How to find a good co-founder for your startup
Updated: Nov 28, 2022
Do you want to be an entrepreneur but are not sure how to choose the ideal co-founder? This is without a doubt a difficult decision and of fundamental importance for the success of a Startup. If the team doesn't have a strong alignment and doesn't complement each other, the probability of success decreases a lot.
In this post, we will comment on the main aspects to consider when forming a team. Practically all points were raised by great references in the world of Startups and entrepreneurship, such as Paul Graham, Margaret Heffernan, Helge Seetzen and Pejman Pour-Moezzi.
Determination and Commitment
Determination is cited by Paul Graham as being the most important trait in founders. The numerous obstacles faced along the entrepreneurial journey require the founders to have a strong determination to solve the problem they proposed, but it is necessary that everyone has the same level of commitment to the business.
Ideally, the founders have full availability to work in the company, but we know that many Startups start with their founders still working for other organizations. Thus, according to Helge Seetzen, more important than the great availability of time is the symmetry of time invested by each one so that discussions are avoided and the company remains standing.
A Startup can undergo several changes, especially when it is at an early stage and validating the idea and business model. Therefore, it is important that all founders are open-minded to new possibilities and are flexible in making decisions.
One of the first characteristics that we might think is very important in a founder is intelligence. Which is true, it's really important. However, according to Paul Graham, the ability to imagine and propose good ideas appears to be more significant than the ability to quickly solve expected problems.
If we stop to think, great ideas don't look like good ideas at first. AirBnB for example, who would want complete strangers to spend a few days at their house or even live together? Ideally, the level of intelligence proposes ideas that make sense, but with a dose of madness.
It's very difficult to build a successful business with just one person. Large startups usually had two or three founders. Given that they will have to work countless hours together, it is quite logical that the founders will need to be friends, trust each other and be able to resolve conflicts when they arise.
But it is necessary to have attention to very close relationships, whether for being best friends, married or siblings. Several difficult decisions need to be made throughout the business and the relationship should not influence decision making or discussions and should not be influenced by the business either.
It is essential that founders have different skills and that they complement each other in the development of the business. For example, one person might be great at technology and programming while another person might be great at sales and tracking business metrics.
Furthermore, it is also important that there is symmetry in the level of knowledge or skill in the area that has the greatest domain. According to Helge Seetzen, just as the asymmetry of time made available to the company can generate misunderstandings, so can the asymmetry of performance in different areas.
Similar Goals and Values
It is very important for founders to have clear their business goals. If one of the founders wants to build the biggest social network in the world and the other as soon as it reaches the value of $1 million wants to sell the company, probably there will be disagreements.
Likewise, similar values are fundamental not just for the founders, but for the entire company. It is extremely common to see great entrepreneurs saying that values are the biggest differential for achieving the success of their business. If the way people work or face challenges is very different, the chances of discussions taking place are great.
According to Pejman Pour-Moezzi, before choosing a founder it is better to work with him in tasks similar to those that will be faced in a company. In this way, it is possible to get to know each other better, understand how each one thinks, their qualities and really have a better foundation before making this decision, which is so important to choose a partner. We know that working or simulating activities with the person can be a little difficult, but a great tip also given by Pejman is for each founder to prepare a list of questions for each one to answer in detail, such as:
In your view, what would be a good, an average and a great result for our company?
How do you imagine us working together while still working at other companies?
What are your strengths and points for improvement?
Why do you want to work with me?
Note that these are questions that bring aspects of great relevance to people who will work countless hours together and on complex problems. Ideally, you should create your own questions with the points that you think are most relevant.