People often ask us questions about finding cofounders etc., and we get
asked this question all the time. We thought we\'ll throw this question to
the community and ask you!
What are some of the most important questions to ask a potential cofounder?
Thoughts? Let us hear it! We\'ll probably be taking some of your responses
and making a blog post out of it.
Here are the questions that I asked my co-founder when we came together.. I am pretty thorough in my work so please dont be tripped that I went into details like this. But, its important that you ask than NOT ask upfront.
1. What unique skills as in soft skills do you bring to the table that I dont have?
2. Did you work with any mentors in the past? If yes, then can I talk to them to get a perspective on you.
3. Does your resume and your linkedIn profile match up? Are your digital assets synced up as in twitter account, FB account, linkedin account?
4. Can you describe yourself in 4 key words to me?
5. I asked him for three independent references from the past. I followed up with each of them separately to get indepedent perspective.
6. What is your Myers-Briggs indicator?
7. In order to test our partnership, we worked on a two month project together to see if we were a good match. The project was building the demo for our idea together.
8. What assets do you bring to the table - Network, funding, space, team?
9. How active are you with your past connections at work and alma matter?
10. Have you filed any patents in the past? If so, when, where and what was the result.
11. Do you think that I will be surprised with something in future that you havent told me yet about?
12. How well do you handle anger, frustration, and pain?
13. Have you ever been fired, gone to jail, or done anything that would materially impact your time with the company?
14. Do you sit on any boards of companies and do you have any conflict of interest with our project?
15. Is there a \'no compete\' clause that is active at this time?
16. I believe that its important to get a sense of personal commitments that the person has to better manage your time and their time. �Are you married or not? With/without kids? This came out naturally in our conversations.
17. What is the work culture that you like and you aspire for?�We visited few office spaces together to get a sense of what each of us likes work environments wise.
18. What tools have you used in the past or are you familiar with for project management, product management, bug tracking, document storage, presentations, etc..
19. Have you managed teams and if so, how?�
20. ARe you good at receiving and taking feedback?
21. Have you worked with diverse teams in the past?�
22. Have you traveled abroad?
23. Have you managed teams remotely?
Thanks. Hope this helps. Drop me a note if you need help or want to talk to me. This is my second time finding a co-founder.
A good resource was a book I read called the "partnership charter" link:
It goes over a whole bunch of stuff like this. It is a great read and i
used the outline for the charter in a venture i was involved with with
great success. Nice way of getting the conversation going. Not all
inclusive. Some good thoughts in this thread.
On Wed, Nov 7, 2012 at 5:33 PM, Brian Caouette
Tremendous list Ajay! I wish I had asked all those great questions on my
last venture! I hate to shift the stream but I have a somewhat related
question that has been nagging me? If you "recruit" a co-founder", how to
deal with the issue of compensation. For example, say your business hasn\'t
yet received any funding and is also not yet breaking even based on
non-salary costs. Yet you expect that you and your co-founder will earn a
salary (whether funded through revenues or investor $) once you reach
certain milestones. Have you pre-determined your expected salaries /
compensation up front? And what about the relationship between salary /
role etc. for co-founders with different levels of experience coming into
it. On the one hand I can see just taking the same pay no matter what as
having some advantages from and "equal partnership" standpoint, but also
possibly some disadvantages. It would be great Ajay or anyone else had
some advice in this area on norms / best practices?...
In my ventures, the equity and salary split initially among co-founders was equal at the beginning with proper agreements/vesting schedules until we had raised enough money or were making enough on revenue to pay market rates for all employees. Infact, our ladder was no salary initially for co-founders when we bootstrapped to 25% of market rates when we raised a decent angel round to 50% of market rates when we raised more to 100% market rates when revenue goals were being achieved. But this can change depending on where you are depending on traction in the industry.
Of course, we always paid ourselves last after making sure that our employees were covered first. The salaries were made commensurate of roles for co-founders once we reached a place in the company where we could begin to pay market rates. �That also meant that beyond founder\'s equity, any new bonus compensation and salaries to all including co-founders was subject to board approvals and tied to our roles in the company.
I am interested in knowing if anyone here has a different take than mine on how co-founders got paid over time.
Thanks. Hope this helps.
>Tremendous list Ajay! I wish I had asked all those great questions on my last venture! �I hate to shift the stream but I have a somewhat related question that has been nagging me? If you "recruit" a co-founder", how to deal with the issue of compensation. �For example, say your business hasn\'t yet received any funding and is also not yet breaking even based on non-salary costs. �Yet you expect that you and your co-founder will earn a salary (whether funded through revenues or investor $) once you reach certain milestones. �Have you pre-determined your expected salaries / compensation up front? �And what about the relationship between salary / role etc. for co-founders with different levels of experience coming into it. �On the one hand I can see just taking the same pay no matter what as having some advantages from and "equal partnership" standpoint,�but also possibly some disadvantages. �It would be great Ajay or anyone else had some advice in
Here are couple of tactical/logistical ones that I\'ve seen people skip by
until it\'s painful:
- How long can you burn with little/no salary?
- If you\'re not able to go fulltime now under what conditions would you be
able to start working on something fulltime?
Depending on how that meshes with your plan you may have a show stopper