Cofounder · Technical co-founder

Can cofounders without a lot of personal history find success?

Bill Liao Co Founder at IndieBio EU - The World's First Biotech Accelerator

March 4th, 2015

Some applicants for ourhttp://indie.bioprogram are scientists with amazing technology and yet no business co-founder.

I am interested if people feel that bringing someone into the mix that they don't know yet is a good idea.

Michael Barnathan Adaptable, efficient, and motivated

March 4th, 2015

Cramming two people together at the last minute for the sake of having a co-founder is usually a bad idea. Better to go solo than have a bad one, and the chances of a bad fit when you don't know the person beforehand are fairly high.

Add co-founders if there are business needs that are foundational to who you are as a company, and you need someone as dedicated as you are to manage those aspects. Then look *hard* for the right person to fill this role. Don't just do it because it's what everyone is supposed to do.

Be aware that choosing friends can also jeopardize the friendship if things head south.

Eric Sullivan CEO at FoundationLab

March 4th, 2015

I met one of my co-founders once from FD and we have been working together


March 4th, 2015

Not sure exactly what you're asking, but I think it's whether or not you need to have deep personal history to start a company together. There are TONS of FD cofounder and advisor success stories - check their blog. Dropbox is another great example (probably didn't work together even long enough).

That doesn't mean you just pick someone who has a "business background." Fit still matters but you can get to know each other. People that have personal history often overlook warning signs because they know that person. I've never seen any research that says "if you went to elementary school together" you make better cofounders. Absent of having been cofounders before, it's not like anything else you can do together.

Eric Wold

March 4th, 2015

Yes, it is possible. Just like some couples can meet and form a great relationship quickly and stay together long-term.

And as you probably just figured out... while it's possible, it's not terribly common. Probably a lot like gambling if you don't get to know each other before "tying the knot".

The right structure will make ALL the difference.  I had the fortune of being able to speak with Mike Moyer and exchange ideas a bit.  He's a great guy, and his book is a great foundation for a partner relationship.  You don't have to follow his "grunt fund" plan exactly, but it has great concepts you can borrow from to make your own version of it.

Bill Liao Co Founder at IndieBio EU - The World's First Biotech Accelerator

March 4th, 2015

That is a good data point :-)

Ho long have you been working together?

Rob G

March 4th, 2015

with my first 2 startups i barely knew my cofounders when we started out and in both cases we got along well.  #1 failed (nothing related to co-founder strife, etc.) , #2 succeeded.  In my current project i started out with a potential technical co-founder who heard me pitch my idea and approached me. We gave it a whirl and it didn't work out and I lost several months getting 'divorced' - i knew better, but did not have the necessary 'pre-nup' in place from the start - my fault.  This site is called Founder Dating not Founder Marriage for a reason.  Proceed with caution and don't propose on the first date. Have a pre-nup in place. 

Bill Liao Co Founder at IndieBio EU - The World's First Biotech Accelerator

March 9th, 2015

Really good feedback thanks everyone!

Ania Karwowska Founder & CEO, HighSkillPro

March 20th, 2015

Yes, of course.  The secret lies in good chemistry, mutual respect, alignment of expectations, and solid legal agreements (SA, Founders Agreement, etc.).


Jim Bowes Promoting and producing sustainable natural-media techniques

January 20th, 2016

I would have to say that it may be preferable to bring in someone you do not know. I have worked with two co-founders I knew very well but turned out to be lousy choices as partners. What is far more important than knowing the person is validating that they have what it takes to be an entrepreneur. It takes a very special person to be a good entrepreneur. Both of my partners should have just stayed worker bees as in the end they wanted far more security than a start-up could ever offer. It's good to know them as a person, to check them out with people they have worked for but more than that and you may find it works against you. The closer they are to you, the harder it will be to hold them accountable or criticise their performance. 


January 21st, 2016

everything seems impossible until someone did it...