How to Find a Co-Founder for your Startup
There have been some huge challenges facing entrepreneurs recently. Brexit, Covid-19, global supply chain delays, raw material shortages and climate change, the list goes on. The startups that have survived and flourished have been the ones that were most dynamic and creative by nature. These traits are inherent to enterprises that are collaborative by nature.
What better way is there to have innovation baked into the DNA of a startup than by having a team of founders? This way, there’s at least one other voice, to question, contest, suggest and propose. Ensuring your business strategy has been tested, isn’t subject to bias and is in the best shape possible to achieve growth and succeed.
Below we discuss the best ways to find a co-founder.
Find a co-founder
Finding a co-founder is important for lots of reasons, before we cover how to find one, we’ll find out why it can be valuable.
Moral and emotional support: This is not an inconsiderable reason. Running a startup is difficult, to put it mildly. The early days are continuously under threat from any number of risks, from viability and financial risks through to competitors. It’s not unusual for founders to utilise their own savings and even take out lines of credits to fund their ideas, sometimes family and friends also contribute. This can create a stressful, ‘must not fail’ situation that alone, may be impossible to manage. Having someone to share these risks with reduces the feeling of isolation and provides much-needed support as you move through to growth.
Support of investors: Having a co-founder can open doors when it comes to finding investors willing to fund a startup. An important factor will be that your professional network is twice as big when you have a partner. This can lead to unforeseen opportunities when the time is right for finding investors. It can also be reassuring for investors that an enterprise isn’t solely reliant on one individual. Co-founders are considered less risky, this is because should one founder leave, there is some continuity.
Better decision making: A co-founder acts as a partner. Ensuring you have a sounding board for ideas and thoughts. This can help when it comes to decision making with brainstorming sessions becoming more effective. A fresh perspective based on different experiences can provide challenges and development that might otherwise not happen if it’s left to one person. There will always be advisors and other employees around, but their motivations will never be fully aligned with that of a founder.
Responsibilities split: As mentioned above, the early stages of a startup are frenetic times. There are just not enough hours in the day for a founder to accomplish everything that needs doing. In the very early days, when the startup might just be one person, there is literally everything to do! A co-founder can help you divide up the responsibilities and tasks of a founder. This can help provide more of a work-life balance and makes sure that there’s less chance of things being forgotten or overlooked.
Complementing skills: Everyone’s background is different. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses. Co-founders provide startups with a balance of complementary skills and viewpoints that can mean work gets completed quicker and specialisations are capitalised on.
Now we know why co-founders can be an important part of a startup, how do we find one?
Wondering if your startup is ready for venture capital?
A great place to start in your search for a co-founder is with your own business model. Before you start looking for someone to come on board with your startup, it’s only logical to take the time to find out exactly what type of co-founder you need to find.
By examining your business plan in a methodical and analytical way, you can match the challenges and steps needed to achieve growth with your own skills, then identify gaps. Or at least steps that don’t neatly fit with your experience and qualifications.
From here, you can start to build a picture of what your ideal co-founder will look like. You can then target areas, networks or employers that might contain people with these complementary skill sets. This type of analytical networking can be very successful but can also be time-consuming.
Finding the right co-founder to complement your startup can be very difficult, but if done right it can help you make it a success. Luckily, the restrictions of the global pandemic are now easing off, meaning events and conferences are beginning to open up again. Making it easier to find someone that shares your drive and passion. You may have a particular skill set in mind when it comes to a potential co-founder, and this is where networking is valuable.
There are online ‘meet-ups’ such as those held by the founder institute as well as real-world events. Nothing will help you advance your search and access a wider array of skill sets than networking. By expanding your professional contacts, you open doors to new opportunities and information. Being able to benefit from a wide professional network allows you to cast your search wider than you might be able to. With a professional network, you can bring in recommendations that have a degree of confidence, based on mutual contacts with who you already have a relationship with.
Besides actively networking, there’s a way to passively network. Having online profiles active on some of the founder and entrepreneur social networks can allow people to find you. Maintaining up to date profiles and contact information on these sites can allow individuals to reach out to you, building relationships and possibly leading to important partnerships in the future.
The more you network, the more connections you make and the more opportunities you open yourself up to. With this to leverage, a suitable co-founder with the desired skills and experience can be located.
Family and friends
Finding a co-founder could be as simple as looking no further than through your phone book. There are upsides and downsides to this, so it requires some careful consideration.
If you plan on finding a co-founder from within your friends and family one thing that really needs thinking about is whether the relationship can handle the pressure of a startup. One of the benefits to partnering with someone you already know is…well, you already know them, and they know you. This synergy can be used to maximise productivity and innovation and drive the startup towards growth.
However, with any relationship that mixes business and pleasure, there is the potential for catastrophe. It would be wise to go into this collaboration with eyes wide open and consider what will happen if things go wrong. Having these discussions before making any sort of commitment can make boundaries and expectations clear for everyone.
It’s also important that you don’t go with a co-founder just because they’re available and you already know them. You need to ensure that co-founders are going to add value to your startup. That said, with the right skills, friends and family can provide a turbo boost to startup growth. The pre-existing relationship and understanding of values and strengths can mean the benefits of a co-founder are felt on day one. There is no ‘bedding in period’ or ‘getting to know them’, it’s down to work from day one with a foundation based on effective communication.
Finding the ideal co-founder isn’t simple, startups are unique and often require individuals with niche skill sets and experience. However, online platforms are available that allow you to connect with a wide audience, increasing your chances of success. Here are some of the main platforms available now.
Founders Nation: Founders Nation is an online platform for entrepreneurs and founders. The idea behind the company is to connect creative individuals that have an innovative new solution with other people. Hopefully allowing them to come together and make their dreams a reality.
Co-Founders Lab: CoFoundersLab is much more than just a Facebook for founders. It describes itself as an “ecosystem of diverse company products and services from the formation stage to investment.” Their aim is to support founders (and investors) to establish successful enterprises by connecting like-minded individuals that can collaborate together. CoFoundersLab provides access to a broad array of professional resources, including education, finance, mentorship, and partnerships.
YouNoodle: For a startup that might want to take a different approach to find a co-founder, Younoodle is a platform that connects co-founders, advisors, and entrepreneurs. YouNoodle matches entrepreneurs with competitions, accelerators, and startup programs, bringing together creatives and the opportunities they are suited to.
Stealth: Stealth is a platform that creates a space for a global community that enables its members to discuss ideas, find co-founders, launch startups, connects with freelancers, and find startup resources.
In this blog, we’ve covered some of the methods you might use to find your co-founder. Making this process a success is really important for the future success of your startup.
The right co-founder can provide you with moral and emotional support. Running a startup is a difficult and stressful time. Having someone to share these risks with can reduce the feeling of isolation and provide you with much-needed support.
Finding the right co-founder can also open doors with investors looking to put capital into a startup. It can be reassuring for investors as co-founders are considered to be less risky, because should one founder leave, there is some continuity for their investment.
Ensuring you have a solid co-founder to partner with can provide you with a sounding board for the ideas you have relating to the startup. This can help when it comes to decision making, making them more effective and providing a fresh perspective. The right co-founder can also provide you with a better work-life balance by splitting responsibilities, whilst also making sure that there’s less chance of things being forgotten or overlooked.
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