Fundraising · Finding cofounders

What should I expect from someone who has shown interest in becoming a cofounder?

Cheryl Clements

August 30th, 2015

I have a new startup and posted that I was open to a cofounder.  I was contacted by an individual who, has a lot of the items that I would want in a partner, on paper, and our hour long initial conversation went very well.  We seem to have similar goals, sense of humor, etc. There is much more to learn about this individual but my specific question is, as I start down this road, what should I expect from him in terms of effort to show his interest.  For example, there will of course be phone calls, meetings etc. but is it realistic to expect him to start asking to be more involved, provide any advisor skills he has, provide networking opportunities, etc.  I am moving forward solo and in my mind he needs to jump on the train to show his interest, commitment, loyalty, etc.  For an employee, I would be comfortable with a CV, interviews and some conversation, but for a cofounder, I do expect him to roll up his sleeves and show he really wants to be part of the team.  Is that expecting too much and if not, what specifically should be doing to convince me of his interest?

 

Side note, I have 5 advisors representing the following areas: VC, design company, cofounder of a dev company, former startup founder and a consultant in the space.  CPA and attorney are on board and I am about to go out for seed funding.  Do I even need a cofounder or should I move forward with these partnerships and hire later.  My gaps are funding and marketing, and this individual does have experience in both.

 

Thank you very much for your advice and opinions.

 

John Seiffer Business Advisor to growing companies

August 30th, 2015

If you really need a co-founder (I'll get to that in a minute) then you should sense a lot of initiative on his part. Not just responding to your calls and questions - he should initiate some of his own - come up with suggestions, ask you questions. It is a lot like dating and if he's not checking you out as much as you're checking him out, maybe he's looking for a fling and you're looking for marriage.

Next I would try to work on a project together. Something that has a definite end point. See how you work together. If your styles are compatible and if your skills are as complimentary as  you think.

Next do you really need a co-founder. Many more companies should be bootstrapped than people believe. See this article

L. Marshall-Smith

August 30th, 2015

Well, you should definitely make it known that you are actively seeking a cofounder with the following skill sets (these should compliment yours and not duplicate yours as you know).  If they are showing interest, you could try to give them a small task or two, perhaps even for pay, to see how they do with it.  1) are they open to accepting the work.  2) do they do what you ask, when you ask it and in the way you need it completed? If the communication and relationship in regard to these first small projects go well, then, you could offer them the cofounder spot, but be sure that you clearly define all terms up front so that both of you are on the same page from the get go.  If you are asking should they "offer" to do work for you first?  That's a tough one.  In my experience, it is usually the founding CEO who asks the potential co-founder, but I suppose it could be the other way around as well. It would depend on how excited this person is about joining your team and being a part of what you are doing.  I don't think there is any set rule here.

Thomas Sutrina Inventor at Retired Pursue Personal interrests and family

August 30th, 2015

I suggest you wait till he performs and adds value and sticks with it.  It is like a marriage.  Your looking for someone that will meet the commitment and that you can get along with.  As it happened I came into a startup that was on the down cycle.  The first product died in 2008 with everything else and the founder had found a new product of two parts one his field and the other not.  I entered the picture actually to fill another piece but showed that I actually knew the other field and did not have a coin machine to feed.  Well 6 months went buy and the direction of the product that he was taking the company was not panning out so I suggested a related product.  That is the path we are now following.  I am the cofounder because of what I contributed, stuck in there, and we are compatible.  His field is now of lesser importance.  But the product seem to have more people interested it it and the range of markets much broader.

Andrew Lockley

August 30th, 2015

If he can't come with boredom, inconvenience and irritation, don't use him. Test this carefully. It's not (always) fun, and you don't get paid. You need to really care to be any use.

Patty DeDominic Chief Catalyst, Managing Partner at DeDominic & Associates (Also Chief Catalyst for Maui Mastermind and Exec Coach)

August 30th, 2015

Cheryl Clements Selecting cofounders/ future partners is similar to selecting new best friends, serious dates and ultimately a spouse. Your ideal cofounder may Write a check but that should be the least of what one brings Make valuable and (only) timely, practical introductions Save you tons of time and work May have any number of assets which you and your current team lack which when properly nurtured over weeks and months then years will have a huge multiplier effect on your biz Don't spend much time with anyone who can't get you three steps forward this quarter. Thank You and stay in touch! Patty DeDominic Patty@dedominic.com Cell 805-453-7490

Luis Eduardo Trujillo

August 30th, 2015

From my point of view the "necessity" of having a co-founder is essentially on your business model. If you are capable of having a MVP as you are then go ahead. In parallel you can continue your search and if you find the correct one we will come in later on. If you are not able to have the MVP then the co founder strategy is high priority. 

L. Marshall-Smith

August 30th, 2015

Partnering with anyone is a process.  It's like dating. Would you ask someone to marry you, and start supporting you, after a one-hour phone call?  Probably not. If you do feel there is a fit here, I recommend, meeting with this person in person if that is possible. If not, than start Skyping or Google hangout at least once a week.  Get to know them. Really get to know them. Find out as much about them as you can, both professionally and even personally. Find out about family and family commitments, how much time do they think they can actually devote to your start up, etc.  Investors typically like to invest in teams. You have a strong Advisory Board and that is great, but how much responsibility do they have on a day to day basis on running your company? A good co-founding relationship can go a long way in getting you funded.

Cheryl Clements

August 30th, 2015

Hi Linda,

Thank you for your response.  I agree 100%, as I mentioned above, that there will be lots of meetings, getting to know one another, etc.  What I am trying to determine is, should they be offering to be involved by helping out at a certain point or do you agree to make them a cofounder prior to any physical involvement.  I don't expect this offer immediately, of course, just questioning if it should be part of the equation.  Thanks again!

Cheryl Clements

August 30th, 2015

Thanks John, Linda, Thomas and Andrew, I appreciate your responses!

Cheryl Clements

August 30th, 2015

Thanks Patty!