Co-Founder Search Tips 101

How to Find the Perfect Match

Finding “the one.” Making it work through the ups and downs of your relationship. Sound familiar?

I’m talking about finding a great co-founder, obviously. It’s all about finding that sweet spot in your business relationship and winning together.

Many of the successful companies you’ve come to love weren’t built by groups of motivated individuals, not single people. One key to growing a business with others is knowing what to look for and how to approach finding the right partner(s) for your startup.

“If it doesn’t feel right, keep looking. If you’re compromising, keep looking,” says Naval Ravikant, the experienced co-founder of Epinions, AngelList, and Vast. “A company’s DNA is set by the founders, and its culture is an extension of the founders’ personalities.”

Here are four ways to know you’re on the right track to finding a suitable co-founder:

1. They’re just as passionate as you.

In the words of Barbara Corcoran, real estate mogul and business expert, “you can’t fake passion.” Look for someone who is insanely passionate about solving the problem your company targets. They don’t have to look, act, or think like you, but they should share your values and complement your personality and zeal for the work you’re doing.

2. They make you better.

Where are you lacking in skills, knowledge, or support? Wherever your weaknesses lie, the perfect co-founder is able to fill those gaps, essentially making you better.

If you’re “dating” someone who is a mirror of yourself, move on to the next because your partner’s role is to satisfy the business need, not add to it. On the days where you feel discouraged, overwhelmed, exhausted, and confused, that person should help lighten the load and help you regain your momentum.

3. They have a solid background.

Learn as much as possible about your potential co-founder’s track record before you commit to a partnership. Complete reference checks, do online research, and focus on their behavior to identify their strengths and weaknesses.

Claire McGregor, co-founder of Appbot, suggests you ask yourself: “What did the people who worked with them previously think about working with them?” Try to focus on the non-verbal queues in order to pick up on the temperature of their responses.

4. They’re willing to do their part.

Likeability and trust are the foundations of a healthy professional bond; therefore, you must be confident that your partner(s) will fully contribute. Don’t hesitate to set expectations within the first 30–90 days so you all are on the same page.

Try “testing the waters” during a trial period by working on a test project together, attending a startup event, or working side-by-side for a week. Evaluate all angles of the outcome to determine if you can see yourself going into business with them.

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