Cofounder · Finding cofounders

How do you make sure your cofounder has complementary skills?

Rajendran Pottayil Editor, trulycurious.com. former senior editor at India Abroad, adjunct at CUNY

Last updated on September 8th, 2017

I'm a journalist with a background in science, and have a solid record for it. But I am a wee bit lost when it comes to fundraising, sales and suchlike, at least partly because of the 'wall' maintained between marketing and journalism in most places. Now I need to work with someone who understands the concept and can still work within it. Ergo, the question...

Joshua Silberberg Cofounder of Generativ, a startup studio for first-time founders

September 11th, 2017

The advice above is solid re: having a proven track record. What I'd add is that the cofounder relationship is also very personal. Bootstrapping a startup can be incredibly challenging and stressful, you want to be as certain as possible that whoever you involve is someone with whom you're ready to share the metaphorical foxhole. The softer, personal questions aren't easy things to assess, but here are some questions I've used to do so in the past:

  • Would I co-sign a mortgage with this person?
  • Are they good at the things I'm bad at?
  • If/when things explode, is this someone who will work as hard as I will to right the ship?
  • If we strongly disagreed about something important to the future of the business, how do I think that disagreement play out?

Startup life isn't all doom and gloom, but there will be bad days and you need to be prepared. You don't have to take my word for it though -- Ben Horowitz (of Andreesen Horowitz) wrote an excellent book on the subject called The Hard Thing About Hard Things. It may be worth a look before you consider marriage to a co-founder.

Raymond Williams Software Developer at Vista Entertainment Solutions USA

September 5th, 2017

Why is it that you feel your skills are validated to a potential cofounder? Look for those similar qualities.


  • Have they raised funding previously?
  • Do they have an established network with investors?
  • Have they had any successful exits?
  • Do they have a portfolio showcasing products they've developed?
  • Do they have investor references you can speak with?
  • Public media around products they've worked with

I suggest putting a list of skills together that you believe is needed to complement your own, then look for validation against those skills by using the list above or brainstorming similar.