Many angel investors and incubators suggest to partner people who you know rather than finding somebody in the events. They claim that you can't just marry people randomly, having a cofounder partnership is like marriage and the partners need to know each other.
However at the same time, finding a cofounder is a pain in the ass you don't have much options left. I have been trying to find the right cofounder but it's really really hard!
So I didn't wait and built my product but admit that I still need a cofounder for marketing needs. Even though I find one, it will be a disadvantage when they ask how we met.
What would you say about the known vs unknown partnership, which one would you prefer?
First, it's possible to begin working tog before you sign anything formal. Find small ways to work together first.
Second, you can check someone's references easily enough, right?
Third, you want to find the right person rather than the right role. Be open to someone who wants to solve the same problem even if they don't have exactly the right set of skills.
I have had many conversations with VCs about the phenomena of "Co-Founder". 100% of them that i have spoken with (about a dozen) smirk and think it is 'cute'. If they do not see the co-founder is a real co-founder, then they regard this as misdirection and a huge negative. A co-founder to them is a real co-founder, not someone you met a couple of times or talked to from a lead to be co-founder (such as this forum). They want a person with shared vision, mission, and ambition. They want a person that builds the company and the product to solve the same problem you see. They want a person that can lead the company if you get hit by a bus. They want a person that has significant and meaningful ownership (whether vested or not) that is not going to bail out when the going gets tough. They want strength in the founder(s) seats and commitment. They want you all to be working too many hours, getting too little rest, and eating too much pizza. Anything less is just an employee.