How to Choose the Right Co-Founder

You’ve got a brilliant idea for a new company that you’re itching to start but you realize you can’t do it alone. For whatever reason—contacts, experience, financing, etc.—you’re looking for a co-founder to join you on your entrepreneurial journey. But there are two questions: how do you do that and what do you look for? I’ll give you my thoughts on the second question first.

What Do You Look For

In my experience, what you look for in a co-founder depends largely on your personality. Sure there are other things to consider such as the type of business you’re starting but when it comes right down to it, your co-founder needs to be someone you like working with. A few of the qualities I’ve found invaluable in a co-founder:

The ability to listen- and not just listen but to hear what you’re saying and what your goals are.

The ability to work together- that means being able to set a common goal and then work in harmony to achieve it. (Note the use of the word harmony. It implies there are two different parts to the same whole, not two of the same parts competing with each other.)

Having different strengths and weakness- different from yours, that is. While you want someone who can get what you’re trying to do, you need someone that can bring their own unique abilities to the table in order to accomplish it.

The ability to stay focused and calm- you really don’t want a co-founder that freaks out every time you hit a bump in the road (being an entrepreneur sometimes feels like one continuous bump). You also don’t want someone who runs off after every shiny new idea they’re presented with. Calm and focused; invaluable qualities.

The ability to bring something to the table you lack- maybe you’ve got the capital but you lack the contacts or vice versa. Maybe you’re great with numbers but need someone to run the business. You want to find someone that compliments your own skill set and rounds out what your business will need.

How Do You Do It

Now for the first question. There are a variety of angles from which this answer can be approached but I’ll do so by giving you a list of some promising resources.

LinkedIn- scrolling through profiles of individuals with some of the traits you’re looking for can give you a start. It’s also time-consuming and unless the person is looking for a new position or you have a contact to help you meet them, it can also be a bit like making cold-calls. Still it’s a large database at your disposal.

Social media- Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, pick your favorite. Any of these can provide you with a lead when you’re looking for a co-founder. Do you follow someone with ideas you already love? It can’t hurt to reach out via their social media platform. Network- most of us already have a good-sized network we can turn to when we’re looking for business help. That same network can also provide you with leads on a potential co-founder. Heck, your co-founder may already be in your network and you don’t know it yet!

Mastermind groups- these expand our networks and help us form relationships with other entrepreneurs across multiple fields. As you get to know those in your group, you may find someone who would make the perfect co-founder. 

Entrepreneurial events- these events provide the perfect opportunity to find a co-founder. Entrepreneurs from every field and with every imaginable background all come together in the same place to sharpen their skills and learn from each other. These diverse gatherings introduce you to a host of people, any one of which could be your next co-founder. Our Founders Weekend event taking place in September should be high on your attend list if you’re searching for a new business partner.

Regardless of how you do it or what you’re looking for, a solid first step is to sit down and make a list. Include those things you don’t want as well as those things you do. While you’re not likely to get every single quality on your list, it’s a great way to gain some initial direction.

2 Comments

Derrick Kwa

Love this. Having the right co-founder makes the entrepreneurial journey so much easier. I think one other factor that’s really important is finding someone you can be open with – who you can be vulnerable with and who will support you and push you. It’s not just about how you fit together skills-wise, starting a company together is a very emotional journey, and finding someone who can go on that journey with you is really important.

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EverGonzalez
Ever Gonzalez

Co-founder & CEO @ Outlier