Who Is A Co-founder?
A co-founder is a person who shares the same or similar passion, zeal and commitment to work with you on a project. You can think of the contract between you and your co-founder as an intellectual marriage to build and nurture a project and see it grow into a company.
Why Do I Need a Co-founder?
Bringing a co-founder on board is a good idea as you can use his skills and also have another source of feedback for your idea.
Working on your own can take you so far. You will need a co-founder to work with you take take your product to the next level. If you are a technical founder, then i recommend that you take on a non-technical co-founder who is primarily a marketing and a sales person, as marketing is one of the most important parts of building a product. Developing a product will be easy for your, but unless you do not have the marketing and sales guy your product will not be of any use, if it no one knows about it.
Physically there is also a limit to what you can achieve individually, and if you team up with someone it will allow you to divide your work among your selves.
Your work will increase in quality by that much because you will get regular feed back from another set of eyes which is a breath of fresh of fresh air for a founder who has been working alone on a project.
You two can also conduct brain storming sessions among each other and come up with new ideas to work on.
One of the most important ways in which a co-founder can help you is be there with you during the roller coaster of building a startup. No matter what any one says, the only person or group of people who go through this roller coaster and understand this are those who who have at some point in their life tried to build a company from scratch. There are times when you are on cloud 9 and you will think and have hope that your business is doing really well, but then the next minute you will coming crashing down and loose all hope and plan to exit the company which you have so lovingly built. Believe me, trying to build a startup is not for the faint of heart. You can not predict when you will have such feelings.
The media shows us the glamour and not the grit, and hard work which is required to build something of value. You will need someone by your side who will also experience the same or similar experiences with you so that you to can comfort and console each other.
Finding A Co-founder
Finding a co-founder is like finding your life partner. There are many ways a partnership in a startup is quite similar to the partnership which a married couple have.
Trust is a very huge part of this relationship just like in any relationship. If you feel you can not trust the person you are going to partner with, then i believe your relationship will not last long.
You will also have to kill your ego. Ego is one of the most important factors which causes relationships and partnerships to fall apart. It is belief held by people that they should not start businesses with their friends as eventually both the business and friendship will be ruined. I have analyzed why this occurs and the conclusion that i have come to is that one of the partners in the relationship fails to kill or reduce his ego and fails to see the bug picture, that they are building something of value.
I believe that the partners should sit down and discuss all of their concerns and also legalize their partnership so that it becomes difficult to break up the partnership. I am recommending this is because the partners will prefer to sit out and resolve the issues first than to go through to legalize the break up. It is not like you just stop working together one fine day. Furthermore, legalizing the partnership and your startup ensures that your and your partner’s rights have been determined and that no matter what happens even if the partnership fails the other partner can demand for his rights in the legal system.
I believe that it was important to address the dark side of finding a co-founder and partnering up with one, as this is something which is quite possible to happen if you do not be careful.
Your potential co-founder can come from anywhere. He can be your best friend, a co-worker with whom you like working with, or someone you met with on a networking event.
There are also online communities where you can join and find a co-founder. However, you have to be careful in who you decide to team up with because you have to make sure that you and your co-founder are comfortable with each other.
How Do I Know That They Will Suit Me?
When you want someone to become your co-founder, it is obvious you will not immediately offer a place. You have to build a relationship first. Follow the person on social media sites such as FaceBook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Find out about their skills and their personalities. Remember do not stalk them and do not overburden them with yourself.
Suppose you are a blogger and write articles about a certain niche, and want to team up with him, build a relationship first. Bring something of value to him and his readers. Share his blog posts and comment on them. The more you will do it, the more they will start to recognize you and be familiarized with you.
Also share your own content, but be sure that it is of value to them and their readers. Do not share something which is not related to your potential partner and his readers.
Furthermore, try to team up with people who are in your or a related industry then it becomes easier to find a common ground with them and you can build a relationship based on that.
Do not partner too quickly, get to know your potential co-founder first. What are his likes and dislikes. What is that makes him go and what is his motivation. Talk to those close to you who know you and can give you advice. Remember this is a major decision that you will be making.
You also have to take into account what is it that you can offer him. Building a relationship is a two way street and both of you have to offer something in return. If you can offer him equity in your business that is great. A personal connection and the bond that two business partners share is extremely invaluable. You become one and are in tune with each other.
What Skills Should The Co-founder Have?
Essentially your co-founder should complement you and your skills and should make up for what you are lacking. so if you are a technical founder, then try to get a marketing guru as your co-founder, and vice versa. It also depends on what kind of a startup you are building. If you are building a product then the above is a good formula.
However if you are building a startup which is primarily an out sourcing company where you develop software for other people, then you can bring on more than one co-founders who can both help you in marketing your company, and also help your build the software for your clients, but do note your equity will get reduced further.
Do note that you as a founder will also have to learn many skills such as business development. I myself am a technical founder, but all of my business partners are technical as well, and now we have too many technical founders and no partner who can handle the business, marketing and sales side, and brining anymore partners will dilute the shares, but since i have an interest in these areas, i am self learning and trying to build the business though it would have been really good if i had an experienced partner with me in this field.
How Much Equity Should I Give?
This depends on what level of commitment and skills your co-founder brings to the table. Is he willing to come full time with you? Will he be there with you all the way. I believe and have experienced this that giving equity to your partner builds a sens of ownership in them and they tend to work even more hard and passionately with you, and become more responsible for their work than they would be other wise. This is something interesting that i have discovered in my experience so far.
There is no fixed formula, but do note that there will be time where you will be tempted to break up your partnership because you want the whole pie for yourself, and at that moment you have to look at the big picture. As mentioned earlier you have to kill your ego. You can not let your ego spoil something beautiful. You have to constantly tell your self that what you are working on is something larger than you.
When i brought in my first partner, i gave him half of my company. I was putting in more time, and effort than he was, but i knew that i could not do it alone. I had tried it for 2 years and i could not take my ideas to the next level without his help. I was at a constant battle with myself, to look at the big picture and mind you this takes a lot of mental energy and leaves you exhausted.
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