Analogous to a breakfast of Bacon and Eggs; where the Chicken is involved, and the pig committed… I am reminded about the difference between being involved and being committed.
There are multiple levels at which parties can be involved in a startup. Certainly, writing a check is one way to align interests, but that is an over-simplification.
On one end of the spectrum, you have those that are lightly (or heavily) “involved” in the startup. These can be advisors, could be passive angel investors could be members of the management team working for reduced salary – and of course, could even be one of the founders. Yes indeed, you can have involved (but not committed) founders. And, on the other end, you have those that are committed.
Here’s the litmus test for how to distinguish between the two:
If your startup dies next week, what will be the actual impact on a given individual?
If you are committed, you start talking to your friends, family and colleagues about startup. You tell them why you are doing it, and how great the company is. Now, for good or for bad, you are in. If by mistake or misfortune, the startup does not go in the direction you hope, I do not think you will be able to walk away untouched.
For the founders to be committed, if the startup dies tomorrow, it will forever change their life. They can’t just wake up the next day and have it be life as usual (yes, they’ll recover – but the failure will have a lasting impact).