Introduction · FounderDating

Advice on the process of founder dating?

Charlene MD, MPH CEO & Founder, ReciproCare, Halcyon Fellow

January 24th, 2014

Hi everyone,
So, I'm founder dating someone who I met on Founder Dating and wonder if you have advice about the process.   Excluding considerations about equity and complementary skill sets, what other considerations should we address? For those of you who have built or are building companies with others on FD, what were/are the most important deciding factors?  What topics or issues do you wish you had explored before deciding to partner? What are some of the less obvious considerations?

Thanks in advance,

Jessica Alter Entrepreneur & Advisor

January 24th, 2014

Did a popular blog post that's very comprehensive

Rob G

January 24th, 2014

it sounds trite, but if you literally think of the process in terms of dating with the intent of marriage on a shortened timeline you can build your own checklist including 'must haves' and prioritize them.  Skills and experience are relatively easy to determine, but it is the intangibles that tend to make or break a partnership:  trust, decision-making processes, emotions, drive, work ethic, religion, politics, etc.  Initially the focus will naturally be on the business, product, numbers, etc., but be deliberate about taking time to get to know them as a person. for example, if one partner is single and has no children and works 100 hrs/wk on the startup and the other is married with young children how will that effect the partnership?  Spouses / significant others wield a lot of influence so be sure to get to know them too.  Spend time together on weekends and evenings and meet the spouse/significant other to get to know how they see this venture.  The checklist can be endless, but be methodical, make lists and be sure to address the list openly.  i am still  50/50 partners with my cofounder in my second startup after 14 years.  In 14 years i can count on one hand the number of disagreements we've had that lasted more than a few hours.  in many ways we are opposites, but for this venture it works well.  he's a back-office kind of guy and i'm more a customer-facing kind of person.  In my third startup it took me and my potential tech cofounder 6 weeks to complete a 99 designs contest for our logo.  It dove me crazy.  we went our separate ways after just a few months.  The last red flag was when he told me "we don't need to allocate any time to test this code - i test it as i go". i took shortcuts that i shouldn't have taken assuming all would work out.  it cost me 5 valuable months just to get divorced.  trust but verify. my $0.02 worth.  Let me know if/how i can help. good luck. 


January 24th, 2014

Hi Charlene, I think you should consider FounderDating as the point of introduction. Now you need to figure out if the two of you can tango -- to do that, start working together. Have a 3-month trial period where you agree to work on some project (maybe a startup-idea that one of you brought to the table). During that 3-months: - meet very regularly (daily if possible even if it's just via Skype) - have at least one extended (8 hours+) in-person working session per week - agree work deliverables over relatively short time periods (1 to 2 weeks max) - agree some ambitious goals (of the measurable type) for each month - get some references for one another and try to get some backchannel feedback on each other You need to figure out if you are the right fit for another - is this someone you want to go through the dark periods of entrepreneurship with (AND vice versa)? Do you share goals? Are your working styles compatible? Are you operating off the same principles and moral compass? Basically, start road-testing each other. 3 months may not be enough but it's enough to figure out if you want to go further than 3 months. Cheers, Eoin

David McKeen

January 24th, 2014

Pick up the book called partnership charter. It has great advice in this area.

Charlene MD, MPH CEO & Founder, ReciproCare, Halcyon Fellow

January 25th, 2014

Thanks Rob, Eolin, and David---I will learn from your experience; this is fantastic advice!
Jessica--thanks for the link to the blog; it's thorough and helpful.


Detrick DeBurr

January 28th, 2014

(1) I would consider finding something like a Startup Weekend event in your area. You guys come up with another idea. pitch it... if its chosen work on it together... If not, work on someone else's idea.... but do it together. 
(2) Check out

Bill P Development and product manager from early startup to acquisition

November 24th, 2019

Values alignment