Finding the perfect cofounder is one of the most critical tasks you would have as it can make or break the company in the future. You would want someone who is not only committed but also shares your vision and passion for the company.
A cofounder needs to be good at everything that you are not. So let’s delve into how you can find the perfect cofounder for your startup.
Analyze Yourself and Spend time on Crafting the Precise Job Description
The first step should be to analyze your strengths and weaknesses and figure out what is exactly missing in your skillset. For example, if you do not know to programme, you can always learn it in a few months. It does not make sense to get a cofounder and share equity for skills that can be easily learned. Instead, focus on on your inherent personality and then decide what traits should a cofounder have to complement these.
A start-up founding team needs every skill and trait to be successful and to see the big picture. Some are good with planning and strategy, some with implementation. Some are good in deep introspection, some in networking. Some people are creative, some are analytical. Craft a job description that is very carefully thought out so that even when you network in various events or advertise on job portals for finding the right partner for your business, you know exactly what kind of a person you want and the applicant or prospect also knows what to expect from the position and if he is the right candidate for the role.
Network, Network, and Network Some More
Start-ups need you to network a lot for almost everything. Finding a cofounder is no different. Attend industry conferences and entrepreneur forums, join online entrepreneur groups on Linkedin and business partner matchmaking sites (like CoFoundersLab, TechCoFounder, Startup Weekend), and visit local university entrepreneur fairs to talk to different people who have similar interests. There are tons of places to find entrepreneurs like you who could be your cofounder. You just need to look.
Look for Different Backgrounds and Skills
While the vision for the company should be shared by your cofounder(s), it is wise to get someone from a different background or culture and skills than your own. It widens the perspective and brings in fresh ideas.
Talk to Mentors and Advisors
Leverage your professional network and ask your mentors for advice on finding the right cofounder. Many people think it is awkward to bother your mentors for every little issue but most start-up mentors would love to extend a helping hand, especially in such an important task. Trust is the most important factor in finding a cofounder and if you can get someone you trust in your own network, then there’s nothing better. Your mentors have been in the startup scene far longer than you have and hence would know far more people who could be the right fit for the role.
Focus Less on Data and More on Chemistry
When scouting for a cofounder, it seems obvious that cold hard facts should dictate your choice but at the end of the day, we are all people. The interests might match and the skills might compliment but there might be absolutely zero chemistry or trust. You want a cofounder for the long term and it is a must that you should enjoy each other’s company and trust each other with company decisions. It is tough coming to work every day if you hate your cofounder’s guts. So work together for some time once you think you have found a good candidate and give him time to flourish and prove his worth. See how well you bond and if the work is progressing faster and more smoothly with him around. You should be absolutely sure before you sign away any equity.
Negotiate Terms and Equity Early
There is no formula for how much equity you should give away to your cofounder but having an honest and frank discussion on equity at the earliest is always better. You should be upfront about this if you want to avoid any problem in the future. You should make your expectations clear to the cofounder that it is a long-term commitment and hence the equity too would be vested likewise. It is also important to be clear of all the power dynamics. While cofounders have almost equal powers, when it comes to final decisions, there can be only person at the top as there is only one CEO for every company. So all the terms related to responsibilities and powers should be clearly laid out.
Finding the perfect cofounder is as difficult as finding the right life-partner. They can be your greatest asset or your biggest liability. After all, many companies last longer than marriages. And like marriages, they might not always work the first time around but eventually, with efforts, you can find the right cofounder. It remains one of the most important activities for a new company and should involve a lot of thought and introspection. When you find the right person, even if the start-up fails, the team sticks and you can move on to start another company and then another. Great teams are the sure-shot formula for success. But building one needs lots of effort and perseverance. Nobody said it would be easy, right?
The Startup Process
We know how important your dream business is to you. Therefore, we’ve come up with an all in one guide: The Startup Process to help you turn your vision into reality.
Now that you know How to Find the Perfect Cofounder, let us now move on to The Prototype Phase.