Business Strategy · Entrepreneurship

What are the right steps to find the right co-founder?

Fabio Corsi Founder @ Conquer Trader Import & Export

October 10th, 2017

I am the founder of a B2B Service startup and feel the need of a co-founder with stronger expertise on areas where I lack, but at the same time, have the same passion about creating something new. I've been talking to a lot of people but never got the feeling that they would be a good fit or even be in the same page as me, especially those that are just worried about the money. Any advise out there?

Bingo Zhou CoFounder@Snoop Tech, CTO@AngelsGlobal

Last updated on October 12th, 2017

Hi Fabio,

I understand your pains since I am in the same process. My philosophy is the cofounders must complement each other best though individual is not the best. Talk to as many people as possible, being simple, upright, selfless and persevering, people will see more in you. Of course, potential CoFunders should value your ideas to the similar extent you do.

Regarding the money, pay them with what you can afford since everybody has different financial status. Sweat equity persons like me are those who truly believe in entrepreneurship and love adventures for the whole life.

frank zhu data scientist, software entrepreneur

October 10th, 2017

I can feel your pain. As we know, an important factor for business to succeed is to focus. Now imagine a dozen people point laser guns into a night sky, will they point to the same direction? Probably not. But if you make the search a little bit wider, you might found two or more people point to similar directions. Here is my point: if it is hard to find the exact same area you are searching, try to widen your search area. You might find people we are both interested and skilled. And if your idea is good enough and you are a good leader, people will be convinced and follow you. Good luck!

Akbarjon Abdulhamidov Startup, Tourist guide, English teacher, Marketolog

October 11th, 2017

maybe your network is not big enough, try to find the people who are better than you in any way and then go and talk to them without hesitation. Join business clubs or if there isn't any, why not organize one?

K. Robbins Head Moose at Moose WorldWide Digital

October 11th, 2017

Are you profitable? Every time I get to the table with someone interested in a merger/co-founder/co-owner deal, and they find out we are profitable -- meaning they would have to buy their way in, or work for reduced wages to earn equity over time - that's the end of it.

I've done this dance three times in the last two years.

It's easy to find young, inexperienced, enthusiastic people who will work for peanuts (at least for a while) in the hopes of future riches. It's very difficult to find seasoned, mature, experienced professionals who want to enter into a partnership.

Let us know how it works out.

Mark Talaba Founder, Vision Former, serial entrepreneur

October 11th, 2017

Hello Fabio. From what you described, it sounds as though you are really looking for a co-founder with whom you sense ‘team chemistry’ that is ready to blossom, as well as shared faith in the big vision. It’s true that a lot of great enterprises have been formed and built by founders who were complementary in ‘spirit’ (if you will), and not just in experience or expertise. Check out Teamability®. It is a completely new technology that identifies and organizes the different ways people contribute to specific team needs, and it is delivering extraordinary business results. One thing it does very well is to identify ‘Role-pairings’ — complementary modes of teaming that generate positive team chemistry/team spirit. This may sound all squishy, like ‘trust-fall’ team building HR stuff, but it’s not. An hour-long online exercise will raise awareness of your own intrinsic mode of teaming, and will tell you exactly what to look for in a co-founder who will team synergistically with you. Reach out to me and I’ll set you up for free.

Sem Brandenburg Founder & CEO, executing my third idea that will have worldwide impact

October 11th, 2017

Hi Fabio,

I have the same challenge.

at the moment I have the following view, which might be wrong though.

1) An equal cofounder needs to have the same vision on product and company direction and must put in the same risks as you which will not happen with people you do not know I think. Same counts for the other way around. I bet you are not willing to risk time and money with the wrong cofounder.

2) If 1 is true, you must start with forming deep relationships with a lot of people to determine if the fit is there. Doable but t will take 6 to 12 months I think. Need to drink lots of beers...

3) Another option could be to be perceived (perceived is important here. You can be a great leader but just not well known, or you can be a terrible leader but have great marketing skills. And of course all other combinations) as a great and inspiring leader. This will not be a equal cofounder structure. People will pay to work with you basically. It is like a famous rockstar having to select a women out his fan base that really loves him. Not easy as well...

4) If 3 is correct, you can however onboard more cofounders at very good conditions (low equity stake with hefty vesting clauses) so this might work

5) If the market and thus potential people do not see you yet as a leader in the field, it will take again probably at least a year to form that image

So my take, with time everything is possible but in most cases time is the limiting factor. On the other hand, without funding or cashflow, the company will be nowhere anyway. So I think this is one of the most challenging ways to start a business.

At the moment I am more busy with finding cashlow early on so the company can stay alive and pushed the cofounder search on second plan. During my journey for cashlow I might run into a cofounder however. When I can get cashflow running it is also easier to get funding. Especially when the company has a scaleable product. And with funding you can onboard employees (entrepreneurial types that want salary more than equity)

however, biggest drawback of my decision to start on my own is that I find it very hard to do everything myself. Way too much to do and apart from not having enough time, this also means it is very hard to focus on just a few things because somewhere in your head you know the rest needs to be done as well. On the plus side, I can decide very quickly. No time lost on points cofounders can argue about. But...if you can get one or more good cofounders? Go for it! I think it is an advantage in the end.

Shyam charan Pathapati Founder and CEO @ becoming an entrepreneur !

Last updated on October 12th, 2017

A strategic movement will always leads to development definitely in all aspects. In order to grow financially, one should listen to their inner self, think, understand , DECIDE , plan , and ACT. I could say that everyone wants to make themselves comfortable. There should be a genuine attraction(desire) and belief towards the activity. They've great attraction towards money and all they might need is belief. It's not just about providers all the time but also about seekers.

People :

You need to realize that you gotta give some time to make some real money.

Don't underestimate the power of an opportunity!

Hustle and get paid!!!!!!!!

Climb Lean Climb Lean School of Starting Up

October 17th, 2017

The Co-Founder Mythology – Both Sides of the Table by Mark Suster has covered quite a few things that relate to this question and I am summarizing this here:

  • When you start a company a 50/50 partnership seems obvious. Either you’re not technical and you think you need a technical co-founder or vice-versa
  • Conventional wisdom says that you gain far more in working as a team than you lose by diluting by half before you start.
  • Conventional wisdom doesn’t account for all of the things that go wrong in partnerships over time; especially ones that are formed quickly and without a long gestation period.
  • It is increasingly popular to have “founder dating” or “startup weekend hackathons” of some variety or the other. We get cast together with a team of people we barely know and if we win we gleefully announce we’re going to do a company together. We don’t even know whether they snore.
  • You often have very limited perspective on whether this person will continue to be a great partner 2 years down the line, 4 years down the line, 8 years down the line
  • Even if you *think* you know them, people change. One person gets more risk averse, the other has more risk appetite. One person gets married or has kids and starts to de-prioritize the business. One person loses the passion for what you do. Or you have disagreements about strategy, recruiting, funding, etc.
  • 50/50 partnerships can be hugely unstable — even if you’ve been friends since high school.
  • And all of the hard work is ahead of you. You’re only going to find out whether they’re TRULY a great partner after you’ve put in years of money, blood, sweat & tears.
  • I think most people do 50/50 partnerships because they’re afraid to start alone. It’s scarier because if you fail it was only you and all your fault. Somehow it feels easier to leap together. I know. It’s what I did the first time.
  • I say, “go ahead & take the leap” if you want to start a company (many people don’t want to — that’s OK, too.). Hire your co-founder. Give them a large sum of equity. 20%. 30%. Even 40%. Vested over 4 years. If you ever fall out of love you have a pre-nuptial agreement. I talk about that in more detail here.
  • Truly treat them like a co-founder. Give them access to all confidential information. Involve them in fund raising, hiring, strategy, etc. Publicly call them a co-founder. Don’t rule like a dictator. But … if you have very big disagreements about funding, risk levels (e.g. like how much burn rate), whether to sell the company, etc. you won’t be backed into a corner or unable to make tough decisions.

Krystian Fiedoruk Aspiring Entrepreneur with rising experience

Last updated on October 11th, 2017

I don't think it's that hard to find the passionate co-founder and I wouldn't go crazy about it, if I couldn't find the right match right away.

Just keep your eyes open and talk to people :)

What are the skills you are looking for that co-founder should have? What you lack?

Mohamad Hamade Serial Entrepreneur, Consultant, Strategist

October 13th, 2017

I personally do not believe that you need to look for the "perfect" co-founder. I believe that it would be someone that would grow in relation to you, rather than have already been fitting to all your criteria.