What are the things to look for in your (startup) life partner? Read: Co-Founder!


Qualities to Search for in a Co Founder



<Bill Gates and Paul Allen – Co-founders of Microsoft>

Picking a co-founder is your most important decision. It’s more important than your product, market, and investors. Often, a startup enthusiast has a good business idea, but doesn’t know how to build the product. Or, the entrepreneur has deep technology skills, but is lacking in business skills.  In many cases, these entrepreneurs are on the hunt for co-founders to help them build their businesses. If you’re starting a company, one of the most important decisions you’ll make early on is the selection of a co-founder.


Do you really need a co-founder?


Some might advocate just “going it alone” because finding a great co-founder is hard and fraught with risk. It is hard and it is fraught with risk. But going it alone is harder and riskier.
The entrepreneurial journey, though exciting and romanticized with stories of huge successes, is actually really lonely. It is a place where the buck starts and stops with you. You have a great idea to start a new venture and the theory goes that if you can’t convince at least one other person to join the venture with you, how will you convince customers to buy into your vision and product/service. The bottom line is that you do need someone else to bounce your ideas off of, someone who offers a different perspective at least sometimes, someone who also feels that his/her success is tied to the venture just as yours is.
Startups are very challenging and having someone to share the ups and downs with, to be a great sounding board for ideas and to just help get things done is immensely valuable.

Choosing someone to start a business with is a lot like choosing who you want to marry. You’re going to spend countless hours together and there will often be disagreements, but ultimately you know that you are both working toward a common goal — whether that is a successful business venture or a happy marriage.

Starting a business is undoubtedly exciting, and it is easy to get caught up in the glamour of finally being your own boss. However, when it comes down to choosing your co-founder, it is important to make an informed and level-headed decision.


How many co-founders should you have?

 There is really no right or wrong answer here. There are successful companies with as few as 2 and as many of 11 co-founders. For every company there are critical skill sets that are needed to get it going. It could be an engineer and a business person, or it may need two different sets of engineering skills and a business person. For most companies, two to three people are sufficient as co-founders. Two co-founders is the most ideal from management perspective. Three, though okay in many cases, can become a crowd when new management is brought in and founders start taking sides.


Co-Founder Checklist

Before you jump start your new business venture, read on to learn the essential qualities that you should look for in a co-founder — these entrepreneurs have had experiences good and bad, and their insights will save you some headaches during the startup phase.

  • Complementary Skills

Look for qualities that you don’t have, look for qualities to completely complement you so that the team is 100% filled out. So, if you’re not technical, you look for a technical co-founder. You should both be leveraging your strengths and networks.

  • Mutual Respect

While it is essential to have complementary skills sets, it is just as important to value what your partner brings to the table. You should choose someone whom you respect, and someone whom you think is equally as intelligent and hard-working as you. Although you each bring different experiences and strengths to the business, you should have mutual respect and appreciation for each other.

  • Open Mindedness and Flexibility

Starting a business inevitably comes with its fair share of surprises, so having a co-founder who can adjust to unexpected obstacles will make your life a lot easier. Working with someone who doesn’t sweat the small stuff, and understands the flexibility necessary in building a startup will be a great partner in the long run.

  • Personality

It is important to find someone whom you can get along with outside of work. Building a company from the ground up is taxing, and the stress of the job can accumulate rapidly. Managing the challenges of the job is much easier if you’re working with someone you genuinely like, and with whom you can unwind after a strenuous day.



Deciding how many co-founders you need, who to bring aboard, and how to distribute equity all depends on your individual skills and the gaps you need filled. Whatever choice you make, be sure everyone is clear about their roles and agrees on the overall goals for the company.

This article was written by Satyam Neelmani, an Associate Member of Entrepreneurship Cell, IIT Kharagpur!





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