Choosing co-founders is of the utmost importance in the early days of your startup. It might not be the same thing as getting married but you're going to see these people more often than your spouse for the next few years. And just like marriage your financial well-being is going to be directly tied to them. If you make the wrong decision co-founders can quickly sink your startup. An even worse fate for your psychology is if your startup is successful but you did all the work and you have to split your equity with someone that was a detriment to the success of your company.
The biggest mistake often made by startup founders is choosing their friends to run a business with them. Usually, the best case scenario is that the business is successful and the co-founders are both instrumental in the startups success but their friendship is weakened. Working together in such an intense environment for years will usually fray even the strongest of friendships.
The second biggest mistake is startup teams that have similar backgrounds. If you're at a startup event and networking you'll tend to hang out with and meet entrepreneurs with similar interests and personalities. This is a mistake and you should be looking for co-founders that compliment your strengths. The simplest formula is for teams of two. One of the co-founders handles building the product while the other sells the product. This complementary approach is a perfect model that has worked well for many successful startups. For teams of three or more, you can divide up more areas to focus on. The important thing is that each co-founder has a well-defined role that they're responsible for and matches their strengths. When you're out at startup events and networking look for people that would be the perfect fit as co-founders for specific roles.
Now that you have a plan the real question is how do you meet other co-founders? Searching for a co-founder is a large time commitment. It is important to understand that you're most likely not going to find the right person within a few weeks. Searches can take months to get the right introductions, or meet someone that is not only compatible with your business, but compatible with you. You're going to have to dedicate a large amount of time not only searching for them but also building a relationship when you find them.
Start going to as many startup events and functions as possible. Let everyone know that you're not only looking for a co-founder but also, the type of skills you're looking for. Coworking is another fantastic way to meet a co-founder. If someone at the coworking space isn't the perfect complement for your startup someone will know someone that is. Finding co-founders is not going to be easy, but take the time to do it right. The success of your startup is depending on it.
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