Startups: How do you choose a co-founder for your company?

In general, Startup companies consist of two people – co – founders or co-founders as they say in Greek. Co-founders have complementary characteristics but it is not always a given that there is someone available who shares the same interests but especially the same vision. In any case, the (correct) choice of the co-founder is perhaps the most critical decision that should be made in a Startup .

Establishing a Startup is not an easy task, every stage, from the idea and legal formation to the first basic product, is an extremely demanding undertaking, many times it can become scary, even “impossible”. In this initial stage of the business, the co-founders can offer important support but also take on the burdens and decisions which are often painful, especially in the first year of operation of the Startup .

While there is no ideal way to launch a startup, some founders are successful working alone by assembling a leadership team around them, while others (and most would argue) prefer to have one or more co-founders from the start.

What are the situations where you need a co-founder

Not every founder (or every business leader) is perfect for every job. Some founders come to the table with an idea and relevant technical expertise while others come with “business acumen” and experience growing companies or managing products at large companies.

However, other founders excel in an area of ​​expertise that can be at the heart of the Startup : a former bank executive will be a perfect fit for a Fintech company that offers microloans to freelancers for example.

Of course, some founders choose to work in areas in which they are not experts, on their own or with the guidance of trusted advisors so that they can learn by doing and better understand the strengths of the Startup or business model but also what skills are lacking in the original team.

Assessing your personal strengths and skills is a great way to decide if you need a co-founder. A co-founder with a different skill set or expertise can help you complete your Startup and increase your chances of success. This can also be done with the first hires.

In summary, a co-founder offers:

  •  Productivity – starting a new company takes a lot of work and it’s good to have people around you to share the burden and responsibilities with.
  •  Additional skill set – building a technology-centric business requires expertise in various areas – from management and marketing to technology issues – and it is rare to find a person who has the ability to perform well in all of these areas .
  •  Moral and psychological support – building a company from scratch is a very difficult, demanding and soul-destroying process, so you will obviously face some difficult times, especially on a psychological level. It is precisely in these moments that it can be a lifesaver to have someone “next to” you.
  •  Balance – it’s good to have someone around to check your ideas and bring you back to reality when you get carried away in complex designs but also in your ‘complete’ and ‘perfect’ product.

Co-founder selection criteria

After you have established that there are basic skills that are missing from your team and the co-founder is a one-way street, let’s look at some criteria so that the best possible choice is made, since we must not forget that the co-founder is a long-term and legally binding relationship, like marriage , in which there should be a relative agreement on many and sensitive data, such as for example financial management but also on strategic decisions. Otherwise, disputes can be fatal for the Startup before it even goes to market.

Also, even at this early stage they should clarify all the issues of distribution of shares, other remuneration and benefits, especially in case of financing, bankruptcy, Exit but also in the one where one of the founders decides to leave the Startup .

The provision of consulting services by a legal and especially an accountant should be implemented precisely at this initial point of creation of the Startup and as we have mentioned in a related article it should be in your first priorities.

  • Common values ​​and goals: Building a business with co-founders cannot happen without shared values ​​and goals. What’s important is to communicate your vision upfront and make sure everyone is on the same page, both the co-founders and the original executive team. The same goes for commitment – ​​look for a co-founder who is fully committed to building a company with you.
  • Move quickly: Sharing responsibility for the quick and important decisions that need to be made when launching and growing a Startup can help your company scale faster, saving you time and money.
  • Overcome obstacles: One or several co-founders ensure that there are many people with the same stake and commitment to the business ready to solve most of the challenges that will appear especially in the initial course of the Startup.
  • Excellent communication: Good communication is the foundation of any relationship. When looking for a co-founder make sure your communication styles and ways are similar so you can work together seamlessly.
  • Contrast: Healthy disagreements, even because of different characters, can be valuable and creative when it comes to growing a business. Of course, excessive contrasts can be fatal.

 How and where to find the ideal co-founder 

  • Start with your network: Think about all the networks and experiences you’ve been part of in your career : From alumni networks to your LinkedIn contacts and of course your immediate or wider work environment! Chances are there will be someone in your circle who is interested or knows someone who wants to participate in your idea. People in general are open to connecting with others, so starting within the circles you feel comfortable with is a great place to start looking for a co-founder. No one knows you better than the people you’ve worked with in the past.
  • Friends and family circle: Many experts do not recommend choosing a family and friend as a business partner. Despite the high degree of “compatibility” ruptures in these relationships are generally more frequent during the business course.
  • Related ecosystem: Are you starting a company focused on the hospitality and tourism industry ? There are many relevant online groups on LinkedIn or Slack, and joining a few professional and industry associations or networking events can help you find a co-founder with the relevant expertise.
  • Look for Consultants: Even if you are a Solo Startup founder , if you have trusted advisors and mentors around you who provide guidance and general support they can turn into co-founders along the way if you “win them over and they “win you over”.

Startup Communities: Some VCs and other members of the Startup ecosystem hold Founder Networking events for current and former founders to meet others who are interested in founding a Startup together. Startup ecosystem events are also the ideal place to find people with a shared vision, goals and interests.

Online Platforms: There are many online platforms that connect entrepreneurs and help them find co-founders like CoFounders Lab . com for example.

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