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%
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?