How To Find A Co-Founder

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The most important choice for a founder is to find co-founders.

When looking for co-founders, there are many bad candidates and few good candidates. In our search, we tend to look for friends— the type of people with whom you spend time, discuss ideas, and work on projects.

These people are important guideposts on your journey, but should they be your co-founder?

The answer is it depends, but probably not.

You should not pick your co-founders based on friendships. In fact, many people say that you don’t want to work with friends; startups are chaotic and can easily fracture a friendship.

Instead of focusing on friendships, founders should “date” different people. Founder Dating is a low risk way to test and iterate the company’s most important relationship.

Founder Dating should focus on skills, compatibility, and forecasted need.

Skills
Ideally, co-founders have complimentary skill sets.

In the tech world, this is often shorthanded as “the tech person” and “the business person.” Rather than broad categories like business and tech, you want to inventory the skills needed to take your idea into the world.

Is your company an operations company? A technology company? A financial company? Depending on your answer, the skills required for success will be different.

Focus on the complimentary skills of co-founders.

Compatibility
Company building is a deeply human experience.

There are high highs and low lows, often stacked one after the other.

Stress is high. You don’t get enough sleep. The uncertainty is daunting. You feel like the world is watching.

The numbers don’t lie; the chances of you being successful are strikingly low.

Through this experience, the compatibility of co-founders is very important. They need to be reliable, truth worthy, and completely aligned. In the pressure cooker of company building, small misalignments have large unintended consequences.

In an obvious but important point: you should like and respect your co-founders.

Forecasted Need
Many founders make a serious early mistake: they divide ownership by “who had the idea.”

Linking idea generation with role or ownership doesn’t work because ideas are easy; execution — sustained execution — is hard.

When looking for co-founders, you should forecast needs — operations, finance, legal, technology, other — that will accelerate your growth from idea to profitable business. Your co-founders should align with this forecast.

The best founders can map needs with skills. With your co-founders, this naturally leads to better recruiting, retaining, and fundraising.

But if co-founders don’t know where they are going, how will they know what they need to get there? Forecasting solves this problem.

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