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How to find a co-founder is a question that boggles most entrepreneurs in India starting off solo. Here are some tips.
By Nandini Hirianniah
“Help me find a co-founder.” “Where can I find a good co-founder?” – a couple of common requests/questions I am challenged with. I say ‘challenged’, because in my opinion you cannot find a co-founder. A co-founder happens to you naturally. I know, it sounds like old-wives tales; “love happens” or “you’ll get your perfect life partner when the time’s right”. But my experience tells me that this is indeed it. Let me explain further.
When working on a startup venture, a good partner/co-founder is very important to have. A co-founder’s role could be all pervading, ranging from picking a suitable business name to making vital strategic decisions. Entrepreneurs often face paranoia, super-multi-tasking, Murphy working at his best and a dozen other things that fail as you move tiny steps towards success. Now, in this frenzy having a wrong working partner only slows things down and many-a-times this is the SINGLE reason why startups shut down or give up!
However, if you are a single founder, do not fret! As long as you have the skill to build and sell, you are doing well alone. Do not look for a co-founder endlessly. If there are key skills that you do not have and is difficult for you to learn on-the-go – then you can always get someone with that skill-set on board as a right-hand man!
Startups/Ventures that have had a natural coming together of people to work on an idea have a tendency of lasting long, doing well and fighting the obstacles to turn into positive outcomes. Aditya Sahay, co-founder of Radbox mentions in Choosing Co-founders, “If you’re picking a co-founder, or joining someone as one, the single most important question is: Can you tell him/her openly that he/she is slacking and needs to work harder?” This mostly sums up the relationship that’s required within the founding team.
When I look around, most teams that are doing exceptionally well and have lasted through worst times are the teams that have naturally come into forming founding teams. These are a group of people who got together at college, best school buddies who share the same passion, a team that was formed for some other reason but found their calling in a new idea, couples dating each other or even husband & wife duos who plan on starting a successful business. In my experience, teams that have come together with the aim of forming a founding team and working on an idea are the ones who have failed mostly! (Jogging my memory back to my experiences, I’d say such teams have a very high failure rate)
Some of the things that are important for a founding team to have while working on a startup are:
1. Single focus on realizing the dream/vision: Teams that seamlessly focus on one goal i.e. the benefit of the venture, are the ones who easily make critical decisions and progress. Speed is super important for startups.
2. Complementary Skills: All of us have our negatives and positives; skills we know and we do not. A teammate who focuses on their strengths and ensures he covers for someone else’s weakness is a winner. Also, a team that realizes that there is an entire world to be built as a startup – figuring out what skills they already have and what needs to be developed and by which teammate is also one that has a winning streak.
3. Not ego silly, selflessness: Another important trait for teams to have. We’re all humans – aren’t we? And silly ego is something that obviously comes in between many of our interactions. But, if you are obsessed about the venture you are working on – it should not and will not! The realisation that you are working for your benefit and none other will make the whole journey worthwhile, with no ego hassles!
4. Transparency. Speaking your mind. Open Discussions: A co-founder’s job is really tough. The best co-founders are the ones who balance each other, have healthy discussions and are transparent about their thoughts and activities. These are the ones who love challenging each other and stand by each other. The ones who do not fear to have a difference of opinion and know that conflicts are to be resolved.
Irrespective of the gender of your co-founder(s) the founding team must work passionately towards their vision assuming that all co-founders are One. Trust is super important, as in all cases.
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