I've been down this road enough times to recognize my mistakes in retrospect, but I can still say that I don't really have a good process for vetting and selecting a co-founder objectively yet. The prompt for this question is a recent split with a guy I met and brought into a co-engineering space I've been working on the last few years. It was basically a combination of coworking, an engineering firm, and a prototype shop...
Anyway less than two weeks after getting the keys to our building he was already stressed, and avoiding me, and had quite twice! Yesterday I realized that one of us had to go, and I'm spread to thin to do it alone so I gave it to him. Disappointment aside I feel good about walking away rather than taking on more than I can, but it leaves me wondering how I can make sure that the next partner is really a good fit.
He was the right guy technically, had the right expectations, lived in the right city, came with cash, seemed to have decent start-up experience, etc. Most importantly he saw the larger vision immediately, and volunteered to jump on board from day one. What he didn't have was the ability to communicate what he wanted to me, motivation to work through business planning detail, or a graceful way of moving forward constructively when shit hit the fan. This last one I didn't really see until the last few days. Objectively I should have been able to spot the problems a mile away (some of them I did see honestly), but I convinced myself I could work with the shortcomings because the rest was so good. Also he showed up at a time when I was about to put the project on the back burner for at least a year if now more, so taking him on really felt like the only option to make things happen at all.
So that was a long backstory, but what I'm really asking is how do you prioritize these things? A separate, and maybe more important question: Is there a way to tell how a potential partner will deal with the stress and mistakes that we all know are part of a start-up, before committing to them and experiencing their process in real time?
Thanks for all your input!