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Successful Startups – “I’ve got your back”

Posted by Cliff Pollan on 20, Feb, 2013

When people find out that I have done a bunch of start-ups, they often ask me: what does it take to succeed? I often think it’s the depth and strength of the relationships between team members. All too often, I find it hard to convey what that means. I heard a story this week that sums it up in a way that will stay with me forever.

The Postwire Team

The Postwire Team. Front row: Doug Hogan, Shawn LaVana. Back row: Matthew Sullivan, Craig Daniel, Carrie Kuempel, Peggy Kriss, Cliff Pollan, Freedom Dumlao

I was with Mike Schultz and John Doerr, partners and founders of the RAIN Group, a top tier sales training and consulting firm. It was the first time we met and I could feel the strength of their relationship as business partners. It became clear to me throughout our 90-minute meeting that there was something unique in their support for each other.

At the end of the meeting, Mike walked me towards the door. We were talking about our kids when he shared that his son, Ari, has a very serious heart problem. (You can read Ari’s story at It was a very scary time when his son was born and Mike was torn. His business needed his attention, but his son, too, required his full support.

Mike continued on, sharing what John told him: “Be with your son. Spend all of your time with him. I’ve got your back.” And for the next six months, Mike was with his son at the hospital.

Those words spoken to Mike in the way I feel they must have been said and heard — “I’ve got your back”  truly reflect the quality of relationships with your founders and early team required for success.

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