Finding the right co-founder is a struggle for many startup founders. It’s hard to find someone that fits with your project, with you and the problem you are solving. At NUMA, we receive emails every week with the same question: I don’t have co-founder, how can I find one? There are no perfect solutions for solving this problem, but there are processes to build a successful partnership. When you’re looking for a co-founder, you’re looking for someone that will share your daily life, same as the person you’ll marry. So keep in mind that you would not find them in one day.This business marriage is based on a long term relation built on trust and shared experiences.
In this article, we will see why you need a co-founder, who they should be and where to find them.
Why do you need a co-founder ?
At NUMA, we have seen many people ask for investment in their startups. They are only at the ideation stage and they want cash to pay employees for developing their product or even selling it. You don’t need money for that. Your original team should have enough skills to build a prototype and gain initial traction. Put yourself in the shoes of an investor. Would you invest in a business where the product is not developed yet? Without any proof of concept and a random team?
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t pay an employee to achieve what you’re not able to do, at least at the beginning. That’s why it’s important to find a complementary partner who can develop the side of the startup you cannot handle yourself. A co-founder will be involved at the same level as you for free, in exchange for the startup’s equity. While this is the cheapest way for you, this is also the most motivational way for them. The better the results of your startup, the better are the outcomes and the motivation!
In addition to that, a co-founder will bring new insights and patterns to your startup. Brainstorming and sharing ideas can lead to a wide range of solutions that you may not think of. After developing many experimentations together, seeing what are the most efficient — you’ll be able to grow faster. Generally, startups composed of a tech and a business co-founder raise more money and have more user growth.
Who is the right co-founder ?
As we said before, the right co-founder is someone who believes in your vision and who you can trust completely. That means placing a blind confidence in them, which is something that you can’t do with everyone. The solution can be an old friend, it’s often the simplest but more realistic answer.
You know them better than anyone; their strengths and weakness, their life and experiences — and they know the same about you. If you don’t have this chance, you can review your previous experiences to contact great people you have worked with. Or create new one to build strong relations.
Before officializing your relationship, ask yourself these questions:
- Do we agree 100% on the long term vision?
- Are we going to be involved at the same level?
- Do we share the same values?
- Can we trust each other?
- What skills are we individually bringing to the project?
In addition, a co-founder, whatever their role and skills are, should be ready to help you in several tasks such as finance, product design, customer acquisition, and so on.
Great partners are people that you can rely on, whatever the situation is. They have to be able to support you during company’s ups and downs. Of course, the latter is part of the adventure.
Where to find the right co-founder ?
This week, some startups’ founders asked us where they can find a co-founder. In most cases, they asked for a tech co-founder as they don’t have the knowledge to build their apps or hardware.
As we said before — look at your friends, but be sure that you can work with them. Indeed, sharing an entrepreneurial journey with a friend is an amazing experience but your judgement can be biased by your friendship.
Another way to find one is to look into your network. Enhance your network as much as possible. Nowadays, there are loads of events focus on startup networking.
These kinds of events are perfect to meet new people and explore new opportunities for your project:
- Hackathon: One of the most interesting ways to find your partner. The aim is to develop a startup during a weekend with a team of 3–4 people who have complementary skills. You can pitch in front of everyone and through that build a team to kickstart your idea. This event like a Startup weekend is intense and can definitely lead to great relationships.
- Meetup: These gathering events are tailor-made for networking. Entrepreneurs join them to enhance their networks and discuss about a specific topic.
- Conference: These big events are focused on a trend subject. You will attend several panel talks conducted by experts in their fields, and networking sessions dedicated to create opportunities and potential partnerships.
There are also some useful tools for finding a co-founder such as CoFoundersLab or Shapr, which connects you with other entrepreneurs.
Finding the right partner is a long term process. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas, to get feedback and get people involved in your journey. It will also help you to find a mentor as well as build a strong community. Meet, Share & Grow together.
–Alexandre, Business Program Associate & Pierre, Startup Manager at NUMA Bengaluru
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