Over the past of my brief startup experience I have worked with 4 different people to get something of the ground. Neither of those collaborations worked out and we eventually parted in very different directions.
In my current (actually first real) startup the experience couldn’t be any different. Me and Joel are in such great sync when working together. And I think there are a few reasons why it worked out this time.
Don’t make this about the idea
Since in my example I am the one being “found” or rather “finding myself” to join, I can’t stress this enough. When I joined Buffer, which is a Twitter App, I had no clue about Twitter. Neither did I have any experience with doing the marketing or community side of things.
All I had was a fascination for how Joel built his vision for this startup, whilst I didn’t even know what it was about. It took me about 4 days to “get” what the product did.
When you are going out looking for people you want to work with, try to look for an ambitious glowing in the other person’s eyes. Make sure they can commit to something and aren’t getting their hands dirty in dozens of other things. Find more “people’s measures” instead of measuring the idea or skills.
You can always iterate and pivot your idea. You can’t pivot your Co-Founder.
You don’t have to get married on your first date
One of the fallacies I found myself trapped in, is that “I need to find someone and make the decision right there”. After going through a wholly different process in my current startup, I am relieved to say, you can take lots of time to take this decision.
What I would suggest is: Ask someone you think might be able to work with you on an idea to get involved with some lightweight tasks. Let them write a blogpost for your startup’s blog. Ask them to handle your Twitter account. Let them handle some minor coding work if we are talking a technical guy here.
There is no need to hand them 50% and get going with full collaboration from day one. Take your time. In my case, it took about 3 weeks until I gradually got involved more and more.
And the best part? It is stress free and a lot more fun. You get to know each other gradually and you can see if you like working with him/her. There is no big decision sitting on your shoulders. Once you need to make the decision it should come without even having to think about it.
The magic place to find your Co-Founder is ______!
Now I have read lots of different posts on this. “Go to startup events.” or “Find a startup community.” or “Join the society of your university’s entrepreneur’s club.” also “Check out Co-Founder wishlists.” This seems to be a lot of the advice I found. I can’t say this doesn’t work, and the probability is most likely higher to find potential Co-Founder’s at these places.
Yet, at the end of the day, I think this might also be very limiting. I feel it is far more important that you go with your intuitive feeling. Only because someone shows up at a Tech-event and is reading HackerNews isn’t really a good measurement.
Go with your gut. You will feel intuitively if that person is switched on and in line with what you want to achieve. Take some lightweight approaches from above. Move on quickly if it doesn’t work out.
Over to you now. What is your experience when finding a Co-Founder or partner for a new project? I would love to hear your thoughts.