Are they nice? I think this is the first and most important sign to look out for. How does the entrepreneur communicate in that initial call or skype meeting? Is he or she nice, too authoritative, or does he come across as mean spirited? Seriously, pay close attention to how an entrepreneur responds and speaks during this initial conversation or email.
Does the entrepreneur use words like “I” and ‘My” vs. “We” and “Ours”. This will tell you if you’re dealing with an egomaniac or not. Often times entrepreneurs can be obsessed with the fact that it’s their idea and tend to forget who will be building the actual technology.
Has he or she made any efforts to draw up mockups, i.e. Balsamiq, Lumzy, orMobiOne? Have they conducted any surveys? What were the outcomes? Do they have any validation from potential partners, incubators - or better yet - customers?
Are they a serial entrepreneur? What successes or failures have they had in the past that will add value to their current idea? If they’re a first-time entrepreneur then look for more traction.
5. Date First
Finding a co-founder is a “No Dive Zone”. As exciting as a project may be, with founders that may seem awesome, but refrain from jumping into things too quickly. Build and work on something small together first as a compatibility and competency test for both parties. Once the dating period is over, get right down to business. Get things in writing (e.g. equity shares, salaries, vesting schedules etc.).
First, are you passionate about the space and the problem the entrepreneur is solving? Second, how long has the entrepreneur been working on this concept/idea? This could be a testament to their willingness to see this through. How committed and vested are they emotionally & financially? How focused are they on this single idea alone? Be wary of the ‘ideas guy’ who typically can’t execute on any single idea.
There’s a difference between networking and connecting. You want to connect with your potential co-founder and the best way to do this is outside of the office: over lunch or even over a beer. Wait, can you even have a beer with this person!?
8. Technical & Long Term Vision
What happens after you build the MVP? What will you be building? Will it challenge you? Does the entrepreneur have a long-term technical vision for the product?
What do other people think about them? Check their LinkedIn for references, don’t be afraid to ask them for references and ask around town.
Will you have input and the freedom to innovate NOT just code all day. Does the entrepreneur take FUN seriously? At Fitly, fun is mandatory : )