Although it’s possible to build a successful tech company as a lone founder, there are many advantages to joining up with someone as committed as you that will be on the journey from the start. Choosing the right co-founder is vital for your startup’s success considering that 13% of founders surveyed by CB Insights stated that the primary reason why their startup failed was due to “disharmony among the team” and that another 23% blamed failure on “not the right team.” However, many founders either don’t know where to start when it comes to finding a co-founder or choose a compatriot that is the wrong fit. In this article, I will cover what to look for in a co-founder and how to find her.
All startup founders dream of the following scenario: You press the big red “launch” button. Your app (or whatever) goes live. The user counter is spinning like crazy, and your user graph shoots straight up like a rocket. You’re getting so many users that you have to rush to allocate more server power and load-balance like your life depends on it.
Unfortunately, this is what happens to most software startups: You open your app to the public. Realizing that you can’t count on luck to help users find it, you post on Hacker News, Reddit, and Product Hunt. But even that seems insufficient, so you post on Twitter and splash down $1K on Google ads. You track your user graph with anticipation, but all you see is a tiny blip. You panic, “Crap, I just spent the last few months working on my awesome idea, and my friends and family invested more money than they could afford in this venture. I was certain this was going to be a hit, and now I’m going to have to tell them their money is gone. There is no way I’m going to be the next Facebook/Snap/Uber now.”
The tech boom of the 1990s was largely driven by “business guys” with MBAs or career experience as well as entrepreneurs that crossed over to tech from unrelated industries such as real estate and consumer packaged goods. As the tech boom euphoria rose, venture capital and angel investors showered these business types with capital based on their pedigrees and beautifully-designed business proposals rather than the merit of their innovations in meeting customers’ needs.
Having worked with a number of founders on the earliest stages of their startups, I have seen quite a few promising folks
Although striking, it’s not surprising why founders have such unlikely scenarios in mind given how much the media loves to portray nearly overnight successes like Snapchat and Oculus, which raced to a $2 billion exit in just 280 days since its first financing round. The likelihood that a startup will become a unicorn (valued at $1 billion+) is about one in a hundred. It’s even rarer that a startup can become a billion-dollar company in less than three years. In fact, the odds are roughly one in ten thousand. Is it any wonder, then, that many founders quit when they are expecting overnight success but arrive at a decade-long Navy Seals Hell Week?
Being an early founder means having to set vision, inspire, delegate, sell constantly, build trust, and play many, many, many roles in between. One role that is latent but extremely important is that of choosing partners. It is an important role that can make or break companies.