How to Find a Co-Founder for Your Startup

How to Find a Co-Founder for Your Startup

Launching and running a startup on one's own can be daunting. It's a great deal of work, and demands deep knowledge of the product or service, how to market it, how to deliver it to consumers, and how to support it. That's a huge workload for one person.

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However, finding a co-founder for a startup can also be a painstaking endeavor. The ideal candidate would be someone who's talented, driven, reliable, inspirational, and passionate about the startup. That's a lot to ask.

But that person is out there.

Finding the Right Co-Founder for Your Startup:

List what you're looking for in an ideal co-founder.

Sit down, brainstorm, and write down everything you want in a co-founder. Don't limit yourself to what you consider to be reality. Believe that there's someone out there with every quality you need, a co-founder who will in all regards complement you and push your startup forward. What qualities do you lack? (Everybody has some, typically multiple.) Are you not so good at pitching? Put "skilled, experienced at creating and delivering pitches" on your list. Does your product require an e-commerce site that you don't know how to build? Put "e-commerce experience" on this list.

You may not find someone who fits all your qualifications, but when you've created a list you'll have a lot better idea of how to find the right co-founder.

Decide what you're willing to sacrifice to a potential co-founder.

Co-founding a startup is a big job, one that involves a fair amount of risk on the part of your potential co-founder. What do they get in return? Full partnership? A percentage of future profits? Focus on what you're willing and able to give and be solid on that prior to entering negotiations with your possible startup co-founder.

Use your network.

The best place to find a co-founder for your startup is through your business network. Start asking around and get the word out that you're looking for someone. Post in the appropriate forums. Ask your mastermind group members. Depending on the extent of your network, it's a safe bet that someone knows someone who'd work really well. When you get responses, be gracious, and follow up.

Questions to Ask Your Potential Startup Co-Founder
Questions to Ask Your Potential Startup Co-Founder:
  • What skills can you apply to getting this startup off the ground?
  • How much time can you devote to this business?
  • What kind of compensation are you looking for?
  • What is your vision for this startup?
  • Have you been involved in working with a startup before?

Use Co-Founder "Matchmaking" Services.

There are a number of online services specifically designed to help startup entrepreneurs find co-founders and other key employees. Try CoFoundersLab, Founder2BE or Proto.Camp (if you're looking for a technical co-founder). There are also "co-founder speed dating" events held at conferences across the US and around the world. Finally, if you're specifically looking for technical help but haven't found anyone to work with, consider a tech startup service like Blue Rocket or Codeventures.

Research your potential startup co-founders.

Take your list of names, fire up your browser, and start creeping. If your potential startup co-founders have any experience with starting a business, chances are you'll find proof of it online. Check the usual spots like LinkedIn, but also do general searches to see if you can find any additional information. A caveat: be sure the info you compile is actually about the person you're looking for. You don't want to mistakenly rule someone out just because someone with the same name has an offputting online presence.

Set up casual meetings.

Once you've compiled a list of potential co-founders, sit down one on one with your candidates and discuss your startup. Are they enthusiastic about your idea? Good start. Do they have the time to devote to your vision? Discuss their past projects: what's worked? What hasn't? What have they learned? What special skills can they apply to building the startup to the next level?

Take your time.

It's completely natural to want to take on a startup co-founder immediately. You should be excited. You've started a business and want to make it a success, as soon as you can. As difficult as it is, your decision to take on a co-founder for your startup is not one to be made in haste. This person is going to be your partner in taking your ideas to the next level, and, at least for the foreseeable future, you're stuck with them. Making the wrong choice is likely to result in further slowing down your launch, walking back decisions that don't fit, and probably some bad feelings which could reverberate throughout your business network.

You've spent time considering how to find a co-founder for your startup; spend some more time during the actual decision-making process.

How to Find a Co-Founder Online
How to Find a Co-Founder Online:
  • Proto.Camp.

FAQs About Finding a Co-Founder for Your Startup:

Do I need a co-founder for my startup?

That one's up to you, but keep in mind that it's exceedingly difficult for a single person to do everything necessary to get a startup off the ground. Also be aware that, entirely due to that fact, investors are more likely to fund startups run by teams than solo entrepreneurs. So in trying to do it all yourself you may be hobbling your startup while burning yourself out.

A co-founder or a founding team will also prevent you from working in a vacuum and potentially missing important details while you bring your idea to market. And, depending on how well you've chosen your startup co-founder or founding team, having more people on board and enthusiastic about the project can considerably impact the drive to move forward despite obstacles.

Learn more about how to find the right co-founder.

What is the role of a startup co-founder?

To help establish the startup's vision and mission and take the necessary steps to make that vision a reality. Startup co-founders should complement one another in addressing the startup's growing needs, potentially finding additional team members to fill talent gaps and ensure the project's success. When you find the ideal co-founder for your startup that person should almost effortlessly pick up tasks they're suited for and push the endeavor forward.

Explore how to find the right co-founder for your business.

Which startup co-founder should be CEO?

This is an issue to determine prior to finding a startup co-founder. Defining clear roles at the beginning helps you avoid any disagreements or hurt feelings later on. You should plot out who's responsible for what aspect of running and building the business, and take on people based on how well they fit the roles you need filled. CEO, COO, CFO, CTO, etc., are all functions that someone will have to address as your startup grows. Making sure you have the best possible team in place and that everyone knows their roles is key to growth.

Learn more about how to find the right co-founder for your startup.