In your start-up journey, you need a partner. A person who can be your sounding board, with whom you can share your deepest fears about the product. A person with whom you have zero ego-clashes, who is your best friend, and who is on the same wavelength, at least most times. This person will then also be called, the Co-Founder.
In my previous blog, I talked about how your product idea can scale once it picks up market momentum with the ‘right’ product-market fit. That is about the idea. Consider this, what if your idea was not worth it? What if things did not go as well as you thought they would? What if you just want to abandon it and go to the next one?
You need a partner in crime. A person who can be your sounding board, with whom you can share your deepest fears about the product. A person with whom you have zero ego-clashes, who is your best friend, and who is on the same wavelength, at least most times and helps you march forward. This person will then also be called, the Co-Founder.
And why do you need this person? Because, this is the person who cares about the journey with you. He/she wants to reach the destination but only with you! He would not care to go there if you were not part of this initiative. Sounds a little dreamy. Let’s see if we can make it a reality.
Quite a few thought leaders like Guy Kawasaki and others have shared their words of wisdom on choosing the right partner. And there are Co-Founder labs such as these, these, and these where minds meet. There are entrepreneur’s club such as TiE and Y-Combinator and there are suggested methodologies. But this hunt goes deeper than that and there is a science and an art, and everything in between to this when you are trying to land with the right Co-Founder for your business.
You most definitely can Wikipedia, Quora, or Reddit your way and read blogs to find your founder. There are also ‘how to find a Co-Founder for dummies’ series over the web. But there is also a first principles way of doing this.
My Co-Founder is My Best Friend – Usually, successful partnerships are a byproduct of association. The longer you know the person, the more comfortable you are. That is why, you will see old friends starting things together. Most times, this is the most optimal model. Sometimes, time and situations might test these relationships too. The stronger ones will float and the weaker ones will not.
It would be hard to deduce why these can survive hardships better but they just do. One possible analysis is they’ve both seen a lot of life together. They’ve married at the same time, brought up kids pretty much together. So the foundation of trust is quite deep rooted, and ordinary externalities cannot shake it so easily. It is usually as personal as that. P.S. – true in case of women friends too…although there will be some ruffling of feathers. As long as you leave it at that:-).
My Co-Founder is My Better Half – Sometimes, only sometimes (a huge disclaimer on this one), a husband and wife can make a great team. The wife usually brings in a lot of soft skills along with core subject matter expertise. In my experience, couples who have started ideas and businesses together have known each other for a while, just like old friends. Or, they just have an unexplained chemistry and understanding.
They are close, but also know to draw boundaries based on how their personalities have come together. Most recently, I have been visiting a restaurant owned by a wife and husband in partnership and in having more detailed conversations, this premise is validated.
My Co-Founder is My Work/School Buddy – This is all the second wave millennials out there who connect very quickly and deeply with a few people. They cross cultural chasms very quickly and establish a very interesting wavelength. They hang out, discuss ideas, argue, criticize, but establish a very cool working relationship. And when things don’t work out, they part ways without much baggage.
I’m seeing a lot of more of these bud across the board and their ideas are certainly refreshing and new, especially in the B2C space. Some of these ideas we would not consider as viable ones with our limited understanding of the generation and their needs. Seeing them work in action, with passion, and so in-the-game, it does feel like this is the new normal and we’ll all need to adjust to it across cultures in the years to come.
First things first, the business idea and the founding team have to match. And, this is generation agnostic. If you’re doing something in mobile gaming and have guys from enterprise security trying to run it, it won’t work. That said, nothing is carved in stone, and there are start-ups which have scaled and succeeded with unrelated founding teams by following lean models.
But going back to Guy Kawasaki’s words of wisdom, the Yin and the Yang matter. First, they need to both dream the same dream and commit to it. Second, they need to bring the complementary skills. One brings core technology skills, and the other brings core people skills. One brings the business acumen, and the other brings the innovation mindset. Third, they both need to understand the numbers, financials and profitability involved – no excuse.
But no matter which path you choose, make sure you’re on it with someone who will enjoy it with you. Because, it is always, only about the path and how you travel. If you get there, great, and if you don’t, you still made the journey worth it. So take the time, calibrate and recalibrate before hopping on to that wagon. And, all this won’t change for the second wave millennials, you guys!
It would be very interesting to hear your story, if you care to share it? How and with who did you find your start-up? What were your learnings?
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