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How should boards help startup CEOs manage risk?

by Alex Crimmins

Full name

Brian Fitzpatrick

Job Title

Chairperson, board member and investor

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If you are the CEO of a startup you will need the best advice you can get. A strong board or group of advisors is essential to your success. Brian Fitzpatrick, a startup chairperson, board member and investor discusses why boards should be a new CEO’s best ally. 

Key takeaways

  • Being the CEO of a startup can be a very lonely place
  • Board members of startups should be there to guide the CEO. They are not there to run the company
  • The CEO must be the one who makes the key decisions while the board member should offer advice and not be offended if the advice is ignored
  • Good board members will help younger CEOs get the basics right
  • In startups the CEO is always on the board and all directors tend to be non-executive or co-founders
  • The non-executive directors on startup boards are often investors in the company 
  • If you are chair of the board of a startup you must build a very trusting relationship with the CEO
  • If trust breaks down around the board table, the board become dysfunctional
  • Startup CEOs may have huge egos, which are often necessary to keep things going. But they are also fragile, so a good chairperson must understand, respect and then guide the ego towards creative paths

About Brian Fitzpatrick

Brian Fitzpatrick has been involved in the development of digital media since 1995. With roles including being the first digital media planner and buyer at Mediacom London, head of online marketing at Game UK and business development director for Lycos Europe, he is widely considered one of London’s digital veterans, a position that sees him contribute to several emerging technology companies as a board member and chair. 

Since 2014 Brian has worked with, and invested in, some of the most innovative online technology startups in Europe and helped them to scale, including:,,, and He also helped complete successful exits for, and

Previously, he also worked as managing director for the European business of (sold to AOL), European managing director of the WPP’s first agency trading desk, the Media Innovation Group (now Xaxis), and European managing director of IPONWEB (sold to Criteo).

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