If you really want an advisor to answer your emergency phone calls in the middle of the night, it takes more than a warm personal relationship.

"I gave them equity. They didn't ask for it. I said nope, I'm going to make you an owner," LearnVest CEO Alexa von Tobel said, speaking about the team of advisors she assembled for her startup early on.

LearnVest is a personal finance software company, which von Tobel founded in 2009 with her own savings. Though she describes herself as extremely frugal with the company's money, she says she's learned never to skimp when it comes to her advisors. You need to give them skin in the game. 

"Here's how I always thought about building the company: I said, I've never climbed Kilimanjaro, but if I were going to have to climb Mount Kilimanjaro tomorrow what would I do? Well, obviously I'd go find six people who had climbed Kilimanjaro," von Tobel says. Then she'd ask for a detailed account of how they did it.

In that spirit, she asked leaders from The Huffington Post, Gilt Groupe and eHarmony all about their experiences growing their businesses. She thinks of them as her sherpas.

"I'm pretty lucky, they actually come into our office almost one day a week, they're right there with us in the trenches, and they care," she says.

For more tips on how to get great minds invested in your company, take a look at the video below. 

Published on: Apr 24, 2015