Teams · Founders

How do you find trustworthy people?

Ali Loghmani Use AI to increase productivity

December 8th, 2014

I have started shopping around for an excellent co-founder and, I am finding it a bit challenging. To be honest, it is a bit steeper than finding true love. Not to be ultra picky, but I would like to find people with whom I can build things, hard working people who would shoulder heavy loads, run a long distance and never lose hope, and, of course be practical about problems. I am not looking for martyrdom candidates, but a partner who would truly understand that it takes nine months of pain to give birth to a fantastic product. How could you find people like that in this network, especially if you are an immigrant and have not studied in the US?
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Mathieson Sterling Senior Software Engineer at Apprenda

December 8th, 2014

I heard a good, if blunt, take on this at a startup event from a successful serial entrepreneur. Basically, the problem is that you most likely don't have money or reputation - so what are you bringing to the table? If it's just an idea, they've likely got one too.  If they aren't hesitant, is there a reason they're so willing to jump in? 

I've found in my own experience it's much, much easier to get people to come aboard once there's something there already to show them, whether it's deck or prototype. The first sales of the product you make is to your co-founders - and it's always easier to sell something you can see.

Since you're a developer you have a great advantage over many others, since you can get a quick proof of concept up on your own.

Timothy Clark Owner - Radiant Heart Studios

December 8th, 2014

Ali,
I understand your dilemma.  It's difficult to know ahead of time the character of a potential partner.  Like in romantic relationships, everyone puts on their best face at initial meetings.  Also, we tend to see what we want to see - you don't want to start a relationship from a perspective of distrust.

After two years of looking for an equity partner, I have concluded that available dependable people are difficult to find.  I've wasted way too much time with "partners" who seem enthusiastic and make all kinds of promises, but fail to deliver much of anything.  Not having money to invest, I sought equity partners. I brought to the table a good idea, customer segment studies, potential revenue streams, wireframes, interactive mockups, an animated informational video, provisional patent, trademark, a good URL and dozens of other studies and documents.  If you have the time, hear my saga:

I first partnered with an MBA who promised to develop the business plan, help with fundraising and team building. Because of his resume and enthusiasm I was willing to give equity equal to mine.  After a year of getting absolutely nothing but empty promises and excuses, I terminated our relationship. The only thing concrete document he produced was a launch schedule that was out of date within a week.  I became a beggar and whiner; too much like a needy lover.

During that year I also found a programmer who liked my idea and offered to build a prototype in exchange for equity.  A year went by with no prototype.  Communicating with him (as with the first partner) was like pulling teeth.  I would send emails several times a week and it would be two or three weeks before I received a reply (that would be mostly promises of what they were planning to do).

After separating from both of those partners I started over - using Founder Dating contacts.  Most FD members are looking for experienced partners (I am not) and it's been difficult even finding people willing to look at my 3 minute animated video.  The few contacts who viewed my video and mockups had good things to say and offered much encouragement.  A programmer contacted me, wanting to use my application idea for some hardware he was developing.  He promised to build my prototype for his hardware and "many other devices," within 2 months. He said the programming would be simple to do and we planned to launch a kickstarter campaign as soon as we had a prototype... He was so enthusiastic and again I got my hopes up.  From my side, I redid much of the mockup, incorporating functions unique to his hardware and worked on other uses for his hardware.  Again, communicating with him was next to impossible; I had to trust that he was actually making progress. After 2 months I got a short text message (sent from his phone) saying -"Fund raising is a problem in this project. We need to have in the team a hustler capable to raise the $1 million+ we need to launch the hardware. Based on what I learned it will take at least one year before we can deliver."  This was a far cry from, "This is simple, I'll have it ready in two months." My attempts to discuss the situation with him since then have failed. 

Looking for a reason for my difficulties, I think Mathieson Sterling made an excellent point: Basically, the problem is that you most likely don't have money or reputation.  Although I bring a lot to the table, I failed to understand initially that it's not enough to compensate for the lack of money or reputation.  I'll keep refining my ideas and presenting them to potential partners and investors...... and I'll start learning programming. 

Gaurav Garg Vice President

December 9th, 2014

100% agreed with all the posts in this thread. 

I have formed two companies till date; both cashflow positive with decent pipeline. Ultimately, I walked out because I could not compromise on my core values. In hindsight, I was being stubborn as well.

Bottom-line, there is no shortcut to finding a good partner. Either you already like someone as a friend and you request them to join your business venture or you will need to invest time/energy to figure out who you will work together. 

One way of figuring out if your relationship will work or not is to go to start-up weekend. Identify who you may want to work with first. It will force all parties to work under pressure. You will figure it out very quickly if you guys work well together or not :-)

I think, it is bit like marriage. Either you learn to ignore the wet towel on the floor and respect them for who they are or it does not work. I believe ideas and market change, people do not. 

Best of luck!

Anonymous

December 19th, 2014

You and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area where everyone and their mom has an idea for a startup.  
  1. Check out meetup.com and you'll find 20 entrepreneur networking groups.  Just go to the events!
  2. Startupweekend.org is another great place to find a co-founder.  
  3. Visit Hacker Dojo in Mountain View.
Interview the prospects and see who you like.  When you set up your corp or LLC and need a tax advisor, then come see me. 

Anthony Zolezzi Operating Partner at Pegasus Capital Advisors LP

December 19th, 2014

Trusted co-founders will find you. Keep working towards your goal and pay attention along the way. Your partners and co-founders will come and when they do their will be a bond of trust. Our teams have been together for over 20 years and we are still building new business platforms and companies. So my experience says push your business and start up agenda everyday and the right people will come to help --AZ


Rob G

December 8th, 2014

Trust comes with time. you need to spend time with people.  Your gut instincts can usually weed out 80-90% although cultural differences make the job considerably harder - did someone not follow through because they didn't understand or because they are not passionate or because in their culture delivering something somewhere within 200% of the deadline is considered acceptable?  Did someone just go along with all of your suggestions because they hate conflict or because they are not passionate or because their culture rewards compliance?  It just takes time and numbers. 

Andy Halliday COO LifeAID Beverage Co.

December 8th, 2014

Ali, it's very hard to know what the behavior of seemingly stable and competent partners will be under pressure. In my history I can count a handful of steady partners who brought positive energy to the most trying circumstances. But anyone with history in ventures or life will have a trail of references, so be sure to ask the questions and talk to others who have worked in close quarters with a prospective partner. Does your idea have something to do with Local mobile? Andy Sent from my iPhone

Chuck Kelly

December 14th, 2014

I think your best bet is finding a circle of people interested in building cool stuff, nothing specific just yet , agreeing to brainstorm together on a  small side project that  everyone in the group is interested in and using that experience as a building block for future projects. If all goes well it will be easy to say "okay that went well, we should do this again with a slightly more ambitious project that we all take a bit more serious."

Ruth-Ellen MIoEE Founder at XavieTime, the digital agency with a social impact mission

December 19th, 2014

Ali I feel your pain. Great support from fellow founders.  Connecting with people long before you need them is one tactic, one way to really find out about people's values and integrity is to ask the right questions. There is no one right answer I am afraid, but it's great you have set expectations this will minimise the frustrations.  Check out this slideshare http://www.slideshare.net/GuyKawasaki/the-art-of-picking-a-cofounder-41878198 about the art of finding a co-founder I am yet to meet mine but this guide definitely weeds out people that are not suitable :) and has stopped me from getting frustrated (as much).

Lorraine Wheeler President at Redstoke, LLC

December 19th, 2014

It is essential to have a discussion about goals with a potential partner.  If your goals for starting the company are similar, then it is a great foundation for building a trusting relationship.  Are you starting a company to control your own destiny, to make money, to make a difference, etc? Also, as many others have said, a cofounder relationship is similar to a marriage.  Get to know the person first and then once you are in a partnership, communicate, communicate, communicate...