One of our longstanding board members, Nick Lewis, retired in December 2017. Here’s our farewell to him, and the launch of our hunt for a new director written by PledgeMe co-founder Anna Guenther.
The fantastic Nick Lewis came into my orbit during my Masters of Entrepreneurship down at the University of Otago. He was a guest lecturer and flew to Dunedin to share his story both in start up world and investment banking. His anecdotes were pretty legendary: from starting his drug testing company in his twenties, through to raising investment on the golf course in 24 hours (even though he didn’t golf).
When we met, PledgeMe hadn’t even been thought up yet, but I was inspired by his words. Fast forward a year, one of my classmates told me I should meet up with Nick. I was in Wellington, he was in Wellington, and we sat down for a coffee on Lambton Quay.
What struck me about Nick then (and now) was his enthusiasm and support. I gave him our numbers there in the Wellington sunshine (embarrassingly low to look back on now) and he was glowing. Early validation, he raved, and things just seemed a bit easier with that external perspective. The hard stuff seemed somehow more achievable when someone as experienced as Nick saw the merit in it.
When we hit our first major hiccup, he took my stressed phone call. I think his calm feedback and great next steps (get a lawyer and communicate with your customers) saved us from closing up PledgeMe before we’d even really begun. From there Nick acted as an advisor, coming to our bi-monthly advisory panels and giving feedback and advice for pizza and beer. When we did our first investment round in 2014, he put his money in and came on our board. Over the past six years he’s been integral in growing PledgeMe, through the good times and the tough.
Last month, Nick retired. He refuses to say “resign” because he thinks that sounds bad. It’s just time for him to do new things with his life, and we’re so thankful for the time and wisdom he’s given us to date. And will give to us in the future (you’re not getting away that easy, Nick!).
But, with his departure we believe it’s time to add some new perspectives and skills to the board, so we’re on the hunt for a new director.
Details at a glance
Position: PledgeMe Board Member
Length of term: 1 year with the option to renew annually
Applications open: 16 January 2018
Applications close: Thurs, 8 February 2018
Interviews: 12-13 February 2018
Directors’ Fees: $1,100 per month (paid in shares / cash annually).
Interested? Send me your LinkedIn / CV, and a short email about what you would bring to the PledgeMe board by Thurs, 8 February 2018.
About the position on our board
We specifically want someone(s) with one or a few of these perspectives / skills:
- Someone who can provide a solid financial / legal lense to the board, and/or
- Someone with experience launching (and scaling in Australia) – we’ve been setting up over there with the recent changes to their legislation allowing equity crowdfunding, and/or
- Someone with experience doing business with iwi – we’re looking at launching a collaborative indigenous microlending platform in 2018.
- Someone who can help us with our marketing / communications strategy
We believe a good director:
- Acts like a critical friend – kind, but pointing out gaps and helping to guide the way.
- Has a base proficiency in technology – knows their Google Documents from their Zoom, and is able to attend meetings online if needed.
- Is ok with dialogue – we need someone to come in who is happy debating like they’re right, but listening like they’re wrong. We’re building a new world order, and it’s not always going to be built the same we previously did business.
Our current board includes:
Melanie Templeton (interim Chair)
Melanie is an experienced senior commercial manager and leader, with a track record of leading the development and implementation of successful business strategies both locally and internationally. She’s also an avid organic gardener.
She has done everything from running her own award winning restaurants in Wellington in the mid nineties to being an accredited Business Mentor with BMNZ to launching and running digital banks in NZ, Australia and Poland!
She is also the Commercial Director of fledgling agri-tech company Regen NZ Ltd. Finally, Mel won the Institute of Director’s Emerging Director Award in 2016.
Breccan McLeod Lundy
Breccan has been programming since he was six with a Commodore 64 and has degrees in philosophy and management. He has an incomparable technical brain combined with human empathy like no other: as the co-founder of Rabid Technologies Breccan supports the development of new products and companies with a belief that partnerships and relationships are more important than simple transactions.
He often breaks out his ability to discuss complex philosophical ideas with the best of them (he did his degree in it – before he turned twenty). He’s also the only board member left in his 20’s…
Jessica Venning Bryan
Jessica has spent 15 years advising organisations like Lion, the Electoral Commission, Seafood NZ, Saatchi & Saatchi Global, and the Sustainable Business Council on how to engage customers with projects and brands. From beer to electricity, voting systems to employment, she’s delivered projects in New Zealand, Australia, the United States and the UK.
She is currently the Chief Marketing Officer at Flick Electric Co., and was part of Flick’s founding team. She is also the Founder and Trustee of Cultivate Mentoring Lab, a not-for-profit that partners early to mid-career women with experienced mentors to help them grow their confidence and progress equally at work. She lives in Wellington with her partner and four children, and has a special interest in gender equality, justice reform, alternative families and gifted education.
Jessica has decided to leave the Board at the end of the financial year, wanting to find more time to spend with her growing family this year while balancing her other work commitments. If we spot another excellent candidate while looking for Nick’s replacement we may fill Jessica’s role at the same time.
and, me, Anna Guenther
Anna is our Managing Director, co-founder and CEO of PledgeMe. She sounds American but she’s definitely a Kiwi. If pushed, she’ll say she’s technically from Dunedin, but will later admit she grew up in Boston. Having roamed around the world, she now calls Wellington home. Anna completed her Masters on crowdfunding and has worked for everyone from NZTE to MIT (and all of the acronyms in between). She is currently splitting her time between Wellington and Brisbane leading our new efforts in Australia. Finally, the United Nations recently asked Anna to deliver a speech at their World Export Development Forum in Hungary.
How our board rolls
We meet monthly on Zoom and in person. We try to have regular sessions where we are physically present, but it’s not required every month. We have discussions online through Loomio and email. We regularly use Google documents.
The Board has the primary responsibility to oversee the conduct of PledgeMe, the strategy, and to supervise management (who are responsible for the day-to-day activities). The Board primarily considers the interests of PledgeMe to which its fiduciary duty ultimately resides, and then to its shareholders. It also considers the legitimate interests of other constituents such as employees, suppliers, and customers.
Number of board members
We currently have four board members and aim for between 3–5 board members at any time, with a mix of skills, backgrounds, and expertise. A quorum is currently 3 board members. Melanie was deemed our independent director under the NZX rules, but we aim to get one more independent director. Aiming for no less than 40% female representation, with wider general diversity (age, location, ethnicity, physical ability, sexual orientation).
The interim chair is currently Melanie Templeton.
New directors are appointed at PledgeMe’s AGM or through a resolution passed with the shareholders during the year. Board membership is set to a 1 year term with the ability to renew annually.
Set at $1,100 per month paid annually in arrears and paid in a mix of shares but with enough cash to cover tax implications.
The Board retains the responsibility for managing its own affairs including the responsibility to:
i) Appoint the Chair of the Board;
ii) Appoint, review and/or replace the Chief Executive Officer
iii) determine the timing and agenda for Board meetings.
iv) annually review the skills and experience represented on the Board in light of rapidly changing business requirements.
v) recommend the criteria and potential candidates who meet the criteria to the Board.
vi) on the recommendation of the Chair, appoint, determine the composition of and set the terms of reference for Board committees;
vii) approve the terms of reference for the CEO and Chair.
viii) implement an appropriate process for assessing the effectiveness of the Board, the Board Chair, committees and directors in fulfilling their responsibilities.
ix) assess the adequacy and form of director compensation and make recommendations to the shareholders to approve the director compensation at the Annual General Meeting.
x) assume responsibility for Company’s governance practices and ensure they meet the needs of the shareholders, employees and customers; and
xi) monitor our compliance with our licensing obligations under the Financial Markets authority.
Interested? Send me your LinkedIn / CV, and a short email about what you would bring to the PledgeMe board by Thursday 8 February 2018.