6 Steps for Choosing the Right Co-Founder for Your Startup

Latest posts by Wesley Cherisien (see all)

People are naturally more driven to achieve their goals when journeying with others. Studies have shown that effective collaboration delivers five times more productivity than acting alone, resulting in higher-performing teams. When working with others, we gain insight that we may have overlooked on our own.

After graduating from college, I started my first company and partnered up with one of my closest friends to build our very own web development company. Our strengths complemented each other, and because of this, we found quick success.

Starting a successful business can be a challenging journey for anyone to travel alone. You begin with vast dreams and great ideas to add value to the world, but in bringing these ideas to life, you face what can seem like an impossible number of obstacles. Depending on what type of business you plan on starting, you might consider starting up with a partner.

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Here are six steps to find the right co-founder for your startup:

Determine whether or not having a co-founder is necessary

The very first step in this process is to ask yourself if you even need a co-founder in the first place. Sure, your idea might need someone with technical experience (of which you may not have any), but does that mean you need a technical co-founder? Why not simply outsource the aspects of your startup that you can’t handle yourself?

Evaluate the primary reasons you’re looking for a co-founder. Note the pros and cons of having a co-founder compared to outsourcing the tasks you can’t handle yourself. If a co-founder looks to be the more viable alternative, you can move on to the second step.

Remember, one of the most essential leadership skills you can possess is to know when you need help and how to go about getting it.

Write a detailed description of what you are seeking in an ideal partnership

Once you’ve established that you need a co-founder, the next step is creating a detailed description of what your ideal co-founder will look like.

Write down a detailed description of the skills, personality traits, experience, etc. you’d like in a co-founder. In most cases, you’ll want someone who is your opposite, as he or she will be more likely to complement you and your skills.

For example, if your product targets enterprise companies and you have no technical experience, you may need a technical co-founder. Because products created for enterprise companies require high technical performance levels, enterprise companies with a technical co-founder have been found to perform 230 percent better in this vertical.

Note all of your own strengths and weaknesses and use them to draw up your ideal co-founder’s description. The bottom line is that you must find a co-founder who complements your skill set. The diversity in your skill sets, backgrounds, and experiences will help you have a more holistic approach to running your business. This alone can increase your chances of success.

Network with other entrepreneurs

Another great tip to helping you find the perfect co-founder for your startup is to network with the right people. These are other entrepreneurs who’ve walked the path you’re on, including the passage of successfully bringing on a co-founder.

Picking the right co-founder for your startup is challenging. If you make a mistake, it could either set you back months (or years) or even result in your startup flopping. That’s why you must glean as much wisdom as possible from entrepreneurs who have successfully brought co-founders into their startups. Try reaching out via LinkedIn or ask fellow entrepreneurs to make introductions.

Join social platforms offering connections for founders

Social media has fast become a powerful business tool. One way you can leverage social media is to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs. Besides your usual social platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc., here are a couple of sites you need to frequent if you’re looking for a co-founder:

Online founder matchmaking platforms are fast growing in popularity because of the way they take the grunt work out of researching potential co-founders for you. Browsing through the profiles of entrepreneurs that look like a good fit for your startup is accessible on most platforms and can save you months of research work.

Identify roles and stick to them

Co-founding a startup is like entering a marriage agreement. For the relationship to work and the marriage (business) to last, you must identify each party’s key roles and stick to them. One such critical role you must define from the onset is who the “head of the house” is. Who will have the overall final say? Or will one of you have complete control over your area of jurisdiction?

Defining and documenting your roles early on is crucial to a happy working relationship and a successful business. It will prevent clashes down the road and ensure that you both meet the expectations you’ve set for each other. Sticking to and respecting each other’s roles will help you establish trust, which is key in maintaining and preserving interpersonal relationships.

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Ensure you both have an equal level of passion and commitment

Launching and running a startup is a task few can handle. It can be a harrowing, heart-wrenching, soul-sucking journey. Because of this, it requires high levels of commitment, passion and sacrifice. That’s why you need a co-founder just as committed as you are to your startup’s success.

You may not both have to burn the midnight oil or work 80 hours a week, but the amount of effort and the passion you have must be at the same level. If not, it may cause friction in your relationship as one of you may feel the other one is dragging them down.


According to research, startups have a failure rate of 90 percent, and one study shows that 65 percent of startup failure results from picking the wrong co-founder. Choosing the right business partner is crucial to the success of your business. Follow the above steps, and you’ll undoubtedly end up with a co-founder that will help you realize your dreams.

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