Chirag Kulkarni is a Boston-based entrepreneur who is the CEO of C&M Group, a strategy consultancy focused on growth and innovation for companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500s. We talked with him recently about a time he wished he had gotten an agreement in writing.
What type of business were you in when you had this experience?
I used to run a company called STR that offered tennis racquet stringing to consumers and businesses. As most founders know, there are a million things to worry about when starting a business, and unfortunately, as a first-time founder, one of the things I worried about least was creating agreements with my employees. Instead, I only created very basic reports that outlined what they would be responsible for as employees.
No matter how busy your startup is, make sure you document and create official contracts for your employees that are legitimate and specific.
And what went wrong?
Stringing is a labor-intensive business. Some of my employees started contacting my customers directly and working with them on the side, taking away customers from STR. Effectively, I was competing with my own employees. A written agreement specifying
that my employees could not work for competitors or use my customer list for their own benefit would have helped greatly. I wish I had gotten a specific agreement in writing about that.
What have you learned from the experience that you would do differently now? Any advice for others in a similar position?
No matter how busy your startup is, make sure you document and create official contracts for your employees that are legitimate and specific. This pays off when you are trying to hold your employees accountable for their actions. Especially when you are in the validation stages of your startup (when you don’t know whether it is a viable business or not), filing out things such as NDAs may not seem like a priority, but they can end up being very important.