Board meetings don’t have to be stuffy and stilted and boring. Focus on building relationships and having a good time—the rest will follow.

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