Finding a co-founder for your next venture

I was asked this question so many times by different people, so I decided to write a quick post about it and direct everyone to the post.

Starting a company is like getting married. You are actually likely to spend more time with your co-founder than with your wife in certain times. You are likely to experience ups and downs, debates and difference of opinion. As with meeting your future wife the two best ways to find your “sole-mate” are:

–          Getting “married” to someone you’ve known for a long time – You either worked with that person in a previous company or you’ve been close friends for years. You are familiar with his working habits, strengths and weaknesses and you know how to work around them. You share common interests and you are not likely to be surprised by things you didn’t know previously (and hopefully not by things you decided to ignore).

–          Getting “married” to someone you got introduced to by a close friend – If you trust your friend to know your “preferences” and know what is likely to work for you, you are likely to go on a “date” that might lead to a “marriage”. Your friend can tell you all about that person’s record and vouch for him/her.

In both cases, the partnership is based on a solid ground that extends beyond the current idea and so it is likely to lead to succeed, even if the current startup fails.

If you have not found a match within your close circles then you are likely to go on to “singles meetups” and “online dating”.

–          Identify the skill-sets you are looking for and the companies these potential co-founders are likely to work for. Use LinkedIn to find past employees who are looking for new challenges or current employees who are about to leave. Today many people have blogs, through which you can find a way to get in touch with them. Through social networks you can get an introduction and even a recommendation.

–          Join online forums where subject experts are likely to chat. When I was looking for a recommendation engine architect, I joined a number of technical forums and watched closely the participants and the quality of their answers. After a couple of weeks I got in touch with the ones I was most impressed by.

–          Join offline forums – If you are looking for a technical co-founder, there are hacktons and develop conferences, where you are likely to find relevant engineers. If you are looking for a more specific skill-set, find the relevant forums where such engineers hangout (this can be a bar close to some company’s headquarter for example) and hangout there. There are many events, targeting specific audiences based on skills, background or interests.

Figure out where your potential co-founder is likely to hangout. Later on, you will have to do the same with your customers

Regardless to where you met your co-founder, take the time to do your due diligence and explore the personal and professional fit. I often come across an entrepreneur who partnered with a co-founder after one or two meetings and a couple of weeks down the road things get challenging and the co-founder decides to quit. Such an event usually has critical implications on the company’s survival rate or at least on their time-to-market and financial plans.

Good luck !

p.s feel free to comment with any other experiences you had in finding a co-founder.

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About shanishoham

After 14 years of General Management and incubating/scaling new businesses & organizations for enterprises (established a $55M mobile business and a $100M/400 employees global division), I became an investor Today I’m a board member/mentor with 5 incubators & micro-VCs and involved with many other private & public incubators around the world. I also founded a VC firm named 2020 and I'm a member with a number of angel groups so i get to see & work with many startups, innovation centers and other parties across the ecosystem. I’m an alumnus of the Stanford Graduate School of business - Sloan Master in Management program, a 10 months intensive program for 57 carefully selected experienced Executives and leaders from all around the world.

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