Why You Should Date Potential Co-founders
How finding a co-founder and meeting your spouse can be strikingly similar experiences.
By Kristy Kim (Founder & CEO, DearMissJ)
I never dreamed of running a fashion e-commerce company with four male founding members. I dated each one very carefully and married all of them. It just so happened that way and it has been absolutely amazing.
No, I didn’t actually date them. But it was a similar courting period. And once we decided to found a company together, it was if we entered into a marriage.
Here’s how I met my co-founders, dated around and ultimately put a proverbial ring on it.
How did I Encounter my Dates?
I met my co-founders through a friend, a family introduction and at a startup event. When I tell people that I didn’t have to pay any developers to build products because I have technical co-founders, people would say “Oh! You are SO LUCKY.” I’d answer nonchalantly, “Yes, surely I am lucky.”
But the truth is, I was looking for technical co-founders for three entire years. In the past, although I had full-time jobs, I knew I was interested in the e-commerce sector, and wanted to build something. I taught myself basic skills and finally got to the level where I could understand enough to speak with developers and differentiate between good and bad developers.
As of now, my three years of learning and effort paid off. I met two intelligent web developers (Cornell CS graduates who were graduate school roommates), and not too long after, I met a kick-ass app developer (MIT graduate, genius iOS guy). I sold them my idea and they became my co-founders.
What do you Need to Know Before ‘Marriage’?
First, dating doesn’t guarantee marriage. You may work on something together and win a hackathon together, but that doesn’t guarantee that you both will co-found a company together.
Second, love at first sight works, sometimes. One of my co-founders decided to work with me after one dinner meeting.
Finally, timing is everything. All of my co-founders were looking for a new opportunity before I pitched my idea.
Are my Relationships Happy?
DearMissJ launched its iOS app and website last year. Last night, I was writing an email to the entire team (now, we have seven people in total). I wrote a long email sharing updates.
At the end of the email, I wrote “Thank you everyone, I am totally blessed to have you guys around me.” And it hit me, “Wow, I do have so many talented people who believe in me, and I love working with them.” It was the best feeling I’ve had since the moment I finished the incorporation of my company.
Tips for Finding Mr (or Ms) Right
I found co-founders by always keeping an eye out. When I met someone I liked, I would aggressively sell them on joining my team.
In SF, the top talent developers are always poached by recruiters, or already working on their own ideas. I had to convince them that I had a cooler idea and that I was the best person to work with to execute the idea. I feel blessed to have talented, hard-working and cool guys as my co-founders.
Just like any other married couple, we may fight a lot, but I know I picked the right guys.
image: from our recent team retreat