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How to Find a Co-Founder for Your Startup

Having a good co-founder with the same vision may help drive your business.  Guy Kawasaki suggests that a co-founder should also have the same commitment to that vision as you.  However, your co-founder should be different than you in other areas such as expertise and perspective.

Before you go looking for someone to help you run the business, you need to have a clear idea of what you are looking for in a co-founder.  Just because someone is interested in your idea doesn’t necessarily mean that they are right for your startup.

Even though there are plenty of reasons why it is better to run your company alone, there is great value in having a co-founder.

Cast a Wide Net

This may seem like basic, generic advice, but it works. Tap into your personal network of connections and people you know and try to expand on it as much as you possibly can. For a start, let everyone in your social and business circle know you’re trying to find a co-founder for your startup.

Casting a wide net will enable you to reach out to a large number of people, most of who you probably know personally, which means you will minimize the risk of hiring someone who’s skills, mindset and habits you’re not too familiar with. High school friends, people you attended university with, former colleagues, former competitors, former vendors, your friends’ friends…the possibilities are limitless.

There are countless ways to go about networking, but the point is to let as many people as possible know about your business, needs and ideas. This is the old school way of networking – word of mouth marketing will never go out of style, no matter what people say. Hang out with individuals who might be of use to your business, attend industry events.

In short; become visible and talk to people about your business and whatever you’re passionate about. Your best bet to find a co-founder is to advertise your enthusiasm and entrepreneurship organically and verbally, before demonstrating it on paper. Casting a wide net may only be the beginning, but it is certainly a solid foundation and the perfect breeding ground for your personal network of valuable connections.



Search for Contrast to Complement Yourself

What does a good business partner or, in this case, a co-founder need to have in order for your joint venture to function well? Simply put, he or she needs to have what you do not have. People with complementary personalities and skill sets make a good partnership. Someone who fills the gaps in your experience and skill sets, while challenging your views and offering a different perspective is the perfect co-founder and business partner. Ideally, your partner should not confirm your vision, instead they should expand and complement it, therefore make you think your every decision through by challenging your opinions.
Business relationships like these are often fiery and sometimes even a double-edged sword, but if you and the co-founder of your startup manage to strike a balance and manage to find a way to work together in synergy, masking each other’s flaws and complementing each other’s skills, your office will be constantly brimming with new ideas and concepts. It is not easy to find a person like this, so make sure to spend time with people you think are good candidates. Get to know them on a personal level, get familiar with their thought process and habits.

Obviously, someone who contradicts and counterattacks your ideas is the best match, but there are things that you need to have in common for your startup to grow and expand – you and your partner need to share vision, values and principles regarding the way your firm operates. You need to aim at the same target and have the same objective and end goal, even if your modus operandi is different.

Related post: 10 Entrepreneurial Superpowers You Should Be Developing 


Focus on Online Networking Sites Where Founders Roam

No matter how effective working your environment and establishing “real life” connections is, a lot of business is happening online these days. In fact, large sums of money move online in this day and age, companies exist and function solely on the world wide web. Servers are the new office buildings, websites are marketing tools and various social media platforms are where connections are made and businesses are started.

Platforms like LinkedIn are a good place to start, but micro-niche online communities and other social media websites can be equally as efficient.  There are several sites that now offer an opportunity to meet with Co-Founders across the world.  Here are a few of the top sites:




Instead of meeting at a bar or a restaurant, people meet, talk and develop business ideas on forums and online communities. Being a part of this abundant world of information, connections and business ventures is a must if you want to find a co-founder for your startup.

In order to find a co-founder online you need to make your intentions clear and present your ideas in a concise, yet elaborate manner. Everything depends on how you present yourself and your business. There are many similarities between networking online and networking offline, but the key difference is the fact that you cannot muscle and network your way through an entire online community – developing a good social media presence, building a website around your startup, creating a bio page, participating in forum discussions and bringing value to online communities you’re a part of is challenging, but definitely a long-term investment that pays off in the long run.

Additionally, tweak and improve your social media (especially LinkedIn) profiles and try to get your name out there, make yourself known to people in your industry and try to subtly convey your skills, expertise, goals and aspirations.


Search for Ex-Competitors

You may be able to snag yourself an awesome addition to your founding team by looking at the folks that you are competing with. Sometimes, the leaders, engineers, and salespeople from those other businesses are a good source that you can tap into to build your co-founding team. The founders of KnowEm.com ,Michael Sterko and Barry Wise, met when they were competitors trying to dominate the same SEO terms.

Ex-Competitors often understand the space you are in and will understand what needs to be done to drive your business forward. But would a competitor change sides to join a new, unproven startup? It happens more often than you may think. In 2012, founders of Paypal Peter Thiel and Elon Musk, backed a competing payment processing startup called Stripe.

There may be several different businesses that you have, are currently or are going to be competing with. Take a look at past members of startups that are in your space and may be your competition. Begin to research those individuals that may be a good fit for your startup and you may find your perfect match.

Date Before You Marry

You may be thinking that the person you found is going to be a good addition because they have passion, a like vision, and even the experience to take your startup to the next level. But this is why so many founders end up parting ways. A co-founding relationship is just that; a relationship.

And just like any relationship, it is best to take things slow and date before you commit. Your business partnership may last years so taking the time to learn each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and leadership styles is a good idea.

There are few ways that you can “date” your potential co-founders before you embark on startup matrimony. First, you may want to consider partnering on smaller business projects together. Many engineers will work for a visionary founder on a contract or freelance basis. This gives each person an opportunity to work together to see if there is synergy and if both individuals are able to take a project to success.

Another way to court your possible co-founder is to have an argument. Jessica Alter, CEO of FounderDating, suggests to The Harvard Business Review that how co-founders fight is a key metric in predicting success of a founding team. It is probably not a good idea to start an argument unnecessarily but it is wise to not run from conflict. Learning to argue the right way will come in handy later if the stress and pressure of the business spill over and causes more serious confrontations.

Final Thought

A team is often more powerful than the individual. But just having a team and co-founder does not guarantee success. Use these tips to find the right person that will be able to take your business to the next level.

Lance McHenry on Twitter
Lance McHenry
Staff News Writer: Lance McHenry is a writer, tea snob, entrepreneur, lover of #tech and #startups. His idea of triathlon is developing an idea, creating a prototype, and validating. He has been involved in the growth of several startups and now shares his ideas on business and tech. Follow him on Twitter @Lanceexpress

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Staff News Writer: Lance McHenry is a writer, tea snob, entrepreneur, lover of #tech and #startups. His idea of triathlon is developing an idea, creating a prototype, and validating. He has been involved in the growth of several startups and now shares his ideas on business and tech. Follow him on Twitter @Lanceexpress

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