I am part of a startup that currently has four founders. Initially I started working on this project with a friend of mine, later on we invited two more people to join us. Currently, the distribution of shares is something along the lines of

My friend:      45%
Me:             30%
Third founder:  15%
Fourth founder: 10%

We have biweekly meetings in which we discuss our progress, our targets and what problems we had or might encounter, as well as various other ongoing topics.

In spite of being a team of four founders, I still have frequent calls with just my friend alone, where we discuss our opinions on critical things like our trajectory, goals, things we want to focus on etc., as well as where we see the company going in the next few months or long term. Obviously we discuss these topics with the rest of the teams as well, but not as frequently as we do with just the two of us.

Can something like this possibly become damaging to the integrity of our team? My worry is that if two of the founders discuss vital topics under four eyes first, it could possibly make the other founders feel left out of the decision making process and ultimately cause some kind of distrust between us. We always try to be as open as possible and never discuss anything privately that we wouldn't talk about in front of everyone else, but having a conversation with just one more person makes it significantly easier to make meaningful progress when initially discussing an important decision, although ultimately we obviously try to get the feedback of everyone else as well.

Has anyone ever made the experience that having a "team inside of a team" can sometimes be more damaging than advantageous? Since we have not started being profitable yet and are still in the process of finding our product-market fit, the only way we can "pay" others to work with us and contribute is to invite them to become co-founders and give them shares.

What could be some productive steps we could take in our situation to ensure that our chances for success are maximized?

3 Answers 3


What could be some productive steps we could take in our situation to ensure that our chances for success are maximized?

Clarify roles and responsibilities. Make sure you clearly spell out how gets to decide what and who needs to be in the loop as "decision maker" or "to be informed" or "not at all". Ask for feedback on how this works for everyone on a regular basis.

The whole point behind having multiple people is so you work on different things simultaneously. Having everybody involved in every discussion and decision defeats the entire purpose and doesn't scale.

So just set clear rules of how things should work and adjust if necessary.


Teams inside teams is a pretty common thing.

Sometimes this happens cause of same field inside a project, sometimes just because we are human beings and is easier to relate to someone we better align as a person.

That said, is not basically good or bad, this just happens as we are human.

Seeing as you divided the stake of the StartUp , you two taking decisions in mathematically enough to make the things work out, and that could be an issue with the other 2 person , that can lead them to perceive themselves as just people who put money in the project without possibility to add something.

If you really want them to be part of the "decisional team" you can schedule 2 meeting per week in which any decision should be made , and stick to it as an unbreakable rule.

This way you can still talk with the other founder and discuss 1 on 1 about what you want, but any crucial decision is made in an environment in which the other 2 founders can "use" their stakes and give feedback without the idea of being left behind.


I do not see this as harmful. As long as you do not spread rumours, it is not a big deal. Because I have a quite negative experience on that topic in my past job. This actually was the reason why I got fired(((

  • I'm not clear why spreading rumours is relevant to this question (as opposed to any other specific harmful behaviour) Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 13:14

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