You want to fill your board with directors who share a common sense of purpose and who strongly support the mission and direction of the company. You want people who will stay calm and weather the inevitable storms, and who can provide operating advice, financial expertise, a deep network, or other skills. You want people who are high-performing and driven.
In parallel, building a team of directors with diverse backgrounds—in terms of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and other factors—may help your company in many ways. That diversity can be a benefit when it comes to recruiting, providing role models or mentors for your team, and broadening the network and perspectives of the company.
Many technology company startup boards start without much diversity. Most venture capitalists are white and male. Since VCs often take the first external board seat at a company, most startup boards start off without much venture capitalist diversity. Similarly, many independent directors are the CEOs or top executives of large companies— many of which lack diversity in their highest ranks.