Startup Saturday: Selecting Co-Founder

If you read my post on the series last week, you may have known that co-founder is one of the key elements that define your startup success. Yes, choosing the right co-founder may determine your startup’s future. That’s why it is a very important decision to make, probably the most important decision you’ll make in the early days of your startup.

Once you chose your co-founder, you’re stuck with them for the rest of your startup’s life. It’s like choosing a spouse. So you may want to think thoroughly and select your co-founders carefully. And here’s what I think you should look for when you’re choosing your co-founders.

1. Aligned Visions

This is probably the most important thing to look for in a co-founder. You should make sure their vision aligns with yours. Else, your company might go nowhere. Even worse, unaligned visions may bring failure to your company.

A good team often breaks up because nobody’s vision aligns with each other’s. One person may want to build a big company. While the others want to sell the company early. This kind of disagreement will bring chaos to your team and your company’s future and you certainly want to avoid this happens to you. So, make sure you and your co-founder are on the same page about your company’s future before you establish a company with her.

2. Complementary Skills

Another thing you want to look for in a co-founder is complementary skill sets. Your partner should be able to cover your weaknesses. Make sure you also cover hers too. If you are a developer, the best co-founder you could have probably come from design, product, or marketing background.

Background diversity among co-founders also helps you determine who’s going to do what. Defining roles early will help you to get accountable on each other. You can also make sure a particular role is handled by the experts.

3. Likability

However visionary and intelligent a person is, if you don’t like her it’s probably very hard to work with her. As you should already know, building a company from scratch is stressful and trust me, you don’t want to work with a shitty person you don’t like. You want a partner you can have fun with. You want a partner you can unwind with after work. You want a co-founder you like!

So, before you make a sacred vow with her, you probably want to hang out with her a little while and make sure you truly like her and enjoy spending time with her. Otherwise, you will have a very bad time while you’re building your startup.

4. Similar Work Habits

Similarity in how both of you work is also an important thing to consider. You want to make sure you have the same “productive time” with your partner. If you are a night owl and your partner is a morning person, you may want to move on to the next candidate. The same thing applies when you’re a tireless workaholic and your partner is a slacker.

Well, actually you shouldn’t always be in the office in the same hours unless your business requires so. But, you should at least make sure your working habits are compatible with each others. This will really help to avoid confusions and misunderstandings in the long run.

5. Don’t Pick Your Friend or SO

It may be tempting to pick a friend or SO to be your co-founder. You know both of you are already compatible. You also know that both of you may complement each other. But this may be the last thing you want to do, unless you want to lose them.

A lot of things can happen when you build your startup. A lot of disagreements and fights will certainly happen too. In the worst case, you may want to breakup or part ways with your co-founder. And this is an extremely common case in the world of startups. If your co-founder was your BFF or SO, you will certainly lose them. My last note, if you want to keep your relationships, never ask a friend or SO to be your co-founder.

Start Saturday is a weekly feature about startup. This feature is written based on my personal experience when I took a Tech-Based Business class in my college back in the Spring Semester 2015. I will write anything I learned both from the class and from the failure of my startup.

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