How to Find and Choose the Right Co-Founder for Your Startup

Many factors go into a successful startup, such as market need, financing, a viable business model, and marketing. However, finding the right team – specifically, the right co-founder or cofounders – is a crucial first step. Out of those that have failed, 23% of startups said that not having the right team contributed to their startup failure.

Having two founders on the team, rather than one, significantly increases a startup’s odds of success. According to Startup Genome, startups will raise startup capital 30% more investment, grow their customers three times as fast, and will be less likely to scale too quickly. It’s clear that two fully invested founders are greater than the sum of their parts.

Finding a co-founder can be challenging. However, there are many resources founders can use to find someone with the skill sets necessary to run a business. Here are tips on what to look for in a co-founder and where to look.

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Find the Right Combination of Co-founders

Startups will be more successful when they have two balanced partners. Many founders make the mistake of finding a co-founder who is exactly like them, rather than finding someone with complementary skills. Ideally, startups should mix skill sets. For instance, companies shouldn’t have two people that are both tech-focused and don’t understand the business or marketing elements of running a startup. Make sure that if one co-founder is tech-focused, the other has the business acumen to complement the other.

How to find a co-founder: TheSkimm
TheSkimm Co-Founders (Photo Credit: The Inspiring Stories of 10 Famous Co-Founders)

Just as a startup should mix skill sets, they should do the same for personality traits too. For example, having two people who are afraid of public speaking won’t benefit the startup since they will have to pitch to investors, speak to clients, present in front of accelerators, and more. If one co-founder is shy, it’s best to have another person who is more outgoing and has confidence in speaking in front of people. Each of the co-founder’s strengths will support the other.

Find a Partner You Can Trust

In addition to balancing personality traits, it’s essential that founders find a partner they can trust. Running a business presents many opportunities for people to do dishonest things. Co-founders can act in a way that causes others to question the ethics of a company or permanently damages the company. When looking for a co-founder it’s important to remember and vital to find someone trustworthy who can handle responsibility.

While there are personalities a founder should look for in a co-founder, there are certain traits that startups should not tolerate and avoid altogether. One of these characteristics is controlling behavior. Avoid people who abuse the power of their roles to exert control. Whether it’s making decisions without getting agreement from other team members or using manipulation, this type of person will do whatever it takes to get their way — which isn’t a way to run a company

Startups should also avoid finding a co-founder who is overly concerned with pleasing others. This often leads to a person not voicing their concerns or avoiding disagreements, which are issues that can be detrimental to the success of a startup.

Where to Find the Right Co-founder

Finding the ideal co-founder can be a long process. However, there are many places online that make it easier for people to connect with potential partners.

1. FounderDating

FounderDating is a platform where entrepreneurs can search for a co-founder, business partner, or mentor. The process of joining FounderDating is rigorous as the network screens each applicant to make sure they meet the website’s standards. Users must also have a LinkedIn account to access the network.

2. Founder2Be

Similar to a dating site, Founder2be is a platform that enables startups to connect with everyone in tech, from co-founders and designers to developers and marketers. There is no screening process for applicants. Users can launch their startup, get their first customers, and secure funding on the website.

3. YouNoodle

For startups that want to take a different approach, Younoodle is a unique platform that uses competitions and contests to connect co-founders, advisors, and entrepreneurs. Following the contests, various co-founders and entrepreneurs have the opportunity to get funding from investors who were following the competitions. Accelerators and corporations have used the website to judge and screen applicants for various investment deals or competitions.

Mix and Match Resources to Choose the Right Co-founder for You

Using online resources isn’t the only way startups can find a co-founder. Entrepreneurs can meet co-founders in person by going to networking events and connecting with like-minded individuals. They can also search groups on social media; LinkedIn, in particular, offers many groups founders can join to find a co-founder.

Take Time to Find the Right Co-founder

Finding the right co-founder is one of the most challenging steps to founding a startup. It’s also a task that founders shouldn’t take lightly. Founders will often want to rush to the market because they have a great idea that no one has done yet. However, taking the time to establish the founders and the initial team will give startups a better shot at success.

Nora Leary, Co-founder of Launchway Media, a digital marketing firm that works with startups and SMEs in high-tech industries.

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  • Originally published June 18, 2019, updated March 8, 2024