How to find a co-founder for your startup

If you’re a first-time founder, you probably want to have a co-founder or two to lean on.

The second most frequent question I get from new founders, after “will you give me $250,000?” is, “do you know a technical co-founder?”

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If you can’t find a co-founder for your startup, you’ve disqualified yourself as a fundable entrepreneur, because who in their right mind would back someone who can’t convince just one talented person to join them on a crazy journey?

Finding a co-founder isn’t easy, but it’s not the hardest thing you’ll do as a founder, and recruiting for your startup is going to be a lifelong practice.

It. Never. Ends.

I’m 30 years into my career in technology and I’m still spending a significant portion of my time building my teams.

That being said, there is a simple three-step process to recruiting a co-founder:

  1. Identify what skills you don’t have & that your startup needs.
  2. Find people you know with those skills.
  3. Have coffee with those people & let them know how enormous you think this opportunity is and that you can’t do it without them. Ask them for their feedback on the idea, and tell them they would be crazy not to join you on this adventure because this problem needs to be solved (alternatively, “this product needs to exist in the world”).  

When I give this advice to folks they give me the following excuses:

  1. “But I don’t know anyone”
  2. “But I don’t have any money to pay them and they have kids and a mortgage and won’t leave Google to do this!”
  3. “I’m not good at networking.”

If you throw up these kinds of roadblocks for yourself you’re simply too weak — at this time — to found a company. You should go work for someone who isn’t as meek and milktoast as you are. Someone who is so passionate about their idea that they will find 100 people who are qualified, and relentlessly explain to them to come on the journey until they’re told, “stop asking me to do this with you — I’m out and you’re annoying as heck!”

This is what it takes to find a co-founder and if you have any complaints about this being unfair or unjust or too hard, well, guess what: startups are really f@#$#@ing hard and life is not fair.

Either do the work or don’t, but don’t complain about how hard it is to change the world. If you’re not up for this simple task, then go work for someone who is and take notes.

Comments are open, but if you complain in the comments I reserve the right to savage you.

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