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I want to find a co-founder

Problem πŸ€•

I want to find a co-founder. I currently lack a certain skillset AND/OR want more hands onboard.

Solution πŸ•΅οΈ

A co-founder isn't always necessary. If you decide that you need one, align on the kind of person and the expectation you have of them. Then, the next steps would be to pore through your personal network and other platforms to find the right fit.

Why and when to worry about this? ⏱️

a. Rationale

Techcrunch's research suggests that single co-founder startups have seen more "success". So, the inability to find a co-founder is not the end of the world.

However, having a co-founder is a good idea. Building a startup is tough and stressful, while also requiring a variety of skills. It is a journey made easier with the right partners. Paul Graham and 500 startups agree with this.

b. Timing

Getting your co-founder as early as possible in your journey is the best - even at the ideation phase, if possible. This largely helps in aligning the purpose and vision of building a company. Equity conversations are also easy, as there is nothing that has been tangibly built.

However, never feel that it is too late. Whenever you feel the need for another person to make the startup successful, go for it.

Tools πŸ‘

Implementation πŸ”¨

a. Realistic expectation

Like everything else in life, a perfect person doesn't exist. So, the goal is to find a great co-founder for you, by being specific about your priorities.

To be clear, the idea is to not make a compromise - better to not find a co-founder rather than "settling" for one.

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b. Process

This is a three-part process.

i. Defining expectations

ii. Finding them

iii. Approaching them

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i. Defining expectations

  • Find people you can get along with; not β€œsuperstars”
  • ~You are going to spend a lot of time with the person, hopefully for the foreseeable future
  • ~Having fun and being able to relate to them becomes non-negotiable

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  • Ensure diversity in skill sets
  • ~Same strengths and weaknesses don't make for a good team
  • ~Key is to consider hard and soft skillsets
  • ~Example: Hard skillset - Can code vs. can't code, Soft skillset - Outgoing, people's person vs. Introverted process-driven person.

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  • Same aspirations about the startup
  • ~Not spoken as often, but this is what causes rifts in seemingly solid teams
  • ~Getting through tough times requires passion from everyone working towards a common goal
  • ~Example: Is the startup the sole dream for all OR is one looking at it as a part-time effort?

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ii. Finding them

Based on the criteria set above, the channels to find potential partners are as follows:

  • Personal network: Every search starts with your own network. It should because you know more about such a person. So:
  • ~Shortlist people you think would be a good match
  • ~Talk to mutual contacts and try to get an idea of the person
  • ~Point to note: Friends are also good candidates. But there has to be clear alignment on aspirations and commitment. Don't take this for granted - keep regular formal check-ins to review if things are indeed in alignment.

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  • Professional networks: Popular platforms like LinkedIn and Angellist give great detail about people. Next steps:
  • ~Use the filters they offer and find a suitable match
  • ~The platform shows your mutual connects. Reach out to them to get an opinion about the person.
  • ~The approach is discussed next, but for just this category don't pitch the role of a co-founder immediately. Instead, begin the conversation by discussing a specific problem you would want their help in.
  • ~Example: Here's how Dave from Hubstaff found his co-founder on LinkedIn - Link

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  • Dedicated platforms: Certain platforms exist for just this requirement. This should be the last resort:
  • ~Typically, such platforms solve this problem by creating a database of interesting individuals
  • ~You would have to create your profile, which would then allow you to filter through other profiles to find a potential match

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iii. Approaching them

Once you are convinced that you have the right person, here's how you approach them:

  • Pitch your idea: They need to be able to understand your vision
  • Meet for a catch-up: Get to know the other person outside e-meets
  • Start small: Preferably, begin with a small goal. For example, ask for advice and then even request help on a mini-project (could be paid too).
  • Review: It should now be much easier to know if there is a good fit.

Related posts to read πŸ“ͺ

If you liked this report, would be great if you could share the below thread on Twitter πŸ˜ƒ.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Wk #2 = No-VC Report #2: Find a co-founder<br><br>- Not always necessary<br>- If you decide you need one, align on the kind of person &amp; expectations you have of them<br>- Pore through your personal network &amp; other platforms to find the right fit<a href="https://t.co/seYB8k9LSy">https://t.co/seYB8k9LSy</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Entrepreneurship?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Entrepreneurship</a> πŸ‘‡πŸ½</p>&mdash; Karthik Sridharan (@KarthikS2206) <a href="https://twitter.com/KarthikS2206/status/1301135327600410624?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 2, 2020</a></blockquote>
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