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The ups and downs of being a founder with Flounders Club

Founders clubs are nothing new. Getting a bunch of business leaders into a room to hash out whats going on with their businesses is a natural thing. New hires, new technology, fabulous wins – but what about the less gloat inducing conversations? We spoke to the peeps’ behind Flounders Club, a founders club with a difference, to get their view on the scene, diversity in conversations and why the best talks are probably not the gloat worthy ones…

Founders clubs are nothing new, what makes Flounders different?

Flounders’ Club was born out of a slightly different model: a small group of founders getting together regularly for dinner.  In holding a larger event, we’re aiming to create a neutral group; focussing on founders rather than the whole ecosystem of advisors & VCs & service providers and whatnot. There are lots of great programmes and meetups. We’re looking to connect active founders with one another, talking about their thoughts and experiences around growing their business. We reckon peers are best placed to help solve the challenges we’re all facing.

The name Flounders specifically refers to the principle of really honestly sharing where we may be struggling, rather than only talking about the good stuff.  If it goes well, founders will have the chance to meet each other and start their own smaller Flounder dinner groups, where really getting to know each other and trusting one another helps with sharing and tackling tricky stuff.

GridAKL are firm believers that hard times can be a real catalyst for innovation. The team holds up Slack and Flickr founder Stewart Butterfield as a real hero of this – sideways stepping his way to success. Why do you think its important for startups to share hard times as well as good?

Starting a business is hard.  We’ve found that it’s really helpful to realise other people have bad days (weeks, months) too, and there’s support to get through it. And to celebrate large & small successes, even if they’re not necessarily able to be public.

We love the breadth and diversity of founders involved in Flounders Club, how did they all get involved?

 The original group met at a number of other events like the Web Meetup and Tech Startup Meetup. We realised that focussing in a small group was really useful, so we started to get together for dinner.  We still love that small group, but we kept meeting other founders who were awesome, and who were tackling similar problems. We figured we’d see if there was appetite for a bigger group to get together.

Our first event sold out, and it was a great atmosphere.  We’ve had some awesome feedback and so we’re looking forward to doing it again.

Do you feel it’s important to have diversity in business conversations (i.e having Garage Project & Vend in the same room) and why?

Talking to people in similar businesses can be really valuable for shared learning, but it can also make it harder to think of new out-of-the box ideas and solutions. We find that having diverse types of businesses discussing their progress and issues provides an awesome environment for seeing how other industries address problems from different angles.

What’s your best bit of sage advice you have taken from your time with your fellow Flounders?

 Just. Keep. Moving.

Why should we be heading along?

 To meet a great range of energetic, passionate, hard-working people.  To hopefully learn a few new tips and tricks. And to realise that you’re not really doing it alone!

The next Flounders Club will be taking place at GridAKL on the 17th of November and is all about building for scale. The speakers list features Lillian Grace from Wiki New Zealand,  Laura Bell from SafeStack, and Karl von Randow from Letterboxd