Whether it is to complement your skills or taking the right step in front of a team of VCs, having a co-founder is not an optional alternative for most businesses today. A co-founder can not only be a helping hand but can be a mental support to your dream startup.But is getting a co-founder on board the right decision? Do you really need one, and if yes, what traits should one look for? This and many other relevant questions got answered in this month’s Startup Saturday, an event organized by Head Start(www.headstart.in) across different cities.
The answers pertaining to co-foundership are not an extract of an MBA program; they are real tips and real answers from founders who have been there and done that.
So how do you answer these questions for your venture? Here are 3 powerful tips to discover your answers from this maze.
This is probably the most important step and unfortunately usually least prioritized in finding a co-founder. We need to analyze what kind of individuals we are and our purpose of starting up and taking the plunge. Understand what is the definition of individual and team success as per you. There are many adjustments that one needs to do when getting someone else on board. If these adjustments are taken in the right spirit, it will definitely expedite your journey towards success. However, if taken otherwise it will not only cease the traction between the team but will also hamper the regular operations of the venture. If you are clear about yourself and what you require from a co-founder, it makes life easier in finding the right partner. It will even help in formulating thought and ideas in the right way once you find the ideal candidate.
Role of a co-founder
We are constantly in search of quick fixes rather than strategic changes. You will often meet the “idea man”. He will have the killer idea for the next BIG thing in the industry. The only issue is he will never know how the same gets implemented, or would have never executed similar projects. This person could be someone who knows what can be the next Facebook but has no idea how to write code, or get your software done, for example. While there is no big deal with this, we still need to first understand what role we want the co-founder to play.If a sound programmer is all you need, it is better to outsource the project at a premium rate rather than to share stake with a co-founder. If all you need are a few VC contacts, why not try some networking events? Do you need a telephone directory or a co-founder?
You should have a vision in place where both the partners are working on their specific deliver-ables for years to come, not just for one or two tasks.
Once you are clear about how you perceive yourself and your partner, it is very important to have a quick check whether the co-founder you are looking for fits well with the Organization’s DNA. A co-founder not only brings skills and money to the table, he also brings in a culture and attitude towards the venture. While money and skills can be arranged from different avenues, culture of the organization, if tampered can’t be amended immediately.
Common traits like honesty and trustworthiness are often assumed during the initial phases of the venture. It takes very little time to cross-validate the same but people still prefer to overlook such an important aspect.
Try to brief the partner as much as possible about how you want the organization to function, the morale and attitude of the team and the vision that you want to share with him. Also try to cross check these very traits of your co-founder. Can he/she work under pressure? Live the adventurous life of a startup? Understand and adapt to challenging situations? All these things matter for a good reason- the future of your organization.
Bonus tip! - Keep things clear
While everyone wants to achieve success with the future of their venture, there are few who actually prepare for such success! If you plan to grow your organization at a panther’s pace, and you are sure to scale to gargantuan levels, are your terms equally clear with your partner?
Most businesses die not because of external challenges, but because of internal tussle. If you think that with minuscule capital and a rough business plan in hand it makes no sense to clearly state the terms of the partnership beforehand, then be prepared for rough challenges ahead. Think, is it easier to convince your co-founder to have a 25:75 deal in the venture while you are still building the product, or is it easier to convince him once you have reached a million dollar profit margin? The answer to that question should convince you. It’s always better to have the difficult conversations right at the beginning to remove the possibility of issues cropping up later when money rolls in.
Hope you will be able to find the right fit for your jigsaw. If not, there are events where you can network. And if you’re still doubtful, connect with a mentor to guide you through the process of finalizing a co-founder.
Here’s to the success of your startup!
Startup Saturday happens at eight cities every second Saturday of the month. Join them there if you have the faintest inclination towards entrepreneurship and startups. We can assure you that these sessions will leave you inspired. The audience comprises of entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, academicians, corporates, students including the curious passerby.
Article contributed by Himanshu Chanda - the author of a business blog BizDharma.com, IT Manager and Headstart Volunteer