Startups: Vision, Masks & Drags – Part 1

Vision, Masks & Drags in a startup

And he called me.

‘I am not able to access him. He says ‘hi’ on Whatsapp, and then it takes a while for another ‘hi’. I asked ‘What’s the problem?.’

“Things that we had envisioned that would happen with him ( Rishi, name changed), aren’t happening. He is inexplicable’, he said.

‘Rishi comes to meetings, asks what we do and he has to do, and takes vigorous notes, and then disappears. He again becomes inaccessible’.

I paused to respond. Then inquired ‘That is weird. What happens to those notes?’

He sounded upset -‘ I cannot figure out. This is how for the last three weeks.’.

I responded ‘hmm. Can we talk to him? ‘

He responded. ‘I have talked to Rishi. He seems perfectly normal – he acknowledges, and promises he will fix stuff. And again the same stuff – vigorous notes, no response.

Now I am feeling depressed. All in my office, alone. I am planning to some other stuff, a side gig, perhaps’, he said.

I mulled this over. This was serious. The whole organization depended on these two. What? The CEO and the COO!

I remembered the long conversations during the offsite and skype calls. Driving the vision – and everybody seemed on board & passionate. Something was wrong.

So he dialed me and patched Rishi. After the routine small talk, we moved into the subject.

The same answer. Rishi said ‘Nothing that you should bother. Small stuff. All fixed. I am back.’

I could not have asked more directly. ‘This guy was stonewalling, clearly’ – I thought. He was wearing a mask. Post the vision meetings, where he was explicitly enthusiastic, but now, he was clearly dragging. We decided to back out pursuing further conversation and circle back on it later.

We had a conference call after that – I was noticing Rishi. Few questions and the usual vigorous notes. Then no action after that for the next few days.

Question: What would you do, if Rishi, your equal partner was in it like this?

–  Ashok Subramanian

Ashok Subramanian is a serial entrepreneur & investor who has built Strategic and Technology Ventures through which he invests and advises on business strategy & growth.

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